Sunday, January 8, 2012

Buccaneer State Park - Mississippi

Visiting Buccaneer State Park in Mississippi brings your face-to-face with the destruction of Hurricane Katrina. While New Orleans grabbed the headlines, you quickly realize that you are at ground-zero when approaching this park. This is where Katrina's eye came ashore.

Only the foundation remains after Katrina struck this church.

The park's staff will tell you that this park was destroyed during Katrina and there are enough reminders scarring the community to let you know that this park is being completely rebuilt.

You have to put the emphasis on the fact that this park is being rebuilt. They were in Phase Two of their rebuilding campaign during our visit. Phase Three should start next year.

Buccaneer State Park - Mississippi
You have a couple of choices to make when you enter the park. You can either camp directly on the Gulf of Mexico or in a camping area that appears to be more in the woods.

There are a few factors that enter into this decision. The spaces directly on the Gulf are a little more expensive and only include water and electricity. Plus, there isn't a lot of shade on the beach side of this park. Sites in the more traditional campground areas are $11 less per night and feature water, electricity and sewage connections.

While it appeared that most campers in the park elected to have the sewage connection, we felt we needed to be close to the Gulf. After all, how often will you have a view similar to this.

Camping of the Gulf of Mexico at Buccaneer State Park, Miss.
What a view! We were able to sit at the table in Rosie (our Airstream's name) sipping coffee in the mornings while watching the Gulf. This is a campground that should not be skipped over because of the rebuilding process.

Camping less than 50 feet from the Gulf at Buccaneer State Park
The parts of the park rebuilt during phases one or two of the reconstruction programs are first class. The showers and restrooms are new, clean, well-maintained and built up so that you have to climb stairs to access them. (They also feature ramp access to comply with federal laws.) I guess this is an attempt to place these facilities above the floodplain, in case another devastating hurricane strikes the park. Of course, the best plan is to enjoy this park then hitch-up and move if a hurricane is in the Gulf.

We found lots of TV stations from Mississippi and New Orleans using only the small antenna on our trailer. AT&T's coverage for our iPhones was 3G and solid. I don't think the park offered WiFi access so the strong 3G coverage was welcomed.

By the way, we found a good cajun coffee shop in Waveland, Mississippi.  Da Little Cafe served good beignets and hot chocolate.

Enjoying Beignets and hot chocolate at Da Little Cafe in Waveland, Miss.

Blue Springs State Park - Alabama

Blue Springs State Park is approximately 40 miles southeast of Troy, Ala. This is a park that some say was very popular in the 1960s because of its natural springs and "beach" features.

We camped at this park in November 2011, and I am sure this park is very crowded during the summer. We found only a few brave campers in the park at that time of year.

Cozy Rosie at Blue Springs State Park in Alabama

Most of the camp sites appeared to be level and we were able to watch TV from the Dothan market using our TV antenna.  The park materials said that WiFi was available, but it may have been turned off because the park was mostly empty. We were not very successful in finding a reliable location to receive service on our iPhones from AT&T.

This did appear to be a friendly state park in the middle of the woods. There were some good bike paths, a small playground for the children and--the main attraction--the spring.

The natural spring at Blue Spring State Park in Alabama

Part of my family's heritage is that my father owned a water company in the 1940s. During WWII, Dad provided distilled water to the US Navy for submarine batteries. I bring that up to let you know that natural springs hold a place of importance in our family.

The natural spring at Blue Springs State Park pumps 3,600 gallons per minute of 68 degree crystal clear water around the clock. I can see why people enjoy going to this park during the hot summers to cool off. 

While this may not be one of the top tier state parks in Alabama, the grounds are well kept and the staff is helpful and friendly.