Tuesday, May 7, 2013

T. H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park - 2013

For many college students, the transition from winter to spring includes a visit to Florida's panhandle. OK, we don't qualify as college students and we make sure we are miles away from the party-minded college students during spring break season, but we enjoy observing that long established college tradition by traveling to St. Joseph Peninsular State Park to officially launch another year of camping in Rosie, our 25 foot Airstream trailer.
We have tent camped in this park for years. Who knew that the name of this campground was really the T. H. Stone Memorial Park? I don't remember seeing that name on any of the park's signs.
There are two camping loops in this park: Shady Pines and Gulf Breeze. As a hold-over from our tent-camping days, we normally reserve a site in the Shady Pines loop. The nice trees in this loop help make it cooler inside tents during warm days. Since we were camping this year in Rosie, we decided to venture out and try reserving a site in the Gulf Breeze loop.
While I am sure it was a coincidence, the Gulf Breeze loop lived up to its name. We could not extend the awning because of the 15-20 mph winds. Of course, the winds were the result of a weather front!
Rosie in the Gulf Breeze loop
While we missed the "in the woods" feel of the Shady Pines loop, the Gulf Breeze loop had more reminders that you were at the beach and we enjoyed our stay there.
View from Rosie' back window
One of our favorite areas at this Florida State Park is the marina. This is where the pelicans gather during the day. It is always fun to see a dozen or so birds sunning themselves on the dock.
Pelicans at the marina
A brave (or tame) pelican
One of our interesting sightings this year was a group of white pelicans flying over the park. This was our first sighting of a flock of white pelicans.
A flock of white pelicans fly over Rosie
As usual, we watched the deer in the park. We were fortunate in that we saw a family cross a waterway.
We welcomed a construction project during our stay. There is a boardwalk connecting the Shady Pines and Gulf Breeze loops. We have watched the effect of weather as it wore away the walkways. Park volunteers started replacing the weathered planks while we were camping in the park.
Part of the walkway connecting the park loops
The boardwalk between the camping loops
A bench overlooking a waterway
You always find a crowd of people gathering along the beach at sunset. We were treated to some amazing sunsets during our stay this year.
Weather is always questionable during spring break. I mentioned the brisk winds earlier in this posting. Temperatures were also cooler than in pervious years. We had to wear jackets most of the week.
It was "jacket weather" this year
At the end of the week, we hooked Rosie up to our truck and headed off to our next adventure. Annie, our Yorkie, loves to ride "shotgun" as we leave the park.
Some specifics about the T. H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park:
  • There are two bath houses in both the Shady Pine and Gulf Breeze loops. The most recently remodeled bath house is in the Gulf Breeze loop. Bath houses were well maintained by the park volunteers.
  • This is a "pet friendly" park. (Make sure you pick-up after your pet!)
  • AT&T 4G and 3G service was spotty. We could only call or use our iPhones for Internet connections at the back window in Rosie. (One of our neighbors had a cell phone repeater and claimed it worked well inside the park. Maybe this is something we should investigate adding to Rosie's technology.)
  • There is wi-fi available at the camp store. After years of no wi-fi, sluggish wi-fi is welcomed. Of course, you have to drive to the store in order to use it.
  • We were able to watch TV stations from Panama City (ABC FOX, and NBC), Dothan (CBS) and Tallahassee (PBS). We found the embedded digital channels to be more interesting (ME-TV, THIS, ANTENNA-TV, etc.)
  • Camping sites in both loops have water and 30-amp electrical service. Make sure you bring your waste tote because you will be needing it to dump your sewage at the dump station when your gray and black tanks start to fill.
  • Make sure you pack enough food for your stay. The park is miles and miles away from non-tourist type shopping. There is a camp store in the park, but you may need a mortgage on your home to buy anything there.
  • We had heard over the years that sites along the open fields tend to see rodents during the day and hear them at night. We can now verify that claim. Our site this year backed up to one of the water ways/fields and we did see rats poking around during the day. The tent campers next to us said they heard "critters" scurrying around during the night. This was the first time we saw rats and this was the first time we camped next to an open field.
  • This is a park you need reservations before arriving. The odds of finding an open site without reservations are slim. In fact, many sites are reserved 11 months in advance.
  • Pay attention to the maximum rig sizes when making reservations. Some of the sites are shallow and rigs larger than Rosie (25 feet) would not fit in the "compact" sites.
  • Larger rigs should avoid the Shady Pines loop. Some of the turns on the road going through this loop are "challenging" for larger RVs. The big boys need to stay in Gulf Breeze.
Speaking of reservations, we plan to reserve another site in the Gulf Breeze loop next year.

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