Saturday, June 28, 2014

T. H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph State Park - 2014

This was Rosie's, our Airstream camper, third visit to the T. H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park. We booked the same site we were in last year and, surprisingly, we found that a larger number of people than expected from last year were also in their same sites.
This isn't to imply that we developed lasting friendship with these campers. We noticed last year that these campers seem to frequently socialize among themselves and that tradition carried over to this year. After all, there is nothing wrong with campers planning to meet up year after year in the same park and this park seems to have a healthy number of camping groups staying at that time.
Our three previous postings about this park have covered the park's details. This continues to be a wonderful spot to camp on the Florida Gulf Coast. The park's beach area is amazing. There probably isn't a better spot in the Florida panhandle to watch the sunsets because the beach area faces the western sky.
Our visits to this park have always been dictated by my work schedule. As a college professor, I get the same week our students take off for Spring Break. This means that we have consistently visited this park around the same time every year for the past decade or two. While there are some college students in this park, the ones looking for the "party" atmosphere of Spring Break are up the road in Panama City. The college students staying in this park are mostly on ecology type "field trips" sponsored by their universities.
So, it rained and it was cold, but Rosie was warm and dry and we enjoyed our time at Port St. Joe again this year. The weather and the raccoons were the "stars" of this visit.
Winter was unusually cold this year and cooler temperatures carried over to Spring Break along with lots of rain. That meant we spent more time than usual inside Rosie.
In previous years when we tent camped in this park, similar weather would have forced us home. It was such a camping experience a couple years ago when storms forced us from the park after two days that we started talking about getting a camper. Rosie entered our lives about six months later. We had no idea that we were going to jump directly from tents to an Airstream.
One of the things different from last year was that we didn't see any rats this time. Instead, we heard raccoons and we saw "footprints" on our mat every morning. If we were given a choice, we prefer having raccoons visit us during the night.
Raccoon footprints
The park specifics haven't changed from last year:
  • This is a "pet friendly" park.You will find many family pets at this park.
  • AT&T 3G and 4G service continues to be spotty. We had to walk around the park to find a reliable spot to make a phone call. Trying to use the Internet on our iPhones was a frustrating event.
  • Wi-Fi continues to be available at the camp store. It is common to find several cars parked in front of the store with all of the occupants using their computers, tablets and smartphones.
  • There are two camping loops in this park and each has two bath houses. The four bath houses are up-to-date and clean.
  • We camped the last two times in the Gulf Breeze loop of the park. Shade is a premium in that loop and you see lots of bigger fifth-wheels and motor homes there. You will find more shade, tents and Rosie-sized campers in the Shady Pines loop. Size is a consideration in the Shady Pines loop because some of the turns in the road are sharp and difficult for larger rigs.
  • The park continues to offer both 30 and 20 amp service to the camp sites.
  • There are multiple television stations that you can watch at different times of the day. We were able to watch ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC during the morning hours. Selection around midday was spotty. By the evening, we could normally watch ABC, CBS and NBC. The digital channels these stations included were Me-TV, ThiS and Antenna-TV.
  • This is a park that you want to make sure you are well-stocked with what is needed before setting-up. You are miles away from shopping and it is inconvenient to run out for some milk or bread. Some people see the lack of commercial establishments as one of the charms of this park.
The bottom line is simple. This is a great park to ride your bicycles, has wonderful beaches and the sunsets are spectacular. We plan to return next year, but we will try to stay in the Shady Pines loop during our next visit.