Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Northwest Community Center-Eunice, Louisiana

One of the benefits of the RV lifestyle is that you can camp in some amazing locations. Rosie, our 25 foot Airstream trailer, has allowed us to camp along the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. We have also camped along mountain streams and in beautiful wooded campgrounds. If you love sharing nature with similar minded campers, the RV lifestyle may be for you.
Sometimes you camp in a location not for the natural beauty but for the local culture. Such was our experience when we stayed at the Northwest Community Center in Eunice, Louisiana.

Rosie parked in the shed
Some of the Airstreams in the shed

This place is not a normal campground. It appears that the town allows RVs to park at this center for special events.
This was a brief stop on our Wally Byam Cajun Country Caravan. It was the stop I had many reservations about before we arrived.
The 25 Airstream trailers and motorhomes participating in this caravan were supposed to park between the steel beams supporting a large open shed. My anxiety level increased when I learned that I was going to help as a "parker" for the caravan. We had a two-hour window to get all of the units safely inside the shed before a predicted rain shower.
Our caravan leader accomodated my known lack of skills in parking trailers and positioned me on the road as caravaners were arriving. I would radio to the "real" parkers the length of the incoming unit. They would assign that trailer or motorhome an appropriate parking position.
In short order, all members of the caravan were parked in the shed. It didn't take long for the campers to pull out their lawn chairs and start forming a large circle in the middle of the building. A guitar, mandolin and dulcimer appeared along with some Cajun food and we were having a spontaneous gathering. Needless to say, the close proximity of our trailers allowed us to easily visit with our fellow caravaners.
Members of the caravan having a spontaneous social event
Bevo, peeking out his owner's Airstream (photo by Jim Broedlow. Used by permission.)

The lights in the shed at night
Why stop in Eunice? Cajun music seems to be very special to the people of this community and we appreciated them sharing their love of music with us.
Here are some specifics about camping at the Northwest Communiity Center in Eunice, Lousiana:
  • You can squeeze two Airstream trailers between each of the support beams in the shed, but the distance between trailers will be tight.
  • The camping area has 30 amp electrical service and water connections.
  • There are no sewer connections for your RV.
  • There are no restrooms and no showers available to the campers.
  • Watch where you park your tow vechicle because there are lots of ants in the grassy area around the shed.
  • Rain is another potential hazard for tow vehicles. If it rains, the grass will be slick and soft.
  • Did I mention the trains? The camping area is next to some frequently used railroad tracks. You will both hear and feel the trains rolling by all day and night.
  • Did I mention the lights in the shed? You will need some additional window shades to block out the many shed lights left on all night.
  • WiFi does not exist at this camping area.
  • AT&T provides good voice service and mediocre data service at this camping area. I had to travel to a nearby fast food restaurant to log on to the Internet.
  • We were able to watch ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and PBS off Rosie's antenna. We also saw Antenna-TV, CW, ME-TV and THiS on digital channels.
What started out being a location I was dreading turned out to be a special place because we were able to get to know our fellow caravaners. While I would never stop at this place on our own, I am glad the WBCCI Cajun Country Caravan had this place on its agenda.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Abbeville RV Park - Abbeville, Louisiana

There was a night and day difference between the Abbeville RV Park and the previous park that Rosie, our 25 foot Airstream trailer, camped in. It was a pleasant and welcome change.
The Abbeville RV Park is owned by the city and you drive about one mile through the woods after turning off the highway to get to the campground. The ride through the woods was calming and gave the park the look and feel of a state park.
Rosie at Abbeville RV Park

One of the first features we noticed about this park was the shade. Most sites were large and there were many trees throughout this park.
Another feature was that the park was quiet. Being a mile off the main road, we didn't hear the sounds of the city nor did we hear traffic noises. The peace and quiet was very much appreciated.
Lots of Airstream RVs at Abbeville RV Park

A family of owls added some excitement to our stay in this park. It was easy to spot the parents watching over their baby owls in the nest.
Owls at Abbeville RV Park (Photo by Tim Bush, used by permission.)
There were a few things missing at this park. The lack of showers and restrooms will keep some campers out of this park. That is probably why the park does not accept tent campers.
Here are some specifics about the Abbeville RV Park:
  • The park offered 20, 30 and 50 amp electrical service.
  • Each site also had water and sewer service.
  • The park does not have showers nor does it have restrooms. You have to use the facilities in your RV or be willing to find a restaurant that is open at your moment of need.
  • What I thought was a TV cable connection turned out to be a telepone box. That was OK because there were several TV signals available over the air.
  • We were able to watch ABC, CBS, Fox and PBS from Rosie's antenna. We also saw digital signals from Antenna, CW, ME-TV and THiS.
  • WiFi was available in the park. The service tended to be slow when people were active and checking things online.
  • AT&T provided solid phone and moderate 4G service over the park.
  • Lots of shopping can be found outside the park.
People around Abbeville like to say that their community is the most cajun in Lousiana. While it would be hard to prove that claim, it is just as hard to dispute it. There are many places with deep Cajun heritages in and around Abbeville worth visiting.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

KOC Kampground - New Iberia, Louisiana

There used to be a chain of restaurants in the south called Po Folks. Less than ten survive today. If you ate there, you know that the menu was full of country cooking and spelling errors.
That gimmick was cute the first time you visited a Po Folks restaurant. It started to grow old the second time you went there. I discovered that I prefer menus that passed a spelling check.
There was a "cringe" factor when we pulled Rosie, our 25 foot Airstream trailer, up to the KOC Kampground in New Iberia, Lousiana. The faded sign along the road clearly proclaimed that we were entering a "kampground." Memories of drinking from mason jars at Po Folks started flashing through my mind.
Campground sign at entrance
We arrived with a group of 25 Airstreamers as part of a Wally Byam caravan. We joined the group a few days late because of a medical issue. As we pulled into the park, our caravan group was leaving for a special event. The campground staff person escorting us to our assigned site apologized for it being so muddy by saying it had rained for four days before we arrived. Our small site was a mud pit and I was certain that our truck would get stuck in the parking process.
After asking if that site was the best the park had to offer, the park host gave us a quick tour of several open sites there. It appeared that some people stored their RVs in that park and probably abandoned them years ago. Fortunately, there was one dry site surrounded by active campers. We took it.
Rosie among the WBCCI caravan units
Another thing at this park reminded me of Po Folks. Both places loved to put signs on everything. The front door to the campground office was covered with signs mostly declaring what we could not do while in the park. The signs took an ugly turn in the restroom as some were addressed to "You Monkeys." I guess they know their normal clientele.
This park is not a destination, but a stop on the way to somewhere else.
If you are asking why we stopped at this place, the answer is simple--it was part of a WBCCI caravan. We were not there to enjoy the park, but to visit some interesting places in that area. In that context, the campground was OK. There were some amazing places our caravan visited while camped at this park.
While the park may not be on our "A" list, it appeared that the park's staff tried very hard to be helpful to us while we were there.
Here are some specifics about this park:
  • Sites have water, electrical and sewer connections. Our site had 20, 30 and 50 amp service.
  • Our site also had a cable TV connection. We didn't use it because an army of ants were roaming around in the cable-TV connection box and I didn't want to provide them with a quick path to our trailer by hooking-up the coax.
  • We were able to watch ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC. We also saw Antenna-TV, CW, ME-TV and THiS digital signals at this park.
  • The park has WiFi--sort of. It was a challenge to get Google's main page to load over the park's WiFi. I could not help but think that my old 300 baud modem I used 30 years ago was faster than KOC's WiFi.
  • AT&T provided strong 4G service over the park for voice. For some reason, the 4G data service tended to lag. You can lower your frustration level a little by skipping the park's WiFi and creating a smartphone hotspot.
  • Some sites are tiny while others are not. While our site wasn't the smallest, the view out our back window was of the camper less than 10 feet away.
  • Maybe we were a little too paranoid, but we left nothing outside at this park. That feeling may have been shared because we didn't see many chairs or other normal things you would see at campgrounds.
  • Sites do not have picnic tables nor fire rings. That is OK because I doubt many people want to spend time outside their RVs in this park.
There are several state parks in this area and anyone of them must be a better choice than this park.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Grayton Beach State Park (Florida) - Winter Camping

It was too soon to head home after the 2015 Canopener, so we hitched up Rosie, our 25 foot Airstream trailer and moved 17 miles east to Grayton Beach State Park. This would give us time for more adventures.

Grayton Beach State Park, Florida

There are many contrasting things between Topsail and Grayton Beach state parks. Topsail is listed as a resort RV park and it is very evident that the park is meticulously manicured by its staff. Grayton is a state park and it is well maintained by its staff. Every site at Topsail has a level concrete pad for your RV. There are concrete pads in one of Grayton's loops, but the loop we prefer is mostly beach sand and gravel with a few sea shells worked in for stability. In other words, you get a better feel for the natural beach setting at Grayton.

Rosie at Grayton Beach State Park

Although we had camped at Grayton several times before, this was our first time there during January. You should also know that we are rookies at winter camping.

Because it was January and the temperatures were predicted to be below freezing during our stay, several sites that we would rate as "premium" were available. The premium sites in our opinion are the more rustic ones along the water. The ranger checking us in said that it was unusual for the site we reserved to be open.

The view outside Rosie's rear window was of the lake separating the camping area from the Gulf beach. We thought our site was one of the two best in the park and a park ranger agreed.

Selfie taken behind Rosie

This trip was different from our previous spring and fall visits. We had to run Rosie's heater to stay comfortable and it rained several days, limiting our activities. Having camped many years in tents prior to the days of Rosie, we appreciated being able to move around and stay dry during rain showers.

Annie wanting something while inside Rosie

We took advantage of the clear days by riding our bikes into Seaside. There are excellent bicycle paths along the roads giving you many places to explore. One of our few disappointments was that our favorite restaurant near the park was closed for the month of January.

Seaside, Florida

Park in Seaside, Florida

Beach access at Grayton is a short bike ride away. We noticed that some campers seemed to enjoy walking along the beach road and others drove there. Grayton's beach is excellent and is what draws many people to the park. We always enjoy walking along the beach and watching the clear surf of the Florida Gulf coast.

Beach at Grayton Beach State Park

Path to the beach

Here is some specific information about Grayton Beach State Park:
  • Sites have water and electrical service. Our site had 20 and 30 amp service.
  • The newer loop has sewer connections and and concrete pads. The older loop is nearer the water and it doesn't have sewer connections and the sites are dirt and gravel.
  • There is a dump station in the park. It is not very conveniently located and you are guaranteed to have to circle around the loop twice to use it.
  • AT&T provided strong 4G service over the campground for both voice and data.
  • There is no WiFi service in the park.
  • There is no WiFi service near the park. If you need WiFi, plan on creating a hotspot with your iPhone or Android or you will have to drive about 20 minutes to find a restaurant with free WiFi.
  • We were able to watch ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS TV stations using Rosie's antenna. We also saw ME-TV, CW, Bounce and Grit digital channels while at the park.
  • There is lots of shopping near Grayton Beach State Park. There is a Publix grocery story a few miles away and a factory outlet mall about 10 miles down the road.
While we enjoyed our winter visit to Grayton Beach State Park, spring and fall are times with much better weather and that gives visitors more opportunities to enjoy the park and community. Yes, we will return and we may even come back in the winter. We will definitely be back next spring.

Western Lake "trees"

A heron resting along the road


Along the dunes at Grayton Beach

One of the trails at Grayton Beach State Park