Monday, June 8, 2015

T. H. Stone Memorial St Joseph State Park - 2015

There are some traditions that you simply don't want to break. I was fortunate enough to work in an industry that observed Spring Break, the highlight of many college students' calendars. For more than a dozen years, we spent our Spring Break camping at the T. H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph State Park located near Port St. Joe, Florida.

The beach at Port St. Joe State Park

There are two camping loops in this park and we keep moving back and forth between them over the years. The Gulf Breeze loop is closer to the Gulf and has more of a "beach" feel to it. The Shady Pines loop has more trees and gives you a feeling that you are camping in the woods instead of being at the beach. You tend to find more tent campers and smaller RVs in this loop.

We camped in the Gulf Breeze loop the last couple of years and decided to go back to the Shady Pines loop this time.
Shady Pines Camping Loop

It always seems that weather plays a major role during Spring Break week. The rain and storms were a bigger problem during our tent camping years. Now that we camp in Rosie, our 25 foot Airstream trailer, we are simply inconvenienced by the rain and not chased out of the park.

That wasn't true for our neighbors. Most everything in their tent ended up wet after a big rain storm. Instead of using drenched sleeping bags, they decided to tear down and move to a motel. We understood because it isn't fun camping in a wet tent.

The rains did impact us this year. We moved inside Rosie during the frequent rain showers then went outside and enjoyed the park after the skies cleared up. It did appear to us that the outer camping sites in the Shady Pines loop were much wetter that the inner loop sites. We also felt that the Gulf Breeze loop seemed to deal with any rain runoff better than Shady Pines.

We saw lots of wildlife this year. We normally see deer and birds in the park. We were excited to see the alligator again because we missed seeing her the last couple of years. We also heard an owl in the park. There were lots of dolphins and we saw a baby shark in the Gulf.
A deer on the side of the road

We rented kayaks one morning and paddled around the bay. We spotted crabs, a horseshoe crab and a starfish from the kayaks. The kayaks turned out to be lots of fun and something we will do again.

Traveling via kayak in the bay
Trying out a paddle board

We have talked about this park several times before, so I won't repeat the things we love about Port St. Joe. We have discovered over the years that this is a park that divides people. Some really love it because it is similar to the "old" Florida beaches. Others don't like it because it is too far away from restaurants, grocery stores and entertainment. We are in the group that loves this park.

The park specifics have not changed too much over the years.
  • This is a pet friendly park and you will see many pets at this park.
  • Wi-Fi is now available at the camp store and at the picnic tables next to the children's playground on the bay side of the park. Internet speeds at the picnic tables appear to be slower to us than at the camp store.
  • AT&T 4G service for both phone and data were significantly better this year than previous ones. It was easier for us to create a Wi-Fi hotspot from our iPhones than to travel to the park's Wi-Fi access points.
  • We had both 20 and 30 amp electrical service at our campsite.
  • It was sadly entertaining watching big rigs try to navigate around the sharp and narrow turns in the Shady Pines loop. Big rigs need to stay in the Gulf Breeze loop, which is better able to deal with the big boys.
  • There is one dump station in the park. You will need to plan your departure time around the line waiting to use it.
  • We were able to watch ABC and CBS most of the time from Rosie's antenna. We only saw the NBC station a couple of times. Digital signals from ME-TV and CW were watchable a few times. For some reason, we had weaker TV signals this year than in the past.
  • It is a long way to the closest grocery store. You want to make sure your camper is well-stocked before camping at Port St. Joe State Park.
Rain or shine, we enjoy camping in Rosie at the T. H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph State Park.

Enjoying the surf

Waiting for the tide change
Rosie leaving the Port St. Joe Park

1 comment:

  1. This park is one of our absolute favorites. Put us in the love category as well. We discovered kayaking in the bay on our last trip and it was one of the highlights. Even when it is full, there is just so much real estate on the beach. That place is an Old Florida gem. If you get bored, you can just head to the big city of Apalachicola.