Monday, December 21, 2015

Grayton Beach State Park - Fall 2015

It was a little after sunrise when I first heard it. There was a definite "thud" sound on Rosie's roof then the sound of a critter running along Rosie's roof. (Rosie is our 25 foot Airstream trailer.) The mystery was solved a few moments later when I saw a squirrel leap from Rosie's awning to a tree. It appears that Grayton's animals join us in loving Rosie.

Rosie at Grayton Beach State Park

It is somewhat of an irony that we heard squirrels running on Rosie's roof because this is a park we rarely see wildlife. Besides an occasional rabbit or armadillo and the ominous signs warning us about bears and alligators, the only wildlife we hear about are the college students celebrating Spring Break about 60 miles down the road in Panama City Beach. OK, squirrels may not be the most exciting animals ever seen while camping in Rosie, but it is a start for this park.

Sign at entrance to the park

Grayton Beach State Park is quickly becoming one of our favorite places to camp. It is also a park you need to bring things to when you camp there. For example, we bring our bicycles and enjoy riding them to the beach communities near the park. We always see other campers using their canoes and kayaks in the lake behind the campground. These toys make a great park better.

Bring your bikes to Grayton Beach State Park

The communities near the campground are bike friendly plus they have some interesting parks and shopping areas. We found two "farmers" markets while out on our bikes. I guess the local farmers are different from home because these markets featured crafts and baked goods instead of vegetables and fruits. It was fun seeing the creativity of the local artistic community at these farmers markets.

Grayton Beach community bridge
Grayton community park

Most of our postings in this blog talk about the park itself. Grayton Beach is different in that we find ourselves enjoying the community as much, if not more, than the park. This is not to imply that Grayton Beach is a second-rate park because it isn't. We always enjoy being on Florida's Gulf Coast and the park's wonderful beach. We are simply saying that we enjoy riding our bikes in the communities surrounding Grayton Beach State Park.

Here are some specifics about this park:
  • There are two loops in this park. The first has concrete pads and full hook-ups. The second is more rustic, has gravel sites and has only electric and water hook-ups.
  • Our site had 20 and 30 amp electrical service.
  • AT&T placed a strong 4G signal over the park for both voice and data.
  • The park does not provide WiFi service. You will have to create a hotspot with your iPhone or Android to use your computer or tablet online.
  • We were able to watch ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS TV stations using Rosie's antenna. We also saw ME-TV and CW on the digital channels serving the park.
  • There is one dump station in the park and it is found in an awkward location. It is at the start of the rustic loop. That means you will probably circle around to use it then circle around again as you leave the park.
  • There are multiple places to shop near Grayton Beach State Park. That means you can drive over to Publix if you need some groceries. There is a factory outlet mall about 10 miles down the road from the park.
  • Both the park and the community are bike-friendly. You will want to explore the beach communities around the park while camping at Grayton Beach State Park.
We find ourselves talking about the differences between the "old" Florida and today's Florida. We think it is sad that many of Florida's beaches were lost to huge developments along the shoreline. If you want to see some remnants of an "old" Florida beach, you have to go to a state or federal park on the coast and Grayton Beach State Park is an excellent place to see what a natural beach looks like.

Shopping, sort of

Shopping in Grayton

Ham antenna behind Rosie

Camping at Grayton Beach State Park

The beach

The dunes
More dunes


Becky's watercolor painting during this trip

Monday, December 7, 2015

Gunter Hill COE Campground

(NOTE: This posting was published four months after
our visit to Gunter Hill COE Park.)

Rosie's final stop on our way home from the Wally Byam Caravan Club's (WBCCI) International Rally was Gunter Hill COE Campground, which is located near Montgomery, Alabama. (Rosie is our 25 foot Airstream trailer.) We pulled into the park about an hour before sunset after traveling more than 500 miles in one day. Traveling that far in one day is hard. It's even harder if you are pulling a trailer.

The plan was simple. Instead of trying to unload and clean Rosie in the dark, we would get a good night's rest in Gunter Hill, which is about 10 miles from our home, then take care of Rosie the next morning.

Gunter Hill is a nice COE park that we visited several times before I retired. Being close to home, I could go to work then return to the park for the evenings. Now that retirement has given us freedom to travel, we stopped camping at Gunter Hill. It was nice to return to this park for an evening.

There was an issue with Rosie. We noticed the air conditioner was vibrating. Our first thought was that some of the anchor screws were loose after our long trip. One of the things we learned on this extended trip to the WBCCI International Rally was that some problems are Airstream specific and others are RV issues. We figured that this air conditioning problem was something a local RV repair facility could fix for us.

There are two camping loops at Gunter Hill. One is more rustic, has gravel sites and lacks sewer connections. The other loop was renovated several years ago and has concrete camping pads and full connections including sewers. In addition, the grounds are well maintained and this helps make the park very pleasant.

There isn't too much to talk about from this stop. We were exhausted and simply wanted a place to sleep before taking Rosie home and cleaning her up after our long trip. We didn't unhitch Rosie nor did we drop the stabilizers. We were too tired. Fortunately, we had stayed in this park and reviewed it several times. I'll quickly mention that Gunter Hill is a nice and relaxing park and one we hope to visit again.

After unloading Rosie, we took her to Alabama Motor Coach RV Service in Montgomery. This is the center we trust with our non-Airstream specific repairs. They found that one of the pulleys in the air conditioner was warped and replaced that part. Now Rosie is ready for a new adventure.