Friday, April 8, 2016

T. H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park - 2016 - Introducing Suzy

We get the itch to return to the T. H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park every Spring. That is the same time thousands of college students head to Florida's Gulf Coast for Spring Break. Fortunately, college students don't pick Port St. Joe, a park that is full of families, not parties. That means this is a great place to visit in Rosie, our 25 foot Airstream trailer, during the Spring.

At the entrance to the park

Port St. Joe Peninsula State Park is a place that is special to our family. We have made it a point to camp here every year during the Spring for the past 15 years. So, what draws us to Port St Joe?

One of the obvious answers is the Gulf. You will find some of best beaches in America in this park. We love the soft white sand, the dunes and the waves.

The beach at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park

Another draw is the bay side of this park. This is where the Pelicans love to roost and where you will find star fish.

The bay side of the park

Our third reason is special to us because we both grew up in Florida and fondly remember the days before condos starting dotting the coastline. The scenic views here are what many call the "natural Florida." You will see dunes and white-sandy beaches, wonderful sights to anyone who loves the natural Florida.

The dunes

There are two camping loops in this park and we go back-and-forth between the two. We returned to the Shady Pines loop this year and were lucky enough to get a site with a concrete pad. No, the pad wasn't level and we had to use our tools to help with this problem.

Rosie's site in the Shady Pines camping loop

We didn't know it when we booked this site, but it would be perfect for Suzy, our new puppy. Yes, we have a new member of the family and she is a four month-old Yorkie.

Suzy joins our family

Annie, our Yorkie who passed away last year, was a good camper and we hoped that Suzy would also take to camping in Rosie. Since Suzy had her last "puppy" shot a week before our trip to Port St. Joe, we were anxious about how she would adapt to living in a RV, meeting new people and other animals. It turned out that our concerns were unfounded as Suzy quickly took to living in Rosie and she loved meeting new people and dogs. In fact, it appeared that Suzy wanted everyone she saw to stop and pet her, especially children.

Suzy meets Henry, the poodle next door

Suzy loved walking around the campground, walking down the boardwalk to the Gulf and riding in our kayak. In short, she loves camping.

Suzy loves going for a walk

Suzy on the boardwalk between the two camping loops

Suzy loves her mommy

Suzy inside Rosie, our Airstream trailer

Speaking of the kayak, we added an inflatable tandem kayak to our camping goodies. We spotted a bald eagle during our first trip in the bay. Some other memorable moments in the kayak include floating amid several pelicans and seeing a mother dolphin and her baby about 25 feet in front of us. We also took the kayak for a spin in the Gulf. The waves were fun until we were headed back to shore and they crashed over us. While we ended up very wet, we enjoyed riding our kayak in the Gulf and look forward to more adventures with it in the future.

Suzy in the kayak

Getting ready to launch the kayak

Here are some specifics about T. H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park.
  • Our site had 30 and 20 amp service. From talking with other people in the campground, I don't think 50 amp service is available in this park.
  • Campsites have water but no sewer connections. The main dump station is close to the Gulf Breeze camping loop. There is a dump station in the Shady Pines loop, but it is for emptying sewer totes. There is no vehicle access to this dump station, so you will have to pull your heavy tote across some soft sand to use that dump station. While it sounds difficult, it is easier to use than dragging your sewer tote to the Gulf Breeze dump station.
  • There are two restrooms with showers in each campground. They are well maintained and cleaned by the park's volunteers. The restrooms in the Shady Pines side are starting to show their ages.
  • Expect to see a healthy number of children in this park. For some reason, parents love to bring their families here. From our perspective, we love seeing and hearing children play in this park.
  • AT&T placed a marginal 4G voice and data signal (one to two bars) over the park. We ended up having to stand on our picnic table to complete a phone call.
  • The only TV signals we reliably saw were CBS and NBC. We saw FOX for a moment or two and ABC dropped in for an occasional visit. Digital channels were limited to CW and a little ME-TV. If you want to watch TV, this isn't the best park for you. On the other hand, you can bring some DVDs you have been meaning to watch and catch-up on some movies while here.
  • This is a pet friendly park. Suzy enjoyed meeting many new four-legged friends while we camped in the park.
  • There is a campstore in the park. It has basic supplies plus you can rent canoes and kayaks there. If you decide to bypass the campstore and head to town for some milk, the next grocery store is more than 30 miles down the road.
We have been a regular in the park for more than 15 years. In talking to other campers about the park, we discovered that they either love it or hate it. Ironically, both groups give the same reasons: the park is 30 miles from anything, cell service is spotty and it is hard to snag a decent TV signal to watch.

I guess it is all a matter of perspective. Some people enjoy camping in the woods next to the Gulf while others prefer camping closer to fast food restaurants and amusements. We will take the peace and quiet in a natural setting over being in the center of things every time. We are already planning our 16th trip to Port St. Joe Peninsula State Park.

Becky and Suzy in Apalachicola

Steve and Suzy inspect the shrimp boats in Apalachicola

Family selfie in Apalachicola

A pelican flying over the bay

Getting ready to head out in the kayak

Overlooking the bay
Area between the two camping loops
A bald eagle perched on top of a tree

The boardwalk between the two camping loops
Original watercolor painting by Becky of fishing boat in Apalachicola

Original watercolor painting by Becky of the rental kayaks


  1. Love your blog and look to it often for park ideas. Can you tell me the site number for your recent stay? Love the new pup...we have two yorkies and a newfie that are great campers :)

  2. Hope to hook up with you two soon! Nice taste in your new puppy.
    Matt & Becky