We called the park the day before we were scheduled to arrive to make sure it was open. We were told that Big Lagoon was one of only two Florida State Parks that were open and able to accept campers. What are the odds?
You could not miss the convoys of utility trucks heading into Florida as we pulled Rosie, our 25 foot Airstream trailer to the Pensacola area. It is always comforting to see people arriving to help after a disaster. Thousands and thousands of homes stretching from the Keys to north Florida were without power and an army of power trucks were moving in to help restore service. Pensacola may have been one of the few areas of Florida that was not feeling the impact of Hurricane Irma.
|Rosie in Big Lagoon State Park|
|Our campsite in Big Lagoon State Park|
We noticed that the park was nearly empty when we arrived. That was understandable since many people probably canceled their reservations due to the unpredictable path of the hurricane. Those camping in the park didn’t appear to us to be normal campers as few awnings were open and we didn’t see the usual trimmings found at most campsites. It didn’t take long to figure out that the park had several hurricane refugees who fled their homes with their RVs and were waiting to hear that they could return.
For example, there was an Airstream family parked across from us. They told us they had fled from the Keys and were leaving the next morning to start the long drive home. They hoped their home stood up to the wind and waves.
We were probably one of the few campers in the park paying the camping fees. The governor of Florida waived park fees for Florida residents escaping the storm. That helped explain why some campers in the park didn’t appear to be there on vacation.
We tend to associate certain activities with the campgrounds we frequent. Big Lagoon is our “kayak” park. We enjoyed watching the birds along the shore as we paddled through the lagoons. We also found a baby alligator along the boardwalk connecting the campground to the lagoon.
|The boardwalk in Big Lagoon State Park|
|A walking trail in Big Lagoon State Park|
Our youngest son and his family were able to visit us on Saturday. We drove over to Johnson Beach so that our eight-month old grandson could have his first beach experience. By the way, he wasn’t impressed with the Gulf but enjoyed eating ice cream that evening.
Pensacola Naval Air Station is only a few miles from Big Lagoon State Park. We visited the Naval Museum of Naval Aviation and watch the Blue Angles perform.
|Our son, daughter-in-law and grandson visit Big Lagoon|
|Our grandson's first visit to the beach|
|Our grandson in Rosie|
|Our family in the park's observation tower|
|We found an A3D on the tarmac (the type of jet Steve's brother worked on while he served in the U.S. Navy)|
|Becky found the "Blues"|
|That probably was the wrong button to push!|
|Suzy wasn't too impressed with the Blue Angles|
Here are some specifics about this park:
- There were three primary camping loops in this park.
- Our site had 50 and 20 amp electrical service. Some sites had only 30 amps.
- Our site had a water connection with 40 pounds of pressure.
- Our site did not have a sewer connection.
- There was one dump station located near the campground exit.
- Our site was dirt and required multiple leveling tools.
- Each loop had a bathhouse. The bathhouse in our loop was well maintained and clean.
- There wasn’t a breeze flowing through the bathhouse and that meant it was hot and stuffy.
- Another bathhouse issue was that the timer controlling the lights wasn’t properly set. Too many campers found the lights off inside while it was still dark outside.
- There was a camp store in the first camping loop. It was tiny, but had a good selection of items that weren’t “tourist “ priced.
- The camp store sent a delivery cart around the campground every evening with firewood and ice cream, which are campground necessities for many people.
- AT&T placed a strong 4G voice and data signal over the park.
- The park did not offer Wi-Fi, but Wi-Fi was available at the public library just outside the park.
- We were able to watch off-air TV signals from: ABC, CBS, CW, COZI, FOX, NBC and PBS. We also saw digital signals from Antenna, Get, Grit, Ion and ME-TV.
We continue to learn things on our camping adventures. We had two take-always from this visit.
First, always travel with a few truck/Rosie cleaning supplies. We drove through a colony of love bugs and that meant we needed to clean both vehicles as soon as we parked.
Second, we need to pay attention to the season when we reserve a campsite. The park wasn’t full in part due to Hurricane Irma. The other reason was because other people knew better than to make reservations where it will be hot during September. A Ranger said that the campground usually fills in October when the weather turns cooler. I think the odds are good next year that we will head north or to the mountains.
We lost power a couple of times during our stay and it wasn’t the park’s fault. A big motor home plowed over a water connection and a power box while attempting to park. The rangers disconnected power to our section of the park to make sure the destroyed power box was safe then switched the power off again while fixing the problem.
|You can rent canoes in Big Lagoon State Park|
|Becky completed a plein air watercolor painting from the top of the observation tower|
|Enjoying the beach|
|Suzy plays with one of her toys|
|Big Lagoon State Park|
|Who is afraid of an alligator?|
|Boardwalk to the observation tower in Big Lagoon State Park|