Thursday, June 22, 2017

Bowling Green KOA - Bowling Green, Kentucky

We have a history of passing through Bowling Green, Kentucky, while traveling up and down I-65. Sure, there are iconic buildings along the Interstate that catch our attention, but not enough to lure us off the highway until now.

Iconic Corvette Museum, which is easily seen from I-65


Our goal was to meet up with a group of fellow Airstream owners all planning to share an adventure touring Kentucky on a Wally Byam Caravan Club International (WBCCI) caravan and Bowling Green was the first stop.

The timing was fortunate in that a national rally for Corvette owners was also taking place in Bowling Green that week. Why Bowling Green? Starting in 1981, all Corvettes were built there.
The rally brought thousands of Corvettes and their owners back to Bowling Green and it seemed as if most were on display in the parking lots surrounding the National Corvette Museum.


Corvettes in the parking lot







You cannot go to Bowling Green without going on the Corvette Factory tour. Even car skeptics are impressed after seeing how Corvettes are assembled.

National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky


The Corvette Museum is next to the factory and houses many Corvette models and concept cars. The museum made the news a while back when a sink hole opened up and swallowed six rare Corvettes worth more than $1 million. The building has been repaired, but several of the cars could not be restored.

Windows on the floor allowing you to see the sinkhole that opened up in the Corvette Museum

One of the Corvettes that could not be repaired after falling into the sinkhole

Another Corvette that could not be rebuild after it fell into the museum's sinkhole


If you find yourself in Bowling Green, you don't want to miss the Corvette factory tour nor the museum.

Another Corvette at the museum
Corvette Concept Car


If you have read through some of the past postings in this blog, you probably noticed that KOA campgrounds tend to puzzle me. We have stayed in KOA parks that range from pitiful to nice with more on the negative side of the ledger than on the positive. So, I approach all KOA campgrounds with low expectations.

KOA in Bowling Green, KY


This particular park falls in the better than average group for KOA campgrounds.

Some of the positive things about this park are that most of the sites are pull-thrus, many sites had shade and there was a reasonable amount of distance between campsites.

Rosie, our Airstream trailer, parked at the Bowling Green KOA


Some of the things we felt could be improved were the views. It didn't matter where you looked outside your RV, all you saw were other campers. Also, you were left with the impression that the franchisee wanted to pack as many amenities in as possible.

Yes, there is a miniature golf course here, but you need to emphasis the word miniature. Yes, there is a fenced dog park here that is a miniature. Yes, there is a children's playground here. You guessed it, the playground is miniature. You can check off the park's features and write "tiny" next to each.

Here are some specifics about this park:
  • Our site had 20 and 30 amp electrical service. Some sites had 50 amp service.
  • Our site also had water and sewer connections. It was nice to have full hookups.
  • Our site was gravel and not level. It took multiple tools to take the left-to-right lean out of Rosie, our 25 foot Airstream trailer.
  • There is a dump station at the front of the park. We didn't need to use it since we had full hookups.
  • There were two bathhouses in the park that we found. One was next to the campstore and the other was in the middle of the park. It seemed that every time we went to one of these bathhouses, it was clean and the floor was freshly mopped.
  • The dumpster is near the front of the park. Some sites have a long walk to get to the dumpster.
  • AT&T placed a strong 4G signal over the park for both voice and data.
  • There was WiFi service, we think, in the park. The password we were given didn't work.
  • The park had cable TV service. We elected to bypass the cable and watch over-the-air TV signals. We were able to pickup ABC, CBS, FOX, PBS and NBC stations. Plus, we saw digital signals from Antenna-TV, GET, GRIT, BUZRZ, ION, CW, MY-TV, ESCAPE, COZI, LAFF and several others I failed to record. Missing was ME-TV, one of our favorites.


Downtown Bowling Green




Thursday, June 15, 2017

Cages Bend Corps of Engineers Campground - Hendersonville, Tennessee



Our goal was to find a campground north of Nashville for one night. We were traveling up I-65 to join up with a WBCCI caravan the next day and we didn't want to pull Rosie, our 25 foot Airstream trailer, thru Nashville's commute traffic the next morning. Also, stopping north of Nashville would set the stage for us arriving on time for the caravan's rendezvous in Kentucky.

We found Cages Bend Campground on our iPhone's AllStays app. The park's reviews were positive, it was along a lake and we were able to get a waterfront site. That pretty much checks all the boxes for a good campground.

Cabes Bend Corp of Engineers Campground


I won't hold you in suspense any longer. Yes, Cages Bend is a good campground.

We wondered if Google Maps and our GPS were conspiring against us as we followed their suggested route to the park. It appeared that we were led thru neighborhoods on roads with noticeably decreasing widths. I found I was hoping I wouldn't meet a big rig coming from the other direction.

It is easy to make a wrong turn going into the park. Yes, there is a faded arrow painted on the road directing you to enter thru the left lane, but is easy to miss. Very easy! Besides, you normally enter parks from the right lane! Fortunately, we only had to back up about 25 feet to angle into the park.

Rosie along the lake at Cages Bend Campground

Enjoying the view


The last words told to us by the park's attendant was that they were having some water problems and the water pressure was up and down. "Down" was the critical word.

As soon as we backed into our site, I could hear other campers asking each other if they had water. A quick check told the story. Our site didn't have water and our fresh water tank was empty. We really should know better than to take Rosie out with an empty fresh water tank.

Evening along the lake


Thankfully, the water came back after about 45 minutes with adequate pressure. The work crew was trying to stop a leak in the park and had to turn the water off while making repairs several times that afternoon. Word on the street was that the repairs would resume bright and early the following morning. We quickly filled the fresh water tank so that we would be prepared when the workers returned the next day.

With the water crisis behind us, we were able to enjoy the park. We kept remarking that this was a beautiful little Corps of Engineers park. Our neighbors on the next site remarked about how difficult it was to get a lakeside site there. I guess some people left early because of the water problems.

One of the standouts for this park was the trees. They were huge, both tall and wide. Plus, they were beautiful.

Some of the trees in Cages Bend Campground

More trees!

Trees around Rosie in Cages Bend


Here are some specifics about this park:
  • This is a relatively small park. There are less than 50 sites in the campground.
  • Our site had 30 and 20 amp electrical service. 50 amp service was available at some sites.
  • Our site had a water hookup. As mentioned earlier, the park was having trouble with its water service while we were there.
  • None of the sites had sewer connections.
  • There is a dump station near the bathhouse.
  • There is a single bathhouse in the park. It wasn't exactly centrally located.
  • The bathhouse was clean and well maintained. It was also dated and needed to be renovated.
  • The dumpster was located across from the bathhouse.
  • AT&T placed a strong 4G signal over the camp for both voice and data.
  • There wasn't any Wi-Fi service in this park.
  • Our site was level.
  • It costs a few extra dollars to book a site on the water. It is well worth doing so.
  • The park is near the flight path to Nashville. While you will see lots of planes, their noise isn't distracting.
  • This was a strong spot for television. We saw more networks and digital channels than I care to list. Let's just say that Rosie's antenna picked up everything we cared to see.
While walking Suzy, our dog, I started talking to a man at the RV dump station. He was wearing an "Army Retired" hat and, as an Army vet, I stopped to thank him for his service. I noticed three stars on his truck as I walked away. I walked back to say I was unaware that I was talking to a three-star general. He was very gracious and thanked me for my service in the Army, which was more than 40 years ago.

This was a great campground find for us. We camped in site nine and will add this to our "Return To" list one day.

Rosie in this park

Trees in Cages Bend
Selfie in Cages Bend
Our site at Cages Bend



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

T. H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park - 2017

It seems that our annual trip to the T. H. Stone St. Joseph Peninsula State Park has earned the honor of kicking off our camping season. For more than 15 years, we have camped in this park during the Spring Break time span. Our first visits to this park were in tents. Now we camp in Rosie, our 25 foot Airstream trailer.

Turning on the road that goes to the park.


We credit this park with our leap from tents to Rosie. A storm drove us from the park one too many times while we were tent campers. As we, along with the other tent campers, were quickly tearing down to get out before the storm, we noticed that the campers in RVs were simply rolling in the awnings on their rigs. That observation put us on the road that led to Rosie.





And Rosie has led us to many camping adventures over the years. While we enjoyed our tent camping days, Rosie has given us new opportunities to explore, such as participating in WBCCI (the Airstream owners association) caravans and rallies. Besides, sleeping on the ground was getting harder for us each new year.

Since retiring, we have changed from scheduling one week in this park to two. That seems to improve the odds that we will enjoy a week of great weather. It was cold during our first week and "Chamber of Commerce" perfect the second. So, our strategy paid off.

We have noticed over the years that the complexion of parks tends to change over weekends. The "weekenders" roar into the park on Friday afternoon and the noise and activity levels explode. They love sharing their blaring music with everyone in the park and their smokey campfires cast a hazy cloud over everything. As quickly as the weekenders took over the campground on Saturday, they disappear on Sunday. You learn to appreciate the joys of weekday camping.

We always enjoy an excursion into Apalachicola to see the shrimp boats followed by a lunch featuring local seafood. We were not disappointed with either.

Shrimp boat in Apalachicola

Lunch!


Shopping for groceries while camping at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park has always been a problem. The two grocery stores we found in Apalachicola are small and have painfully few "organic" offerings. We broke a fifteen year tradition this year and turned west leaving the park. Port St. Joe was half the distance than Apalachicola and we found a grocery store that was larger and better stocked than the ones in Apalachicola.

If you have read any of our previous postings from campgrounds along the Gulf coast, there is no suspense here. You already know that we love hearing the sounds of the surf while camping. It is a safe bet that we will return to the T. H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park next year to make sure both Rosie and our minds are ready for another year of camping.
Here are some specifics about this park:
  • There are two camping loops (Gulf Breeze and Shady Pines) in the park. There are some tree-lined sharp turns in the Shady Pines loop and I wouldn't recommend that loop for larger rigs. We have camped in both loops before, but our reservations were for the Gulf Breeze loop this year.
  • Our site had 30 and 20 amp electrical service. I don't think the park offers 50 amp service.
  • In addition to electrical service, our site had a water connection. The water pressure on our connection was a healthy 42 pounds.
  • Our site did not have a sewer connection and I don't think any sites in this park have sewer connections. There is a single dump station near the exit of the Gulf Breeze camping loop. You should plan on waiting for your turn at the dump station if several other people decide to leave about the same time as you.
  • There is a dump station in the Shady Pines loop. You cannot reach it with your RV, so you must lug your sewer tote across some soft Florida beach sand to reach it. While this is a challenge, it is easier to use when camping in the Shady Pines loop than dragging your tote to the Gulf Breeze loop.
  • There are two bath houses in each camping loop and they are all well maintained by the park's staff. The Gulf Breeze loop bathhouse nearest the boardwalk appears to have been updated more recently than the others. That bathhouse was also heated, something we appreciated during the short cold snap while we camped there.
  • The AT&T signal over the park hasn't improved over the years. It continues to rate a "pitiful" to "marginal" classification. We could see one or an occasional two bars of service on one end of Rosie some days and no service was consistent on the other end. Both voice and data services were unreliable. We suffered through several days without any service at our site.
  • There are two WiFi access points in the park. The WiFi at the campstore seems to be a little faster than the WiFi point between the two camping loops. Expect the bandwidth speeds to plummet when someone else starts sharing the WiFi signal you are using.
  • There is a campstore in the park with some last minute necessities. Take lots and lots and lots of money if you need to buy some milk.
  • This is a pet friendly park.
  • We were able to watch ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS most of time time using Rosie's antenna. We occasionally saw the FOX affiliate's signal. We also consistently saw digital channels ME-TV and CW. Signals from GRIT, H&I and Escape drifted in and out during the days.
  • We have seen Poison Ivy in this park before. We saw a bumper crop along the boardwalk this year.
There were eight Airstream trailers and one Airstream Interstate in this park during our stay. Three of the trailers were Bambi sized and another was a 1966 vintage unit. It is always special to meet and share ideas with other Airstreamers as we travel.

Sunset

Along the boardwalk


Suzy out in the Kayak

Steve and Suzy on a trail

The boardwalk

Becky and Suzy

An owl spotted in the park


Rosie seen through the woods

Coming in for a landing

Bath time!

Selfie along the shore

This is the first time we have seen this flag

Becky did some plein air watercolor painting while in the park

Sunset





Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Grayton Beach State Park - Fall 2016

Some parks are "special" and they deserve being added to our list of favorites that we want to visit every year. Grayton Beach State Park qualifies as one of our A-List parks and we try to camp there in Rosie's, our 25 foot Airstream trailer, at least once every year.

Grayton Beach State Park


It is interesting to us because not everyone shares this love for Grayton Beach State Park. We frequently share our favorite campgrounds with fellow campers during the year and have discovered that most people have heard of Grayton Beach and they either love or hate it.

Hate it? We think it is beautiful. The loop we try to camp in is very rustic and a cloud of dust seems to follow every car as it passes by, but it reminds us both of the Florida we grew up in before the condo builders discovered the beach.

Rosie in the Bay camping loop

Looking out over the water

The beach in the distance

Looking at the Western Lake

The trees before The Trees


There are two camping loops at this park. The first has a paved road around it, several concrete pads for your rigs and water, electric and sewer connections. The second has a dirt road, dirt camping pads and water and electric service. The draw for this loop is that it is closer to the Bay and some sites have nice water views.

The famous trees outside Grayton Beach State Park

Suzy and Steve behind Rosie

The Western Lake

Becky works on her watercolor paintings inside Rosie

We haven't seen an alligator yet, only this sign


Dust was an issue this time. We were in the park after a long spell without rain and the roads and sites were dusty. Make that very dusty. We quickly discovered that we needed to hold Suzy, our Yorkie dog, as we walked along the dirt roads of the campground until we reached one of the paved roads.
Otherwise, she started looking like a coal miner.

Since the Bay loop does not have sewer connections, you need to bring your sewage tote. There is a dump station in the Bay loop, but it is in an awkward location. You can easily block the Bay loop road while using it and if you dump while leaving the park, you will end up having to take an encore lap around the loop. I don't qualify as an expert on locating dump stations, but I think that location was picked by a rookie in the park-design business.

Hiking trail at the park

Selfie

A storm on the way


We probably need to make an apology at this point to the parks we recently visited and complained about their water pressure. Yes, I was once again starting to document the low water pressure at this park when I started thinking about the odds of every park we stayed at having pressure issues. So, I started a "science project" where I disconnected various gadgets (Y-connector, pressure regulator, water filter, etc.) from the connection. It appears that the Y-connector also included a pressure regulator that bumped the pressure down to around 22 pounds at this park. Once that was removed from the setup, we had a healthy 40 pounds of pressure.

Temperatures dipped into the "uncomfortable" range during the nights. Our trusty electric heater kept us warm and we didn't have to fire up Rosie's furnace.

Here are some specifics about this park:
  • There are two camping loops in the park. The camping fees are different between the loops because of the differences in connections and paved roads.
  • Our site had 20 and 30 amp electrical service. I am not sure if any other sites provided 50 amp service.
  • Our site had water and electrical connections, but no sewer connection.
  • Our site was gravel and dirt and reasonably level. (Several sites in the other loop had concrete pads.)
  • AT&T placed a strong 4G signal over our site for both voice and data.
  • We were able to watch ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS and CW TV stations using Rosie's antenna. We also saw ME-TV, Grit, MY and Bounce digital stations.
  • We started noticing that the bathhouses in the Bay loop need some attention. They are outdated and we noticed some mold issues. The bathhouse in the paved loop is updated and in good condition.
  • This was a pet-friendly park.
This is a park that you want to bring your bikes to because there are some great paths to explore. They were building a new bike path across the bay, but it seemed to be on the wrong side of the road. We will see how that turned out on our next visit to Grayton Beach State Park.


Becky and Suzy

The beach

Rosie loaded up and ready to pull out in the morning