Stopped over to see Katie & the family before heading west. This was the 2nd camping trip we've had with them this year and we always have a blast (like we do with the other kids).. This time, the weather was beautiful except for some tiny bit of rain in the morning, and everyone had a great time. In the morning we went to the zoo, and Sunday Mark went to see the kids sing in church, then helped Tony with the car in the afternoon. I stayed back with a sick me and sick Pica, but felt better the next morning.
Stay details: Charlestown State Park; Charlestown, IN - Site 141
Notes: We choose this campground close to Katie because it has large sites where we have plenty of room to put multiple tents. The sites are electric only and have no sewer or water at the sites. There are water spigots around the campgrounds, and the shower houses are clean and well taken care of. The playground is in the main loop and has a climbing gym and swings.
Ruth & Darrell invited us to the fair before we left. It was large, beautifully set up, and had a lot of wonderful events. Here are some highlights from the fair:
Up near the top of the U.S., we took the higher route to Maine so we didn't have to go straight through the mountains. This allowed us more time to see things we've never seen before.
Robert Moses State Park was full of beauty. From the beach, the marina, and the locks.. Nice biking trails allowed us to get to all the places around the island, but most of all, it was really cool to see the locks so close.
The videos below, two of a time-lapse of a ship going through the locks. The other was what we think was a drunk skunk (on mushrooms maybe?) going through our campsite.
Stay Details: Robert Moses State Park; Maseena NY - Site 241
Notes: Nice campground near a beach and most sites have lake access, but it's a small walk away from the campsites. The dum station is in the other campground loop. The bath houses were nice and upgraded, and each of the sites have decent room. The island has great bike riding areas, and nice access to 2 dams and power centers.
If we were to stay in the area again, we would recommend the Long Sault Loop on sites 187-192, which are water front sites with views of the ships going through the locks.
It was difficult to find a campground on the west side of the state, so we settled for a lesser-known one, Orchard Beach State Park. I'm really glad we did though, because our site was absolutely beautiful and we found several treasures in the area.
- Lake Bluff Bird Sanctuary: Just a few miles from our place, this little haven is home to the only 3 Giant Sequoia's in Michigan. They Grey family brought 6 of them from CA in 1938 and planted the seeds on their farm in Manistee. Three are left today, and all are here at this bird sanctuary/farm
- Arcadia Marsh Preserve. 15 miles north of Orchard Beach, this 305-acre preserve is home to 231 bird species (17 endangered), 28 fish species, and 201 plant species. It was a beautiful and serene boardwalk stroll in the morning before it was too hot.
- Orchard Beach Trail is a 2-mile trail just outside the campground. It was a beautiful walk in the woods and some meadows. We would highly recommend this walk for exercise and time to unwind.
- Manistee Bay and Lighthouses. Must take a quick tour through town and visit the lighthouses. To our surprise, the city beach here is a dog beach! Even though Pica chose to stay behind on this hot day, now we know where to take her for some fun. It was a fun walk with some cool shots for a night without the pup. There is also a Riverwalk on the south side of the river if you're interested.
Stay Details: Orchard Beach State Park; Manistee MI
*Note: This very large and active campground is a very well-kept campground with a lot of recent upgrades due to its beach erosion in 2019. They are still relocation the main pavilion and steps going to the beach, so don't expect the beach to be open yet. Most sites are tight and made for group camping. We were lucky enough to get a large pull-through site that gave us a pretty good view of the lake. Sites provide 50a electric only, so fill up your water before finding your site.
Just a quick stop here because it's an affiliate park without our home membership resort. It has a lot of ammenities, and best yet is that they are all open! Even the hot tub!
We parked on lot VS3, so we are in the front opposite of the lake, very near the pool. Mark just LOVES the pool! While here, we got some laundry done, played miniature golf, swam, took a lot of walks, and got some paperwork and cleaning done.
We have an upcoming appointment with the Grand Design (our RV factory), so get some warranty work, so we want all the Arizona dust removed. lol!!
The worst part of our stay was getting stuck in the rain while on a walk. Well, Pica didn't like it, it got her bloomers wet. Ha!
We would definitely recommend this campground, even if it's for a membership. They take good care of their grounds, and are even building more campsites on the other side of the park. There are a lot of friendly geese here, fishing allowed, playground, miniature golf, a large clubhouse, and an absolutely beautiful pool.
From FL to Myrtle Beach, had to find an overnight stay. After almost 7 hours of driving, we stopped at this precious little gem. MUCH better than a truck stop, don't you think?? :-)
Before leaving in the morning, we walked 3 miles on the trails (listed below), then rode our bikes about 12 miles on the other trails. We saw over 20 alligators, numerous birds (herons and Anhingas), a lot of frogs and unfortunately, numerous deer flies that drove us nuts. However, surprisingly we did not encounter many mosquitos here during this visit.
Stay Details: Santee Coastal Reserve, McClellanville, SC
* This is a small FREE campground in a beautiful reserve which lies inside the Francis Marion National Forest. The campground is total dry camping, meaning there is no bathrooms, water or garbage for people. You have to be totally self-contained. There are about 8 sites that are First Come, First Serve, and there were 3 left when we arrived. There were several beautiful trails in the area, a boardwalk over the marsh, and the possibility of seeing quite a few different animals. We walked the Marshland Trail, the rode our bikes on the Cape Trail and Eldorado Trail.
* The Eldorado Trail leads to the ruins of the Eldorado Plantation which was build in 1797, was hit with a canon ball during the Civil War, then ended up burning to the ground years later. It was a very interesting piece of history.
During our stay at Long Pine Key, we met up with Maria, Steve & the kids. It was great to see them after a year of traveling!
After resting and working on her camper for a day, we visited Wooten's Airboat tours. We bought the package which included the airboat ride, swamp buggy ride andgator park. The airboat ride was phenomenal!! Buggy ride.. Not so much. It was still fun being all together though.
The next day we all went to Key West. Visited John Pennekamp State Park and took a kayak tour and small hike. Mark had to work on his class halfway to Key West, so we found good cell signal, and the kids went on their way. They went shopping in downtown, then we met up again to get our pictures taken at the Southernmost Buoy.
We visited the beach, the kids swam in the ocean, and we found a spectacular sunset! After that we satisfied our hunger at a Mexican Restaurant.
Stay Details: Long Pine Key Campground; Homestead, FL:
* This is a beautiful campground nestled inside the Everglades State Park. The sites are dry camping only (no hookups), and are spaced pretty far apart. The kids parked oposite of us, and we were close enough to comfortably share the picnic table and refrigerator. We were also right next to the bath-house, so it was convenient for everyone.
* We walked the Anhinga Trail in the morning, and we saw a large alligator, and many Anhinga's along the way. It was a nice short trail for the kids.
* The only problem we had was some other campers were screaming at eat other until 2am, but the rangers were quick to take care of the problem in the morning.
We left our previous location early so we could tour the area and park closer to the beach. Most of Florida State Parks are full this time of year, so we used a new resource called "WanderingLabs" which search campgrounds for openings due to cancelations. So, I put in my request for 3 different campgrounds around the Panama City area, and within an hour we had an opening at this park! I had 15 minutes to reserve it, and we were in!
During our stay here, we rode our bikes on the trails, visited the beach, and enjoyed the beautiful outdoors. This is a definitely a park that you should put on your ToDo list if you are in the area. It is absolutely gorgeous and well kept!
Stay Details: Topsail Hill Preserve Campground - Santa Rosa Beach, FL
Site #35. Our site had a broken cement pad, so it was difficult to get the camper up there without hurting any tires. We did a great job as a team once again, and we were situated in no time! Before heading out on the bikes, Mark worked on some class work. Before long, he was ready to relax and ride the trails.
Before dinner, we left Pica in the rig and went to the beach. We arrived shortly before sunset, and were able to get some awesome photos!
There are NO bad sites at this park from what we can see, and this park is very well maintained and clean. We highly recommend this campground if you are in the area. The walk to the beach was .9 miles, and the pool was closed due to Covid.
After a 6-hour drive and about 50 miles of it being bridge over Louisiana swamp land, we ended up at a very nice Coast to Coast resort, Abita Springs. It is nestled amongst very tall pines, has a swimming pool, 3 ponds and a hiking trail.
I am finding out that when we request 50 amp sites when booking a camping reservation, it usually lands us smack in the middle of huge rigs and motorhomes, not the remote and quiet sites we prefer. So, we asked to downgrade to a 30 amp site and they reluctantly honored that request. When we returned from our excursion to New Orleans, we packed up from our sardine location and hastily moved to our new pond-side site with fewer rigs and more wildlife. It was darker, much quieter, had a beautiful picnic area in the pines and even occasional visiting ducks and geese!
Highlights of the visit to New Orleans: There were only a few things we wanted to see in New Orleans, so we planned for a quick visit.
- Lake Pontchartrain Bridge is the world's longest single bridge over one body of water. We think it was pretty awesome, except it was so foggy we couldn't see anything until our return trip back over the straight-long span.
- Venice: Located at the southern most end of the Mississippi River, the trip down to the end of this peninsula was nothing short of spectacular. We learned that levees built on either side of the road were meant to keep out the storm surges and protect homes and businesses. During hurricane Katrina, these levees were breached and the locals suffered from a 29' storm surge. Even 15 years later, there is still plenty of evidence from the Katrina's devestation. The 400-year storm left such an impression on New Orleans, you can take a tour of it from the French Quarter.
- Eagle: Stopping at the Plaquemines Parish Museum, Mark spotted an eagle sitting in the tree watching us. It was protecting its nearby nest and I was able to get a few photos!
- South Plaquemines High School: Most of the homes and business south of the levee gate was built on pylons to raise it beyond probable storm surges. Check out this high school that has been built above ground! The name of the HS football team? The Hurricanes!
- Venice: At the end of the peninsula, we stopped to walk around the marsh. The Pass A Loutre State Wildlife Management Area was nearby, so this area is rich with wildlife! We saw Pelicans, Osprey, Loons, Egrets, Herons, and even Alligators!
- French Quarter: We walked the markets in the French Quarter, and even though neither of us are the 'shopping' type, we enjoyed the experience of the area. We even had a Biegnet at the Cafe Du Monde!
The ornate iron railings around town and seeing Bourbon street was one of the more interesting points of the visit. There were young men scattered around town making money by shining shoes, playing music and telling jokes. We can now consider this visit checked off our list, and have little desire to return. It was definitely a learning experience, and now we understand why so many people were affected by the hurricanes here.
Stay details: Abita Springs RV Resort: Abita Springs, LA.
* Site # 223 changed to site # 25. The sites in the smaller pond loop have water and electric only, with 30-amp electric. The park does have a dump station near the entrance. We chose site 25 because it was an easier angle to back into, and our large windows would face the pond.
During our time at site 25, we had the peninsula to ourselves and the local ducks seemed to love spending their day with us; even laying down next to us as we sat and worked. :-)
(See more photos on our ARIZONA page)
We found this spot on Campendium, and after reading the reviews, I wasn't sure if we were going to find a spot or fit into the spots we did find. We could only go so far, so after passing the 5th cattle guard, we pulled over and rode the bikes in to scope out a spot. Low and behold, there were 2 areas that MAY work, and a few spots to turn around if they didn't.
It was difficult to put the rig into position, but even though a bit frustrated, Mark did an awesome job. Once it was in position, it was also work to level the rig, as we were 8" off. We put one side up on blocks, and the other side we dug a little hole so the tires would go down. Came out to 1/4" off, so we called it good and hit auto-level.
The views at this place are spectacular! We walked the area and found recent evidence of cows, Mountain Sheep, and some dog or cat-like medium type animal. We were at the top of the hill overlooking the rest of the campers, so we set up the cameras to face the mountains, in hopes that we'll see some kind of wild animal activity.
The local cows moved in on day 2, keeping their distance yet welcoming us with their presence. :-)
Stay Details: Indian Bread Rocks BLM; Bowie AZ. (32.240677, -109.506086)