Arriving at Charlestown S.P. meant meeting up with our daughter and her family. The only problem with being on the road is missing family. Being back in the north for 3 months allows us to catch up with everyone. By the end of this time, they all might even WANT to get rid of us! LOL!
Katie & Tony came out with the kids this weekend and camped for the night with us. The last time they camped with us, there were heavy rains and a tornado warning. This time, there was beautiful (warm) weather and sun. We all had a great time catching up, talking, having fun with the kids, and just being together. We look forward to seeing them again later this year.
Stay details: Charlestown State Park - Charlestown, IN
Note: This area was once the Rose Island Amusement Park, until the major flood of 1937 which created a 25-mile wide Ohio River flood which non until put 70% of Louisville under water, but also desimated the park . It was then purchased as an ammunition plant, then dedicated to the state of Indiana in 1995. The park itself is very large with 8 hiking trails and a campground. The campground consists of 189 campsites (129 electric, and 58 full hookup). The sites are well spaces at a great angle so you're not looking inside your neighbor's windows. It has one small playground, several trash bins throughout the park, and a good amount of shaded sites to choose from.
While we were here, we did encounter several ticks on us, the kids and the dog. We decided not to take any more walks in the woods.
Cumberland Point Campground is an Army Corps of Engineers campground. We have been wanting to stay at this place for quite some time, and it did NOT disappoint!
I must warn anyone who wants to book this place. BOTH the loop campground and the dead-end sites are very steep, with a sharp grade from road to site; which means you might have trouble with a 5th wheel hitting the truck. Use caution, and I would not recommend bringing any rig over 35' to any of these sites without knowing it will be a challenge to park.
With that said, we booked site #11 because I learned online that it was the best one with the lake view. Online, the site fits 40' rigs (we are 35'). Upon arriving, we were told that he didn't think we would be able to turn around at the end of the dead-end. So, we walked down, checked it out, and decided to give it a try.
Mark and I have been doing very good with communication on parking, so we had this! He turned wide, I watched his angles and limits, and radio'd findings. He took it slow, got the truck & camper at a little more than a 90 degree angle, and was clear to make the turn. The front corner barely touched our soft toneau roll. He straightened it back up the hill, then backed in with ease. Within 10 minutes, we had the rig unhooked, leveled and slides out.
In the meantime.... Upon arriving, two guys came out of the woodwork looking at the size of our camper. I think they made fun of us even thinking of trying it. Once we got in to try it, they told us "we haven't looked at all the sites yet", and continued on down the hill to where we were going. Like every RVer, we all watch the newbies coming in to see how things are done. Perhaps we silenty wait for that 'oopsie' to happen while feeling proud we would 'never' make that mistake! LOL!!
Anyway, as we were making that turn, they watched in awe, as they had previously told us that we would NEVER be able to make the turn. Mark and I worked in precision without their help, as we made the turn in one try, then backed in one try. I just smiled at them and said "See, you can do anything if you remain positive about it".. I think they left with their tails between their legs. Ha!
So here we are, on an absolute perfect day. Not too hot, not too cold. Very little breeze, and an awesome lake view and the sounds of waves gently hitting the shores below. Mark rode up to buy wood, and was told by the park manager that we could forage whatever we wanted! Wait, what???? When do we ever hear that? So Mark went to work foraging, and he had a 3' tall pile of wood in no time! He even got to use his new toy (a Makita circular saw)! Before long, dinner was sizzling on the griddle, the fire was crackling, and the birds were serenading us with their song.
We would recommend this campground only if you are brave enough to park your rig from an angled road, LOVE beauty, and love the peace and quiet. There are 2 bath houses which also have showers, and are nicely kept. The entire grounds are kept clean and nice by Army Corps personnel, and I must say, this is one of the best places we've been to (barring the fear of the unknown). Yes, site #11 is the absolute best. It's own peninsula and overhang toward the water. But there are plenty of other beautiful sites here too, so no many which you choose, you cannot lose. Each site also comes with 50amp and water hookups, with a dump station at the exit.
On the 2nd night entering a beautiful, quiet evening, we suddenly had neighbors. We don't mind neighbors, and most of the time even get to be friends with them. However, we cut our night short when the mom kept yelling at her kid all night, so loud that I think the entire campground could hear her. Nightie night. An early departure sounds promising at this point. Ha!
Told by the park secretary about the must-see elk herd in the nearby Cataloochee Valley, we headed out first thing in the morning in hopes to see a LOT of these promised elk.
After an 7-hour day of driving and touring the paved and unpaved curvy roads of the Smokies, we did not see any elk, but we did see some beautiful scenery, historical locations, and learned a lot about the area's history.
Here are some of the area highlights:
- Cataloochee Valley: 10 miles of steep curvy roads with beautiful scenery of the Smoky Mountains. Most of this area is unpaved, but the roads were relatively cared for and in good condition. I passed over 3 old one-lane bridges, and saw several old homesteads that were built in the 1800's. Sorry, no elk on our trip, even though we heard they are often seen eating along the roadside.
- Gatlinburg: Drove the narrow northern road up to Gatlinburg. We didn't make the stop here because we had Pica, but we will definitely be back to enjoy the shopping and sites. Some of the super cool things in the area are the sky bridge (via chair lifts) & Anakeesta Mountain Park. The downtown shops are amazing for those who like browsing, and there are tons of food options in the area too.
- Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail: Just outside of Gatlingburg, this one-way car trail is a definite must-do when you're in the area. Several 1800's homesteads remain in the area and are fully open for people to browse through. There are 2 picnic areas near the river, and there are many walking trails ranging from ADA short to strenuous 8 mile trails and more! Many of these trails take you to beautiful waterfalls.
Overall, just get out and see this beautiful nature! The trip through the Smoky Mountain NP was pretty short itself, but you can always add adventures on your trip to fit your dreams.
This trip and MANY more out west were much more educational due to the JUST AHEAD app. This app follows along on your journey, and tells you about the area, the history and what's expected. We just LOVE this app!
Stay Details: Pride Resort, Waynesville, NC
Note: This is a small campground resort that is nestled on the banks of the Pigeon River. It is small, pretty tight together, and have a few small ammenities like a pool (not currently open), putt putt and community center. They have benches beside the water which we really loved
Through Coast to Coast, we can stay here for 3 weeks during non-peak season, so we reserved 3 weeks just before the season began. What a beautiful gem of a place to relax, work on class, and find hike/bike trails in the Uwharrie National Forest. We are also using this location to give some time away from events so our family has the peace of mind that we are not bringing any 'bugs' home to them from our recent larger events.
Sycamore Lodge is absolutely beautiful, and if you are ever in the area, you should definitely plan a stay to this old homestead; now lodge.
Stay Details: Sycamore Lodge Resort. Jackson Springs, NC
* Sycamore Lodge is a membership resort that hosts a slew of ammenities for all ages. Fully stocked general store, membership lodge (with kitchen, laundry, restroom, sitting rooms, piano & library), miniature golf, basketball, horseshoes, shuffleboard, many sitting areas, pavilion, swimming pool, fishing, and much more!
The Grand Design Rally is open to all people that own a Grand Design RV. We signed up for this a few months ago. This would be our first rally, and we were told that they always have the G.D. techs there to fix warranty and recall issues as well as the opportunity to get on a list to fix general issues. They also hold educational seminars and have venders to purchase items.
As soon as we parked, we met up with our neighbors who owned a Solitude. We hit it off right away, and spent the rest of the weekend with them, attending events together, playing games and having dinner. We also met up with several other couples, and made several friends during the rally.
Having the rally at Myrtle Beach was a bonus. They gave us all $60 worth of 'Design Bucks' that we could use for food during the week. The campground was huge with several ammenities, not to mention the absolute beautiful beach!
On our last night, after receiving a tweet that SpaceX was about to launch their rocket with more satelites, we walked to the beach at 11:30pm and set up our chairs & video of the launch. I was able to get a few decent photos, but we were able to watch the rocket throughout most of the sky, when it finally disappeared back at the north horizon. Seeing this even from SC when the launch was in FL was spectacular and very exciting!
Stay Details: Lakewood Family Campground, Myrtle Beach, SC
* This is a huge Christian family campground that hosts large events. They have a swimming pool, lazy river, water slides, putt putt, paddle boats, ice cream, general store, and much more! The conference ammenities offer an amphitheater, a library, information center, and campground integrated events.
Even though the sites were pretty close together, it still allowed decent room for family get-togethers. All sites offer full hookups with immediate access to the beautiful beach.
We didn't post much for April because we had a good amount of down time at Myrtle Beach. Mark gave the truck a break job and tune-up, so she's ready to cross the mountains. The rig got a cleaning overhaul and some new carpets & kitchen upgrades.
God has really Blessed us at Briarcliffe with the friendship of an older couple. Mark dug right in and helped work on their tv. They ended up going to Best Buy together the next day and buying a new one. WOW, the difference in the new 43" 4k TV compared to their old 17" tube TV was an amazing transformation, and made Richard VERY happy! We spent most of the day teaching them how to use the new technology, including email! It was almost like adopting parents, and they told us they were going to adopt us as their kids. Ok! :-) They are even going to take a 2 hour drive to the next place we're staying (their home park), so visit with us for the day. :-)
Through our converstaions at the parks, we have decided to get involved with ROAM, a Christian RV ministry that is 'there where you need them". Like the SOWERS ministry we joined, ROAM also helps camps with needed projects, but they are also involved with disaster relief, which is something we both have a passion for being involved in. Stay tuned on more details with this.
- As many know, Myrtle Beach is a HUGE beach party destination. Since we don't party, it ended up being pretty boring. However, there is a LOT of tourist attractions around if you'd like to catch some dinner shows, aquariums, Ripley's museums and parks. We saw Dolly Parton's Pirates Voyage, and it was spectacular!
- For bike riding enthusiasts, Myrtle Beach was not the destination to go. There were very few bike trails, and most of those were mostly on main road sidewalks. There were no trails paralelling the ocean.
- For dog owners. Myrtle Beach is a dog-owners paradise. From October-April, dogs are allowed on all the beaches, so you AND your pooch can enjoy the awesome beach and beautiful sunrises. From May - September, dogs are only allowed on the beach before 9am and after 5pm.
Stay Details: Briarcliffe RV Resort - Myrtle Beach, SC
* This park is part of the Coast to Coast resort parks that we joined last year. It was a good destination, being it was close to the beach, close to stores, and had some amenities for visitors. The park also accepted some mail delivery for us, which was really nice. We enjoyed walking to the pond just about every night and sitting with the ducks.
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.
WOW! What a find! I booked this place a few months back knowing we'd need a stopover on the way to South Carolina. It was beautiful and cheap, that's why I chose it. Well it also has 50a and water at EACH one of the 6 camp sites! The sites are a good distance away from each other, and the park has trails to enjoy the scenery.. I definite must-do for anybody that enjoys the great outdoors! Just make sure you bring mosquito repellent! :-)
Stay Details: Cary State Forest Campground; Bryceville, FL
* Campground has 6 large reservable sites that are very spacious, have a cement pad, fire ring, benches and a garbage can. There are 2 group sites, and several hiking paths in the area including a beautiful boardwalk. The bath houses were extremely clean with showers, and the pavilion was huge, new and had a grill to share (currently open to group reservations only).
- ATT had 3 bar signal with 91mb download and 17 upload. Verizon had 15mb download and 8mb upload. Both were consistent during our stay.
- This is a definite recommendation by both of us!
Our final stay at Bee's Resort this year was with our friends Bill & Marilou.. After being together since California, we have met up several times during our travels, and will now be parting ways for a while. It was a bittersweet stay, as we really enjoyed spending time with them, but we also had to say our "See Ya Later's".
A visit to Silver Springs did not disappoint. It is the world's largest fresh water springs, and several movies were shot here, including the original "Tarzan" movie series and "I Spy" just to name a few. We would highly recommend a visit here. They have glass bottom boat tours, kayak rentals, and many trails you can bike and hike. We finished the visit with a surprise view of the Starlink launch which was 90 miles away!
Stay Details: Bee's Resort; Clermont, FL
* This time, they allowed us to stay in a regular campsite which was very pretty and across from our friends. Bee's is a nice resort, with a swimming pool that was open (and warm), a walking trail and shuffleboard.
Maria reserved this campground for the last 2 days on her spring break. It had 50a and water at all sites, was mostly waterfront sites, and absolutely beautiful!
The next day, Maria's friend gave her tickets to Seaworld for all of us, so we enjoyed the day there! It was extremely busy, but we all had a great time.
Stay Details: Trimble Park, Mt. Dora, FL
* This campground is an absolute beautiful campground that has mostly large waterfront sites, and a beautiful serene environment. The bath house was clean, and the playground was small yet very nice. It was a little tight getting around with a bigger rig, but we made it with no problem. We will definitely stay longer next time we come here.