Sunday, August 11, 2013

Time to Update

Ok, worst blogger of the year award goes to ..... me!  One year since I updated this blog???

So, what better update than a rundown of the last year of camping?

August 28 - September 3 2012 Ft. Desoto Campground, Site 132

This is the back of our site.  It was a great week, although really hot.  The first few days, no one was at the campground because Tropical Storm Isaac had run everyone off.  Racoons got into our cooler (that was shut and semi-locked).  The waves were amazing.   We celebrated my husband's 44th birthday and my youngest's 6th birthday!

October 20 - October 27, 2012 - Tallulah Gorge State Park, Tallulah Falls, GA

This trip was really amazing.  We finally, after 16 years of trying, hit the right week for leaves.  It was so beautiful to see all the leaves in their colors! I so wish Florida had a little bit of a change of seasons.  We did several hikes, saw waterfalls.  Mark and the kids even got permits and hiked the gorge floor.  Everything went well until the last afternoon when Taya (the youngest) fell from the monkey bars and broke her arm.  So we spent the last afternoon in the ER at Habersham Hospital.  Turns out, after we got back home, she needed surgery on the break!  Hoping this years trip doesn't involve a trip to the ER!

We were pleasantly surprised to see Tallulah Gorge had paved all the pull through sites.  The weather was pretty spectacular all week, we didn't even get our One Up canopy out!

November 21 -November 25, Anastasia State Park, St. Augustine, Florida

We really like Anastasia State Park!  It was pretty cold Thanksgiving weekend and fairly windy, so we didn't do any kayaking.  But the close trip to downtown St. Augustine was so nice!  The kids really enjoyed the visit, especially the Castillo De San Marcos.  We got to the campground fairly late and the site was rather small.  Most sites were smaller, we were among the bigger RVs in the park, but this will be a place we visit again for sure!

January 4-6, 2013, Ft. Desoto Site 132

We had the same site as in August for this trip.  We went with our friends, The Morgans.  Weather was nice, not too hot, not too cold.  I learned to play new favorite game!

March 29-31, Ft. Desoto

I don't remember the exact site, but it wasn't one we could put the kayaks in, it was on the seawall.  We went with some friends from our Sunday School class.  It was their maiden voyage in their Pop Up they just purchased!

April 17 -April 21, Ft. Desoto

This was our Spring Break trip.  Nothing super exciting, but had a great visit.  As you can see, we love Ft. Desoto.

May 23 - May 27, 2013 Ft. Wilderness Campground, Disney World, FL

This trip was for the Homeschool Convention.  It is held at the Gaylord Palms Resort but we chose the stay at Ft. Wilderness.  I thought the kids would regret that when they saw how awesome the hotel was inside.  They enjoyed hanging out there during the day while my hubby and I went to workshops and shopped but they were always glad to come back to "The Fort" in the evening for a bike ride or Chip & Dale's Sing Along!  Cannot believe it had been almost 2 years since our last visit to Ft. Wilderness!!

July 4 - July 7 2013, Sun N Fun Sarasota, Fl.

It has been well over 2 years since our last visit to Sun N Fun.  Originally this was planned for early June so my friend, Denise and I, could co-op plan. Then the families were going to join us for the remainder of the weekend.  Turns out, Tropical Storm Andrea had other plans so we had to reschedule.

Our site was great, it was OK.  This resort is a bit more crowded than most other parks.  My mom came with us for one night only, that was enough for her.  She didn't seem to enjoy the "camping" too much, but she did enjoy the fireworks show on Siesta Key.

It rained a lot and was fairly crowded all weekend, but was a decent get away for July 4th!

Ok, that is a very brief rundown of our last year of camping trips! Here is our upcoming schedule:

August 30-September 3, 2013 - Ft. Desoto (Camping with The Morgan's)

October 18 - 27 - Tallulah Gorge State Park (Camping with The Barnett's)

November 22-24 - Silver River State Park (Ocala) for mine and Mark's 17th Anniversary.  We are doing a Zip Line excursion in Ocala - sans Kids!

January 2 - January 8 - Ft. Desoto

January 24 - January 26 - Ft. Wilderness, Disney World, FL.  This is to celebrate my oldest daughter's 13th birthday!!  Since we can have 10 people on our site, she gets to bring 5 girls with her to celebrate!  

And that is about it!  Happy Camping!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Curry Hammock State Park

Well, I am way behind, again!  

June 30-July 7 we were at Curry Hammock State Park in Marathon, FL.  Loved this place! Site 16 - Ocean front!

The campground was small, only 28 sites and I booked 11 months to the day in advanced!  But I loved our site.  We had an amazing view of the ocean, it was beautiful!  There was one bathhouse.  It was OK, fairly clean.  The toilets didn't have running water, they were located on the second floor and everything went to the bottom, but surprisingly, there was never an odor!  The showers were nice, good water pressure and hot!

We were a short 2 site walk to the walkway to the ocean.  My husband made kayak carts out of PVC pipe and we walked the kayaks down to the beach and headed out.  We spent a lot of time kayaking and fishing!  There was so much to do with the kayaks, we didn't get anywhere near navigating all the waters we hoped to.

The sand beach was nice, especially for the Keys.  The water was very warm though, so it wasn't pleasant to "swim" in.

We went to the Outdoor World.  Best tourist trap in the Keys!  We spent a morning on a snorkel excursion at Bahia Honda State Park.  Great trip, except for the rough seas, made the snorkeling a bit rough.  Then we drove down to Key West, ate at Sloppy Joes.  Not impressed with Key West - wanted to get back to the campground and Kayak!

We do want to go back....but will go when its a bit cooler.  It was HOT, and very buggy.  So other than the water being too hot, the air be oppressive hot and the bugs, we loved this place and cannot wait to go back.

View from the back of our campsite from the beach.  Ours is the one w/ the beige pop up shelter. 

View from the Bathhouse 2nd floor. 

Beach behind our camper.  Great for fishing and kayaking. Someone even caught a shark on the shore behind us! 

There was a sandbar out in the ocean.  We would paddle out and anchor off, did lots of snorkeling.  The power boats would all line up on it also, there were always people hanging on the sandbar! 

 Another view from the bathhouse.

Kids behind the camp site on the beach.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wekiwa Springs

Just got back from Wekiwa Springs State Park.  It was a  nice park, but doesn't compare to Ft. Desoto - I think we are a bit spoiled.

We headed over around 2pm Friday.  Apparently, we were just ahead of the I-4 shutting down due to the brush fire near Disney!  We saw the smoke as we approached the Disney area but didn't have a traffic problem.  Once we got on the 429 heading toward Apopka, I looked online to find that I-4 had just been shut down!  Had we been caught in that mess, it would've taken us forever to get there!

The park itself is huge, a lot of trails for biking, walking and horses.  The campground was OK, not anything spectacular.  It was full and mostly families - so that was nice.  The bathhouse was probably the cleanest I have seen besides Ft. Wilderness.  It had no A/C though.  Saturday night, there was no hot water in the shower stall we used - my girls were not happy.  Our site backed up to the bathhouse area so it was really close.

As for the canoe/kayaking....well, let me tell you it was a serious hike to get those things to the launch.  We lugged 2 kayaks and 1 canoe down a somewhat steep sandy grade.  I had my kayak on a dolly until the sand got so thick, it couldn't be pulled through it.

We headed out on the river.  The water levels were somewhat low so there were a ton of tree limbs to maneuver around.  Rentals are VERY popular so there were kayaks and canoes EVERYWHERE.....lots of bumper cars as most people were new to kayaking.  I didn't see a gator but heard them.  The kayak trip was nice enough, not buggy, a bit hot and except for dealing w/ kayak traffic - was a nice ride.  However, hiking those things back up the launch was awful!  I was stressing not doing my Insanity workout this weekend, well I got an insane workout!!  It was just too much work to carry the boats all around.

The spring area was very cold and crowded.  For a spring fed lake, it was covered with algae.  People would stand on the rocks and move the algae around so it was floating all over the spring.  The snorkeling wasn't that great because of the algae but the kids did see some fish and Delena snorkeled over the spring itself which was really deep.  I didn't get in, I couldn't handle the cold but my kids did for a little bit at least.

We took our Aussie for a nice run down to Sand Lake.  He hiked a small trail down to the lake and let Pepper splash around and get a drink.  We saw two gators in the water while down there.  It was probably about a  1 mile bike ride from the campground to the lake, so Pepper got plenty of exercise!  We didn't do any fishing this trip either.

And, we can add camping in a tropical storm to our list now.  Tropical Storm Beryl made landfall near Jacksonville.  While the news was talking of rain and high winds....we got nothing!  Only a small rain storm Sunday afternoon.  Everything dried out really quick and didn't get in the way at all.

Overall, the trip was nice.  It wasn't the best place for taking the boats.  But we enjoyed it.  The kids had a great time - they rode their bikes a ton!

We were in site 42.  There are two loops, 1-30 and 31-60.  Loops 31-60 are a bit more secluded.  Loops 1-30 were a bit bigger but closer to the road and had some road noise.

Here are some pictures!

Campsite 42.  Some shade.

Delena snorkeling in the spring. 

The road going through the park. 

Here the kids are trying to get up the nerve to get in. 

Another view of the spring, there is a large grassy area on a steep hill leading to the spring.

What campground wouldn't be complete without wildlife!  Raccoon on our campsite!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

New Trips Booked....Sort of

We have been trying to figure out what to do this fall.  State park campgrounds in Florida book up so quickly, its like a game to stay on top of trips.  I constantly have to be thinking ahead and even then, things don't always work out like we want.

We are so spoiled with waterfront sites at Ft. Desoto that if we can't get one, we just don't go.  After all, with 3 kayaks and a canoe, waterfront is really a must!  So, it turns out that Thanksgiving is very popular for Ft. Desoto and since we can't book until 6 months ahead, apparently all the county residents who can book 7 months in advance took all the good sites.  Therefore, Ft. Desoto was out for Thanksgiving.

Back to the drawing board.

We decided to take a week to go see the leaves in Georgia. So, we booked Tallulah Gorge again, October 22-27 for 5 nights.  But we still have to decide what to do with Saturday (20th) and Sunday (21).  Tossing around a couple of options --- Stone Mountain for two nights, High Falls State Park, Vogel State Park and adding 2 more nights to Tallulah Gorge.  I was leaning toward Stone Mountain because it has full hookups and would give us a chance to clean our tanks good.  But the park is somewhat pricey and the campground prices are similar to Ft. Wilderness.  We have heard wonderful things about High Falls so now I am leaning towards booking that.  This trip will be to celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary.  However, before booking Tallulah Gorge, we just about booked Top Sail and Florida Caverns.  Still need  to do that one!!

Now for Thanksgiving.  I was playing around on the Florida State Parks website and there must've been a cancellation because I had not been able to get a site we were able to get 4 nights (Wed - Sat) at Anastasia State Park.  I'm very excited to take the kids to St. Augustine.

Next big trip then will be New Years.  I'm actually thinking of booking (if possible) Ft. Desoto for Christmas Eve - New Years Eve.  We are contemplating not doing individual gifts this year and just getting passes for Disney World again.  It would be cool to go to Ft. Wilderness for that time but I thinks its typically way too expensive!  I have a few weeks to figure this one out, but the window at Ft. Desoto opens in June for Christmas!  So not too much time to decide :)

Does anyone else feel like staying on top of trips is frustrating?   It would be nice to be spontaneous once in a while.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Time To Update

I can't believe it has been so long since I last posted....almost as long as our last camping trip. So I thought I would add a quick update on what has happened the last few months.

It hasn't actually been since New Years that we camped. We did go for the weekend to Ft. Desoto again for President's Day. We didn't have that great of a campsite but it was waterfront. We only had one good kayaking day....Delena got to try out her new kayak she got for her birthday. She also had a friend come with us. We spent time at the dog beach and park and met another family with a beautiful blue merle Australian Shepherd. Other than the camper rolling on us while we were trying to hitch up and coming off the tongue jack (thankful for the trees on our site to stop it)....we had a great weekend. We love love love Ft. Desoto - even better than Ft. Wilderness.

Now onto our updates.

The biggest and most exciting news first. I had blogged before about "sharing" the Ford F350 Diesel Dually with my boss. He was allowing us to use his truck to tow the RV with. How quickly we became attached to it!! It is much more conducive to camping - carrying all the kayaks, fire pits, etc. Well, my boss sold his home here in Tampa. Bummer because we stored our camper there - under covered storage. That was so nice. However, he decided to just GIVE us the truck! That's right! He gave us - did not sell or charge us one penny - a Ford F350! So we are officially the proud owners! That was so exciting. Now the not so exciting part....older trucks = repairs and not long after it was official, we discovered a rather impressive diesel leak. My hubby always fixes our cars but he had never worked on a diesel engine before. After research, he figured out what the leak was and while he contemplated doing the work himself, he ended up taking it to a Ford dealer to get fixed. I can't tell you the last time we took a vehicle into the shop for repairs - it seems so weird. However, it will be as good as new and ready for upcoming camping trips.

Then we had to put a spring camping trip on hold because we ended up purchasing new carpet for the bedrooms in our home. Not only financially, but work wise as well. But the house is coming along nicely and I'm glad we did it. The carpets needed serious replacing.

And we have added 2 new kayaks to our fleet! For Caleb's 8th birthday, he got a green 10ft kayak. When Mark took him to the kayak store to get it, he surprised me and brought home a kayak I have had my eyes on for a while....the Ocean Venus 12 kayak-in pink! I am so excited to take them out - waiting for the truck to get fixed first though.

So --- upcoming trips. We have one planned on Memorial Day weekend to Wekiwa Springs State Park. We have heard wonderful things about this park and are super excited to celebrate the end of the school year here! The kids all got new snorkeling equipment for Easter so they can practice in the pool and at the beach before the trips. We hear that alligator and shark teeth are common to snorkel for in the springs!

June 7-9 at Lazydays Campground. This is a bit different as this trip is for me and a few moms who are planning co-op for next school year. My family will spend one night, so we can flush our tanks out, and then they will head home early Friday morning while my girlfriends come for a day of swimming, eating, and planning!

June 30-July 7 - Curry Hammock State Park in the Florida Keys! Very excited about this trip - the reason we are stocking up on kayaks!

August 31-September 3 - Fort Desoto Campground Site 132. We got an awesome site for this trip!

We may take a trip in October for our 16th anniversary and plan to go to Ft. Desoto for Thanksgiving week, just don't have it booked yet.

And that about sums up the last few months. Can't wait to get back out in our Passport!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

RV Supershow in Tampa

On Saturday, my hubby and I actually had a "date day." And, like two nerds, we chose to spend it at the RV Show! Hey, having a 350 Diesel opens up a huge realm of new towing possibilities.

We fell in love with four that I am going to link here along w/ pros and cons:

Mesa Ridge 325B by Open Range
Grey outside
Wider doors
Nice upgrades, no maintenance roof, all the outside valves, etc are tucked away in one location
Remote for stabilizers, awning, etc.
Nice stabilizers
Nice tube for the black water hoses to keep from touching.
Nice kitchen cabinets, can hold a lot of weight
Aluminum siding
Came with 4 televisions
Nice outdoor kitchen
Nice interior colors
No fireplace

Everlite 35RBS-DSby Evergreen
Wasn't in love with the interior
Long....a bit longer than our Passport - which could present a problem at certain campgrounds.

Rotating fireplace! Loved loved loved loved that!
Incredible bunkhouse - two slides, a massive TV mounted from the ceiling
Stainless steel appliances

Looked "cheesy" for a lack of a better word. While it had nice upgrades, it still came across as cheap.

Front bunkhouse
Slide in the master room, really nice!
Beautiful on the inside, real nice upgrades and extra touches
Nice insulation package

No outdoor kitchen
No fireplace

So, if we do ever decide to trade the Passport, here is our "dream" list:
Outdoor kitchen
Better Insulation
Bigger TV
Bigger Fridge
Second door to the bathroom
"Real" doors to the bunkhouse and the master room
Deeper slides
Slide in either the master or the bunkhouse

Funny thing, I didn't even know a fireplace in a travel trailer was an option!

Anyway, it was fun to dream. Right now, we simply are not in a position to trade up the Passport but maybe in a couple of years. We still love our Passport, she has brought us such fun and wonderful memories. It would be so hard to let her go!! I know its crazy, I tend to get attached to that kind of stuff - thus why we don't trade cars too often. And why I still have my 1996 Convertible Mustang (my baby). Makes me think about when we bought our Suburban. I had always wanted one. We traded our Avalanche for it after I got pregnant with kid #3 (Taya). I was so excited to finally have a Suburban, but the next day after the trade, I walked out in the garage to see the Suburban sitting there and not the Avalanche and I had a good cry.

I imagine that is what it will be like when/if we trade the Passport. Every time I see one going down the road, I'll remember the awesome times we maybe we will never trade but I still love dreaming.

We had a wonderful day at the RV Show. And we didn't even get into big dreams, like Class "A's" -- we only looked at Travel Trailers and a few fifth wheels. A fifth wheel just doesn't seem to be a good option because of needing the bed of the truck to tow our bikes, canoes, kayaks (just got Delena a kayak for her 11th birthday), fire pits and the "dump tank."

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Years 2011

Back to the fort...the "other" fort - DeSoto.

This time we had site 150. It was small and had lots of trees, which made for a very interesting set up! But we had a nice opening in the back of the site for fishing and canoeing.

This time we added a new mix to our camping trip...our new Aussie puppy - Pepper! It was his first camping trip at not even 4 months old and he loved it! Australian Shepherds must be somewhat popular dogs because we saw several of them this weekend! Pepper had so much fun at the dog park and dog beach! He has been an great Christmas gift!

Saturday and Sunday were gorgeous. Monday, it cooled off a bit and the winds picked up. Overnight Monday, the winds were horrible - almost to the point of not leaving as planned Tuesday! Our site was a mess Tuesday morning and it was bitterly cold in the wind! But otherwise, we had a nice trip. Our friends camped too for the weekend and spent some time with them New Years Eve.

Visiting the historic fort with the dogs

Our little Pepper at the dog park.

More pictures from the fort.

Playing with Pepper at the campsite.

Fog rolling in on New Years Eve. It came quick!

Sunrise over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

More pictures at the fort.

This is on top of the fort with the Gulf of Mexico in the background.

Caleb waiting for the evening campfire!

Late afternoon canoe ride with the kids and dogs.

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