Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tallulah Gorge

September 30, 2011 - October 4, 2011
Tallulah Gorge State Park, Tallulah Falls, Georgia
Site 39

We headed to Tallulah Gorge State Park for a quick weekend trip to NE Georgia. It was my niece's wedding on October 1. Initially, we didn't plan to take the camper. It didn't make much sense to spend the $500 in gas for a quick trip. But since no one had space in their homes and a hotel cost was equal to taking the trailer, we ended up taking. I'm sorry, I can't stay in a hotel anymore when I have such a nice camper!

The weather was amazing! A cold front came through - just in time for our trip. It was a refreshing break from hot hot hot!!

Another exciting thing about this trip, it was the first trip towing w/ our ***new to us*** truck. My wonderful boss is allowing us to use an older truck of his to tow with! Oh my! What a difference!!! I did not stress not once this trip. The truck is a 1999 Ford F350 Diesel. It had no problems towing the Passport. Such a difference from the Suburban. So thankful we had it.

Funny thing though, apparently we had the wiring harness wrong. We had to purchase an extension because my boss used it to tow a 5th wheel, so the electric is inside the bed of the truck. My hubby built the the extension and had the wiring wrong. Our blinkers were switched and the break controller was never connected. We were towing in the mountains with no trailer breaks! But the truck stopped it w/out a problem. On the way home, the break controller light kept going out and we kept stopping to work on it. Finally, in Ocala, about one and a half hours from home he realized what he did wrong. We pulled over to fix it, got it fixed and now have trailer breaks again!!

Now onto the campground. The campground is small, it is somewhat tight to get into. Thankfully, we had a pull through site. There is no sewer hook up. And you have to share your power box with a neighbor. In other words, there is one box for two sites, one 30amp and one 50amp! Thankfully, we read the reviews ahead of time and had a 50amp adapter. Our weekend neighbor pulled in after us, totally confused. So we pulled the 30amp and used the 50amp w/ the adapter.

Bathrooms were OK, not great. Kids were scared of spiders...spiders were everywhere.

However, we loved everything else about it! We loved the short hike to the gorge. The gorge was BEAUTIFUL. We did some Geo Caching while there. This was in an excellent location too, close to the wedding, close to the Blue Ridge (where we drove to on Sunday). Loved it, can't wait to go back.

View from Water Rock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Kids after hike to summit. Very strenuous hike! But totally worth it!

Mark & I atop Water Rock Knob. There were some fall colors, not brilliant but a few!

Front of our site. Pull thru. Had a big fire ring. Loved it!

Mark and his brother's family w/ our family at the Highest Elevation on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The sign at the entrance to Tallulah Gorge suspension bridge hike. Yes, we did it!!! Again, worth it!

We even took our dog on another hike at the Gorge. She loved it!

Me & Caleb at the lake by the gorge. You hike under the bridge and this is the calm lake on the other side of 441 in the Tallulah Gorge State Park. Amazing how when it hits the dam it becomes a roaring waterfall!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Disney Trip 8/26 - 9/3

We just returned from 8 nights over at Ft. Wilderness. We had a really nice time - even though it was really hot and rained almost everyday. The mosquito's were bad...making hanging outside a bit of a challenge. Here is what I love about camping - we did Disney World for 8 nights really cheap. Quick breakdown on what we spent while there:

8 nights on a full hookup site: 448.00
The Kitchen Sink at Beaches at Cream: 30.00
Tron Pin: 9.00
Little Missmatched Store: 30.00
T-shirt at Animal Kingdom: 5.00
Hat at Animal Kingdom: 8.00
Lego Store: 12.00

Total: 542.00

We didn't eat out except for the Kitchen Sink and dinner at Carrabba's (which I had a gift card for). Yes, I cooked every single meal. We packed lunches for the parks or we came back to the camper for lunch. We packed every snack, drink, etc. This is why I love to camp!

Anyway, one with the report!

Site 1616, Full Hook up. Very nice site.

Chip and Dale's Sing A Long

The People Mover Ride in Tomorrowland. Not sure why, but the kids love this!

Me and Delena on Everest!

The kids on Test Track!

Well, we are going back this weekend for 2 nights....only because it is Night of Joy and I am taking Delena to her very first Night of Joy. Going to see Toby Mac...cannot wait!!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Book Early

I've learned from camping that certain places book up really early....but there is a trick to getting the site you want!

For Ft. Desoto Campground in Pinellas County, non-Pinellas county residents can book 6 months to the day you plan to camp. In order to get a water front site, you have to plan.

Go online to Pinellas County - Ft. Desoto and check out the campsites. They have pictures and dimensions of every campsite. Pick a few you would like to reserve. Keep careful watch on the reservation window and then the day it opens up, get up at midnight to book it. Pinellas County opens reservations at 12:00am. This is the only way I have been able to book a waterfront site.

If you choose the pet loop, the sites that run along the back (no seawall) are nicest for canoes and kayaks. Otherwise, you have to put them in the water over the seawall. It can be done, but not nearly as easy as just having them right on your campsite.

For Florida State parks, you can book up to 11 months ahead of your desired time. Their booking opens at 8:00am. Places in the Florida Keys and Anastasia State Park near St. Augustine stay booked pretty much year round. Some of the Florida State Parks have now put pictures of their campsites on the Reserve America page if you download the special plug in. It is totally worth it!

Which is exactly why I am writing this blog post...waiting on 8:00am to book site 16 at Curry Hammock State Park for NEXT YEAR...yes....June 30, 2012 - July 7, 2012.

Also, for Florida State Parks, if you want a certain spot and there are no reservations available, check around 8:00am everyday. That is when cancelled reservations are released.

Camping at the good places does take some planning, but it can be done!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Memorial Day & 4th of July

For Memorial Day & 4th of July weekend, we headed over to Ft. Desoto again. This is quickly becoming our second favorite place to camp (next to Ft. Wilderness of course!!)

Both weekends were hot and full of bugs but we still had a great time. You can't beat the campsites directly on the water....especially with fishing and canoeing. And now, we want to get a couple of kayaks as well!

On the 4th weekend, my good friend and her two boys camped one night with us. They had never gone camping before!

View of the back of our campsite, Site 103

View of the water from our campsite, Site 103

Kids feeding a squirrel. They are very friendly.

Canoe riding at low tide, this is directly behind our campsite (Site 107) There is a seawall but it is fairly easy to get the canoe in and out. And is perfect for fishing!!

Backside of our campsite Memorial Day Weekend, Site 107.

Memorial Day Weekend - Site 107, Ft. DeSoto
July 4th Weekend - Site 103, Ft. DeSoto

Upcoming Trips:
August 26-September 3, Ft. Wilderness
September 10, Ft. Wilderness (1 night for Night of Joy)
October 21-23, Ft. Desoto Campground, Site 135
November 23-27, Ft. Wilderness
December 30 - January 2, Ft. DeSoto Campground, Site 150
June 30, 2012 - July 7, 2012 - Curry Hammock State Park, Florida Keys

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sun N Fun Sarasota

We just returned for a three night stay at Sun N Fun Sarasota.

The good:
The Hippo Water Slide. This giant slide stands about 20 feet in the air. The kiddos went crazy over it. Caleb rode it 4 hours straight without a break! Lots of fun for them.

The splash pool for kiddies. All three kids enjoyed playing in the splash pool - on the day the hippo slide wasn't running.

Sunset at Siesta Key! My favorite beach was a close 20 minute drive from Sun N Fun. We headed over Thursday evening for beach time and sunset. Another beautiful sunset on the gulf coast!

Siesta Key play time. The kids love the beach, I have to make more time for beach time this summer.

Our campsite.....after an upgrade. This is Q53. We LOVED this site. It was super close to the tennis courts, pool, shuffleboard courts, gym...just about everything.

However, it took some work to get here. See, I didn't know anything about booking, so I booked the cheapest site possible. Sun N Fun has 4 levels of sites w/ a pull thru being the highest level. Now at Disney, you can get away with Sun N Fun...not! They put us in the bottom site, it was awful. That is the first time I was ready to go home. We protested the site wasn't big enough, really, I don't think we could have even opened our awning! They were going to upgrade us for free to the next level, but it was situated among the trailer cabins that are full timers. We wanted to be with the campers. So we upgraded to be in the Queens section.

The sites were full hook up and after we got the ugly site off the radar, we enjoyed our stay here! The kids are already planning when we can go back.

What I didn't like:
Had to pay to use the Hippo Slide. It wasn't much, 5.35 a person, but if we stayed a few days, that could add up!

The place seemed like a trailer park with a campground added.

There weren't very many kids until the weekend.

The Hippo Slide wasn't up all the time either. If we stayed a week, and its only up on Friday and Saturday, that could get to be a pain.

Otherwise, we did enjoy it. It has free wi-fi. Mark said we could pick a week this summer and go back so he can "work" (his work is really close by) and we could do the beach and other activities and enjoy the hippo slide on the weekend.

Hillsborough River State Park

March 18 & 19, we camped at Hillsborough River State Park. Here is a picture of our campsite.

The park was nice enough, no full hook up though. Again had to carry our canoe (gonna get Mark something to carry his canoe on for father's day). But he enjoyed his canoe ride. Also lots of fishing, but didn't catch any fish.

We went on a tour of the old fort on Saturday. It was a nice tour.

We only stayed 2 nights but will visit again when its cooler out, it was borer line too hot and the pool wasn't open.

Long Point Campground

For President's Day Weekend, we headed over to Long Point Campground in Melbourne Beach, FL. The campground was nice isn't Ft. Wilderness. We didn't have a waterfront site, but we did have a full hookup, so that was nice.

We will probably go back, and try to get a waterfront site. But we did really enjoy the campground and neighboring Sebastian Inlet State Park.

The water view from the bride leading from the campground over to the private island for hiking.

Our campsite. Full hookup, no shade but all grass so the camper stayed somewhat clean.

Mark on his canoe. Again, a waterfront site would've been so much nicer. We had to carry the canoe over to the dock but once it was in the water, there was plenty of room for canoeing.

The restrooms near our campsite were newer and nice as well.

You can learn more about Long Point here.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Unexpected Trip

Much sooner than planned, we found out how our Suburban would tow in the Mountains.

My mother in law passed away and we took our Passport (out of necessity). This certainly wasn't a "fun" trip - for obvious reasons. The temps were just too cold to do any traditional camping activities - we never even got our chairs our or opened the awning. But, since we took it, I wanted to post a few pictures from the campground.

We got a late start heading out. We had to pick the Passport up at Lazydays because it had been in for service. We didn't get on the road until 2pm, so we opted to drive a little less than 1/2 the trip. We stayed the night at Reed Bingham State Park in Georgia. We pulled in about 6:30pm, at dark. Thankfully, we had enchilada's left over from Delena's birthday party that we were quickly able to heat up for dinner. We had a nice pull thru site which made overnight camping super easy. With all the crazy emotions going on, me nor Mark slept well. I got up around 4:30 the next morning and saw rain coming. We didn't want to drive in it, so we left around 6:00am to get ahead of the rain as it moved north. So we stayed the night in a campground that I have no idea what it looked like since we arrived and left at dark!

Coming home, we got another late start, so we stayed in Tifton at a KOA. My hubby didn't like it at all, but it really was OK. We got there about 4:30pm. My brother in law and his wife were driving home also and staying in a hotel in Tifton. So, they actually came over to the campground for dinner with us. I cooked spaghetti and made a salad. They brought strawberry shortcake and garlic bread. The dinner was good, and it was nice to spend time with them, especially as we all deal with my sweet mother in law's passing.

So, we stayed at Creekwood Resort in Helen, GA. The campground is very small, only about 17 sites. They also have 3 cabins they rent. When we arrived, snow and ice where on the ground, which totally scared me! But we got set up without much of a problem. We were the only campers there during the week, so we just picked a site and went with it!

The campground is very clean, but there isn't anything really to do at it. For our purpose of going, it was a bit far away. It took us about 25 minutes to get to Mark's dad's house. It probably would've been better to have gotten a hotel.

We also learned that our camper doesn't have good insulation. We ended up purchasing a space heater but it didn't help a whole lot. When we go back for Thanksgiving, we will have electric blankets!

Family picture at Anna Ruby Falls. On Thursday, my brother in law and his family met up with us over at the campground and we did a small bit of sight seeing. Creekwood is on the same road as Unicoi State Park, only about 3 miles past it. Getting to the falls was super easy. It was cold but as always, the falls were beautiful!

Here is a side view of the campground. We picked the only site with a wood deck. Too bad we never got to use it.

Kids playing in the snow. The snow all melted by Thursday but for the first couple of days, they sure had a blast with it! It didn't snow while we were there. The kids would've loved to see snow falling.
Front view of our site. Site 9, Creekwood Resort. All paved, full hookups and even had an anti-freeze hydrant.

The campground was beautiful! I would love to stay here in October sometime. I bet it is beautiful! Not sure yet where we will stay for Thanksgiving. Maybe we will stay here, we will be able to do more sight seeing and its close enough to get to Clarkesville.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

New Year's Trip

For New Year's Eve, we camped for the first time at Ft. DeSoto park in Pinellas County.

Now, the campground isn't exactly Disney! It isn't nearly as clean and manicured but it is very natural, there is a simple natural beauty about it. We enjoyed our weekend very much!

We had a beautiful waterfront campsite. I like Ft. DeSoto's booking system because you have to do it 6 months to the day you want to go and you can pick your site. I had my eye on site 133 and got up at midnight to book it! So glad that we did. The site was big, although a bit hard to get into.

The kids all got fishing poles for Christmas so they loved learning how to fish. We went out to the pier at the park and they fished on it for a while. We have two more trips coming up: Memorial Day and 4th of July!

Now my husband is really getting into the fishing....he wants a pole for himself and a canoe. We could easily launch a canoe from our campsite!

This is a view near sunset from our campsite.

From the water looking up. Really big site! We had plenty of room, and it was very private.

At low tide, the kids could really walk behind the mangroves to do some fishing.

More sunset pictures. Mark got a new camera for Christmas so he loved playing with the sunset pictures.

From the road looking down.
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