We’re calling this trip is our Gulf/Ocean trip. It is also our first trip out with our new puppy, Cody, so it is a learning experience for both us and him.
Hungary Mother State Park – Marion, VA
Our first stop was an overnight stop at Hungary Mother where we have camped before. It is a good stop over for us when traveling down the 81 corridor west. It started snowing on the trip there and by morning we have a couple of inches on the ground. It was also Cody’s first experience with real snow, as the first snow at home was more of a wet, icy snow. He didn’t like the icy snow but he loved the snow at Hungary Mother and had a ball running and plowing in it.
DeSoto State Park – Fort Payne, AL
This is our second visit to this park. We ended our Fall 2020 trip here and decided that we like the campground so much that we wanted to visit it again. We did learn though that you need to be careful when picking your destination on the GPS as we ended up at the DeSoto State Park FALLS instead of the Campground! Needless to say, this was a close call as the roads are not really meant for big RVs going down them. We did have the TV antenna knocked off the top of the trailer. Luckily the antenna wire kept us from loosing the antenna all together, but it did leave us with a hole in the top of the antenna mount. Mark discovered that a 1.25″ PVC plumbing pipe cap from Lowes was just the right size to plug the hole. He made a point of making sure I knew that he used the calipers that he brought as part of his tools to determine this. Yes, the classic battle of husbands and wives on what needs to be packed into the small space of trailers and what does not! I bow to the king of tools!
The first couple of days were over a weekend so the campground was full but it quickly cleared out and we had most of the lower campground to ourselves. This turned out to be a good learning experience for Cody as he had to learn to walk with us on his leash, stop and wait for vehicles to go by, and not chase kids on bikes or scooters. We also learned that he loved “running” water has we took a hike on a nearby trail that had a small stream that we had to cross over. He loved running over the rocks and barking at the water going by!
It was a nice relaxing week to start our trip off with!
Gulf State Park – Gulf Shores, AL
This was our first visit to the Gulf of Mexico. After the experience with the stream at DeSoto I couldn’t wait to see Cody’s reaction to the ocean. He was a little confused at first with the sand and wasn’t sure about all the water but soon had a ball chasing and barking at the small waves coming in. There was someone watching us a little ways away and I think they thought we might have been hurting him with the way he was running back and forth in front of the waves, but he was having a ball!
We really enjoyed this state park and wished we could have spent some more time there, but were fortunate to have been able to get a spot there at all as it books up fast and is usually full. We even had a waterfront site on the Middle Lake which was nice because it gave us a good area to walk Cody. The park was really bike friendly so spent several days riding some of the trails and even took the bikes down to the beach to ride. The downside to the park is that the beach/water is a bit of a trek across the road and they don’t allow pets on the beach. There was damage to the park from Hurricane Sally last year so there was construction going on at the bath house across the road from us.
We saw our first armadillos here. We were quite surprised at first but found them really neat looking. The reminded us of moles, or ant eaters, with the way they dig holes looking for food.
We were sad to have to leave this campground.
Escapee’s Rainbow Plantation Park – Summerdale, AL
We needed a place to stay over the weekend before our next “gulf” stop so, since we recently joined Escapee’s, we decided to try them out. The sites were nice but they also suffered quite a bit a damage from the hurricane last year. Many of their Live Oak trees suffered damage and we’re told they lost quite a bit of their pine trees blocking the road from the campground. After talking to my dad one day, we found out that he and my mom had camp hosted at the park several times. Dad indicated that he was there during part of one of their expansions and helped to run some of the electric. He said he used to love to mow the grass there.
Cody experienced his first dog park with other dogs while there. He was a little overwhelmed at first with the three dogs jumping on him but he quickly adjusted and became “one of the gang”. Unfortunately, we didn’t meet up with them again while there so he didn’t get to play with them again.
We met a couple who recently became full timers that have a blog called “JK and the RV”. They also had Lectric e-bikes, They had problems with one of their bikes and Lectric had sent them a controller to see if it would fix the problem. It didn’t but they were told to keep the controller. After talking about the problem I had with mine in it being Speedy Gonzales, they offered to sell me their extra controller. We tried to swap it out that day but it had a different battery connector so we had to wait for Mark to get to an auto parts store to by new ones.
The night before we were supposed to leave high winds moved in and remained high the next day. We decided we didn’t want to take a chance driving in the high winds since we knew we had to go over a long bridge of water. The office helped us find a new site we could stay in for the night and then we were on our way the next day.
Davis Bayou (National Seashore) – Ocean Springs, MS
We were able to add a new state to our States Visited map with this stay! This is a small federal park and while there is not a beach at the park, it was a nice park to stay at. We were able to find a beach area to take Cody to a few minutes away and saw some really pretty sunsets over the bayou. Our favorite one though was the last night when we decided to just go to the fishing pier in the park to watch it. It was absolutely stunning with the red of the sky reflecting into the water.
There were some nice areas to ride the bikes in and there was a big field a short walk from the campground. Cody loved to go there to run and play. Cody has turned into the perfect traveling companion. We’ve learned how to play in the smaller space of the trailer. He can pick the appropriate toy from his bag when we ask him to get either “ducky”, “cow” or “bottle” and he has learned when it is appropriate to bark and when it is not. He knows to sit and wait for a vehicle to pass by. He’s still having problems not chasing after other dogs, but he only wants to play with them. He has lost most of his baby teeth and getting his big boy teeth.
We were sad to leave this campground also.
Paul B Johnson State Park – Hattiesburg, MS
We had a rough start at this campground. The site we were supposed to be in was pretty unlevel and it was raining when we arrived. While trying to set up I kept smelling sewage and saw where a sewage tank was under water. While trying to level, we kept getting a “out of stroke” message on the leveling system. This would lock things up and Mark would have to try to reset things manually. We finally hooked back up to the truck and were going to start the process all over with some additional leveling blocks. We decided to plug the electric in so we wouldn’t run out of battery half way through (we’re down a battery). After plugging in, I noticed some sparks coming out of the pedestal. They kept going off and on for several minutes. We were unplugging when we heard a kind of boom and I looked across the campground and saw another site that had sparks flying from their pedestal. We decided at that point that we were not going to stay in the spot so we got in the truck and went to the office to ask for another site. They had some pull through sites available right across from the office and Mark decided he wanted to do that. By the time we moved, we were both soaking wet. I quickly figured out though that we couldn’t stay in that spot as the sites were really close together and our steps came right out at the sewage connection of the next site. That definitely wouldn’t work for Cody as he loves to get too close to these. While we were hooking back up our trailer from the pedestal sparking site, the park staff were already looking at the electrical issues. They told us that the “new campground” had better electrical hookups so we decided we would ask if we could move there.
The next morning we went back to the office to ask for a new site. She gave us a list of sites to choose from so we went down to look at them. When we got there, the campground was pretty full and we weren’t sure we wanted to be there, but there was one site (109) that was open and had nice views and a large pad. We waited until after two to move and by the time we got there, most of the campground had emptied out. By Monday, there were only 3 of us left there. The road noise from MS route 49 is a little loud in the mornings and evenings but the views of the lake are worth it.
Cody had a blast running on the edge of the lake and was even getting braver about how deep he would go. The week was supposed to be a wash with rain moving in on Tuesday, however, there was a little rain in the morning and then it turned beautiful up near 70. We decided to take the opportunity to try to switch out the controller on the bike. Mark made fast work of it and before I knew it, I had a normal e-bike instead of a speed demon! Thank you “JK”! The park has a nice road to ride the bikes on around the lake.
The rains finally moved in late Wednesday afternoon with thunderstorms Thursday morning. This was Cody’s first experience with a thunderstorm and he definitely doesn’t like them!
Azalea Acres RV Park – Robertsdale, AL
We needed a place to stay for a couple of nights over the weekend before we could get in to our next site in FL so we decided to try Azalea Acres just off of I-10 in Alabama.
Hurricane Lake North Campground – Baker, FL
What a wonderful hidden gem! We had a beautiful lakeside site surrounded by tall pines. There are only 18 total sites. We arrived on a Sunday with several of the sites occupied but by Monday afternoon there were only 2 others, plus the campground hosts. Once again we had several days of rain and clouds, and the temperatures got down to about 27 several nights. I guess they are not used to getting freezing weather because they had their water tank valves freeze up so we were without water. Luckily we had exchanged our fresh water tank and filled it to 2/3 before we left Paul B Johnson state park. After they got the water going again, it went out again the next day because they burned up the pump by short cycling it. They were quick to arrive and had it fixed again before that night.
We took advantage of the wet weather to do some redecorating of the trailer and installed some removeable wall paper on all the dark wood of the closet wall.
We were scheduled to stay six nights but decided to leave a day early and split the travel distance for the next day in half by staying at a Harvest Host site outside of Tallahassee, FL. We have had the membership for almost 2 years but have been afraid to try “boondocking”.
Golden Acres Ranch, Monticello, FL
This was our first Harvest Host stay and we were able to put our fear of boondocking to rest. The host was very gracious and allowed us to run our generator. We ran it for a few hours before we went to bed which allowed us to charge up our battery (we’re down one battery). We did use up quite a bit of propane to keep warm but it was a cozy night. Because of all the rain the area has had, the host was worried about putting us out in one of the fields she usually uses so instead had us park next to her little country store. The downside was that it was close to the guineas and her great pyrenees which barked and clucked throughout the night which kept setting Cody off.
We bought some local orange juice, orange jelly and hamburgers from the country store there in payment for our night’s stay. All in all it was a pleasant experience and has Marked pumped up to buy the Battle Born batteries and set out to see the west!
Crooked River State Park, St Mary’s, GA
This was our second visit to this park. We could only get a couple of nights but it helped to put us on the east coast as we began our journey back to Virginia. The campground has nice sites, some beautiful views of Crooked River which is a tidal river and some nice trails. One of the trails led down to the water edge. Like all the other places, all the rain has the river running high and the edges muddy. Cody found out what it is like to do a face plant into the mud!
Huntington Beach State Park, Murrells Inlet, SC
The stop we had been waiting for met us with rain once again. However by the time we got the laundry done the moon and stars were out and it turned in to a beautiful evening. We decided to go ahead and take Cody for a walk on the beach in the moon light. As expected, it was so excited to see the waves rolling in that he took off running to the edge of the water, dragging me behind him. However, he became so overwhelmed by the water and running back and forth that he pulled the leash out of my hand. And off he went down the beach! It was dark enough where I couldn’t see him, and Mark couldn’t see that Cody wasn’t with me. The sound of the waves prevented him, and Cody, from hearing me calling. I ran as long as I could and then had to slow to a fast pace, yelling and clapping the whole time trying to find Cody. After about a mile and half, Mark finally caught up with me and asked me what I was doing. When I told him that Cody had run away, I could see the look of panic on his face. We both turned to look down the beach and as we turned the lights on our hats caught the reflective nylon of Cody’s leach and we found him sitting about 100 feet down from us. It was such a scary night and I thought for sure we had lost him.
After our night chasing him, we decided to hold off on taking him back down to the beach. Instead we decided to take the bikes out to the beach. We stopped at the office and played a couple games of corn hole. We also rode the bikes down one of the trails and saw some gators and couple of water birds.
We rode the bikes up the beach to the inlet during low tide and found lots of stuff washed up on the beach. I found my first (and then another 5 or so) starfish as well as some pretty orange and purple seaweed. We also found some kind of strange snake like creature that we couldn’t identify. We brought it home to our resident sea expert, Amanda, who identified it as a siphonophore.
We did eventually try taking Cody back down to the beach, this time with Mark holding tight to the leash. The first time we had a hard time controlling him but the second day he did better and we got to walk a little (very little) with him before taking him back home.
We finally went out to eat some seafood for my birthday, but like last year, it didn’t settle too well. I think we’ll have to try a different place next year 🙁
All in all it was a wonderful stay with beautiful weather. We met some really nice people and can’t wait to go back next year. We are even looking at trying to book 30 days!
RV Resort at Carolina Crossing, Roanoke Rapids, NC
One of the most frustrating things we find with our Rand Mc?Nally GPS is that it never seems to take us the same way twice. This time it took us to some really back roads in SC and NC to get to I95. As we were going down these roads we noticed a lot of water standing on both sides of the road. When it turned us down this one back road and we saw how close the water was on both sides of us we started to get a little nervous. Mark commented that if the road were flooded, there would be no way to turn around. Sure enough, a little further down the road it was blocked with a barrier. Not having anywhere to turn around we made the decision to go around the barrier. As we drove further down we saw where the water was flowing over the road. We got out and looked around and Mark saw a spot that looked like it might be an old logging road. He thought we might be able to back the trailer down into the water there but have enough room to keep the truck on the road and then we would try to inch the truck and the trailer around. As we were backing the trailer into the water (I was panicking because the back of the trailer was starting to dip down into the water and the tires were about half way covered in water) a man in a truck came up to us. He told Mark that he had come through the water just a little while ago and that it was only a couple inches deep. We decided to let him go through the water first and he promised that if he saw us having difficulty he would come back to help! Luckily, we did make it through only to find the GPS turning us onto another road that then put us back onto the road we were on before we ran into the water. Why it took us that route we have no idea. The only thing we can think is that there must have been a height problem in a town that we were rerouted around.
The rain started again as we were getting close to the campground so we once again set up in the rain. It raided pretty hard overnight and found our trailer surrounded by water in the morning. The sewer connection for our site was under water and we needed to make sure we did a good cleaning of the black tank before we stored the trailer at home. Mark decided to try to pull the sewer cap off the campgrounds connection and as Mark thought, the water quickly drained down sewer! It took about a half hour for the area to be dry enough for us to empty our tanks and we were on our way home by 12.
Our next issue to tackle was the soaked ground at home. As we were backing in to our spot, the trailer slide off the boards and to the side of where we usually park. We decided we would leave it where it had landed and unhooked the truck, only the truck got stuck in the mud and started flinging the mud everywhere. We had a hard time getting the truck out, even with the four wheel drive but Mark was eventually able to get the truck on a little bit of the gravel now buried in the grass. We have a heck of a mess now and will need to fix the drive once this place finally dries out. Tudee’s bath with also have to wait.