Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Lake Seminole State Park - Bainbridge, Georgia

We made a day trip to Lake Seminole State Park in early November, 2007. The park is located west of Bainbridge Georgia, near the Alabama and Florida border. It is a beautiful park and we will go back on a camping trip soon. The fall color was just starting and should be beautiful sometime after the middle of the month. Campground The campground sits on a large lake. There are quite a few campsites directly on the water. Our favorite campsites were: 8,9,11,13. These were all 5 star ratings in our opinion. They were all on the lake, easy to get into and plenty large enough for a motorhome. Other sites we liked were 14, 18,19. The park is 52 miles from our home in Cairo, Georgia and about one hour away. A beautiful pine forest surrounds the park and the fragrant pine aroma is all around. We took a 2.2 mile Gopher Tortoise trail hike. It started in the woods, wound around through part of the lake and over a boardwalk over the water. The boardwalk wasn't in the best shape and I was a little concerned some of the loose boards would break and we would end up in the shallow water. It is in need of repair but thanks to those republicans and their budget cuts for the state parks, money is short. Kayaking We did not do any kayaking the day we were here but will definitely be back. It is a great place to kayak. We were thinking when the fall color comes it would be beautiful. Spring Creek feeds into Lake Seminole and is a beautiful clear river that often looks turquoise. We went to some of the boat launches north of this park and found them to me impassable, no good place to put your kayak in, and dirty. where you would launch. One was under a bridge overpass. The water was pretty, but there were no trash receptacles and there was trash all over the place. It looked like a good place to get mugged. This was in Brinson, Georgia off highway 84. We thought if we went north to where the headspring was located that the river would be prettier. We were WRONG. The closer to the head spring, the worse it became. I realize we are in our 2nd year of a bad drought, but the Spring Creek was mostly not passable the farther north we went. The best places to launch in Spring Creek, are near Lake Seminole. Kayaking on Lake Seminole would be nice also, but I recommend going during the week if you can. There was a very noisy airboat which spoiled the peace and quiet of this beautiful lake. We were there during the week and I fear the place would be full of airboats on the weekends.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Mule Day - Calvary, Georgia

The first Saturday in November is the date of the annual Mule Day Festival in Calvary, Georgia. This was our first time and we were surprised about how big this event was. There were hundreds of booths with food and crafts, and thousands of people. There was a parade of mules pulling carts, mules being ridden, some horses and even a Brahma bull. There were cane grinding, cane syrup making, rope making exhibits. There was also displays of old boat motors and antique farm equipment and tractors. The weather was perfect and there was some great food. The only problem I saw was that this is a one day event so everyone had to come the same day and it was extremely crowded. This is not your usual small town fair. It was difficult to get around to all the booths and exhibits due to the large crowd. We will go back next year, but will bring some camp chairs. There was NO place to sit down to either eat or watch the parade. We would have stayed longer but I was in need of a place to rest my feet and a clean bathroom. I am not a fan of those portolets. A good suggestion would be for some seating to be added. The festival was free but we paid $5.00 to park. There were hundreds of motorhomes there. We thought next year we might look into taking the motorhome over the day before and dry camp. It would have been nice to have a place to go back to.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Reed Bingham State Park, Georgia

Location: This park in Adel, Georgia, in the southern part of Georgia, about 6 miles from I-75. The nearest shopping is in Adel. We saw a Piggly Wiggly grocery store. The nearest Walmart is in Moultrie. Interesting Info: The park is on 1613 acres and has a 375 acre lake for boating, fishing, canoeing, kayaking and water skiing. The "Little River" flows into the lake. You can rent small motorboats and canoe's from the state park concession. It looked like an interesting place to fish or explore because you can stay in the lake or go upriver. There are signs stating to watch out for alligators, but we didn't see any. This is a major area for the threatened Gopher Tortoise. We didn't see any, but did see many of their dens can be seen all around the park. The scientists have marked all the dens with different colored flags to indicate if it is a male/female, or has laid eggs. This park is also home to the rare Indigo snake. Trails: There are several well marked trails, one of which takes you along the river. There are a few nice boardwalk areas. There is the Upland Loop trail, the Birdwalk trail, the Little River Trail, the Turkey Oak Trail, the Gopher Tortoise bike loop, and several more proposed trails. The roads around the park are also excellent for walking and bicycling. Campground. The campground is very nice with 46 Rv and tent sites. Most of the campsites are fairly large so you don't have any trouble getting largers rigs into them. In Georgia you can make camping reservations, but not for a particular site. You pick your site out when you get there on a first come, first serve basis. This is not my favorite way to choose my campsite, but if you arrive during the week, you would probably have a good choice. In Florida all the sites would have been pretty well full by this time of the year, (the first week in November) but this camp ground was mostly vacant when we were on a Thursday. I'm sure the week-ends get full but at least you can get a campsite during the week. The number for reservations is 1-800-864-7275, or you can visit their website at Favorite Camp Sites Most all of the campsites would do in a pinch but our favorites were: 11, 9, 33, 35, 30. We rated them as 5 star. Our next favorite sites with a a 4 star rating are: 31, 7. Our "okay in a pinch" sites are: 27, & 26. The rates for RV camping are $22 per night, with water, electric, and cable. We were told the cable is out and has been out of service for a few months, so we won't count on it. Things to do: We discovered a restaurant right by the entrance to the park. It's called Fullers Catfish House. The food was good, it was clean and the interior decorations were amazing. They are only open Thursday through Saturday, so plan ahead! We were pleasantly surprised on how nice this park was. We will definitely be back and it's very close to our home in Cairo, Georgia.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Silver River State Park, Ocala, Florida

This park is located in Ocala, Florida. It is one of the state's newest parks. It was designed and laid out with the new, larger RV's in mind. The campsites are all large, easy to get into and have a good amount of privacy. There are great hiking trails, and the beautiful Silver River to kayak or canoe on. This is a spring fed river so it is crystal clear. You will see a lot of birds and some alligators and turtles. There are a few places to get out and stretch your legs but you need to be careful of gators before you get out. You can put your kayak in in the park but you have to tow it 1/2 mile down the river trail. We have kayak carts so we roll them down to the river. You then are close to the headspring, which is the prettiest part of the river. You can kayak up to the Silver Springs Attraction, but cannot get out on their property. There are beautiful deep springs you can float right over and it in credible to look down into the bottom of an 80 foot deep spring. There are glass bottom boats coming and going so you need to stay out of their way. You can occasionally hear their captains explaining the history of the springs. Many old movies were filmed there.
View of the river from my kayak Twins?
WILD MONKEYS There are wild monkeys on the river. The story is that many years ago they were brought in for movie and released to an island, thinking they would never escape. They did and apparently have thrived. We made a kayak trip upriver one summer and were lucky enough to see many of them, including some very young babies.
BEARS We had been told someone saw a Florida Black Bear running around in the campground just a few days before we were there. There are signs on the hiking trails warning to be aware of bears, however we had never seen one. We found a little book that showed what different animal's prints looked like. We noted what a bear print looked like and then started a hike. Almost immediately we saw this print. We both knew immediately it was from a bear. We never saw the bear but knew he had been there! It was the highlight of our day. One day we hope to see one in the wild.
CAMPSITES All of the campsites are great, but our favorites are 20 and 22. They did have some trees go down after a hurricane in 2004, but they are still our favorites. You can't go wrong with any of these sites, even if you have a larger motorhome.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hillsborough River State Park, Tampa, Florida

Hillsborough River State Park Campsite
Hillsborough River State Park is located near Tampa, which is on the gulf coast of Florida. This is one of the oldest parks in the state, but in my opinion, one of the best. There are 111 campsites, some of which are on the river. The river sites in my opinion are not the best sites. Most of them are small and some are very short, which is not good for larger RV's. There is a pool, gift shop, canoe and bicycle rentals, snack bar, and miles of trails for hiking and biking. There is abundant wildlife and great photo opportunities. We hiked many many miles in the trails, but always seemed to see more wildlife walking the loop around the park. My husband saw a Florida Panther, we have seen wild hogs, deer, lots of birds, the usual Armadillo's, raccoons, Possom's and Squirrels. There are some great campsites, but like most parks, there are some not so great sites. We were lucky enough to live in Tampa, so before we ever camped at this park, we went through the park pen and paper in hand, looking for the best sites. My favorites sites are ones that are large, have privacy and woods around. I don't want to look over and see my neighbor. We spent several Christmas holidays at Hillsborough River State Park. The campground is always full during the holidays and during Christmas, everyone decorates their RV's with Christmas lights. It's very nice and festive. This is a list of the best camp sites. These campsites are the kind we like, which are large, private, easy to get into and have woods behind us. We do not favor the river sites because they are smaller and have less privacy. The following are what we consider 5 star campsites by our rating system: 17, 19, 20, 21, 50, 52, 59, 60, 61, 106, 108. These next sites are campsites we rated as 4 star. They would all be large enough to easily get a large RV into easily. They are private but not quite as nice as our 5 star sites. 5, 33, 36, 43, 47,49,56. From November through April, it is hard to get into any Florida park due to the vast number of snowbirds. We always made our reservations months in advance, especially for holiday weeks. The river is great for kayaking and you can put in right there in the park. They have canoe rentals is you need one. There are some great paddling trips on the Hillsborough River and if you want to see alligators, then this is the place to go. Many of these best parts of the river can be accessed through various parks in Tampa. There is an outfitter in Tampa that will tote you and your canoe or kayak to a river landing, and pick you up hours later downstream. This makes for a nice relaxing experience. You can find them at: Canoe If you are looking for a great camping experience in Tampa, this is a great place to try.