Friday, September 23, 2011

Holiday Campground, Panacea, FL; aka Plan B

I had reservations at St. George Island, my favorite campground. When I got there and went into the ranger station to check in, a man was there asking for a refund. Evidently he had just arrived and was swarmed by mosquitoes when he tried to set up. I thought well, maybe he is kind of a wimp when it comes to bugs, it might not be that bad. I asked him where he was from. He said South Florida, and that he often camps in the Everglades but they have never been this bad there. Hmm. Then one of the rangers said that he couldn't walk from his house to his car without inhaling mosquitoes. I had planned this trip based on weather; I had forgotten about the bug problem here before our first actual cold spell. This just didn't sound like the makings of a good time, so I cancelled those reservations. I immediately thought about Holiday Campground, a place I always pass on my way to St. George. I called to be sure they were open (on this trip I saw no campers there when I passed) and if they had any sort of bug problem. Yes, open, and no, no bugs.

This campground is right on Ochlockonee Bay, at the bridge where Hwy 98 crosses the bay. Angelo's Seafood Restaurant is across the street, the Mashes Sands beach area is across 98 and down a short road. I had my choice of sites and selected #10.


(Note how that is actually sites 9 and 10.) There is a fishing pier near that site; this is the view back toward the campground from the end of the pier. The large building is the bath house.


This is the first campground I have been in with this camper that has sewer hookups. I see why some people insist on them--very handy! In fact, this park has a lot to offer. There is a pool, which looked to be well-maintained. The sites, while extremely close together (there were only 3 campers in the 27 or so sites along the water, so this was not a problem for me), are sandy and level. The picnic tables are clean. Their wifi signal was very strong at my site. The bath house was not only clean and new-looking, the women's side in bright blue and white, but it was air conditioned--a real treat since the switch to this place meant a significant increase in temperature for me. I find shampooing easier in the roomy bath house showers at campgrounds, so I had a chance to use their facilities. The woman who was at the desk most of the time was extremely nice and helpful; the men who assisted her slightly less so. Verizon had a good signal there.

There is a very nice beach at the far end of the campground.


I drove over to Mashes Sands beach one day to see what was there. It's a nice beach, not too long, with only a little parking.


I walked the beach for a while. Right before you get to the beach, there is a very small area of tidal pools, which had a lot of egrets in them. This is the view across part of that area.


I spotted this egret in the grass by the water.


I guess he didn't like being watched...off he went.


---


He didn't go too far, just to another grassy area. Coming in for a landing...


...and touch down!


On my second day, I was sitting on my couch in the camper reading, occasionally looking out the back window at the water or the traffic on the bridge (were all those RVs also fleeing St. George?). One time I looked up and was thrilled to see a pod of three dolphins swim by just beyond the fishing pier!

I have been lucky with sunsets in my last two trips, after not seeing any good ones for a long time. One evening after dinner I noticed the sky turning red. The sun moves fast and so I grabbed the camera and went down by that beach pictured above to get some photos.


And it got lower,


and was nearly gone.


As has become fairly typical, it began raining just before dawn on the day I was to leave, and in fact was not only pouring but also thundering with the occasional flash of lightning while I was packing up and getting the camper hitched and so on. I'm pretty used to it by now, although I wasn't crazy about the lightning part. My car seat is still wet as I write this.

On a weekend during their busy season, I couldn't recommend this campground just because of how close you would be to your neighbor. However, mid-week when things are slow, such as when I was there, is a good time to camp here. Unfortunately, they don't allow tents (I doubt a tenter would appreciate the closeness, either).

I plan to wait to camp again until it gets cooler. I was glad to be out and I appreciated the change of scenery (and seeing the dolphins from the camper), but having to close the windows and run the AC all the time takes a lot of the pleasure out of camping for me. Hopefully when October rolls around we will have better weather. I have a new place in mind for the next trip.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Eastbank Campground near Chattahoochee, FL

At about noon on Tuesday, I realized that we were in for at least two days, starting Wednesday, of cool (82-ish) days and nights (60-ish). Sounds like camping weather to me! Since over the summer I have gradually been removing things from the camper for use in the house, this meant scrambling to get it re-stocked. I had to wash the summer dirt and dust off the outside. And of course choose a campground. It was a rushed afternoon but by Tuesday evening the camper was hitched to the car, clean and white again, and ready to go.

I picked Eastbank, a campground I had discovered online over the summer. It's a Corp of Engineers campground on Lake Seminole near the town of Chattahoochee, which is less than 2 hours from where I live. I stayed 3 nights.

I got there at around 1:30. The air was cool, there was very little humidity and a wonderful breeze coming off the lake. What a joy to be setting up camp after so many months--it has been a long, hot summer for everyone. I had site #4, which was an excellent site, very close to the lake.


Here's the view from the chair, where as always I got in a lot of reading on this trip. Note the "dangly thing" (thanks, Pam!).


This is the view from my site across sites 5-8. Lots of grass, very little shade in this section.


There was a great blue heron that hung around the campground a lot, particularly on a little grassy spit of land at the end of the section I was in. I saw him down there one day while I was sitting and reading. So I grabbed the camera and walked to where he was.


He let me get just a bit closer.


I decided that was close enough and went back to my site. He was still there hours later. He could be heard squawking after dark.

I saw a few egrets, heard Canada geese one night, and this little blue heron stopped by my site one day.


Just down the road in Chattahoochee there is a Subway, a fairly well-stocked IGA grocery store (with a very minimal wine selection), and a restaurant or two. I drove in one day to get gas for the car and pick up a sandwich. On my way back I took this photo of my camper. As you can see, while there is no greenery to give privacy in this section, the sites are roomy and far apart.


I camp next to lakes or the Gulf fairly often but I almost never see any photo-worthy sunsets. It wasn't too bad on Thursday night of this trip, though, so I got a few photos.


---


---


The showers in the bath house are just plain weird. You push a button and warm water shoots out of a pseudo-showerhead. The water stays on for one minute, at which time you have to press the button again. And again. And again. There are four uni-sex shower rooms. I used the shower in my camper for all showers except, unfortunately, when I needed to shampoo my hair. This took a long, long time. Given a choice between the push-button shower or filling my gray water tank, I think I will opt for filling the tank next time! There was the option of using the old bath house, which was in a section with only one extremely shabby RV in it. There was no way to lock the bath house door and the showers only had curtains. Didn't seem like a good idea.

One day I walked over to the boat ramp. Next to it, down steps from the parking lot, were two little areas with picnic tables and grills and fire rings. I thought they had been set up for boaters. I walked over to them and noticed they had numbers on posts, like the campsites. Ah ha! These were tent sites. They were pretty nice, especially since I don't think this boat ramp ever gets much use (but I don't know that). This one, 64, would have you right at the edge of the lake, with a fantastic view at dawn.


This one, 65, has more shade and more privacy from anyone on the water.


The down sides of these sites are that they are right off the parking lot, didn't seem to have power or water, and they are quite a distance from either bath house. They were also small. But what a great view!

There are 3 sections of campsites. The one I was in was grassy with little shade but many sites were very close to the water. The section where the two bath houses are had a lot of trees and was very shady, but with little or no lake view. The third section was on the lake but most of the sites were farther from the water. However, there were more trees. The sites I liked were mine (4) and 2, 5, and 8. I also liked sites 26 and 28 in the other lake section.

Verizon cell service varied from strong to almost nonexistent. There is a phone in the campground that can be used for local calls or with a calling card.

I picked my days right. Friday, my last day, was warming up again, enough so that I had to use the AC in the camper in the afternoon (probably wouldn't have been necessary with shade). And now we are back in the 90's again, so I don't know when I will be able to get back out....but at least I got a start on the season!