Campground Notes

So it’s been a long time without a post, so I guess it’s time I got back to work. In my defense, the reason I haven’t written more is that we’ve been busy. And as I mentioned before, I don’t write quickly.

Anne has done a good job with the chronicling our travels on Facebook, so I thought I’d write a bit about the places we’ve stayed. We’re currently at Fort Pickens Campground in Gulf Islands National Seashore, but in order to get this post finished, I’ll save writing about our last couple of stops until my next post.

Huntington Beach State Park

Huntington Beach State Park is located in Murrells Inlet, SC. It’s located on a beautiful stretch of coast, a short distance south of Myrtle Beach. In addition to camping there’s a nature preserve and what remains of Atalaya, a Moorish-style mansion built in the 1930’s. Our campsite was located near a boardwalk that took you to a beautiful beach. It was quiet, unless the sound of waves breaking on the beach bothers you. There seemed to be a good mix of campers–local and from further away, long-term and there for the weekend and everything from tents to large units. The restrooms and showers were clean and well-maintained. There was typical campground wifi, meaning that it was unusably slow a lot of the time. It could be useful off hours and for things like syncing photos which happen in the background overnight. The staff seemed friendly enough although we didn’t have much reason to interact with them. We met several nice campers, including folks in another Alto. Recommended!

Faver-Dykes State Park

Faver-Dykes State Park is about a half hour south of St. Augustine, FL. The park has the campground, boat launches and hiking trails, but not much else. The campground is located a couple of miles from the park entrance, so it’s quite remote and very quiet. There are only 30 sites that handle units up to 35 feet, so there were no monster Class A’s or fifth wheels.

Long Point Park

Long Point Park is a county park in Brevard County, FL. It located on a barrier island midway between Melbourne Beach to the north and Vero Beach to the south. There wasn’t much available when I booked, so we got what was probably considered a less-desirable site. It was right next to the Indian River (the name for the lagoon that separates the barrier islands from the mainland). It was on the smaller side, although our Alto fit fine. We were next to the fish-cleaning station and the boat launch, which didn’t cause any problems for us. There were a number of birds, including pelicans and egrets, hanging out nearby, waiting for a tidbit from the fish cleaners. The boat launch was busy when we left Saturday morning, and I can imagine that it’s pretty busy all weekend. There was a steady breeze most of the time, but when it died down the insects were pretty fierce. There was typical campground wifi, meaning that it was unusably slow a lot of the time.

Larry and Penny Thompson Memorial Park

Larry and Penny Thompson Memorial Park is a Miami-Dade County park, located about 20 miles southwest of downtown Miami. Miami traffic was pretty crazy, so that trip took more than an hour at the times we went. The bathrooms and showers were close this year, allegedly because of Covid, although rumor had it that the real reason was that a renovation had fouled up the plumbing. The end result was that they only allowed fully self-contained units. We qualified. The sites were good sized, clustered in “pods.” Each pod was a small loop with 19 or 20 sites, fifteen on the outside and four or five on the inside. They allow stays of up to 180 days, so most of the campers were long term, spending at least several months. Our Alto was about the smallest unit we saw.

This was our first stay of more than one night where we depended exclusively on the bathroom in the camper. The sites had full hookups (including sewer), so we didn’t have to worry about tank capacity. We settled into a routine of dumping our tanks every day after our morning showers. We would leave the bathroom door open when we left for the day to give the shower curtain a chance to dry. It all worked fine, but if we didn’t have the sewer connection we would have needed a portable waste holding tank so that we could dump without moving the camper every day or two.

We liked the access to Miami, although traffic was intense–a 25 mile trip to downtown Miami took well over an hour at rush hour. We did a walking architectural tour of Miami Beach with a terrific guide, Julie! We also enjoyed our first food tour in Little Havana. Our first four night stay of the trip was a nice change. It allowed for a down day to catch up on things in the camper.

Long Pine Key Campground

Next stop was four days in the Everglades National Park at Long Pine Key. Four days without any hookups was a first for us. Fortunately the bathrooms were open and while there was quite a bit of vegetation between sites, there weren’t many trees, so we had plenty of solar. The lack of trees might have been an issue, since we can’t run the air conditioner without shore power, but the weather was great–daytime highs in the low 80’s (27C), nighttime lows in the upper 60’s (20C) and a steady breeze. Our battery charge level never went below 85% and we never missed the A/C.

Long Pine is located near the Homestead entrance to the park–close enough that it was possible to drive into town for supplies and down to Key Largo for a glass bottom boat ride at John Pennecamp State Park. Other than that we spent a couple of days exploring the park. The main park road runs from the visitor center near Homestead about 38 miles to Flamingo on Florida Bay. There are lots of places to stop and take short hikes in the various Everglades habitats.

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