Tuesday, May 31, 2011

An uneventful day

Today we felt like we drove forever but we only drove about 400km's. Not our longest day by far but we left late and didn't find anywhere interesting to stop along the way. We pulled into Walmart in Homosassa at 3826 South Suncoast Blvd, to check and see if we could overnight or not and yes we could :)

Knowing we had a place to sleep and it was only 5:00 we then went in search of a park to sit and make supper so the girls could play outside while we did. We looked on the net and found Crytal River Preserve State Park which had no entrance fee and headed there.

It's hard to tell from the picture but this beach is crawling wit little crabs.
 This park wasn't much of a park though. It was a bit confusing. There were police boats being stored, a few hap hazard shelters, some canoe storage and other misc items lying around. The park apparently has some good hiking trails and birding oppourtunities. There is also a visitors centre which may have answered some questions about the point of the park but it closed at 5:00 and we arrived shortly after that.

 It wasn't really a place to let the girls play so we walked along the decks and police boat launch and then headed back to Walmart and made dinner there.

We did manage however to park at Walmart and not go in. We didn't buy anything...nothing...not even a loaf of bread :) That's a first. Usually we buy groceries when we stay there but we didn't need anything this time.

REVIEW Apalachicola National Forest Florida... almost free :)

There are only 3 National Forests in Florida. This one, the Apalachicola, is located South West of Tallahassee. We entered it from the South Western entrance. (there are entrances on the other side and from the north as well) To get here from Pensacola on the 98, turn left (north) at 65 (paved). Continue on 65 until you enter the National Forest. You will then continue North until you see a brown sign (signs are easy to spot) pointing to the left stating the direction of Hickory Landing and Wright lake at Forest Rd 101 (gravel) on your left. At Forest Rd 101A turn left to go to Hickory Landing, or go straight and then right for Wright Lake.

Value 5/5
It doesn't get any closer to free then $3 per night.

Site Quality 3/5
The site was off level a bit but that was partially to do with the fact that we had to back up over the raised tent camping area in order to fit in our RV. No services. Picnic table and fire pit at site.

Facility Fun 3/5
If you like to fish this is probably a great area to do it. Ian forgot to buy his fishing licesnce so he didn't give it a try. There are stations throughout the campground to clean your fish as well as running water by the boat dock. Lake looked like a great spot for a canoe ride :) No trails nearby that we saw. This really is a fishing campsite.

Natural Surroundings 3.5/5
All the sites are near the water. Beautiful mix of pine trees and palm trees surrounding the campsites. Lots of trees and lots of shade but also lots of biting bugs (like a deer fly at home, brownish yellow and they bite and OFF doesn't seem to repel them) Great spot for fishing, canoeing, or kayaking.

Had out houses but we didn't go in.

Staff N/A
Camphost wasn't present, no other campers, only the occasional boater

Location 3/5
This was a bit out of the way to get to and nothing of much interest nearby that we saw. Wright Lake is just up the road with more fishing and a few trails.

Overall 3.5/5
There are no good beaches along the coast just before turning onto 65 which from looking on the map we hoped to stay here in the forest for a couple of days, and venture down to a beach and return to sleep in the forest but since there were no beaches and Ian forgot to buy his fishing lisence we stayed only 1 night. There were too many biting flys to spend too much time outside anyway.

Another campsite

and another campsite...pretty basic

Beautiful Pines and Palms surround the campground

Sunset on the water

Monday, May 30, 2011

A beach near the NOT so RV friendly Pensacola Beach and Apalachicola National Forest

We left Pensacola Walmart and headed to Pensacola beach only to be disappointed! Not in the beach...we never made it there. There are signs everywhere that state NO RV's or Buses...and not just to park at night...they aren't allowed at all, even at the visitors centre parking lot! So Pensacola beach is not very RV friendly. We did however drive a little further down the coast where we found a nice beach and enjoyed the afternoon.

Surfer girl Sierra waiting for the perfect wave to reach her up on the beach!

Aayla thinks she wants to 'surf' like Sierra but really she is too timid of the waves

Sierra takes a break from 'surfing' above and Below daddy tries to coax Aayla into the water

Hang on daddy don't let me go!

Here comes a big one

aayla laughing and signing for the waves to "stop"!!!

We then drove onto the Apalachicola National Forest

 in search of a place to camp for the night. Florida doesn't have many National Forests so we have to take advantage of them when we can :)

This forest is full of Pines and Palms.
You can boondock in this National Forest but we knew there was a place at Hickory landing (with fishing) for only $3 a night so we headed there first, then drove a bit further to Wright lake to see what the difference was for a $10 fee. (there are also a few sites here at Wright Lake with electricity for $15 per night) There was a lake but...

for $7 less and we liked the feel of Hickory Landing so we drove back there for the night.
Only 10 sites here and most are for smaller Rv's and tents, but we squished in and
 were the ONLY ones here tonight so we got to run the air conditioner a little later then 10:00.

 Leave it to my girls to find the bugs!

 Looking for fish with daddy

Having a blast throwing rocks to scare away the alligators!

Collecting pinecones on our way back to the campsite

For $3 a night here in Florida...we think we did well especially when we found a campsite in Destin on the beach which charged.....

wait are you sitting down???

$165.00 per night! camp beside the beach...I guess we will be seeing more Walmart parking lots then I said before...Thank you Walmart!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

On our way to Pensacola Florida and Thank you Walmart

We left Louisiana and drove by some wonderful looking beaches in Alabama.

Nesting Turns are protected on the beach as they nest
We arrived in Pensacola just in time for supper. We pulled into Walmart at 4600 Mobile Highway, stocked up, had supper and hit the hay.
I must say we are VERY THANKFUL that most Walmarts allow overnight parking. Some people don't understand why you would want to camp in  a Walmart parking lot. We don't call it camping, we call it overnighting...

When camping we prefer to dry camp, dispersed camp or boondock however you want to call it. We hate to pay for camping (we pay enough for fuel) and we prefer to be surrounded by nature with few neighbours and just enjoy what nature has to offer (and as we were able to do in much of Arizona, Utah and New mexico) but there are times when you are moving from one destination to the next and you basically just need to sleep.

Florida RV parks are expensive!!! Beach parking is not posible, National Forests are slim pickings and even rest stops on highways here only allow you to stay for 3 hours so

What do you think about Walmart allowing overnight parking?
Have you stayed in a Walmart parking lot overnight?
Do you call it camping or overnighting?

I am sure we are not alone...I'd love to hear from some of you though.

REVIEW Bayou Segnette State Park Louisiana

Bayou Segnette State Park
Please visit the website highlited above, it will give you directions from anywhere as I didn't write down the streets we turned on...sorry!

Value 3.5/5
At Summer rates of $26 a night this was a bit steep. (Winter rates are only $18 I think) It does include laundry but the machines were in rough shape.

Site Quality 4.5
Our site #1 was excellent. Very level, well spaced and a few smaller trees. Some sites had more mature trees but we were happy with our site. Table, campfire ring and barbeque pit were present. Water and electric only at site but dump station at campground entrance.

Facility Fun 4/5
This may not be a fair rating (they may deserve higher) but we were not at the site very much other then to sleep. There was a nice big playground close to our site as well as other playgrounds in the park. There was a wavepool which cost $10 per adult to go to and $8 per child (we didn't go in). There are trails for walking, hiking, biking and water to fish in but we didn't check any of it out. We spent the whole time downtown.

Natural Surroundings 4/5
Mature trees, shaded areas and sunny patches. Trails nearby, water nearby for fishing or canoeing. The park had a natural feel to it.

Bathrooms 4.5/5
Clean and well maintained at the time of our visit. Showers were hot and had nice pressure :)

Staff 4.5/5
Very friendly and helpful staff at the main entrance.

Location 4/5
Very close to downtown New Orleans yet it was a counrty setting. Easy to get to and near sooooo much!

Overal 4/5
We liked this park. It was very busy and we actually got the last site available for 2 nights. There were a lot of locals here camping for their long weekend. I can see this would be a great park to come here to stay and enjoy for awhile but since we were only using it to sleep at we felt the $26 was steep however the $26 was better then $40 plus some RV parks were asking! FREE laundry and Wifi.

View of the distance between our site and the next...ours was very spacious,
some were closer together

The playground with washrooms and laundry behind it