Our latest RV journey took us past many pecan orchards in south Georgia before we arrived at our first destination, Eastbank Campground on the banks of Lake Seminole. Although located in Georgia, the closest town is Chattahoochee, Florida. From our campsite we were treated to a beautiful sunset our first night.
The campsites are large and many are waterfront. It was a great place to wind down from the hustle and bustle of being at home.
We tried geocaching in nearby Chattahoochee, Florida. Our first two attempts were a bust but we enjoyed looking around the train car at the Heritage Park.
We ended the day watching another beautiful sunset.
Our second geocaching excursion took us to part of the Chattachoochee Nature Trail along the Apalachicola River.
No amount of looking over, under, and around the boardwalk helped us find the geocache but I found something better. A baby alligator was sunning himself beside the boardwalk.
We were determined to find the geocache at the train car so we returned there and Henry found it!
Later we drove to the Jim Woodruff Lock and Dam to take a look. The dam and locks were constructed for navigation, hydro- power and recreation purposes on the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee, and Flint River systems.
Our 2015 wandering took us on a long a spring trip from Georgia to Texas and a short fall trip to South Carolina, Virginia, and North Carolina.
During our 2015 travels we camped in 7 states and stayed in a total of 21 different parks: 11 state parks, 6 private RV parks, 3 COE parks, and 1 county park. While we enjoyed them all, a few stand out.
So here it is, the second annual “Wandering Dawgs best campgrounds of the year” list.
Number 3: Lake Bistineau State Park, Doyline, Louisiana
We first discovered this beautiful state park when we were traveling west in 2011. The park ranger was one of the nicest and most helpful rangers I have ever met. I have such fond memories of sitting on our own private deck watching the lake that I had been trying to figure out when we would have an opportunity to return.
It was a no-brainer to stop here as we headed home toward Georgia on our return trip from Texas. The same great ranger was there and he is still one of the most friendly and most helpful rangers of any place we have been.
Lake Bistineau State Park is located a short drive south of I-20 near Doyline, Louisiana. The sites have paved parking pads with water and electric hook ups, a picnic table, and fire pit. We had a premium site with a wooden deck overlooking the lake.There are several fishing docks located in the campground and one was right in front of our site. The bath house was spotless and there is a small free laundry. The park also has a boat launch. WiFi is available at the office.
We traveled through Texas in the spring when the Texas Bluebonnets were blooming. After researching where the best place to see them would be, the area in the Texas Hill Country around Inks Lake sounded perfect. When my friend Tim from Arlingon recommended it we knew we had to stay there.
We made reservations just a few days before our arrival and were fortunate to get a waterfront site the week before Easter. We had plenty of space behind our back in site to set up our chairs an enjoy the lake. We would have stayed longer but the park was full for Easter weekend and we had to leave on Good Friday.
Our site was a waterfront, back-in site with a beautiful view of the lake behind the campsite. We enjoyed beautiful sunsets every day.
There are hiking trails, a fishing pier, boat launch, marina, and gift shop. Longhorn Caverns State Park is just down the road and there are many scenic drives through the Texas Hill Country.
When we made a day trip to Palo Duro Canyon from Amarillo several years ago we talked about returning one day to camp in the canyon. Camping there was high on our must do list when we traveled around Texas in the spring.
There are several campgrounds in Palo Duro Canyon State Park with backpacking, equestrian sites, tent sites, and RV sites with water and electricity. Our site in the Sagebrush Campground had large private sitting area with a covered shelter over the picnic table and a fire ring. There are hiking, biking and equestrian trails. There are also several day use picnic areas, cabins, stables with guided horseback rides, an interpretive center, and the Trading Post Restaurant and Park store.
Leigh over at Campendium asked me to submit a post for my favorite State Park Campground for their May, 2015 Campendium Blog post featuring Best State Park Campgrounds. To read my contribution to the post click here.
As we traveled east from Louisiana to Alabama on I-20 we crossed the Mississippi River into Vicksburg and stopped at the Welcome Center to take a break. It was drizzling rain but we were still able to have a beautiful view of the mighty Mississippi.
The mighty Mississippi River in Vicksburg, Mississippi
Cannon display at the Mississippi Welcome Center in Vicksburg
Barge in the rain on the Mississippi River
After our short stop we continued on our journey. Our destination was Prairie Creek Campground near Lownesboro, Alabama, the first Corps of Engineers park we ever stayed in. Were we pleasantly surprised back in 2007 to find big sites, paved pads and a well maintained park. Ever since that first stay in a COE campground we look for them whenever we are traveling.
Our second visit to the campground did not disappoint. When we weren’t enjoying the view of the Alabama River from our site we took a drive to explore the dam.
Paris, Texas was our last stop in Texas. Of course we couldn’t miss the Eiffel Tower with a red cowboy hat. It is located between the civic center and a very impressive Veteran’s Memorial. The replica of the Eiffel Tower was originally dedicated in 1993 and was 65 feet tall. In 1998 the red cowboy hat was added to make it a few feet taller.
We walked around the town square and stopped by the Chamber of Commerce to pick up some postcards and find out more about the area. The Chamber shares space with an art gallery and we enjoyed talking with one of the artists who grew up in the Atlanta area but now lives in Paris.
While at the Chamber I spied a brochure for Chisum Days with Chuck Wagon races on Sunday. I didn’t know what to expect at a chuck wagon race but it sounded like something we didn’t want to miss. I love it when we happen to be in the area when a fun event like this is taking place. Usually I see a poster for something I’d like to do and it was last week or next month.
The event was a fund raiser for the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars and was held at Lake Crook Park just north of Paris. We attended the event on Sunday, the last day. Rain had left the grounds pretty muddy. There were horse trailers, RV’s and trucks parked all around a large field where the races would take place. We arrived about an hour before the races began and enjoyed watching all the activity as people went about preparing for the races.
The races were really fun to watch. If not for a great announcer we wouldn’t have known what was going on. Each team consisted of a driver, a cook, and an outrider. Two teams competed at a time. At the start of the race each outrider had to load the wagon with a bedroll and cook box before mounting their horse. Each team rounded a barrel before racing around through the woods to the finish line. To win the race the outrider had to cross the finish line before the wagon and the wagon had to have both the bedroll and cook box. All this happened in less than two minutes!
What a great ending to our Texas adventure!
We camped at Pat Mayes West Corps of Engineers Park north of Paris in Powderly, Texas. It was an older park with most of the other campers there for the boating and fishing.
There is so much to see and do in the Texas Hill Country we could have stayed a month and not seen in all. Unfortunately, we only had about two weeks to explore this beautiful area in the heart of Texas. The hill country includes San Antonio and Austin and extends west about 200 miles. Driving through the area on mostly twisting, two lane roads we saw canyons and creeks, dance halls and wineries, historic sites and ranches, quaint small towns and old homesteads, green grass and more wildflowers than I ever imagined. We dined on barbeque and schnitzel and I bought a cowboy hat!
Our first home base in the hill country was Cranes Mill, a beautiful Corps of Engineers park on Canyon Lake near New Braunfels. We enjoyed driving on the country roads to explore the area. The bluebonnets were really starting to bloom and we saw more and more each day.
The first order of business was to eat some Texas Barbeque. One of my brothers lived in San Antonio for a few years and told us not to miss the Salt Lick in Driftwood, Texas. We started out our first full day in the hill country driving the back roads to have our first taste of brisket, ribs, sausage and turkey. After our delicious lunch we stopped to visit the Dr. Joseph Pound homestead. Dr. Pound and his family settled there in 1853 and raised 9 children. His descendants lived in the home continuously until 1983.
Salt Lick Barbeque
Buckboard used by the Pound family
Ball Moss on live oak at the Pound Homestead
Pound Homestead in Dripping Springs, Texas
On a beautiful sunny Friday we took a drive to Luckenbach and a winery near Fredericksburg.
Luckenbach Dance Hall
Music on a sunny Friday afternoon
Down in Luckenbach, Texas, ain’t nobody feeling no pain
Fat Ass Winery, Fredericksburg, Texas
We enjoyed touring the LBJ State Park and Historic Site in Stonewall. Lyndon Johnson was our 36th president and spent much of his presidency at his ranch on the Perdanales River. Adjacent to the ranch is the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm, a working farm which recreates a Hill Country farm at the turn of the 20th century.
The driving tour of his ranch goes around the air strip where he would land in a small plane he called Air Force One Half because Air Force One was too large to land on the landing strip. President Johnson left the ranch to be enjoyed by all the people so there is no charge to tour the park.
Hog at the living history exhibit
Saddles at the LBJ Ranch
At the LBJ Ranch
In the show barn at the ranch
Bluebonnets on the LBJ Ranch
Air Force One was to big to land on the landing strip so he called this plane that flew him from Austin “Air Force One Half”
We also enjoyed visiting some of the towns in the area. Many of the older buildings in the hill country are made of stone because of the lack of wood for building.
Gazebo in New Braunfels, Texas
Henne Hardware in New Braunfels – since 1857
Comal County Courthouse in New Braunfels
One of the stone buildings in Fredericksburg
Home in Gruene, Texas
On a sunny Palm Sunday we strolled through the town of Gruene where we enjoyed music at one of the oldest dance halls in Texas. Our Sunday drive continued to the artistic town of Wimberley and a walk along the banks of the Cypress Creek.
Gruene Water Tower
Gruene Hall is one of the oldest dance halls in Texas
Gruene Hall on a Sunday afternoon
Gruene Hall on a Sunday afternoon
Sign in Wimberley, Texas
Totem beside Cypress Creek in Wimberley
Cypress Creek in Wimberley
Cypress Creek in Wimberley
While driving around we passed many interesting ranches and the Albert Dance Hall and Twin Sisters Dance Hall. Although we were still a little early to see the bluebonnets in all their glory we enjoyed seeing patches of them beside the roads.
Sculpture at the entrance to a ranch
Gotta love Texas
Bluebonnets near Stonewall, Texas
Bluebonnets near Stonewall, Texas
Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush
When we weren’t sightseeing we enjoyed our large lake front campsite at Crane’s Mill.
Cranes Mill Campground on Canyon Lake
We saw deer almost every day at Cranes Mill Campground