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August 2014

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Devils Fork State Park | Weekly Adventure Photos

Devils Fork State Park

This photo is a stunning view of Lake Jocassee located in Devils Fork State Park.  The state park is located in the northwest corner of South Carolina.  There are waterfalls and a boat-in campsite accessible only by boat or kayak.  A regular campground and picnic area are also available within the park.  Some of the best trout fishing in South Carolina can be found at Lake Jocassee.  Scuba diving is also a favorite sport to do at the park. We spent the day paddling to a few of the waterfalls and doing some fishing.   The water is really clear, but be warned it is also freezing! There are plenty of activities to do at Devils Fork State Park from boating to hiking, or a refreshing swim in the lake. Get reservations for the campground and plan to stay a few days enjoying the beautiful views of Devils Fork State Park.  It is a breath of fresh air!

Devils Fork State Park

Ochlockonee River State Park | Weekly Adventure Photos

Ochlockonee River State Park

The Ochlockonee River State Park is located near Sopchoppy, Florida, about 40 miles south of Tallahassee.  For this paddling trip, we launched from the boat ramp in the park and started down Tidal Creek.  We came out on the Ocklockonee River and did a quick paddle across to the other side.  From there we entered the Bear Creek Paddling Trail. Along Bear Creek, we saw osprey, large osprey nests up in the trees, blue heron, and many fish jumping out of the water.  The landscape had many trees covered in moss that were beautiful.  We had quite a bit of wind to contend with, especially once we reached the Ochlockonee River at the other end of Bear Creek.  It was a difficult paddle back to the boat ramp with the increased head wind.  Overall it was a great day of paddling!  There are two paddling trails to do in Ocklockonee River State Park, both being about 7 1/2 miles in length. We didn’t get a chance to really explore any of the other areas in the park.  Bear Creek Paddling Trail is an easy paddle and great for the beginner to the experienced.

Journey On,
Annette

Ochlockonee River State Park

Hot Springs, Arkansas is One Cool Place

Hot Springs, ArkansasTravel Log: 

Location:  Hot Springs, Arkansas
Access Point:  34.4923004,-93.0571505

We recently made a journey to Hot Springs, Arkansas, located an hour southwest of Little Rock, for a family vacation and for our son to compete at the ATA World’s Championship.  The championship took place in Little Rock.  We wanted to take our motorhome to stay in, and we wanted a nice RV park to stay in that had a pool.  We couldn’t find any in the Little Rock area, so we started researching surrounding areas.  Troy remembered one of his co-workers telling him that if we were ever near Hot Springs, Arkansas to check it out. After looking at the map, we realized that Hot Springs was not that far of a drive from Little Rock.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

We started looking for RV parks in that area.  We ended up finding Catherine’s Landing, which is an RVC Outdoor Destination, and we had stayed at two of their other locations in the past.  We knew that this RV park would be a great place to stay.  The accommodations and the amenities are superb at all the RVC Outdoor Destinations we have stayed at.  We highly recommend planning a getaway to one of their locations.  If you don’t have an RV to stay in, you can rent one of their cottages or yurts (not all the destinations have yurts, but Catherine’s Landing does).  Catherine’s Landing is located on Lake Catherine where you can launch your boat or kayaks and spend a day out on the water.  We didn’t bring our kayaks this time since most of our time would be spent at the tournament.  We did manage to get in some pool time though!

Hot Springs, Arkansas

We spent four days in the Hot Springs area.  We spent one day relaxing from our drive there…610 miles from our house in a motorhome….makes for slower travel than driving a regular car.  The next day we spent in downtown Hot Springs which houses Hot Springs National Park.  We explored the National Park for several hours.  We took a tour of the old Fordyce Bathhouse and enjoyed a walk around the downtown area.  We strolled along the Grand Promenade Trail which sits above the National Park on the hillside and enjoyed the greenery and views of the historic buildings.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

We stopped at several small thermal springs and felt the extremely hot water.  We made our way into the gift shop where we purchased a souvenir water bottle.  Then we found one of the water faucets where you can fill up your water bottles with the scorching hot water.  We then took it back to the RV and put it in the fridge to drink later.  Canyon called the water “spirit water” and drank it before his tournament to get energized.  I wanted to go Buckstaff Baths and soak in one of the traditional bathtubs, but with the sweltering, muggy heat outside, it didn’t sound that refreshing to me.  I think we need to make a winter trip to Hot Springs….soaking indoors in a bath full of steamy hot water with a cold outside temperature sounds more relaxing to me.

While we were downtown, we stopped at Fat Bottomed Girl’s Cupcake Shoppe and partook of several flavors of cupcakes.  We love cupcakes, and these were delicious!  We also journeyed up the hillsides and went on the park’s scenic drives.  It was nice to feel like we were traveling up into the mountains.  We have always lived near large mountains, and now living in the Deep South makes us miss the mountains.  Hot Springs and Little Rock are culturally hip and diverse areas.  It is a very different atmosphere in Arkansas than here in lower Alabama, where we currently live.  We met a lot of great people at the RV park and spent time with people from all over the world at the tournament.  Next year we will be returning for the tournament.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

One place needed mentioning is McClard’s BBQ restaurant.  We love BBQ more than we love cupcakes! Canyon ate ribs that were the size of his head! That boy loves his ribs and McClard’s didn’t disappoint him. Troy and I both had the beef sandwiches, and they were huge and delicious.

The advice that we were given to make sure we check out Hot Springs, Arkansas, is advice we pass on to you as well.  Put this one on the to-do list!  You won’t be disappointed!  For next year, we have our list of things to do that we missed this first visit.

Journey on,
Annette

St. George Island State Park | Weekly Adventure Photo

St. George Island State Park

St. George Island State Park is this week’s photo spotlight.  We launched from one of the boat ramps in the park and paddled over to this sandy beach at Gap Point.  There is primitive camping available at Gap Point. We spent the day out catching slimy Gafftopsail catfish and playing on the beach in the Apalachicola Bay.  There were several others out kayaking and enjoying a day of fishing and sunshine.  St. George Island State Park has the Gulf of Mexico on the south side and the Apalachicola Bay on the north side.  You can access both sides and enjoy the diverse landscape the state park has to offer.  There are miles of white sandy beaches to play on in the Gulf.  The Bayside is accessed by a hiking trail or by boat.  You can also get a campsite within the park.  St. George Island is a great place to come and spend the day on the water or hiking around for some hidden geocaches.

A Relaxing Paddle Down Econfina Creek

Econfina Creek

Travel Log: 

Location:  Econfina Creek, FL
Access Point:   30.438934,-85.5453016
Length:  7 miles, 3 – 4 hours

What is it about crystal clear cold spring water in the heat of summer that heals the soul? I am not sure. However, Econfina Creek, FL is one of those places. One of those places that heals the soul after a busy week of work and relentless summer temperatures. The ice-cold water bubbling up from the depths of earth seemed to wash away the stresses of life and made everything seem just fine! Thanks to the great folks at Econfina Creek Canoe Livery and their shuttle services, the seven miles of “coasting down hill” was just what the doctor ordered!

Econfina Creek

Over the past few months of studying and reading travel blogs, I have to say that I have become a little disappointed. That is to say, after reading the life and times of exotic world travelers and their seemingly never-ending travel funds, I decided that there may not be many people who want to read about a small family and their small time travels. I can’t imagine that those spending thousands on flights and hotels across the world would have any interest in someone who discovers places near home on a budget of a tank of gas and a few breakfast tacos on the way out-of-town. However, after a day on Econfina Creek, I am happy that many people want to explore far away places and leave the nearby places for us more simple folks. That is, for us that need a place to take a break, a place to be close to our families, make a few new friends, and discover how amazing our country truly is.

Econfina Creek

“How do you find such great places?” asked one family. The answer… asks the locals! Econfina Creek is a local gem! Just north of Panama City and south of Dothan, AL. The creek is cold and clear with several beautiful springs that feed the creek. There are plenty of rope swings and diving places if that is your thing, or if you are like us, just floating and listening to the birds with an occasional stop to swim and lunch was perfect.

Econfina Creek

From the access point at Econfina Creek Canoe Livery, to the bridge at the 388, Econfina Creek meanders for seven easy miles of paddling. A few tight turns with eddies, and a few submerged trees kept the trail interesting. There are very few places to pull off the creek that are not posted closed or private property. However, if you keep your eyes open, you’ll find a few shady areas for a break and for some lunch. Do not miss Pitt Spring! After you leave the access point, you will find Pitt spring on the right. Bring some rope and dock the kayaks and take the walk into this healing pool. A great place to picnic and swim, it is a must visit on this float trip. You will meet all kinds of characters at this location; mostly locals kick’n back and taking a breather, grilling a burger and spending time with those they care for the most, their family and friends.

For those of you out there with a budget like mine that honestly may never get to travel Europe, or visit the exotic beaches of the world, take a look in your own backyard. You may be amazed at what you find!  If you are wanting to visit another spring after this, check out our post on Holmes Creek.

Safe Travels, Troy

Econfina Creek

Weekly Adventure Photo | St. Andrews State Park

St. Andrews State Park

This week’s photo comes from St. Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach, Florida.  These are the beautiful sand dunes that sit behind you while viewing and playing on the Gulf Coast.  This is a great place to come and play in the Gulf while enjoying the warm sunshine.  Make sure if you go to St. Andrews State Park that you take the time to hike the nature trails (maybe you’ll see or hear an alligator) take the boat shuttle or kayak to Shell Island, or even plan a camping trip and stay a few nights.  This is a perfect beach getaway!  Bring your cooler full of food and drinks, fishing gear, and snorkeling gear and enjoy a beautiful day at St. Andrews State Park.  Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Once you’re done at the park, drive into Panama City or Panama City Beach and explore those areas as well.  Stop by one of our favorite ice cream shops, Bruster’s, and get a tasty summer treat!  There are also plenty of great places to eat and tons of shopping to do!  Also, don’t forget to check out the other state parks in the area!  There’s a lot to see and do….grab your gear and head out to catch some sun and surf!

Journey on,
Annette

Step Back in Time at Hovenweep National Monument

Travel Log: 

Location:  Hovenweep National Monument
Access Point: 37.3573981,-108.8597312
Length:  1 – 3 hours

Hovenweep National Monument Our family has always been fascinated with Native American history.  On one of our trips to Cortez, Colorado, we took the opportunity to visit Hovenweep National Monument.  The masonry structures that have stood the test of time will amaze anyone who visits.  There is a two-mile hike around the structures with plenty of photographic opportunities.  Each structure is stunning with a story to tell.  The story is that of ancient Puebloans who worked hard to live and survive in this area.  Hovenweep National Monument is rich in history, and to be able to explore the area and to get up close to the structures makes the trip even more memorable. Hovenweep National Monument

Hovenweep National Monument Make sure when you visit Hovenweep National Monument that you bring good hiking shoes, your camera, and water.  Take your time enjoying each structure and the view of the mountains.  The trail is a little difficult in a few places so make sure you are prepared for that.  Also, make sure you check the weather as it can vary.

While in the area, make sure to check out Cortez and Durango, Colorado and Mesa Verde National Park.    We highly recommend the Cortez/Mesa Verde KOA as your base camp.  You can camp in a tent, stay in one of their camping cabins, or take your own RV.  The Cortez area is one of our family favorites!  Also, if you mountain bike, hit up one of the awesome trails in the area.  The historic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is a fun trip to take.  This area is brimming in history and beautiful landscape!  Make the Cortez area a place to visit where you can take a step back in time!

Journey On,
Annette Hovenweep National Monument