Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life-and travel-leaves marks on you.
----Anthony Bourdain

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mt. Pisgah Campground, NC

Mt. Pisgah Campground is 20 miles southwest of Asheville, NC. It is located on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The views from the Restaurant and Inn (just across the road from the campground) are breathtaking.

The restaurant is a bit pricey, unless you get a take-out sandwich from the gift shop area.  There is also a store with very minimal supplies next to the restaurant and inn. 

There is no electricity or water at the sites, although there are flushing toilets and a hot shower available. The modern bath house boasts toilets with dual flush. There is only 1 shower per bath house, so you may have a wait for the shower.
 The actual sites have plenty of space, although the paved space for the camper and the car are a bit tight. Each site has a fire pit, picnic table, and lantern holder.

The tent sites include a bear box to discourage the bears from getting into your food.
On Saturday nights, educational programs are available at the Campfire Circle.


The campground is open from 08 May through 01 November. Pets are allowed, although there are signs indicating that coyotes are active in the area. There is also a threat of bears & raccoons, so if you take your pet with you, keep this in mind.


There are hiking trails to be explored that are accessible at the campsite. Recreation.gov indicates that a trail leading to the summit of  Mt. Pisgah starts at the campground and climbs for nearly two miles to an observation deck. 
The campground was gorgeous with the leaves changing. There are a lot of rhododendron on the property, so I would think the spring would also be a beautiful time to visit.

 We only stayed one night, but this would be a place where we would return for a weekend, or a long weekend. With an elevation of almost 5000 feet, this would be a perfect place to camp during the summer to escape the heat.



Sunday, October 12, 2014

James Island County Park, SC

(To see larger pictures, just click on them!)
We recently took a week-long camping trip to James Island, SC. James Island is located just outside of Charleston.  If you're planning on visiting the Charleston area, then this is definitely the place to camp. Downtown Charleston is only 15-20 minutes away (depending on traffic), and you're close to Folly Beach, Isle of Palms, and Kiawah. If you're a guest of the campground, the entrance fee to the Folly Beach County Park and Kiawah Beachwalker County Park is waived. After 1 October during the week, both parks (along with Isle of Palms County Park) do not have an entrance fee.
(The star on the bottom left corner is the campground)
James Island Campground is located within a county park. Charleston County has several very nice parks, but this is the only one with a campground. This particular park has so many amenities that you could stay here for a week and have enough to do without leaving the park.

There are miles of trails, so if you have a bicycle, plan on bringing it. If you don't have a bike, there are some available to rent for $10 the first day, $5 after that. There is also an extremely nice dog park on site, with places for your dog to get into the water. We didn't see any alligators, but had been told that there were a couple who were relocated due to getting too close to humans and dogs.

(View of the dog park from the road)
As you might have guessed, the park is extremely dog-friendly. There are containers for "doggy bags" all through out the park. You still need to watch where you step in the dog park: I saw one woman walking toward the water while her dog pooped. She never even noticed.
Also in the park are a water park, climbing wall, 18-hole disc golf course, kayak & pedal boat rentals, and a fishing dock. The water park was closed for the season. I'm assuming that, even though you are a guest at the campground, you would still be required to pay the $11.99 entrance fee (non-residents of Charleston County).
 (Boardwalk to fishing dock)
 (View from fishing dock)
While we were there, the lights were being put up for The Festival of Lights. I was kind of hoping that they would have to test them while we were there; I would have liked to have seen what the park looked like with all of the lights on. 

The campsites were well-space out, and included , water, electric, full hook-ups, and a fire ring. 
The bathhouse, laundry area, and activity center are all together:
The bathhouses were as close to immaculate as you can get. The shower curtains are bleached at least once a week, and one day when I was in the bathhouse, several workers came in to double check that everything was the way it should be.
Even the laundry area was nice:  there are rocking chairs in front of the machines so you can rock the cycles away, or there is a swing directly across from them.
The activity center includes a tv, kitchen area (great for washing dishes when you don't have a sink in your camper!), ping pong table, foosball, fireplace, book swap, outside eating areas, as well as a swing overlooking a pond.
There is a sign around the pond area next to the activity center, just in case you forget where you are:
Wildlife is abundant, so it is important to make sure your food is packed safely away from the animals. One night, a raccoon walked within a few feet of me as he walked through our campsite. I had a non-food tote open, so I'm assuming he was planning on looking to see what he could find. I hit my book, so he scurried away. Our last night there, 2 raccoons walked on the edge of our neighbor's site, and then 2 more climbed down from a tree right behind our neighbor's back. We didn't see any gators, but the squirrels will come within a couple of feet if you sit very still. We also saw several toads & frogs. This little guy was on our camper window one night:
Cell service was decent; every now and then we would get a 4G signal. We had a WiFi router on our site and the signal was good, it was just extremely slow. If you're planning on working while you're visiting and need internet, it would be a good idea to have a booster.

Our overall impression of this campground was very positive. We would rate this as a very sound "A". 




Wednesday, September 24, 2014

French Broad River Campground

This camping trip was a bit of a spur of the moment, 1 night trip. We chose this campground due to location of a personal matter, and the reviews indicated it was an okay place to camp.
French Broad River Campground is located just north of Asheville, NC. It is a small campground with just a few sites available, but they are all on the river side.
The sites weren't real easy to get into, even with our little trailer. It was relatively quiet, except for our neighbors who liked to listen to their music rather loudly...even during quiet hours. (At least they had good taste in their music!)
The website indicated that there were cabins for rent; however, the cabins we saw appeared to have permanent residents.
The bathhouse was small, but appeared to be well maintained. There is a number key on the door. The password for both the men's and women's is the same, which was a little unnerving, considering our neighbors with the loud music (who apparently had also enjoyed quite a bit of beverages as well).
There are separate sites for tents, but there isn't a bathhouse on that side of the campground. In fact, the only facilities are port-a-potties. 
Each site has a firepit, electricity, and water...even the tent sites are equipped with these. There is also WiFi, but the signal was pretty weak as the night went on.
There was a nice cool breeze at all times since the sites are on the river.  This picture was taken as I sat in my chair just outside our camper; I didn't zoom in at all:
There were quite a few ducks in the water, but they stayed in the water and didn't come up to the campsites. 
The hosts were friendly enough, although he tried to put us in a tent site (even though we were pulling a trailer). You can't reserve a certain spot, so you just have to take what's left when you get there.
Will we stay here again? Probably not. While staying right on the river was nice, it seemed to be just a little...strange.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Cove Lake State Park

The opinions expressed below are our own.  We received no compensation for the review.
Click on a picture to get larger views.
Cove Lake State Park is located approximately 30 miles north of Knoxville, Tn.  The website gives the following descriptions: "Scenic nature trails lead through a diversity of wetlands and woodlands offering wildlife viewing for the nature enthusiast." and "Hiking is a popular activity within the park." We were expecting more of a wooded area with the trails easily accessible from the campground.  As we drove in, we could see a paved trail off to the right.  Granted, we didn't walk around the park much since it rained off & on, but we didn't see the trails that matched the description.  
Right before the turn-off to the park, we caught our first glimpse of Cove Lake:

We had chosen a campsite that appeared to be close to the water,so this was what we expected.  Looking at the map, we didn't think we'd be on the water, but fairly close to it.

We were in site 79; we could see the water if we walked down a slope and looked through the fence that was covered with overgrowth.
The website says that most sites are provided with grills and firepits, which would be accurate.  We just happened to pick one that did not have those amenities.  In the picture above, if you look just to the right of the concrete, you can see a spot where the grill must have been at one time.  And, if you look at the branch directly above that spot, you can see where the fire from the grill must have caught the tree on fire.  We aren't sure why they didn't just move the grill over some instead of removing it.
Our site also didn't have a firepit.  For some reason, that had also been removed.
If you look toward the back leg of the canopy, you can see where the pit once was.  Since we usually don't use the grill provided and we didn't plan on having a fire, it didn't really matter to us... this time.
This may give you a better idea of where the firepit was:
Most of the sites appeared to be level, or very close to it.  There were a lot of sites that appeared to be "short"...a longer camper probably wouldn't fit on the gravel.
There are 2 bath houses for the campground.  We didn't go into the one in "A" Loop, but it appeared to be somewhat smaller than the one in "C".
"A" Loop Bath House
The "C" Loop had 3 showers and 4 toilets, as well as 3 sinks:
They were clean, although the water pressure in the showers was a bit low.  And, every time someone flushed the toilet, there was no hot water for a few seconds.  There were soap dispensers and paper towels near the sinks that were well supplied.
The campground would be a good place to camp if you have children:  there is a good-sized playground right in the middle of the "C" Loop.
There is also an area for volleyball & horseshoes on the same Loop:
Also in "C", there is a "Mound Shelter", which would be ideal for sitting around & talking to your neighbors when it's cold.
A fairly large swimming pool (available to campers for $2) can be seen as you enter the park:
(The back side of the pool)
On the other side of "C" (from our site), the campground backs up to a trailer park.  While there is a little bit of distance between the campground and the trailer park, you can view the trailers from your site.
The campers, for the most part, obeyed the "quiet hours" and the Park Rangers made their rounds every few hours.  Leash laws were also obeyed.  The campground is very clean and well-maintained.  
Overall, we were a little disappointed in this campground.  As we said before, if you have children, this would be a great place to camp, if this kind of campground is your thing.  We were a bit disappointed in the seemingly lack of access to the hiking/walking trails from the campground, as well as the overall scenery.  It just didn't have the "outdoorsy" feel that we prefer.  Our best views were when we ran to a local WalMart for anti-itch spray.  The biting flies/chiggers were horrible, even after using Skin-So-Soft.
The campground had 4G, so we were able to turn on the hotspot and stream a movie from Netflix while we waited for the rain to stop on Saturday.  Another good thing about the campground:  there was no flooding of the campsites.  Of course, the rain we got on Saturday wasn't enough to flood anyway, but there was no evidence that any of the sites we saw would have flooded, especially in "C".
We usually take a map of the campground on a walk and mark the sites that we like for next time.  We didn't do that this time; we don't think we'll be coming back here again.  You can get an idea in this picture of how close together the sites are:
As previously stated, if you have children and like "this kind" of camping, then you will love this campground.  It just wasn't our preferred way to camp.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Mile High Campground

This was kind of a "spur of the moment" camping weekend.  With it being Memorial Day Weekend, we were lucky to find a site at any campground. The reservation was made on the Monday before Memorial Day.  This was a 2 hour drive through the mountains for us, but the view made it all worth it.
Mile High is located on the Cherokee Reservation near Cherokee, NC.  It is a "primitive" campground, meaning there is no electricity or water at the sites.  There are flushable toilets located in the middle of each loop (there are 3 different loops), as well as a rustic bathhouse complete with warm showers.  At each of the toilet areas, there is also a large sink to wash dishes.
The sites are well-spaced out, and most of them have quite a view.  This view is from one of the campsites at the end of a loop:
The sites are gravel, and some are on a slight slope.  Firepits are provided; you are not allowed to bring in your own firewood but can purchase it at the office to be delivered to your site.  
Dogs are allowed, but be mindful that there are elk that wander through the campground from time to time.

There are also cabins available.  These cabins are extremely rustic; they only have board beds in them.  
This campground was extremely quiet and peaceful.  Since the campground is truly a mile high, it was much cooler there.  Be prepared for the wind and the cool weather.
This was our first trip to a primitive campground for more than 1 night in our Cargolite.  Since we anticipated needing to use the propane heater, Robert made sure the battery was fully charged.  The refrigerator (which is very small) also runs on propane.  Both of those used very little power, so we could have stayed for several days without the danger of running out of power.  
The only problem we had was taking the wrong road up to the campground when we arrived.  The website (http://campmilehigh.com/) clearly warns people to follow their directions.  The "rough road" was rough...much rougher than the road we should have taken, but we made it okay.
This is a campground that we would visit again, especially if the 2 campgrounds we passed on the way are full.

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