Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Galveston, Part II - The Sandpiper. Half Empty or Half Full?

We loved Galveston so much on our first visit, we decided to sneak down there one more time before summer was over.  Our favorite spot, Dellanera Resort, was fully booked, so we decided to try The Sandpiper RV Resort.  We knew it was also on the beach side of the road, so we crossed our fingers and booked it.  Guess what?  Dellanera is still our favorite!

Before I get to the campground, let me give you a tip on a free place to stay on the way to Galveston.  The rest area off I-35 at Huntsville, Texas - formally known as Walker County South Bound Safety Rest Area.  Sure, I've seen rest areas with playgrounds, but a walking trail? Curbside parking for RVs?  Plenty of pet walking areas?  Pefect.  We could even put our slides out!  The only thing that was missing was power.  Have I mentioned the solar panel on top of our camper?  Yes, we were just fine.  This rest area is only about two hours north of Galveston, though, so it was quite a haul to get there.  Still, I'd take a guess that most rest areas in Texas will be a fine place for a quick, free sleep.  (Note to self:  there's another rest area about 95 miles north.)

Now, on to the campground.  The Sandpiper has an infinity pool situated so that the pool fades off into a view of the ocean.  It also has a big kitchen/social room that campers can use for gatherings.  The resort has several hotel rooms, which would be very convenient for friends/family without a camper.  It's a small, clean, quiet resort.

Do you hear the but?  The resort is gated, but kids aren't allowed to ride around inside the gates.  It's on the same side of the road as the ocean, but the ocean is 100 yards away.  Since it's right next to the streeth, traffic noise on Seawall Boulevard drowns out the sound of the gulls and the waves.  Maybe it's quieter at night, but I couldn't sit outside to listen because of the horrible mosquitoes.  When I booked, I'd been told a range of spots we might be in.  When I arrived, we were assigned a spot that wasn't even close.  I was not happy.

Again, but.  Who could be mad or unhappy when they are camping on the beach?  Not us.  We had fun swimming in the ocean and swimming in the pool.  We rested.  We walked on the beach.  We took our bikes out of the resort and rode on the roads surrounding the beach.  We played at a nearby park and discovered a crab!  We ate at our favorite restaurant.  Best of all, we spent lots of time with good friends.

I'll leave you with a photo taken just adjacent to Stewart Beach at sunrise.  I managed to capture the beauty of the ocean, even though at that early time, the beach behind me was full of litter.  Turns out, that was the point of the whole trip - finding the good amid the bad.  We did!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Why do we love MarVal so? My favorite moments...

Hello!  I'm participating in Teacher's Write, a virtual summer camp for teachers.  I've decided to incorporate today's lesson into my camping blog.  We visited MarVal Family Campground near Gore, Oklahoma, over the July 4th weekend, and I'm so glad we did! Read below for a short description of my favorite moment of our trip.

Short description:  It was the hottest part of the day, and I was sitting in my camp chair, dangling my water shoe-clad feet into the icy water of the trout stream.  My eyes were on my husband as he was swinging a flourescent yellow line into the water across the stream.  At the same time, I watched my daughters, one tall and skinny, the other shorter and plumper with her puddle-jumper fastened around her middle.  As they splashed in the river, their gleeful squeals filled the afternoon.  Out of the corner of my eye, I watched my own mother as she slowly ventured deeper into the water, a smiling memory in her eyes.

Sounds:  Water.  People.  Insects.  Nature.  The loudest, most constant sound is the water rushing by.  I'm sitting right by an area where the water rapidly crosses some rocks.  Water is often personified as laughing or giggling, but this sound was not human.  The constance of the sound quickly relegated it into the background, but I think it helped cool the hot day.  The sound of my children's voices was welcome, as my mother instinct constantly monitored their safety in the water.

Touch:  The water is icy cold.  Yes, it's July.  MarVal is located near the dam of Lake Tenkiller, and the water that's released into the stream is from the bottom of this large lake.  The temperature is so cold that one can't swim in it for long without teeth starting to chatter.  Cold, icy, freezing.  The cold makes my daughters squeal and laugh as they step in.  My mother smiles through the pain as she gradually steps deeper and deeper.  It idly occurs to me that there's no need for a cooler; I could just dunk my drinks into the water and keep them there.  My favorite part of this spot is actually the leaving.  The stream is in a slight valley lined with trees, so the icy water cools the air and the shade helps create a spot of natural air conditioning.  When I walked up the hill and back into the real world, the hot summer sun slammed me with the reality of July.

Short description revised, adding sound and touch:  As I climbed the small hill, I left the shade and the natural air-conditioning of the icy river.  I glanced back over my shoulder, and in my memory I could still see my husband hopefully casting this flourescent line as my gleeful daughters splashed nearby.  The background noise of the rushing water only added to the refreshingly cool feeling of this secret summer spot.  Once more, I watched as my mother ventured in, smiling through the pain of the cool water, so recently trapped at the bottom of a deep lake.  In her eyes are memories of the man she loved, wading into this same water in search of succulent trout.  Her slow, steady journey shoulder-deep into the water reflected her painful journey after my stepfather's death.  I watched her determination and then her newfound joy as the cold river caught her and she rode the gurgling current downstream, a purposeful rider finding joy through the pain.

Well, that turned into a mini story about my mom!  It's so interesting where writing takes you.

A bit about MarVal:  It's a family campground, complete with a pool, craft center, and other fun activities.  Since it's gated, the campground is safe enough to give older children a bit of freedom.  We always camp with friends, and we try to find spaces near the playground, so the children can run back and forth from the campers to the playground.  There's also an arcade, so the kids are often begging for quarters to play games.  Of course, the stream is cold and stocked with trout, so there's great fishing!  In the hot summer months, it's fun to grab a raft and float down the river.  If you have children, you should camp any weekend in October to enjoy their Halloween festivities.  MarVal is a must for families who love camping!

My stepdad, several years ago, fishing at MarVal:

These were taken just the other day at the same spot:

Saturday, March 22, 2014

It definitely wasn't Oklahoma, but...

We found a wonderful campsite on the beach! If you find yourself planning a trip to Galveston Island, Texas, try Dellanera RV Park. We liked spot 28 just fine.

I'll come back later and add more details, but think quiet and on the beach. Think seagulls waking you in the mornings. Think crashing waves lulling you to sleep at night.

*More details added below!*

Below is spot #28. Behind the camper, there are a few parking spots for day visitors, but no one used them while we were there.  Just past those spots are a fence, dunes, the beach, and OCEAN.  We had a wonderful view.  To get access to the beach, we walked about 70 yards to a gate.

We could walk to that fence above, look at the beach, and see something like this below.  My girls loved the beach!

This marsh was on the south side of the campground.  There were bike paths through it and the nearby dunes.  I thought it was stunningly beautiful, even with spring just beginning.

The beach was so quiet, our dog got to run free!

Here's a link to the Google map of our new favorite beach hangout.  Let me know if you try it out!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Okmulgee State Park and Dripping Springs State Park

I have a new favorite camping spot.  It's at an old campground, built during Roosevelt's days of the WPA.  It has cool old rock picnic shelters, but it's been remodelled, too, with a brand new playground.  This park is super shady, and while it does not have shoreline sites, Okmulgee State Park does have breathtaking views of Okmulgee Lake.

There are several camping areas on the lake, and we stayed in the Red Oak area.  We really liked spot #28, and I'll also recommend spots #1-8, as they are near the playground.  Red Oak has a swimming hole, playground, showers, and plenty of shade.  It also has critters.  See below.

Our friends stayed at nearby Dripping Springs State Park, and when we visited, we were intrigued.  This park is where the fishermen stay.  It also has a playground and swimming hole.  It's pretty high on our list when our 2014 camping season begins.

If you want to stay at either of these parks, it's first-come, first-served.  There are no reservations.  You can call to see how full the parks are, though, at 918-756-5971.  You can also keep an eye on their Facebook page.  We'll be back to this hidden gem of a park, and I'll try to capture some of the beautiful views to share with you.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sequoyah State Park - Seminole Area

Our favorite spot on Fort Gibson Lake is Sequoyah State Park.  Before we had children, we loved to camp at Taylor's Ferry South, which is still an awesome campground, but it doesn't have a playground or much for the kiddos.  So, we've moved on to the much bigger (but not as rustic) spot across the lake, Sequoyah.

If you ask my older daughter, Liz, why we camp there, she'd answer, "They have horses!" Yep.  Sequoyah Riding Stable is located inside the park.  We've been on several of the beautiful trail rides, and one is always guaranteed to see wildlife.  We even had a birthday party out at this park, with the birthday guests taking a trail ride.  Since my eldest is a July baby, it was super hot, but we had the trail ride in the morning and avoided most of the heat.  Even if there's no birthday going on, we still make sure to call and reserve a spot for a trail ride each time we camp at Sequoyah.

Another reason we love Sequoyah is their pool.  Pool?  Yep!  Of course, it's on the lake with lots of good swimming holes, but sometimes during the hottest part of the summer, one should avoid Oklahoma lakes.  I worry about blue green algae, so we can just go swim at the pool!  Sequoyah is host to The Lodge at Sequoyah, a hotel and convention center with a golf course and swimming pool.  Campground guests get a free pass to the pool.

There are several camping areas at this large state park, but the Seminole area is our favorite.  We like the small playground with climbing rocks, lots of room to ride bikes, and lots of shoreline for fishing!

My favorite part of the last trip was watching my hubby and girls fishing, with the sunset in the background.  I'm not much of a fisherwoman, but I am quite the appreciator of nature.  These moments are pretty high on my favorites list.

Check out Sequoyah State Park!  They are not on recreation.gov, so give them a call to reserve a spot at (918) 772-2046.  There are no specific site reservations, so while you are guaranteed a spot, it's first come, first served on your favorites.  Call early and arrive early!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Twin Points on Skiatook Lake

Jokes about the name aside (heh heh,she said "points"), Twin Points Campground on Skiatook Lake is our favorite. It's far from town, it has a playground and boat dock, one can reserve a site online, and it's gorgeous. Skiatook Lake is the clearest and most picturesque of the lakes we visit.

Since we've been coming to this campground, there is one spot Hubby has been itching to book: Spot Twenty-Eight. Spot Twenty-Eight is pull-thru site at the highest elevation in the park. If any camp site can be private, this one is.  And the view, well, see above.  However pretty it may be, though, it is high up, with a steep, rocky incline to the lake. This made me a tiny bit nervous about our two-year-old daughter. She's a bit of a pistol. I needn't have worried. She had a blast, and she didn't fall off the cliff even one time!

Because this spot juts out into the lake, there's not much tree-shade. Luckily, the clever campground corp folks put a small tin shelter over the picnic table, so there's a bit of shade. If someone had aimed a camera at our lawn chairs for the entire weekend, watching our movement as we scurried after the shade would've been amusing.

I think Spot Twenty-Eight would be wonderful camp spot for adults to relax in, and leave your small children at home (with a babysitter, of course).  I loved the site, was so thrilled to catch the sunrises and sunsets from that vantage point, but I never truly relaxed. My momma spidey senses were on full alert, watching my little pistol.  Did I mention she's a bit busy?

If you want to camp and bring your kiddos, choose a site next to the playground! What's better than sitting in your lawn chair, relaxing under the shade of your canopy, and watching your kiddos on the playground? It's better than that old TV babysitter you use at home. ;)

Before I go: in case you're wondering how to reserve campsites online, our favorite way is through Recreation.gov. Here's the Twin Points site.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Keystone Lake - Fourth of July

We are at our favorite camping spot on on Keystone Lake. Keystone is definitely not the prettiest lake of those we visit, but our little private beach here makes that red-dirt water beautiful. Gotta get up early though, cause it's gonna be a hot one!

Our spot has full hook-ups, a huge yard, and it's free! Hubby and his dad set it up on the site where his grandparents home once stood. All that's left is their patio, where I sit right now under the sheltering shade of our camper's canopy. We have delicious well water if we need it, and access to a septic tank--which we shall definitely need!

Nearby is my in-laws home, where Granny keeps my kids and dog fed, and welcomes me graciously when the triple-digit weather is too much for my camper. Ah, the sweet bliss of A/C!

Our spot is home to a herd of nearly-tame dear. Grandpa feeds them twice a day. I don 't see them this morning, but I do hear the birds and the locusts, and the hum of a motorboat in the distance.

Speaking of motorboats, I think it's time to wake the kids and go for a swim!

One more thing: in case you don't have an awesome spot at the in-laws', here's a good state park on Keystone.