Sunday, April 27, 2008

05-08 Holt Florida to Bay St Louis Mississippi

Campground: River’s Edge Campground, Holt Fl. Recreation USA members $10 per night. It’s a very nice country campground. Lots of trees and it’s on the river. Sites are good size, well maintained dirt/sand roads.

Campground: Hide Away Rv Park, Bay St. Louis, MS. A Recreation USA member, $10 per night. Every things new after Hurricane Katrina came through a couple years ago. Most of the FEMA trailers are gone as well and they are just about to open the swimming pool.
Camping News:

Ok, so call me a bit confused, but I ended up turning left when I should have turned right and ended up at River’s Edge Campground, when I was supposed to go right to get to Eagle’s Landing Rv park. Eagle’s Landing is the home office of Recreation USA (the $10 a night club), which I did go visit. The owners are really nice and have lots of good information to share with fellow campers.

Of course I had to tell them I was at the “other” park, but they were really cool about it. Now I’ve got to tell you, River’s Edge is more my type of campground, as it has more of a country feel to it. Eagle’s Landing is a new park and is more like a flat orderly park, with very straight rows of campsites on grassy lawns. Virtually no trees. Very neat and clean looking. Great if you want to set up a satellite dish and don’t want to deal with trees.

Niceville Fla.

Enough of that, I also took a day trip down towards the gulf of Mexico to Niceville. How cool is that? I had to check it out just because of the name. Well, actually it was nice, but nothing special. The very small town, more like new shops and strip malls along a road that passes by the bay. Oh, it’s also surrounded by Elgin A.F.B. Just outside the town of Niceville is the Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Recreational Area. What a “nice” find. It’s not a huge park, but has 42 campsites, with elect/water and each site is surrounded by lots of scrub oaks and other vegetation. All sites are back in. A couple sites are right on the Rocky Bayou with great water views. And would you believe, only $12.00 a night camping! Just a bit further down the road and right on the Gulf of Mexico is Henderson Beach State Rec. Area. Now I’m sure it would be much harder to get into Henderson, so check online for reservations. PS, it’s close to Ft Walton Beach and a couple other state parks to boot.

Blackwater River State Park.

Today I decided to get out on the river and rented a kayak for a days journey down the Blackwater River. They have two outfitters and it only cost $26 to rent a kayak for the day. They brought us up river 11 miles and then we all paddled back downriver to the Blackwater River State Park. It was a perfect day to do it as well. Middle of the week, no crowds, sunny and mid 80’s.

The eleven miles was an easy paddle, as the Blackwater River was flowing fairly strong, so it was just a matter of light paddling and steering around the occasional dead tree in the river. It was silent except for the birds in the trees and the occasional helicopters doing flight training from the NAS. There were lots of places to take out on gorgeous white sandbars all along the river, which itself was only about 2/½ feet to 3 feet deep. The entire length of the river bed is sandy. Great for jumping out of the sit-on-top kayak and splashing around to cool off.

I didn’t see any wild life for the majority of the trip, then came across two lonely turtles on a log and a great blue heron. The only tracks I saw on the sand bars were a set of raccoon tracks. Oddly, as clear as the water was, even with the tea color from the tannin in the water, I didn’t see any fish swimming along. Perhaps the fact that the river bed is all sand and no aquatic weeds for them to feed on was the reason for the lack of fish.

But overall a perfect day to get back to nature. My buddies from the Great outdoors would love this river and adjacent campground. I’m staying an extra day at Rivers Edge, waiting for my mail to arrive. I usually request it be delivered even before I get to the next campsite, so it usually arrives a day or so after I get to the next park. But I’m in no hurry to head out to the next destination, Bay St Louis. (Less than an hours drive to New Orleans).

188 miles down the road on hwy 10 and I’ve arrived in Bay St Louis, Mississippi. I saw quite a few military vehicles along the highway from Florida to Miss. From camouflaged Humvee’s, fuel trucks and even a few armored tankers. There are quite a few military bases in the panhandle of Fla.

Heading into Mississippi I stopped in their welcome center. Can you imagine a more beautiful center? Classy. Spiral staircase. Antique furniture.

While traveling along hwy 10 through Alabama and Mississippi I've noticed a wonderful scent of jasmine in the air. How refreshing.

Here at the Hide Away Rv park in Bay St. Louis, I was talking to the owner and his son. Of course we had to talk about the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the park. It’s 3 miles from the Gulf of Mexico at an elevation of 18 feet. Yet they had 5 feet of water cover the entire park. Needless to say it has taken them all of three years to completely recover. They were able to reopen the park shortly after the flooding and the silver lining was that they were filled with FEMA trailers for most of the time, providing a steady income during the rebuilding. The owner told me that they had to hire a company from Tenn. Along with housing and feeding the crew while they rebuilt their home and rec. hall and picnic pavilion. It’s now built to withstand a category 4 or 5 hurricane! So much has been destroyed that will never be rebuilt. He also mentioned that if they hadn’t had all their money in the park, they would not have re-built.

I’ll be touring the area and possibly getting into New Orleans, less than an hour away. And of course I need to check out some of the casinos in the area. More on that next time.
Have a super great day, your traveling buddy,

Doug P

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