I am very blessed to have Karen guest blog for me this week! I have learned so much from her and am happy to introduce you to her blog KarenTrina Childress. Karen is a homeschooling mother of a large family, a fellow theater pal, and absolutely full of practical wisdom!
FAMILY FRIENDLY CAMPING FROM ARKANSAS TO PENNSYLVANIA
When Kathryn asked me to guest post, I asked her for ideas about what she would like me to talk about. On my blog, I sometimes post about travel and have mentioned family camping trips. This appealed to her, so reminisce with me about a trip my family took from Texas to Pennsylvania in September of 1994. This is Part 1 of the trip. You can find Part 2 on my blog next week. Part 2 will cover the places we visited on our trip.
Before my children became involved in a lot of fall activities, we would take two week driving/ camping vacations. We are members of AAA. Tour Books and Camping Books provided to AAA members were and are a wonderful trip planning tool. I suppose there is an app for that now, but I still prefer the books. I always planned our trip in advance, looking for interesting places to visit and kid friendly camping spots for our trips. Anything that AAA lists as a 'must see' has always been more than worth the visit.
Our destination for this trip was determined by the fact that my parents were headed to Pennsylvania to settle my grandmother's estate and assist with the auction. We often traveled with them on vacation and had not been east, so the planning began.
We had just graduated from tent camping to pop-up camper camping, which allowed us to pack some necessities and staples in the camper and made the one-night stays much easier to pack up the next day.
We prefer to stay at state parks and recreation areas. It is usually quite scenic at these locations, some have playgrounds, and most have nature trails. Most are not right off the highway, but close enough to merit the stop.
Dillon State Park in Ohio provided a scenic place to relax after our first long day. The children were able to run and play and get rid of some energy from being in the car. A big perk of traveling in September is we rarely ran into crowds and often had camping areas to ourselves. It is like our own camping resort!
We spent the next two nights camped at the Mill Bridge Campground in Strasburg, PA in Pennsylvania Dutch country. There was a wooden playground right next to our campsite that was perfect for the children. At this camping area, we were once again reminded why we love traveling after everyone else has gone back to school: most of the other campers are retired people. We have noticed that retired travelers love interacting with our children, and the children enjoy talking to them.
This camping area was a very fun place to stay. We took day trips to the surrounding area.
We spent three nights at Colonel Denning State Park.
We chose this park based on its proximity to my grandmother's house. It turned out to be a gem. Aside from the vault toilets (not my favorite for a three-night stay), it was a beautiful location with nice hiking trails, plus we had the place to ourselves! This place doesn't have showers either, but we showered at my aunt's house when we were in town.
Beech Fork State Park was an unplanned stop due to some miscalculation on my part. This is where the AAA Camping Book came in handy. I suppose smart phones would fill that role now.
We usually stop before dark, but this day we drove longer than usual and it was dusk when we set up camp. Fortunately, there was a small playground to occupy the children while we made camp. Unfortunately, there was a mud puddle under the swings and my two year old found it.
A shower took care of that problem and the gallon zip top bags came in handy for the muddy clothes. This was a nice campground near a little mountain lake. It would have been a lovely place to spend a day or two, but we pressed on.
Fort Boonesborough State Park was our next stop. We had planned to tour the fort, but it was not open the two days we were there. (note: always check hours of operation) The gift shop was open and the boys bought coonskin caps. Every boy needs a coonskin cap, right?
The campground did have a very nice playground that included a stagecoach, fort, teepee, steam shovel, and log cabin. This kept the children occupied for most of the afternoon. We also enjoyed one of the nature trails around the fort. The children agreed this would be a fun place for a summer vacation to take advantage of the junior Olympic-sized swimming pool complete with waterslide, misty fountain, and children's area.
Kentucky has so many wonderful state parks. Pennyrile State Park and Forest was another overnight camping spot where we could easily have stayed a week. Lots of nature trails, lovely playground, a pool, and lake. It would also be a photographer's paradise. I'm thinking I should put another trip to Kentucky on my travel list.
Even though my husband's journal says we stayed at the Blue Sky RV Resort in Mountain View, AR, it wasn't memorable. We do have pictures of Blanchard Springs, which is not far from Mountain View. I would recommend making a base camp at Blanchard Springs and then enjoying all the area has to offer.
Even though Mountain View can only be accessed by twisty mountain roads, it is a scenic area with a variety of activities.
Remembering all these wonderful state parks and camping areas has made me want to visit them again. Hopefully you have been inspired to plan your next camping trip or camping vacation.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that my husband is the most organized camper I know. He has packing and unpacking down to a fine art. He usually does most of the cooking when we camp, which helps make the trip more enjoyable, too.