Thursday, June 30, 2016

Sam Parr Fish and Wildlife Area State Park, Newton , IL

Date:  Tuesday June 28 – Thursday June 30, 2016 (2 nights)

Rate:  $18/night

Website:  Sam Parr Fish and Wildlife Area State Park (IL)
   13225 E State Highway 33
   Newton, IL 62448

Description:  Not located near an interstate but still easy to get to in southern Illinois.  Concrete parking pads and picnic table area so the sites are nice and level with 50A electric (dispersed water spigots to fill your tank).  We stayed in site 9 with T&D in site 10.  With about 30 sites, only about a third of the sites are reservable, the rest are walkins.  The sites are spacious and the park is wooded so Gin had to set up our mobile dish for tv.  The roads are paved with several day use picnic areas so it’s a nice place to ride bikes.  There are a couple of boat launches on this small lake which is restricted to 10 horsepower or smaller motors (nice for kayaks too).

Trash and Recycle:  Every site has an individual trashcan but there is no recycling in the park.  Newton (hometown area of Burl Ives) has intermingle recycle bins at a few businesses.

Activities:  Only here for a couple of days so we just enjoyed playing cards, riding bikes in the park and watching campers come in early to get a spot for the upcoming holiday.

On site 9  Site 9 patio
On site 9 with a nice patio
Nice lake for small motors  From the dam
Nice lake for small boats
Tricia enjoying the swings  T&D on the floating dock
Tricia swinging at a day use area              Tricia and Dan on a small dock in the cg
Trumpet vine  Red headed woodpecker
Trumpet vines                                     Local red headed woodpecker

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tipsaw Lake CG, Catbrier RV Loop (Hoosier National Forest), Tell City, IN

Date:  Thursday June 23 – Tuesday June 28, 2016 (5 nights)

Rate:  $22/night (Access Pass discount)

Website:  Tipsaw Lake CG, Catbrier RV Loop
   21390 Old State Road 37 (entry to park across from this or use gps N38.1360 W86.6372)
   Branchville, IN 47514

Description:  Located in the beautiful rolling hills of southern Indiana not far from I-64 (exit 79).  This is a small loop separate from a couple other loops near a small lake that allows boats with electric motors only (nice for kayaks).  Paved roads with sloped, hard packed sites having W/E (50A).  We stayed on site 7 and T&D on site 9.  Boat launch and nice swim area kept the weekend kids busy some during the day.  Dump station across the road near the Branchville Correctional Facility (use this address for directions).  Verizon is a little weak and used our mobile dish for tv.

Trash and Recycle:  Trash dumpster at front of the loop with a small recycle can only for aluminum cans.

Activities:  It was very hot here on the day we arrived.  The camp host next to T&D was very informative and told us about nearby Hemlock Cliffs which was a beautiful hike in the woods to a cool canyon with sandstone rock formations.  We all enjoyed this rugged hike of more than a mile amongst the rock outcroppings, overhangs, cliffs, rock shelters and ravines along the shady stream.  The weekend entertainment was brought to us by the bicycling kids with inattentive parents of about five interrelated families camping in several rigs in the loop.

On site 7  On site 7 with T&D on site 9
On site 7

P1040158  P1040160
Gin amongst some honeycombed rock formations
P1040157  P1040159  P1040168
Getting down the steepest part first so that you can enjoy the cliffs along the stream
P1040161  P1040163
Ferns and trees grow right out of the rock
P1040164  P1040167
You have to cross the dry stream bed to get closer to the rock formations
P1040169  P1040170  P1040172
Sunbeam                                     The main cliff with trickle waterfall
P1040171  P1040176
Dan and Tricia check out the huge rock shelter
P1040175  P1040174
Looking out from under the huge rock shelter

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Kentucky Horse Park CG State Park, Lexington, KY

Date:  Sunday June 19 – Thursday June 23, 2016 (4 nights)

Rate:  $37/night

Website:  Kentucky Horse Park CG 
   4089 Iron Works Parkway
   Lexington, KY 40511

Description:  This is a large (260 sites) campground near I-75 and I-64 in Lexington.  The roads and sites are paved with all being 90* back-in and unlevel.  The sites are large W/E(50 A) but it feels more like a commercial park than a state park.  We stayed on site 22 with T&D on site 23.  There are a couple of playgrounds and bathhouses along with tennis, basketball and volleyball courts, and a large swimming pool.  There are large fields for overflow and primitive sites along with two double dump stations.  The cg is adjacent to the Kentucky Horse Park which is a large complex dedicated to everything horse such as museums and stadiums.  A competition had just completed when we arrived.

Trash and Recycle:  Dumpsters in the middle of each large loop for trash and only a few small bins for recycle (soda cans, bottles, plastic and paper).

Activities:  We had planned to bike the nearby Legacy Trail and enjoy some of the Horse Park but the four of us were either just getting over a bad cold or coming down with it.  We just relaxed and recuperated instead.

Hwy 58 in western VA  Beautiful scenery
Beautiful ride in western Virginia on Hwy 58
Approaching Cumberland Gap Tunnel  In CG Tunnel
Cumberland Gap Tunnel on Hwy 25E at TN/KY border

Us on site 22 and T&D on site 23  Site 22 patio
On site 22 with T&D on site 23                          Nice sized sites

P1040147  Rolex Stadium at the Horse Park Complex
Rolex Stadium at the Horse Park
Grounds at the Horse Park  Grounds at the Horse Park
Grounds at the Horse Park

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Natural Tunnel State Park, Duffield, VA

Date:  Tuesday June 14 – Sunday June 19, 2016 (5 nights)

Rate:  $38/night

Website:  Natural Tunnel State Park (VA)
   1420 Natural Tunnel Parkway (use gps coordinates N36.696984 W82.738577)
   Duffield, VA 24244

Description:  In the mountains of southwest Virginia, this is a gem of a park.  We stayed in site 12 (T&D in site 11) of Lovers Leap Campground which is a little more big rig friendly than their Cove View CG.  Roads are paved with gravel sites having W/E (50A).  Good Verizon reception.  There are several Camping Cabins (houses really) just down the road in their own area.  The reservations are non-site specific so we picked our site when we arrived.  There is also a large swimming pool further in the park which is popular with the kids.  As with the other VA state parks we’ve visited, there are several excellent hiking trails here.  There are several summer activities offered too, most at a minimal cost, such as kayaking, canoeing, guided hikes and caving.  The main attraction though is a large Natural Tunnel which was formed over eons of time by groundwater slowly seeping through and dissolving the limestone and dolomite bedrock.  Stock Creek diverted underground to slowly carve the Tunnel through centuries of time.  In 1890, a railway was built right through the Tunnel.  It’s still in use and a train runs a couple of times a day carrying coal.  The Tunnel is 850 feet long and 100 feet high inside.

Trash and Recycle:  Dumpster and recycle bins (aluminum cans and plastic only) at the exit of the cg loop.

Activities:  Lots to do here.  We started at the Visitor Center to get a plan of action.  We all enjoyed the chairlift ride down to the Tunnel.  As Tricia likes to say, “I want to face my fears.”  There is also Tunnel Trail (rated difficult with lots of switchbacks) for folks like Bill.  I joined T&D for a few hikes and Gin joined us on the Stock Creek Trail to the less visited north side of the Tunnel.  It goes right beside the creek and we had it all to ourselves, plus the deer.  The sign up sheet for kayaking and canoeing were full before we got to it, but Tricia and I went on the Wild Cave Tour (Natural Tunnel Cavern) and got our shoes very muddy.

On site 12 with T&D on site 11  On site 12 with T&D on site 11
Us on site 12 with T&D on site 11
On site 12  Shady patio of site 12
Site 12 has a shady patio

Main Visitor Center  Train in the VC parking lot
Visitor Center                                             Train at the VC
Inside the Visitor Center  Inside the Visitor Center
Inside the Visitor Center

The jumping off point  Gin & Dan enjoy their ride down
Jumping off point                                  Gin & Dan enjoy the ride down
Steep section  Gin & Dan in front of me & T
Steep section                             Almost there
Going up!!! Easier going up T&D enjoy their ride
Tricia & Dan enjoyed a couple extra rounds on the chairlift… up is easier!

Wow!!!!  Natural Tunnel
Cliff of the Tunnel…   Natural Tunnel…   pictures do not do it justice!
Natural Tunnel  No trains
Pedestrian rail crossing…   Natural Tunnel one way and man made tunnel the other

Man made tunnel  Waiting for the train
Tracks going in to man made tunnel
Looking up from in front of Natural Tunnel  Fun at the tunnel
Looking up from the Tunnel                            Motley Framily
Railway and Stock Creek at the Tunnel   Railway at the Tunnel
Railway and Stock Creek at the Tunnel
Walkway to Carter Cabin Homestead Nice trail to Carter Cabin
Nice walk to Carter Cabin
Lover's Leap from below  The chasm from atop Lover's Leap
Looking up at Lover’s Leap        Looking at the cliff and Tunnel from Lover’s Leap

Walking along Stock Creek Trail  Stepping stones
Stock Creek Trail is like a private walk in the woods next to a stream…
 From inside the Tunnel Tricia & Gin  Gin at the more natural side of the Tunnel
…that ends at the less visited side of the Tunnel
Natural Tunnel less visited side  Stepping stones
Train tracks going into the Tunnel                  Love the stepping stones

Gazebo near the Birding Trail  Blockhouse Historic Area from the Birding Trail
Gazebo from the Birding Trail              Blockhouse Historic Area from the Birding Trail
Tunnel Trail  Railing shows switchbacks of Tunnel Trail
Tunnel Trail is steep with lots of switchbacks

Let's go caving  Happy muddy cavers
Let’s go caving!                                          Happy but muddy