After spending a nice day and overnight in New Orleans, we traveled to Grand Isle, Louisiana for a few days in Grand Isle State Park. The park infrastructure sustained some damage during one of the hurricanes in 2020. The showers and laundry room in the west building are in good shape as is the campground overall. The pads are nice and all campsites are full hook ups.
Grand Isle is remote and the only inhabited barrier island in Louisiana. It's almost directly south of New Orleans by about 30+ miles, but is over a hundred miles via highway from New Orleans. There were very few campers in January, the temps were a little cooler than we wanted, but we took some nice walks on the beach and enjoyed our time. If you're looking for white sandy beaches, this isn't it. The beach is hard-packed sand with a series of rock jetties located about 50 yards offshore.
We traveled from our spot in Cades Cove in Great Smokey Mountains National Park to Cumberland Mountain State Park where we'll be for a couple of days before traveling on to our son's home in Nashville for some pre-Christmas Holiday cheer.
The past few days have been cold here. The low this morning was 24 according to our thermometer we keep resting on top of one of the dually tires. The high today was 42.
The campground area is large with 5 distinct areas for camping. The only one open now is area 1 where we are in Site 19. Many of the sites are not level and may present a challenge. Jus' sayin'.
Much of the infrastructure here was built by the Civil Conservation Corp and there's a CCC museum near the park restaurant. From the website:
Cumberland Mountain State Park is situated on the Cumberland Plateau, a segment of the great upland, which extends from western New York to central Alabama. It is said to be the largest timbered plateau in America. Cumberland Mountain State Park began as part of the greater Cumberland Homesteads Project, a New Deal-era initiative by the Resettlement Administration that helped relocate poverty-stricken families on the Cumberland Plateau to small farms centered on what is now the Cumberland Homestead community. This 1,720-acre park was acquired in 1938 to provide a recreational area for some 250 families selected to homestead on the Cumberland Plateau.
We are on our way to Nashville, TN for the Christmas holiday and Cades Cove Campground in Great Smokey Mountains National Park was a somewhat convenient place to spend a night on the way. Especially since neither of us had been to this part of the park.
When we arrived we mistakenly drove past the entrance to the campground and found ourselves on the 11 mile Cades Cove Scenic Loop. It was one of those happy accidents and afforded us an opportunity to see deer, turkeys and restored cabins of settlers past. The loop is a beautiful drive, but would make for great bicycling in warmer weather (June 17-September 30 each Wednesday the loop is a vehicle-free zone).
Anyway, we took a nice walk around the campground (only the C Loop is open during the off season and there were very few campers) and spent a nice quiet evening reading as there's no cell service. We'll be back at some point. Recommended.
We recently spent a nice three days (for December) at Huntington Beach State Park. The Live Oaks and listening to the waves make the shore as we fell asleep makes Huntington one of our top picks for campgrounds recently. And this after spending a few great days with friends on Hatteras Island where the temperatures were not as moderate as we found at Huntington.
We were able to ride our bikes into Murrells Inlet for groceries and lunch one day and I rode over to Pawleys Island both via the Waccamaw Neck Bikeway. The beach is nice and relatively uncrowded in the off season. And the marshes are a birders' paradise. Recommended. Highly.
Cheekwood is a 55-acre botanical garden and art museum located on the historic Cheek estate. Originally built as the home of Leslie and Mabel Cheek in 1929, Cheekwood is one of the finest examples of an American Country Place Era estate. Since being converted into a museum of art and botanical garden in 1960, Cheekwood has presented world-class art exhibitions, spectacular gardens and an historic estate unlike anything else. Each year, Cheekwood welcomes over 225,000 visitors, making it one of the city’s top cultural attractions, with approximately 14,000 member households. Visitors enjoy family activities, programming for all ages and year-round festivals celebrating the four seasons. From 150,000 blooming bulbs in the spring to one mile of holiday lights in the winter, there’s always something to see at Cheekwood.- From their website
I rode a portion of this trail picking it up from an entrance off Bob Shetler Recreation Area campground.
Part of an expansive trail network in the Greater Des Moines region, the 26-mile Neal Smith Trail rolls along the banks of the Des Moines River through the Ding Darling Greenway conservation area and makes its way through a variety of landscapes, including riverbanks, wildflower meadows, lakeshores, and dense forests. Plenty of benches offer ample opportunities for trail users to rest and enjoy the deer, rabbits, butterflies, and other critters active along the route.--TraiLink.com
We stayed at Bob Shetler Campground while exploring Des Moines, Iowa.
Kal-Haven Trail provided one of the best rail-trail rides I'd had in some time. It didn't hurt Fall colors were nearing their peak in the area. The only qualification I have about riding Kal-Haven is since the surface is crushed stone, dry conditions are preferable. I still haven't pried the smile off my face. What a fantastic ride through the Michigan countryside.
The trail follows the rail bed laid down in 1870 for the Kalamazoo & South Haven Railroad, which was almost immediately purchased by the Michigan Central Railroad. The New York Central Railroad took over the line in 1950 and ran trains on it until a 1968 merger to create the Penn Central led to the line becoming disused in 1970.
Opened in 1991, the trail is one of the oldest conversions in Michigan. Old depots serve as trailside visitor centers in Bloomingdale and South Haven, and an old red caboose offers trailhead services on the outskirts of Kalamazoo. The majority of the route is crushed slag and limestone and slopes gently down toward the lake; note that while the trail can accommodate road bikes, the crushed stone may prove challenging in a few sections.--TraiLink.com
Sometimes you land in a very cool spot, but due to circumstances beyond any control you may believe you have, things don't go as planned. We arrived at Wild Cherry Resort on a Friday and, as I was setting up and leveling Miranda, a problem with the leveling system occurred. Three days later, we were able to resolve the leveler problem well enough for travel to the manufacturer 250 miles away, but during the interim, we were stuck. Stuck in rainy and cooler weather for the most part too.
The folks at Wild Cherry were more than accommodating. The park is very well kept and I'm certain, given better circumstances our stay with them would have been much better. Next time, eh?
We booked Straits State Park Campground because we intended to visit Mackinac Island on our way out of the UP of Michigan. Best laid plans are sometimes stymied by inclement weather conditions, in this case rainy days, and so we spent our time at Straits State Park mostly in Miranda, Melanie working, me catching up on photo processing. Regardless, Straits campground is nearly perfect for a visit to Mackinac Island. It's a well-kept park with sites well spaced, and views of the Makinac Bridge. They have a great shower and bath house that's relatively new in each loop. Our site, and many others in the lower loops of the campground, was level. Recommended.
Steven and Melanie