Monthly Archives: November 2015

Tip: Other uses of Google Maps

I use Google maps a lot for planning. I mostly use it for routing. Sometimes if I’m unsure of a section of highway (or want to check out the campground entrance) I check out the street view and virtually drive along a section of highway to see what it looks like. Here’s a nifty website that automates journeying the street view.

If I’m in unfamiliar country and concerned about taking the 5th wheel over a highway I’ll go to Google Earth view and zoom in close enough to see what kind of vehicles are on that road. If I see a few 18 wheelers or campers I know I can drive it too.

camper from space2.jpg I’ve also used Google Earth to scout out campgrounds. It helps to see an overview of the campground when making reservations. For instance, I’ve used it to pick campsites closer to a lake.

camper from space.jpg Recently, just for fun I was looking at San Jacinto Monument (and Battleship Texas) where we volunteered last winter and will return to in less than a month. I was surprised to see that sometime during our stay there last winter the area was photographed by Google Earth and our camper was photographed from far above. Cool, huh!

Shortstop: Twin Dikes Park, Lake Sam Rayburn – Jasper, TX

100_4850.JPG We always like Corps of Engineers campgrounds and Twin Dikes Park on Sam Rayburn Reservoir near Jasper, TX is no exception. This is a great campground. There are a variety of spacious well-laid-out campsites ranging from full hookups with screened shelters (even running water in the sink) down to nice tent sites nearer the lake. The full hookup loop has 30 amp electric while the water/electric sites have 50 amp service. The park is clean with wide paved roads and paved campsites. This is a first rate campground in a pretty setting. I was able to get two of my three Dish satellites for TV and our Verizon 4G signal was very good. This is a popular campground that stays busy, especially on weekends so reservations are highly recommended. The next time we come this way we’ll plan on a longer stay.

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Shortstop: Natchez, MS State Park

PHOTO_20151106_171439.jpg There are two campgrounds at Natchez, MS State Park (plus a primitive camping area and a cabin area). We stayed in the newer Campground B a couple of years ago and liked it very much. Our stay this time was in the older Campground A, we like it too. Campground A has the only full hookup sites in the park and there are only six of them. Not only that, but it appeared to me that three of those were taken by long term campers. I’m not sure how that works in a state park, but I remember seeing at least one other long term setup in the newer campground a couple of years ago. The full hookup sites are all back in but between two one way roads in and out of the campground. The sites are level, reasonably spaced and concrete slabs. The other sites in Campground A are water/electric only. Some look like they would be okay for bigger rigs, but there are others that would be a tighter fit. I could get my 5th wheel into the lower part of Campground A but I don’t think I would like doing it very much.

Our 2013 Review – focused on Campground B – is here.

PHOTO_20151108_124253.jpg Getting to Campground A is an experience all in itself. As I mentioned in my 2013 review, to get to this state park one turns off of Highway 61 onto State Park Road. You will wind your way past several buildings that are at the falling down stage right on a pot-hole filled road. In a few minutes you come to a sign instructing you to turn left off of State Park Road if you want to go to Campground B and the main offices. Otherwise, you continue down State Park Road to the entrance to Campground A. The rough road only gets worse as you come, but it’s only a mile or so to the campground entrance. The back in, full hookup sites are right there.

You could get into this campground from the main state park road (not to be confused with the road I just described “State Park Road” – how’s that for confusing!). However, that way into Campground A is via a narrow road just wide enough for one vehicle down and through the lower part of Campground A. Then, once you get to the row of full hookup sites you are going the wrong way with no place to turn around! Needless, to say, you don’t want to do that, so approach Campground A on State Park Road and not the road into the rest of the park (I know, confusing).

100_4841.JPG I managed to get most of my satellite TV channels but it was a challenge. Had it not been fall with the tree leaves thinning out, I doubt I would have had any success at all. My Verizon 4G was a fairly good 2 bars. Now that I’ve stayed in both campgrounds at Natchez State Park I think I’d go for Campground B for shorter (no sewer hookup) stays and Campground A for longer stays, and that only if I could get a full hookup site.

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Shortstop: LeFleur’s Bluff State Park – Jackson, MS

PHOTO_20151104_092856.jpg Our shortstop at LeFleur’s Bluff State Park in Jackson, MS is our second stay at this campground. We were here two years ago as we journeyed down Natchez Trace Parkway the first time. There’s really not much new to say. We still like it here.

Our review from 2013 is here.

One good change is that the unnecessary concrete island at the entrance has been removed, making it easier to navigate through the gate. Before, there was no one at the entrance station but now we noted that it is manned. I mentioned in my previous review that I thought satellite TV would be easier to get in the sites across from the bathhouse. I was mistaken. “North” isn’t quite where I thought it was and the satellites are still out through the trees. From what I can see, the sites nearer the campground entrance might be best for satellite, but as wooded as it is getting a signal there would be challenging at best. However, there are lots of local over-the-air channels so a TV watcher will still have plenty of entertainment available. This is a busy campground on weekends so a person would be wise to reserve a site early if possible.

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Campground Review: Tombigbee State Park at Tupelo, MS

100_4829.JPG This is our second stay at Tombigbee State Park at Tupelo, MS. We were here two years ago and as we journey down Natchez Trace again we’re staying at the same places as we did then. Obviously, we like this state park. The campground features nice paved sites, 50 amp electric, full hookups, and a nicely done and clean bathhouse that even includes a laundry. The route back into the state park is, of course, still a hilly, twisting road that is a bit challenging but do-able.

See our previous, and more complete, review of this campground here.

100_4830.JPG My Verizon data has been a weak but usable 3G and satellite TV is pretty good, although in this particular site I wasn’t able to get my third satellite which has some of the HD channels on it. My only real complaint is the same one I had two years ago: late every night the campground voltage rises to the point that my electrical management system shuts the electric off to my camper to protect it from high voltage. I spoke to the office about this two years ago and brought it to their attention again. They know about the problem and the too high voltage is related to an effort to keep the voltage from dropping too low during busy, hot summer months. Our solution was to unplug overnight and use a heavy duty extension cord to run a space heater. It’s a minor inconvenience for us, but I do wonder how much wear and tear is being done to campers that are experiencing this higher-than-optimal overnight voltage each night.

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