Tag Archives: Army Corps of Engineers

2017 – Shortstop: Gunter Hill Park – Montgomery, AL

20170403_184225.jpg We’ve come to love Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds. There is always a lake nearby, the sites are spacious, and the price is right (especially using our half price America the Beautiful pass). Not all Corps campgrounds have sewer hookups, but when we come across one with full hookups we feel like we’ve hit the jackpot.

Gunter Hill Campground, near Montgomery, AL, is all the above. It’s in a beautiful setting with really nice, paved and large sites. With the state capitol nearby, there are plenty of local attractions. The only negatives are a poor Verizon signal, a neighboring race track that can be noisy at times, and getting a satellite signal from some sites is impossible. This is a popular campground and reservations, especially on weekends, is a good idea.

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Reflections on our 2015 Adventure

We enjoyed our 2015 Adventure very much! It took us to the northern Midwest with an emphasis on Wisconsin and Michigan and included some great stops along the way, both coming and going.

100_4806.JPG Our favorite campgrounds are Corps of Engineers. They almost always offer great campsites in pretty settings. Our America the Beautiful pass gives us half-price camping at these parks, making them not only great spots to camp but also provide a real savings too. Some of these campgrounds only offer water/electric hookups but others offer full hookup sites. You probably need to plan ahead and make reservations if you want to stay at these popular campgrounds on busy summer weekends.

Topping our list this year in order of our visits are these Corps of Engineers Campgrounds:

PHOTO_20150727_142048.jpg We also found some great city and county parks like Castle Rock, Friendship, WI (people kept asking us how we found this local, but out-of-the-way camping gem), Holtwood Campground, Oconto, WI, and Finn Road Campground at Essexville, MI. While these campgrounds don’t offer us the great America the Beautiful pass prices, they are still economical, great campgrounds that beat most private campgrounds we visit.

IMG_4220.JPG Our membership in Thousand Trails is our best choice when it comes to finances and we stay in them whenever we can. However, we don’t want to limit our travels to only Thousand Trails. Depending on the parts of the country we visit they are more or less a part of our plans. This year we were in areas where there aren’t as many Thousand Trails so we didn’t use our membership as much. Also, these campgrounds are generally not our favorite places to camp. Some are quite nice and others aren’t nice at all. We are glad we have our membership and plan to use it a lot in the future, although there are a few Thousand Trails we would likely skip all together.

P8129962.JPG I think the sightseeing highlight of the year for us was Pictured Rocks National Seashore at Munising, MI at Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The natural beauty is amazing. Running a close second was Mackinac Island, MI, just a couple of hours east of Pictured Rocks. This is a world class tourist destination that shouldn’t be missed.

I think Michigan in general, and the Upper Peninsula specifically was our most pleasant surprise of the Adventure. The area is interesting and beautiful. I don’t know what I expected, but the UP was a fun place to visit and I’ll happily return in years to come.

2015 - Cundiff Family on a rainy day at Silver Dollar City - Branson, MO.jpg One lesson learned in this Adventure is how much fun it is to rekindle old friendships. Since Jackie and I met while in college at Olivet Nazarene in Illinois, and thanks to Facebook reconnects, we were able to visit with people from those days. It was so good to get together in person. Also, we met up with RV friends, both old and new, as we traveled. We even enjoyed a weekend with Jackie’s brother and sister-in-law plus time with my sister. Our son and his family joined us for a fun, if wet, time in Branson, MO. While we love traveling, there’s something special about these friendship connections that does nothing but add to the joy of our journeys.

20150327_142949.jpg We have yet to have a full-scale mechanical breakdown while on the road but this year we came very close, not once, but twice. Both times Good Samaritans came to my rescue and repairs were made. I’m very thankful for help beyond the call of duty. Also, I was reminded this year of just how much I dislike threatening weather while in the 5th wheel. We had multiple instances of severe thunderstorms with rain, wind, lightening, and hail. I try to not overreact to these storms, but I spent too many nights watching weather radar and listening to the weather radio.

100_3734.JPG In 2015 we decided to try out volunteering at the San Jacinto Monument Texas State Historical park in the Houston, TX area. We spent the first months of the year there, helping out at both the Monument and on the Battleship Texas which is on the same property. In return for volunteering 25 hours a week we were given “free parking” there. We enjoyed the experience enough that we signed up for another stay in the new year. For us, this is a great win: it is interesting and fun, close to family and many friends, and a real money saver. We also enjoyed being part of the community of volunteers and staff. That’s not to say there are no negatives, but overall, it’s a positive experience.

As you can see we had a good 2015 Adventure and, yes, we’re already working on the 2016 Adventure. We plan to head for the Rocky Mountains – Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and then across to the Black Hills of South Dakota!

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 Review: Baileys Point CoE Campground – Glasgow, KY

100_4806.JPG We’ve enjoyed our short stop at Bailey’s Point CoE Campground on Barren Lake near Glasgow, KY. The campsites are terraced along the lake and most of the sites have nice views of the lake – in fact, many are right along the lake. The campground is on a finger of land, so driving to it means traveling down some country roads. The roads are okay, but are rather narrow and hilly. The sites are mainly water with 50 amp electric although there are some that were obviously designed for tents and smaller campers. Parking in most every site includes backing up a sometimes steep entry ramp. Once you get to the top of the paved ramp the sites, themselves, are level gravel. Several of the site ramps are long enough and steep enough that I wouldn’t want to back my 5th wheel up them for fear that the back bumper of the camper would scrape the paved surface of the ramp. When you make camping reservations online you can see photos of the individual campsites. You might want to pay attention to the photos to get an idea of just what it would take to back into the sites. I had no problem getting satellite TV and my Verizon 4G as weak but usable. The campground is well cared for and the scenery is great. We’d be happy to have a longer stay here in the future.

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Campground Review: Cherry Glen Campground – CoE – Saylorville Lake, Iowa

This is our second stay at this nice Corps of Engineers campground, located on Saylorville Lake, northwest Des Moines, IA. Things this stay are much the same as they were when we were here two years ago, so you might want to check out my review from that stay. I’ll just focus on a few fresh observations in this post.

PHOTO_20150626_120615.jpg One thing I noticed this stay is how many campsites are rather unlevel front to back. Our site is steep enough that I have the landing gear of the 5th wheel extended about as far as I’ve ever extended it. I think a larger motorhome might end up with the front wheels well off the ground in this site. There are, of course, a number of spots that are level or at least “level enough” but because of our site I began noticing others and realized that several sites are like this.

PHOTO_20150626_115653.jpg Also, I’ve learned that, while there are no sewer sites here, there are several water hookup sites scattered around the park. The reason I missed them on our first stay is that the water spigots aren’t near the electric posts. Instead, they are stand alone water hookups either along the roads between the campsites or well behind them. I think that originally the idea was that people would be able to get water from communal spigots at various places around the park. At some point the decision was made to allow the closest campsite to the outlets to claim them and hook up to them if they wanted. There’s an extra $2 charge for those campsites (since we have an America the Beautiful pass we pay half for the site, making the extra charge just $1). Someone told me that the common practice is for the person in a water campsite to put a “Y” splitter at the faucet so that people can get water out of it even though someone is hooked up to it. If having a water hookup is important to you be sure to study the campground map when making reservations here.

My Verizon has a barely-working 3G signal here. It seems to work okay during the day and then as evening comes it slows down considerably. I was able to get satellite TV by putting the dish up close to the road. I’m guessing that people with a portable dish have a considerably better chance of getting satellite than do those with a roof mounted dish.

In my previous review I mentioned some bad weather and we had a repeat of that our first night here. We kept an eye on things as a couple of tornado warnings were issued for the counties just west of us. Aside from considerable rain falling, though, we came through the warnings without any problem.

We still like this campground a lot and will likely make it our place to stay when visiting family here in central Iowa.

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