2017 – Beeds Lake State Park, Hampton, IA

We were at Beeds Lake State Park in Hampton, Iowa a couple of years ago and I did a review on it then. Things are the same as they were then, so this will be another short review. We had a back in site on our previous visit, but this time we ended up in a “parallel parking” site. We were here before over Independence Day and the place was packed. This time we arrived during the county fair which takes place close by and the place was full once again. Our parallel parking site worked out just fine, although I chose it because it was on the end of the row and with a bit more elbow room than most. The 50 amp electric was solid and restrooms and showers were okay. I had a decent 4G signal until each evening. At that point the signal was strong enough but I think all the fair goers were overloading the system. Because of trees I was unable to get the Dish western arc satellites so I swapped out LNB’s and aimed for the eastern arc which I got with no problems.

Our feeling about Beeds Lake is about the same as it was before: it’s a nice spot if you are okay with electric only, an odd parking setup, and being 10 miles or so off of I35.

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2017 – Cherry Glen ACoE Campground, Ankeny, Iowa

This is our third stay at this campground, so my review will be a short one.

Previous reviews: from 2013 and from 2015.

The Neal Smith trail is still inviting, but not so much with the high temps and humidity.

This place still gets a thumbs up and will be our northern Des Moines campground of choice on our next visit.

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2017 – West Lake Park Terrace Campground – Davenport, IA

This is a no reservations campground. When you arrive you find a site and then go to the office to register and pay. We arrived on an early Monday afternoon and had many sites to select from. By Thursday most sites had been taken but there was still a selection of sites. My guess is that the place pretty much fills up on summer weekends.

Nearby is the water/electric only campground, West Lake Park Summit Campground. You actually register at the office at Gate 5 for that campground as well.

This is a really nice campground and the prices are reasonably low. We’ll remember this one for future stays.

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Campground Review: Beeds Lake State Park – Hampton, IA

You might want to know that all the RV sites are 50/30 amp only with no water or sewer hookups. There are water spigots scattered around the campground so it’s easy enough to fill up with fresh water upon arriving. However, there is only one dump station for the entire campground. After the busy weekend there was a line of people waiting their turn at the dump station. The campground boasts a couple of new shower houses and restrooms. I had a clear sky for satellite TV and my Verizon phone got a weak, but working 4G connect. There’s a fairly busy train track not far from the campground. We often heard the trains but it wasn’t a big deal.

If you happen to be traveling I35 through northern Iowa and don’t mind driving 10 miles or so off the freeway you might want to keep this place in mind. I suggest you make a reservation so you can guarantee a parameter, back in spot unless you think you would be satisfied with a parallel parking site that will feel like a pull-through when there are few fellow campers around.

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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.

Sightseeing review: Iowa Living History Farms – Des Moines, IA

At Living History Farms near Des Moines, IA we stepped back into the early days of Iowa. From the visitor’s Center we rode a tractor pulled wagon back in time to the 1700s farm which was represented by Kiowa Indian garden and housing. I thought it was interesting that these Native Americans constructed their homes so that they stayed warmer in the winter than did those of the earliest European settlers from the east.

Our time travel wasn’t yet complete because we rode the wagon back to the 1875 town of Walnut Hill that we had bypassed earlier. The Flynn home mansion on the hill is the original house on the property. It was built by a wealthy railroad man turned cattleman, turned business man. It has two stories with three kitchens and is filled with beautiful furniture. The wood is all original and it is lovely! We walked through the town enjoying seeing the smithy, drugstore, general store, doctor’s office, implement dealer, newspaper and church. At most of the buildings there’s an interpreter who told us about the building and its contents. The last house we visited as the Tangen Home; a house representative of that which would be owned by a successful family in 1875. In this case the family was Norwegian. They lived in Iowa in the late 1800s. The house is nicely, but not lavishly, furnished.

Our final stop was back at the visitors’ center gift shop where a variety of candy, toys and other gift and souvenir items are for sale. Let me mention that traveling from farm to farm does require a lot of walking and the trails are dirt with some steep areas. If you ask, the staff can suggest ways to limit walking if you want. We think our time traveling visit was well worth the effort and the price of admission.

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Campground review: Cherry Glen Campground – Saylorville Lake – Army Corps of Engineers

You can read a follow up review of this campground here.

In addition to the lake being near by, a wonderful, paved trail passes right by the campground.  The Neal Smith trail is something special.  It passes through beautiful woods and extends for miles and miles.  Our campground is at mile 16 and the campground is no where near the end of the trail.  What with family activity and the weather, Jackie and I have only explored a small portion of the trail, but the trail does call to you.  There are lots of bicycles on the trail and exploring it by bike is inviting.  I confess that it’s pretty hilly.  We flat-landers might find that somewhat intimidating.

We give Cherry Glen two thumbs up.  If you plan on coming just be aware that this is dry camping and it’s a busy place on summer weekends.  Otherwise, you’ll enjoy this nice, wooded campground just minutes from all the amenities of the city.

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Campground review: Green Valley State Park, Creston, IA

Our third longest planned travel day of the entire summer took us from east central Kansas to southwestern Iowa. We left our beautiful Kansas campground and headed north on I35. We’ve been driving up and down I35 for years so this is very familiar territory for us. Not seeing new things and traveling with a “destination oriented” mindset (“let’s just get there”) made the 280 mile day feel longer than it was.

The pickup pulled fine. However, the rolling hills were hard on our fuel mileage. We’re doing better than the 8mpg that I budgeted, but not much better.

The main stop of the day was in the town where Jackie was born, Mt. Ayr, so we could pay respects at the graves of her mother and father, grandmother and grandfather. She laid roses at each headstone.

One interesting camping feature was “buddy electric sites” in which two campers basically share one camping spot. All I can say is that you had better like your neighbor and also, you had better be good at backing a camper in!

Our stay here was just one night. If we got the right site, I wouldn’t mind returning to this pleasant, out-of-the-way spot.

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