Spent the holiday weekend at JC Cooper campground within the NC Kerr Lake State Recreation Area. Nice enough campground and our spot was perfectly level and wind protected so we were not affected by Hermine at all. Holiday weekends do seem to bring out the types of people we don’t like camping around though. May need to rethink if and where we go on Holidays from now on.
It’s been a while since we had our last update but we’re back now! This trip we camped with several friends of ours during a very hot weekend at Belle Isle State Park, near Lancaster, Virginia. We love this Park for the relaxation it offers. There are not a lot of activities offered other than things that will bring you back to nature. Hiking on mostly flat trails, canoeing or kayaking on the river and plenty of river wildlife to keep an eye on.
The campsites in the Park are nicely sized with plenty of space between you and your neighbor so privacy is not an issue. Here we are tucked back into site #26. Very private and a lot of shade from the surrounding trees.
On Saturday morning we decided to hit the trail early so we could find a geocache in the Park before it got too hot! We hiked out to the Visitor’s Center on the Park roads and hit a spur trail to a nearby location on the river where we found the geocache and took in the a view of the river with the Osprey nest out on the duck blind. We always love watching the Osprey here.
Lucky me with the geocache container. This geocache was The VSP Belle Isle 80th Anniversary Adventure. Listed on http://www.geocaching.com as GC696TF celebrating 80 years of the Virginia State Parks!
Daytime Moon views are always a favorite of ours!
On the way back to the campground we noticed a Pair of Bald Eagles circling overhead. Karen was able to get some great shots of them in flight! Their is a nesting pair of Bald Eagles here in the Park so we assumed this pair were the locals! In a previous blog post we showed pictures of their nest with one of the adults in the nest.
After the Eagles left us we were still walking back to the campground and we heard a weird noise coming from the trees. At first I thought it was squirrels fighting and Karen thought it sounded more like ducks making noises from the river. As we continued to walk I caught some movement from a distant tree and when we got the camera on it we found it was a group of young Blue Herons being fed by an adult! Such a fantastic thing to see in the wild!
If you are every in the area of the Northern Neck of Virginia (the land between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers, east of Fredericksburg) and want to get away from it all, we highly recommend this State Park!
Outlanders River Camp located in Luray, Virginia was the location for the 2015 Virginia Campers Spring Rally held April 24-26, 2015. A great campground with a wonderful staff and full hook up sites proved to be great choice for this rally. The mountain and river views from this campground are wonderful!
Once again we had a rally that was a bit damp and cold but we we were not to be deterred! The Park had 2 covered pavilions that we were able to use for cover during our meals and activities so all was well.
Friday was clear and cool with the typical arrival day consisting of lots of meeting and greeting going on with old and new members alike.
Saturday brought in the rain and cold but we pushed onto some fun interactions including the Group photo, a rousing game of Chubby Bunny, The fantastic Pot Luck Dinner and the Chinese Auction/Yankee Gift Swap.
Outlanders is located along the North Branch of the Shenandoah River and there are some nice little trails along the river for some walking and nature viewing.
The campground also has primitive tent sites along the river as well as the Hog Pen tent sites near the bath house.
If you are ever in the area you should definitely give this campground a try. We’ll be back!
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Our season opener began at Lake Anna State Park in Virginia. It was great to get back out camping and spending time with our friends again. Weather was cold but we still had fun and even hit the trails for a few geocaches to keep us warm!
Lake Anna has 46 campsites, 23 dry sites and 23 water and electric sites. The water and electric sites have 20/30 and 50 amp electrical service. Several pull thru sites are also available. There is a full bathhouse in each section of the campground. There are also 6 primitive Camp Cabins in the campground area and 10 standard cabins in another area of the Park. There is a dump station as you exit the campground loop. There is also a small camp store and firewood is available onsite.
This Park has a wonderful beach area that is very busy during the summer months!
While camping at Lake Anna make sure to check out the Visitor’s Center. We were given a tour by Jo and Johnny Finch from the Friends of Lake Anna State Park and this place is great. Lot’s of interesting exhibit and information for young and old alike! For more information on the Friends of Lake Anna State Park you can visit their information page at this address: http://www.virginiaoutdoors.com/article/more/1180
On this trip we were able to find 3 geocaches in the Park. I will list their names and geocache.com identity codes here and you can read more about them at www.geocaching.com. We also recovered 5 cache containers that were no longer being used for an archived geocache and will recycle them into future geocaches. All in all we had about a 5 mile hike and loved it! The trail system in this Park is great. We’ve been here several times and have still not hiked all the trails!
VSP Lake Anna Civil War Adventure GC5NZ19 – This cache takes you to the location of Hailey’s Mill where you can see some of the remains of the old mill and read about the use of this area during the Civil War.
Mill Pond Pirate Cache GC19C11 – An easy cache located near the Visitors Center Parking area with a nice walk around Mill Pond on nicely groomed trails.
GSA Gold 4 State Park Series GC1XKE0 – Easy geocache along a well groomed trail.
We really enjoy this Park and try to stay here at least once each year. We highly recommend you try it out if you are in the area.
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As the 2015 camping season approaches I have made my New Year Resolution to be more active with this blog. Sadly, I missed the entire 2014 season. Today, I make up for that by beginning a series of 2014 reviews. Stay tuned as I will hopefully get 2014 done before the 2015 season gets too busy!
Our season opener began at Belle Isle State Park in Virginia. This was an impromptu, last minute arrangement with a bunch of our camping friends and was a great weather weekend for camping. This campground is about 2 hours from our house and we like to get here at least once a year. We did a bit of hiking (all the trails here are flat), some bird watching and of course, some geocaching.
Belle Isle has 28 campsites that will fit most any size Trailer or RV. Several pull thru sites are also available. All sites have water and electric hook ups with 20/30/50 amp service. There is a dump station as you exit the campground loop. There is also a small camp store and firewood is available onsite.
This Park is also a working farm so fields are in use and you get to see crops in their various stages of growth throughout the season.
While camping at Belle Isle make sure to walk out to the fishing pier by the canoe launch to take in a sunset. They are fantastic, especially in the early part of the year.
Saturday was a hiking/geocaching day for us. We took a walk out towards the river and down the point where I knew there was a geocache we had not found yet. On the way we stopped to check out a Bald Eagle nest that the Park Ranger had told us about. We took several pictures but didn’t see any Eagles…that is…until we got home and checked our photos on a bigger screen! Click on the big nest pic and take a look for yourself!
After spending some time waiting for the Eagles to show up, we hit the trail to the point. A flat road actually that lead us through some grasslands and fields. Even though it was only March the Eastern Bluebirds were on the move.
We made it to the end of Brewers Point, found the geocache and took some photos before heading back to camp to join our friends. BTW, there are primitive tent sites out at the point for those that want to paddle in from the river or hike in from the campground.
On this trip we were able to find 5 geocaches in the Park. I will list their names and geocache.com identity codes here and you can read more about them at http://www.geocaching.com
VSP Belle Isle Tree-mendous Adventures GC46QBZ – An easy geocache with information about trees within the park.
Bluebirds Of Happiness GC4Z80D – Another easy geocache near the horse trailer parking with a surprise hide at the finish.
VSP Belle Isle Birding Adventure GC4YYP4 – Easy geocache that brings you near a great viewpoint of the eagle nest.
CJS-Belle Isle State Park GC2F416 – A geocache in the Captain John Smith collection series providing a look into the history of his travels in the area.
Brewers Point GC4N7JN – The geocache at the end of Brewers Point. Take the time to go out and get this one. The walk and the river view at the point are very nice.
We really like this Park for the peace and quiet it provides. There is not much in the area but a short drive over to the little Village of Morattico is worth the visit. Be sure to stop into the Waterfront Museum and chat with the locals who are so informative about the area. http://www.morattico.org
It’s early October and this means time for the Virginia Campers Fall Rally. This years fall rally was held at Kiptopeke State Park on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
This is a wonderful park with water/electric sites as well as quite a few full hookup sites. The park has a huge boat ramp and 2 beaches available for use. 1 great highlight of this area is the Concrete Ships used as a breaker for the ramp area that was originally the ferry point to the mainland before the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnels were built. These ships act as a breakwater and also support fish and other marine wildlife in the area.
More info on the ships can be found here: http://www.concreteships.org/ships/kiptopeke/
As this was a Rally weekend there were many friends gathering in the campground. We were able to secure sites in an area that allowed us to back in to each other leaving the area between as a gathering point for potluck dinners and other festivities.
The weather was perfect and everybody had a great time. We had a great potluck dinner on Saturday night and once again we had way too much food, but oh what a feast it was!
After the potluck of course we had to take a walk on the beach and burn off some calories. We had a great sunset and also got to play with some ghost crabs!
During all the fun we did have a chance to go for a walk around some of the Park and seek out a few geocaches.
The first find was interesting multicache with the first stage hidden near a very busy bird watching observatory deck and we were in the park during the fall migration season.
The Geocaching.com ID for this cache is VSP Kiptopeke Wildlife Adventures GC24JRZ.
After finding the first stage we were able to move on and find the remaining 2 stages and sign the final log deeper into the park.
Our second and third cache finds for the day took us near the fresh water pond with hopes of spotting some migrating waterfowl but we only saw 1 Grebe. We still had a great time hiking the trails and finding the caches.
The 2 caches we found were: VSP Kiptopeke Tree-mendous Adventure GC46QXC and VSP Kiptopeke Blooming Adventure GC3CKQJ. Both traditional caches with fun hides.
After finding these caches we decided to head back to the campground to prep for the potluck dinner.
For site-seeing and also geocaching there are 2 particular areas of interest that should not be overlooked while staying at this Park. The first is the little town of Cape Charles. There is a very informative Earthcache (Chesapeake Bay Bolide GCZNQT) in this town and great waterfront views!
The second don’t miss place is the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge. As well as being a vital wildlife sanctuary for migratory birds and waterfowl this area also has an interesting military history with a huge gun placement still on site.
More info on this location can be found here: http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Eastern_Shore_of_Virginia/
We had a great time camping and geocaching with all our Virginia Camper friends and look forward to the next get together. For more information on Virginia Campers you can check out our website at www.vacamper.com or our Facebook group at Virginia Campers on Facebook.
As always, here is our campsite for the weekend! Thanks for checking out our blog.
We spent the weekend at our “home” State Park, Shenandoah River “Andy Guest” State Park. We love this Park and being less than an hour from home makes for a great weekend escape or holiday weekend destination because we don’t have to deal with too much traffic!
We spent most of the time relaxing and bird watching from our site. The bluebirds were ground feeding right behind our camper so we set up a second canopy to block out some of the sun and relaxed with the camera and binoculars.
We saw many different species of birds including sparrows, finches, bluebirds and woodpeckers. We were also able to watch the hawks and osprey soaring over the river but they were hard to get on the camera. Karen was able to get one photo of an Osprey but he was far away so the zoom made it a bit grainy.
We didn’t do any geocaching on this trip but we did take a drive on Skyline Drive, entering at Front Royal, VA and driving down to Rt 211 near Luray. The views from the overlooks are fantastic and anybody staying in the area should take the drive at least once.
It was a hot weekend but we really enjoyed ourselves just taking it easy and relaxing together.
Our campsite for the weekend. We had 1 canopy up over the picnic table with screens for the bugs and the other was our birdwatching station.
Need a break from the winter doldrums? Has this cold weather really given you cabin fever? Are you just dying to go camping like we are now? Hopefully this entry will help hold you over until the weather turns a bit warmer.
Douthat was one of six state parks planned by the Commonwealth in the early 1930s. The initial 1,920 acres of the present-day park was donated by the Douthat Land Company, a consortium of Virginia businessmen. The rest of the land was purchased with a portion of the $50,000 in funds allocated by the General Assembly in 1933 for park land acquisition. The establishment of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as part of the emergency Conservation Works by President Roosevelt in 1933 provided the means for development of the parks. An estimated 600 men lived and worked at the three camps responsible for building Douthat’s facilities. Between 1933 and 1942, these men cleared trails, built a dam and spillway, cabins, a restaurant, an information center, superintendent’s residence, swimming beach, picnic areas and maintenance building, hinges, as well as hand-wrought iron hardware, light fixtures and door and shutter latches. The built and natural features of the park have remained virtually unchanged since construction. More info on the Park can be found here:
We have been looking forward to this visit since May of 2012 when we last visited and it rained the whole time we were here. This trip we chose to camp in the new Whispering Pines loop and really get after the local geocaches.
The Whispering Pines loop is new to the park and has nice big , level sites and a new bath house. Located a couple miles outside the original park they have a check in board and the camp host is at the entrance to the loop. After picking up your package and selecting your site, they suggest you drive into the campground and officially check in at the main office. We chose site 11 and found it perfect for us. We would use this site every time if we could!
Once setup we took the drive into the Park office to check in and look around.
Saturday we took to the trails and chased geocaches and waterfalls. We will cover the geocaches later so let’s explore the Park itself some more. We took the hike up to Blue Suck Falls. It was a warm day and the climb was moderate. There were some rocky areas to get through but it was worth it in the end!
Blue Suck Falls
Resting on the bench at the base of the Falls.
At the end of the day we decided to have dinner at the Lakeview Restaurant. We had a nice meal with an excellent view of the lake.
There were several geocaching in the Park and we wanted to see if we could find them all! We started with a traditional geocache located down a short trail near the entrance to the Park. The geocache was called K-9 GC2MR5Z and was a quick and easy find. We then went after a couple that were in a different area near the entrance to the park. The bonus on these was that we had to cross a creek on suspension bridge as we entered the trial!
Do we dare?
After the bridge crossing we stopped for another easy geocache called Tradeshow Trinkets GC9ED7. This was a typical Tupperware type container with mostly business cards and other promotional items inside for trading. We then moved on looking for the VSP Douthat 75th Anniversary geocache GC2NTYT. As we were walking the trial towards the cache we noticed this building on our right…I wonder what that was used for in the past?
We finally reached the geocache we were looking for. This container was hidden inside this small structure and had a note card with some history of the area. This smaller “building” held the blasting caps for use with dynamite during the construction days of the Park by the CCC. The card also told us what that other building contained. The DYNAMITE!!! They had to store the dynamite and blasting caps in separate areas a couple hundred feet apart to make sure there were no accidents.
After retreating back over the bridge we went into the Park and found a couple other geocaches along with hiking to Blue Suck Falls. After coming back down from the falls we left the Park to go find a couple special geocaches we had on our to do list. First stop was At the Buckhorne Country Store GC3F7NY. Nothing like having ice cream while searching for the cache near the store. This store is a popular stop for campers and geocachers who love ice cream!
We then drove a bit to Covington, VA for a special “Earthcache”. An earthcache is a type of geocache without a container to find, but you have to go to a specific site and record information to answer questions asked by the cache owner. Earthcaches always have to do with something geological or natural formations of the Earth and how they were formed. This particular cache was about Falling Springs Fall GC24JMP. There was parking nearby and the answers were found easily on an information board in the parking lot. We walked the path overlooking the falls and got some nice pictures. The falls are off limits to people as there is a rare ecosystem growing at the base of the falls but we noticed some local youths who had jumped the fence and were playing in the water at the base of the falls.
For more information on Falling Springs Falls you can read more here:
We ended this trip looking for a virtual geocache. This type of geocache is like an earthcache in that there is no actual container but you do have to find something and answer a question asked by the cache owner. These types of geocaches have been discontinued but all the older ones have been grandfathered and are allowed to stay active as long as the owner is still an active geocacher. The geocache we were looking for was called A Curious Ride GCHGH6. It was funny seeing the items we found here. We won’t disclose them here so the secret will be safe for future geocachers to enjoy the surprise!
We ended the day by looking for a geocache in Clifton Forge near the Train museum. We couldn’t find the cache but enjoyed the train views again. We have taken the tour in the past and this is a must stop for people who are visiting the area.
We hope that you get a chance to visit this wonderful Virginia State Park and surrounding area. It real is a treasure and we look forward to our next visit this coming spring!
Friday arrival brought us into a rainy campground at Pocahontas State Park.
We were able to set up between showers and then waited for our friends to show up. 1 by 1 they trickled into the campground and after getting set up we gathered to watch the rain and socialize.
There were a few downpours and a bit of site flooding but we survived!
Saturday welcomed a break in the weather and we had a pretty nice day of being lazy and eating way too much food together!
There was a group dinner with wonderful grilled cheesesteak sandwiches and side dishes. After dinner we ran out to find a couple quick geocaches before returning to camp for a rousing game of Pictionary under the spotlight!!
Even though we were pressed for time with the sun fading quickly we set out with a couple of our friends to chase down the first couple legs of a multicache in the Park. A multicache is a series of caches where each stage will have coordinates and clues for the next stage in the series until you reach the final container. The Geocaches we were after was sort of a hybrid multicache as each stage was an individual geocache and counted as a find on http://www.geocaching.com but you still needed to find them in order to get the proper help for the next in the series.
The first geocache we found was PSP Numbers Run #1 GC24G6Q which was a fairly easy find near the main parking lot at the Camp office.
The next geocache we went looking for took a bit of time to find as the coordinates seemed to be off by about 30 feet but eventually we came up with the container. This geocaches was the second in the series: PSP Numbers Run #2 GC24G6R. The coordinates for this cache required some math to be done with a clue from the first geocache to get the final location.
We were able to get the helpful clue for #3 but daylight wouldn’t allow us time to go find it. I guess we can take up the hunt the next time we are visiting this campground.
As always we had a great time camping and caching with our friends and look forward to the next gathering. Keep an eye out for our next blog post where we will detail our trip to Douthat State Park along with quite a few geocache finds!
Our campsite during this trip.
since I have updated the blog so time to play catch up.
We belong to Virginia Campers, http://www.vacampers.com, a group of folks from all over Virginia that just enjoy camping together and the fellowship that comes along with that. Every year they have a Spring and Fall Rally to try and get everybody together in the same place at the same time to welcome in the new camping season and to also say goodbye to the season.
This years Spring Rally was held April 26-28th at Shenandoah River State Park in Bentonville, VA. We had a huge turnout with 23 sites reserved by the group in the campground. There was also a 50’s theme to the Rally which included music, movies, costumes and a great hamburger cookout including burgers, dogs, fries and more side dishes and desserts than could be counted! We even had some friends of one of the campers bring some old cars on Saturday. A good time was had by all!
Even though we have been to this Park many times and found most of the geocaches on previous trips here there was 1 new geocache that we needed to find. The State Parks have a series of geocaches they put out each year in each of the State Parks. This years series is entitled “Tree-mendous Adventures”. The geocache here was called VSP Shenandoah River Tree-mendous Adventure and was identified on http://www.geocaching.com as GC4735B. Located on one of the trails past the primitive tent camping sites, the hide was off a boardwalk through the woods, which made for an easy walk to the find. We found the container, signed the logbook inside and continued our walk to take some photographs in the woods before heading back to the Rally and our friends.
Shenandoah River State Park is a beautiful Park with a new RV campground featuring 32 sites with w/e hookups. Wildlife and scenic views abound here and we highly recommend everyone to try this campground at least once in their lives. You can find more info on the Park and campground here: http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks/and.shtml
Thanks for taking the time to visit our blog. It’s a work in progress but we hope you like it!
(Yes, this was our site for the Rally weekend!)