Edisto Beach

Edisto Island, South Carolina – August, 2015 We only had a few days before we planned to head west and wanted to spend them on a beach. So we chose the nearest one and headed that way. Edisto Island has a great state park. It occupies about a third of the island’s beachfront real estate and has an amazing beachside campground with 74 sites. Of course, some advance planning is required to get a beachside campsite and we all know that is not our strong point so lucky for us they have a second campground called Live Oak a half mile up the highway from the beach that had plenty of vacancies during our stay. We were impressed that this campground had wide roads and large, level sites. We were less than impressed with the $51 per night rate.

This island is not very commercialized. There were only a couple beach stores and only about a half dozen restaurants. There was a relatively well stocked little grocery store just outside the state park’s gate. The island is rather remote (25 miles to the next reasonably sized town) but in comparison to Hunting Island where the nearest grocery store was 20 miles away, this is a metropolis.

The Edisto Island travel brochure only listed 3 things on their local attractions page: the Edisto Island Museum, a serpentarium, and the state park’s environmental education center. The weather looked rather questionable for the weekend and I thought we might end up visiting some of these if we got rained out one day but when we did get rained out, on Sunday, they were all closed.

What this island primarily has going for it is several miles of uninterrupted beach front. You can walk and walk and walk without running out of beach and that is exactly what we did. The island’s beachfront is divided into the state park’s shoreline which is completely undeveloped and looks like this.

You can see a few of the campers in the campground. This was taken at high tide when the beach did get a bit narrow.

The state park’s boundary marks the beginning of development and the remainder of the island looks like this.

There is one house after another for the rest of the beach which wraps all the way around the end of the island. Edisto has no main beach parking lot besides the one in the state park. Instead they have over 30 beach accesses squeezed between the homes, most with several parking spaces each. I would guess that during their busy season a lot of people park on the street and the roads gets pretty crowded. We were there the weekend before Labor Day and showers were forecast so we had no trouble finding parking spots even for our monstrous truck. Since we had to drive to the beach from camp anyway we chose a different access point each time we wanted to take a walk and saw quite a lot of the beach and many, many beach houses.

Jim had been dying to fish in the ocean but was not looking forward to another expensive out of state fishing license so he was pleasantly surprised when he learned a 14 day non-resident fishing license for either fresh or salt water is only $11 in South Carolina. Since we had shrimp in the freezer he didn’t even have to buy bait. Between the rains and the tides he only fished for a couple hours but he had a good time and got some nibbles. We didn’t see any fisherman catch a single fish all weekend.

This island is a 2 hour drive from Hunting Beach where we recently visited but is only about 10 miles north by water. So the water was pretty much the same, warm with almost no visibility. Even so, we didn’t see any dolphins like we had at Hunting Beach but on the plus side I didn’t see a single mosquito either. We will certainly return to Edisto Beach for an extended visit some day but will plan it far enough in advance to get a beachside site. There is nothing better than walking out your front door and being a short walk from the beach

Misery

Missouri – July 2015 When we headed to Missouri a month ago we thought we would go west again right after my family reunion last weekend. I had hoped to be in Montana by now. But the universe had other plans and so we are still here and will be for another week or two. Two of our income properties have unexpectedly been vacated in the last 10 days. We joke that there is a conspiracy to keep us here in the state we fondly refer to as Misery instead of Missouri. But we are quite lucky this happened while we were in the area instead of 2000 miles away.

When we do finally break away in a couple weeks we are actually planning a road trip east and then swinging back through Missouri about Labor Day before finally proceeding west, most likely skipping Montana and Washington and going to Oregon. While we are here we are enjoying the beautiful rivers the Ozarks are blessed with. We’ve got plenty of free places to park our home. And we are saving a ton on fuel!

We enjoyed the Current River some more now that it is near normal river level. We backed our rig up to the river bank so that there was an amazing view outside our kitchen window. And we parked under a huge tree where we got lots of shade. One evening a pretty large limb in that tree broke. It was tenuously hanging on to the tree but most of it was on our trailer. We thought it was best to leave it and hoped we could drive out from under it when we left in several days. A big storm the next night moved it around quite a bit but it still held on. The day we prepared to leave we discovered this.

It fell the rest of the way down and was resting on top of our trailer. We hadn’t heard it fall so assume it wasn’t terribly violent and thankfully there was no damage to the trailer roof. I started to shove it off the roof but was damaging the roof’s edge in the process. Jim got a saw and we cut it in to 3 pieces we could safely throw off the roof.

The next weekend we parked in our friends’ driveway 20 miles south of Springfield and enjoyed their property and pool for a few days. They live very near the James River which is a pretty little river that is a convenient place to float when you are in the Springfield area. We chose to float from Hootentown to mud bank on Sunday. Hootentown is a campground that is as hick as its name implies and mud bank is exactly that, a muddy, messy take out just off the highway. There were a ton of people floating above Hootentown as evidenced by those waiting for a shuttle when we put in. But we only saw a half dozen other kayakers on our 9 mile float.

The boys had fun fishing and caught bluegill, smallmouth bass, and goggle eye. It didn’t matter what they caught because we wouldn’t have eaten anything out of this part of the river that flows out of Springfield Lake.

The next weekend we took our 4 year old granddaughter camping at Roaring River Park near Cassville, Missouri. It is a trout park operated by the Missouri State Parks. It’s about an hour from Springfield and since Jim loves to fish for trout we have camped here many, many times over the years. We had not taken our grandchild here before but knew that it would be the perfect place.

There are some great, short hikes (our favorite is Devil’s Kitchen). It has wonderful playgrounds (some right by the stream) and lots of places to wade and take a dip. Of course, the fishing is good but as we expected it didn’t hold a 4 year old’s attention for very long.

The highlight of her trip was the swimming pool. They have a very nice pool. It does cost a few dollars extra to get in but was so worth it. We spent about an hour each afternoon there. Our granddaughter had a ball each time, made some new friends, and sufficiently wore herself out so that we didn’t have to worry about a struggle at bedtime. She was more than ready to go to sleep by the time it was lights out.

Delta Colorado

Delta, Colorado – June 2015 We drove a whole 39 miles south from our last camp to the town of Delta. The house we had last occupied back in Missouri was supposed to close at the end of the week and although we had signed the bulk of the documents at a title company before leaving Grand Junction, we needed to be reachable until the actual closing on Friday afternoon. There were still a hundred things that could go wrong between now and then and we did not want to be out of touch for long.

Delta kept us in civilization with 4 bars and 4G but nearer to the places we wanted to visit. Because we knew we had to sit tight for a whole week we chose to take advantage of the weekly rate at Valley Sunset RV Ranch. Most campgrounds weekly rate is equivalent to about 6 days at their regular rate. Valley Sunset’s rates were no exception at $25 per day or $150 per week plus tax. The park had about a hundred sights and all but about 20 appeared to be occupied by full timers. It was pretty well maintained though and a good value.

We were most excited about visiting Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. We had made a brief stop there on a family road trip 15 years ago and were smitten. If we hadn’t needed to stay in cell phone reach we would definitely have camped near it. As usual, things worked out for the best. Although we were still very impressed with the canyon, there really was not that much to do there. There were not many developed trails on the South Rim, and even fewer on the North Rim (a 2 hour drive away). I would like to go back and spend a couple of nights camping there the next time we are in Colorado. It is very remote and I bet the night sky is amazing.

I still love this place. It is like a mini Grand Canyon but in greys and greens instead of red hues.

We took the hike to Warner Point. It was a little over 1 ½ miles roundtrip with around 500 feet in elevation change. I was surprised how winded we got. This was our first hike at any sort of altitude and the 8500 foot elevation really made a difference. But the views were definitely worth it.

If you visit I recommend taking the time drive the East Portal Road. The Gunnison Diversion Dam is very scenic and you can walk down to the river below it.

The road down to the dam was fun. It is about 8 miles, paved, and has up to a 16% grade. I wouldn’t want to try that with the trailer in tow!

Wednesday we took a drive to Basalt, Colorado to some fishing. Google said it was a 2 ½ hour drive. We hoped to make it in 2 but with road construction we were lucky we made it in 3. The scenic drive alone was worth the trip. There were gorgeous waterfalls everywhere from the snowmelt. And we stopped to check out these strange ovens along the road in Redstone. They were used to make coke fuel from coal mined in the area in the late 1800’s.

Jim had a great time fishing the gold medal waters of the Fryingpan River just below the dam 14 miles upstream of Basalt. We expected crowds and were pleased to only see a half dozen other fisherman while we were there. They have very strict guidelines regarding what trout you can keep. He caught 3 trout; a brown too small to bother with and two rainbow which have to be released. One rainbow was probably 3 pounds and he was pleased to have landed it on a 2 pound leader. I rarely fish but enjoyed walking along the river while Jim did. I think he got the better workout, trudging around in soaking wader boots and fighting 14 inch trout.

Thursday and Friday we had to stay close to town because of the closing and then about noon Friday, when we found out the deal was done, it started raining and poured for two days. By Saturday afternoon we were so stir crazy we said to heck with the rain, threw on our coats, and drove to the Gunnison River for a walk. It was not one of our best hikes, but we were grateful for the fresh air.

Sunday dawned clear and sunny. We packed a lunch and headed to the Grand Mesa area, another beautiful drive. Our original destination, Island Lake, was still frozen over. But we found a group of lakes at a slightly lower elevation that were not. The fishing wasn’t great. I think the fish were still hibernating. Jim did get one bite and the fish snapped his 2 pound leader without ever breaking water so we’ll never know what he had on the line. We only saw one person catch anything, a small rainbow trout. So we took a hike. Some of the trails were still covered in several feet of snow but the trail around Beaver Lake was mostly clear. The snow melting and running into the lakes was beautiful.

It was a lovely day and a great ending to our week in Delta.