Spring Break. That notorious time of year that rolls around starting in March and continuing until the end of April. A time of year that we often totally forget about. Totally booked campgrounds, hotels, motels, B & B’s and cottages. Busy (surprisingly in times of Covid) bars and restaurants. Crowded beaches, bike trails and boardwalks. Heavy traffic. Little kids, big kids, college kids, adult kids – kids of all ages everywhere! Trust me, we didn’t escape any of it during our March stay at Pandion Ridge RV Resort and If we had an inkling that it would be less crowded at our next destination, we were so very, very wrong!
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park in Santa Rosa Beach, FL is not only one of our favorite state parks but it is also a popular destination for spring breakers. In our last post, I had bragged about how smart we had been to make our 2021 winter reservations in July 2020. But had we made any plans beyond our April departure date from Alabama? Nope, none! Sigh. That didn’t seem very smart, now did it?
So by mid March both of us started to experience a mild case of panic. Everybody knows that making any travel plans is no easy task, requiring a lot of time and energy and in the midst of a pandemic, doubly hard. Sure we had the time and we had the energy but after numerous discussions, we decided to take the easy way out and focus on two of our favorite places again, hoping to nab reservations at both places. Perhaps we would get lucky!
No surprise that getting a reservation for the dates we wanted at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park using Reserve America would be virtually impossible – no sites were available. Fortunately by using the wandering labs website which constantly checks availability at any park that is part of the Reserve America network (including COE parks), we were able to snag a 10 day stay for the dates we wanted. Note that if you decide to try this website making a small donation ($15 and up) will buy you a premium membership so instead of being notified only by email, you will be notified by text when a site becomes available, a definite advantage. Regardless of how that notification is generated, be sure to quickly snap to attention and make that reservation immediately – available sites can be scoffed up in seconds!
Anyway, a 2 1/2 hour uneventful drive brought us to Topsail where we quickly settled into pull thru site #110. Although we have stayed on a number of sites at Topsail, we really liked this one – lots of privacy and shade with decent satellite reception.
Speaking of uneventful, our 10 day stay was pretty quiet so not a lot to write about (I know, I know, I always say that but then manage to drone on and on). A highlight or perhaps more of a lowlight, we scheduled a service appointment at a local Honda dealer because of a noise we heard while driving the van – the diagnosis was that the idler wheel for the timing belt needed to be replaced. Since it was still okay to drive the van, we decided to delay having this fixed until we arrived in RI.
Several rides along the beachfront in Miramar Beach and along 30A towards Grayton Beach provided entertainment for us on other days. With the emerald hue of the water close to shore and the white caps on the waves, these beaches sure are gorgeous! And of course, the sand was still bright white and squeaky, much to Rob’s joy! Due to how busy it was and the colder temps, we didn’t even venture down to the beach at Topsail. No big deal – been there and done that!
Since we were all vaccinated, we felt comfortable getting together with our friends, Betsy and Nancy who were still work camping at Topsail driving the tram. The highlight of our stay was the two delicious meals prepared by our favorite gourmet chef, Nancy. Several days after our arrival, we were invited over for dinner where we were served a huge platter of barbecued spareribs with baked beans and other sides. Yum but that was just the opening act! Before our departure, she served us a dish we had never had before – porchetta, accompanied by dill pesto fingerlings and sweet peas. Talk about delicious, loved that crispy pork belly skin, the inner tenderness and the flavor! I keep trying to coax her to travel with us but so far no luck with that!
Our next destination after Topsail Hill State Park was another favorite of ours – East Bank COE (Corps of Engineers) Campground in Bainbridge, GA where we stayed for four nights on site #A08, right on the lake. No sign of spring break here, maybe because it is so far away from everything. No college student hangouts, no beaches to party on, no hotels or condos to rent and only two restaurants (one of which is currently closed). Perhaps the fluctuating and very confusing times in a location that straddles both Eastern and Central time zones keeps them away. No complaints from us – we were happy to bask in all of the peacefulness providing lots of quiet time to just hang out, watch beautiful sunsets and enjoy a roaring fire.
After leaving East Bank, a three hour drive would bring us to our next destination, Twin Oaks RV Park in Elko, GA where they claim to be “halfway to everywhere”. Really? How can that be? Elko, GA certainly isn’t halfway to anywhere in Oregon! After perusing their website, my guess is that they only mean that they are halfway to the area attractions.
Anyway, when we arrived, we were greeted by a gentleman in a golf cart who escorted us to our pull thru site (#1) even though it was right across from the office. We were told to register at the office once we were settled. Very nice, well maintained park with long spacious pull thru sites. And the staff was very friendly and helpful.
Since we were here for two nights, we had time the next day to explore the area and soak up Civil War history. More about that in our next post.