Fast forwarding, as I’m writing this, we are in Orange Beach, AL at Pandion Ridge RV Resort where we’ve been since January 1st. More about that in an upcoming post. But for those of you who are always looking for new places to stay, here’s a summary of our travels during the last few months of 2020. On each leg of our journey, thanks to Covid, except for the change of scenery, it was the same – lots of hanging around, frequent walks, drives around the area and a weekly curbside pickup of groceries.
Tims Ford State Park Fairview Devil Step, Winchester, TN
We love state parks! And this park was no exception. But be careful, Tims Ford Fairview Devil Step campground where we stayed, is miles away from the original Tims Ford campground and is not suitable for big rigs. Tim Fords Campground (seen in the middle of the main map below) is for small rigs and is open year round and offers 52 sites with water and 30 amp electric hookups and four sites with full hookups. Take note most of the local road signage will lead you here, so don’t follow the signs if you are intending to go to the more big rig friendly Tims Ford Fairview Devil Step campground. For a larger version of the map below, click the map or click here.
Fairview Devil Step campground (shown in the lower right hand corner in map inset), is open April through October, has 82 sites with 20, 30 and 50 amp electric hookups. Thirty of the 82 sites have sewer hookups. There are also paddle-in island campsites, Turkey Creek Tent Only Primitive campsites, Evans Loop Backcountry Campsites as well as 20 cabins open year round available for rental.
Besides fishing, there are 27 miles of trails, six miles of which are paved, a Jack Nicklaus designed 18 hole golf course (Bear Trace), and two marinas, Lake View and Holiday Landing which has a resort and a restaurant.
In our opinion, Fairview Devil Step was a clean, well maintained, quiet park with many huge, well spaced sites which made it a great place to stay in the midst of a pandemic, however not all sites are big rig friendly. Nevertheless, we liked it so much and felt so comfortable there, we extended our original stay of five nights to a total of eleven nights. The only downside was that we couldn’t find one spot for the timeframe we wanted so we had to move twice.
Only 30 of the 82 sites here are full hookup and those tend to be clustered in the center of the loop and not waterfront. As always do your homework and choose a site appropriate for your rig, the reservation site has site dimensions and photos. Big rigs should avoid sites 1-18 and 36-46.
To get here don’t follow the Tim’s Ford Campground signs (or your GPS) which take you to the main Campground (definitely not big rig friendly) 7 miles away. This is a very scenic drive but not great for a big rig – narrow no shoulder roads and lots of turns force slow tedious driving.
Best route coming from I24 is exit 127 US64 to George Fraley Parkway to SR50 to Fairview Campground Rd. You could also come exit 111 SR55 to US41 to George Fraley Parkway but its a bit more congested.
For the first five nights, we were on site #60, a huge, grassy site. Since we were right on a corner near the entrance, everyone coming into the campground had to go by us so not a lot of privacy.
Then we moved across the way to site #58 for two nights, another large site that was somewhat more private.
And finally waterfront site #24 would be our home for 4 more nights where we had lots of room to sit outside behind the coach enjoying our waterfront view.
Perfect weather (though it was still a little chilly) for a walk along the shore. Water level seemed to be quite low.
DeSoto State Park, Fort Payne, AL
Another State Park that we’ve stayed at before. Last time was very memorable (or perhaps I should say very scary), it was the time we had to run and hide from a tornado!
Despite the tornado, we had very favorable memories of our previous stay so we were looking forward to this visit. Can’t explain why but this time we were not as impressed, perhaps it was the site that we had reserved or perhaps it was that the campground was chock full as we were there during Thanksgiving.
But good news – thankfully during our two week stay, there were no tornado scares! But the bad news – we did have snow! Thank goodness just a dusting so no boots or shovels required! Obviously no warm temps here in northern Alabama!
Having been here before, we didn’t feel the need for sightseeing so our days were filled with just hanging out, taking walks around the campground and a visit to DeSoto Falls.
Gunter Hill COE Park, Montgomery, AL
Located on the backwaters of the Alabama River about 10 miles west of Montgomery, AL, this Army Corps of Engineers (COE) park offers 142 sites and has two loops – Antioch which is older and has gravel sites with water and electric hookups. The Catoma loop, sites 1-75 are newly renovated sites with concrete pads and water, electric and sewer hookups and is recommended for big rigs.
What a gem of a park! Huge, spacious, paved sites with lots of greenery and surrounded by a forest of hickory and pine trees. Originally we planned on only spending four nights here but it was so peaceful and serene, we extended out stay for an additional four nights.
We have been here before and will definitely return! Many of the sites here are huge, but again choose carefully, recreation.gov has detailed info about all the sites.
On our way to our next destination we passed this scene on I-65 just south of Montgomery. Yikes, hope no one was hurt (and that the car didn’t explode as we passed by!)
Topsail State Park, Santa Rosa Beach, FL
Anyone who has followed our blog knows that this is one of our favorite FL state parks! Since there are a number of posts about the park on our blog site, there’s no need to provide additional information about the park again, just use Search at the top of any page to find them all. Our friends, Betsy and Nancy were once again work camping as tram drivers this winter so it was awesome seeing them again, probably the first time we had met socially (at a distance of course) with anyone.
Our original reservation was for 11 nights but, just before our departure, a wrench was thrown into our plans. During the early part of the day, Rob didn’t feel well, complaining about a minor pain in his back but fortunately, the discomfort faded within a few hours. But, alas, that evening it returned with a vengeance! “Do you want to go to the ER?” I hesitantly asked my stoic, “nothing ever bothers me” hubby, expecting an adamant “no” in response. Oh, oh, when he immediately groaned the answer “yes”. I knew he was in trouble and that the pain was bad.
So around 10:30 p.m. we headed to Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital which fortunately was only 2.8 miles from Topsail. Fortunately, there was no one there in the waiting room so we were quickly escorted to an examining room. Surprisingly they let me go in with him which was a good thing because we were there for hours – it would have been very difficult for me to sit in the waiting room all that time, not knowing his status.
After numerous pain meds and several tests, it was determined he had a 2mm kidney stone. Ouch! Because of its size, the doctor didn’t recommend a specific course of treatment instead suggesting to just let it pass (spoiler alert – it did the next day). While waiting, I was frantically checking the availability of our site at Topsail, thinking that he would not be in any shape to drive a long distance the next day. What luck! Our site was available for another night so I quickly reserved it. The next day I would reserve it again for another day giving Rob two full days to recover.
Because Rob had a reaction to the meds becoming nauseous and ultimately becoming sick, we were at the hospital until 3:30 a.m. Very long night to say the least! Kudos to all of the staff there for the attention and care they gave him!
Now that Rob had recovered, it was time to leave Topsail to head to our last stop before our three month stay in coastal AL. Having made our reservation last May, we were able to snag one of our favorite sites #35 for fourteen nights.
Huge site located right on Mobile Bay which gave us an opportunity to enjoy beautiful sunsets.
Lots of residual signs of September’s Hurricane Sally here and in the surrounding area. The end of their fishing pier sustained significant damage so it was off limits to visitors.
Walking out on the nature boardwalk (which was not damaged), we had an up-close view of the beautiful Mobile-Tensaw Delta.
From our site, we could see and hear the traffic on I-10 across the delta. Not such a pretty view on one day – an RV had caught fire and traffic had come to a standstill for several hours – what a mess! See more photos here. Never found out any of the details of what caused the fire and if everyone got out safely. Note Rob took this photo through the lens of binoculars using his phone!
On our last night there, we welcomed in the New Year very quietly but filled with hopes that 2021 would be a better year! The next day we said goodbye to Meaher to head for Orange Beach, AL for a three month stay. More about that next.
Winter Travels — No Comments