Campground Reviews: This section will be short and sweet, because the campgrounds weren’t what this trip was about. There were two, but it was mostly a place to lay down our heads and sleep. So let’s get started shall we?
Mike and I left Wednesday, June 26 after work and headed to Ellaville “RV PARK”, I use that term very loosely because it was about 8 pull through sites, with no amenities right on US 90 with full hookups and made for the perfect place for us to pull in, plug in and hit the sack and get a good nights sleep at 11:00 p.m., when we arrived. We would have stayed at a Walmart but June, nearly July in Florida is not exactly conducive to getting a good night sleep without ac. Ellaville is a ghost town on US 90 about 4 miles from our property and right next to the Suwannee River State Park, which we highly recommend. One might ask why we didn’t stay there, short answer is we just wanted to sleep with ac for the night so this fit the bill perfectly and was only $20, which we put in an envelope and placed it in the electric outlet when we left. It was super easy to pull in, pull out. After we woke up we had breakfast and hit the road. But before leaving we heard a loud crash, I thought it was ice cracking and Mike thought it sounded like glass breaking. I will tell more about what that was later. When we were ready, we started our journey westward to our target destination, Rainbow Plantation in Summerdale, Alabama.
Rainbow Plantation is an Escapees RV Park. This is the first one we stayed at. Price was reasonable and was recommended as one the of the places to stay by Kyle and Olivia, best known as Drivin’ & Vibin’, which was the reason to go to Alabama to begin with for their reveal of the Airstream Argosy, which is beautiful, more on that later as well. Back to the review of the campground. Each site has full hookup, which was a first for us, well the night before we had full hookup but that didn’t count since we didn’t even unhook from the truck. Our site, number 46, was in the middle of the trees. There was a fabulous looking pool, which we did not use, a clubhouse with activities, which we did not attend, because we weren’t there for the campground, we had other intentions. The campsites did not have picnic table nor a fire ring, (not that we needed a fire anyways it was a) too, too, too hot, b) we weren’t staying at the campground except to eat and sleep and c) it was way too wet to even get a fire started). We did set up our carpet, chairs, and table, opened the awning and headed to LuLu’s. Next time, we will plan on bringing bikes and use the pool. It was a nice stay and wish it was longer. That’s pretty much it on the campground review, on to the Following the Brown Signs…..
We only got to follow two brown signs on this trip. The first one was Falling Water’s State Park. It is known as one of Florida’s hidden treasures, with a 73 foot waterfall. However, it needs to rain a lot for there to be any water actually falling, it was a trinkle. We have been here before when the girls were young and we had the same result, no water falling at the waterfall. Oh well, maybe next time. I was also able to get my Florida State Park passport stamped. While there we checked out the campground. The campground is located on one of the highest hills in Florida. It is 324 feet above sea level. We almost needed to get oxygen for the journey, just kidding. The campground was just ok, with smallish sites and a weird layout and there are many other’s I want to stay at before staying there but it was good to check it out. The park itself is very pretty with steep hills, which is surprising in Florida. To get to the waterfalls there are boardwalks to get you down to it. It was too hot for us to explore too much so we got in the truck and headed out of the park, if we didn’t have a destination to get to we might have gone for a swim. Heading out of the park our engine brake came on, which we didn’t even know it had. So that was interested and reassuring. So west we headed. The other brown sign and I am not even sure it is a brown sign but we will call it that happens on Friday at the Gulf State Park in Alabama. More of that to come. Back to journey as we head west.
After a longish ride we finally made it to our destination, it was near 3 p.m. which was perfect as the office was closed until that time even though our paperwork was on the bulletin board awaiting our arrival. We set up camp and headed to LuLu’s, where Kyle was playing (not only are Olivia and Kyle talented YouTube creators they can also sing and have a band). Since we like live music and are fans of these super talented young people we did what was natural and headed to LuLu’s, which is also perfect because Mike being the parrothead that he is, and this is Jimmy Buffett’s sister’s place, and it also helps they have beer. We arrived there near 5 and the place was packed, and if we wanted a table we would have had a 3 hour 45 minute wait, luckily the bar is first come first serve and we could also order food there. Our seats were perfect and overlooked the stage. After a few songs Mike went down and introduced himself to Kyle and told him we were part of the “Vibe Tribe” and were in town for the reveal. During the break Kyle cme up and sat with us for a bit, which was totally awesome.
We headed back to the campground (oh by the way traffic sucks there just as much as it does in St. Pete/Clearwater), the wind was picking up and there were some serious thunderstorms in the distance, and all we could think of how we were stupid to leave the awning out on the camper, which we knew better but it was like 0% chance of rain. We couldn’t get back fast enough and were hoping our awning was ok. Which thankfully it was. The rain came down like buckets and the wind was crazy. When we pulled up Mike hit the fob on the door, from the truck, (one of our newest additions to the camper-keyless entry, oh yeah) and we headed in, pulled the awning in, we sat up for a bit (cell service sucked) and hit the hay. In the middle of the night, the rain and wind were super crazy, at one point I thought we were on the boat. I thought for sure when we got up in the morning the table and chairs would be scattered across the campground. I am guessing the trees offered some sort of protection as all was good in the morning and the stuff was mostly dry. This is the time I will fill you in on the loud crash we heard back in Ellaville, we think it was ice melting in the ac. When we got up, the compressor wasn’t working well if at all. We figure the ac froze up, without our ladder there was no way to tell for sure. I cooked breakfast outside so not to heat up the place and we ate at our little table. Before leaving to do some touristy things we turned the ac off.
Our first touristy thing to do that day was to go to Buc-ee’s. What is Buc-ee’s you ask? It is a huge and when say huge I mean HUGE or SUPER HUGE gas station. Yes it is a gas station on steroids, with over 100 gas pumps but only for private cars, campers and such. Not sure if any of them have the ability for 18 wheelers to come in but this location did not. It has a huge store with beef jerky, pastries, and sandwiches. They have clothes and of course touristy like gifts as well. After our trip to Buc-ee’s we headed to Fairhope, which took us to Warehouse Donuts. We got a couple little sandwiches, a donut (Mike’s choice) and a cinnamon bun (my choice) to go. Warehouse Donuts is a nice place with amazing food besides just donuts.
After Warehouse we headed to the beach, which may or may not be considered a brown sign, we will call it one just the same. Gulf State Park, Alabama, which was another suggested location to camp at. However, in retrospect we are content where we stayed because it was closer to where we wanted and needed to be. Gulf State Park is one of the 4 best state parks in Alabama that is listed in our National Geo’s State Park Guide. Anyway, as the name implies it is on the Gulf of Mexico with 2.5 miles of white-sand beach, it has boardwalks that connect the very large campground (496 sites), 20 cabins and 11 cottages to the beach. However, if you are staying in the campground there are bike paths that can take you there as well. The campground is on the other side of the road, so the boardwalks make it a safe journey if you are going by bike or walking. After paying our little entrance fee ($2.00) into the park we headed to the Nature Center (which is free), what we found weird was we drove straight through the campground, some of the sites are right on the road. The campground is nice but the sites are sort of close to each other and being that it is on the beach in the open. By the Nature Center there is a large pavilion where we ate our lunch that we purchased at Warehouse. The cinnamon bun was amazing, which I of course shared with Mike (there was no way I could have eaten it by myself anyways). Sitting under the pavilion was very pleasant. The temperature was about 20 degrees cooler. There is a huge laundry room and a campstore, with basic stuff and campground gifts. We went to the Nature Center which was cool it had the basic animals like snakes, turtles and some birds. There is also a huge pool, which probably has a separate charge for, we didn’t check it out because we wanted to see the beach. It was super hot so we opted to drive over instead of taking the long hike over. When we arrived there were big heads to pay for parking. There was a solar equipped building at the top of the parking lot and it had also another huge pavilion. There were beautiful boardwalks to take us to the beach. Which was very beautiful with the white sand. We hung up out for a bit, waded in the water and headed back to the truck. We decided to go check out the pier while we were there. The pier is the longest pier on the Gulf of Mexico. Parking was free but when we got out to the pier there was a fee to head to the end. We saw enough and it wasn’t close to sunset so we figured why pay and we headed back to our campground. We may come back there someday to camp but only if we plan on hanging out there for most of the time.
There are some trips that are centered around the campground but this was not one of them. The wind was picking up again and the rain had started by the time we got home. We put the ac on and it worked flawlessly (maybe turning the temp up a little bit may have helped-still not sure). We cooked dinner of tacos and thought we might head into Fairhope to go to the brewery. Lucky for us we were finally able to get Google Maps to work and it said it was closed, so with nothing really to do we stayed at home. This would have been a good evening to sit outside and enjoy the campground had it not been for the rain.
Saturday morning, we woke up to a nice cool camper, but to be on the safe side we turned the ac off prior to leaving. Today was the big day, the reveal of the Argasy and the reason for our trip to begin with. We headed down to Fairhope for Warehouse Donuts, this should not surprise anyone, and had a delicious breakfast of biscuits, I had chicken and Mike had some meat and eggs. We then went to Fairhope Brewery where the morning program of the reveal was. After meeting some very nice folks and hearing the presentations we headed to Big Daddy’s where the reveal was actually going to be. We are all at different stages of our journeys, but we are all heading in the same direction. We had lunch and mingled, had a presentation from Dennis the CEO of Battleborn Batteries and if were weren’t before we are now convinced lithium is the way to go, so before hitting the road we will be getting a couple if not four Battleborn lithium batteries. After talking to people Mike wanted to upgrade our suspension components on the trailer (Moryde). That is exactly what he is doing now as I write this. Then we got the reveal we all got to go in and check out the Argosy. It is so beautiful and they did an amazing job. It is not something I would want to undertake ever. After the reveal we had a little over an hour to kill before the live music back at the brewery. A few of us headed to the Fairhope History Museum, oh wait this could be considered a third brown sign, so there were three brown signs afterall.
Fairhope History Museum is a free museum that explains the history of Fairhope and how it is the oldest single tax colony in the US. What is the Fairhope single tax? It refers to an economic principle where the government taxes only land (rent), a single tax, no taxes on one’s labor/wages or capital. The land was/is owned by a corporation and leased out and a single tax was/is paid a/k/a rent. Leases are for 99 years which is as secure as a deed for the lessee. Major funding of the library, Museum, hospital, college and other places are examples of the building projects provided because of the single tax, which while modified has survived. The museum was interesting, it used to be the fire department, mayor’s office and the police department with it’s two cell jail.
After the museum we walked around Fairhope for a bit. Fairhope is a quint southern town. If we had time we would have walked to the pier but we will have to save that for the next time. After a small tour we headed back to the brewery to listen to the band, have some good beer and just enjoy getting to know everyone else that was there for the reveal. After the band was done playing they mingled with us and we ordered food from the food truck and were eating together. We hung out, got to know each other, exchanged numbers and are hopeful that we will see each other down the road again sometime soon. I looked around the table and brought it to Kyle and Olivia’s attention, that life long friends were made here today all because of YouTube.
It was a great long weekend and we hated to head back east but that is what we did on Sunday morning. Soon our adventure won’t have to end with Monday morning’s alarm clock it will be the beginning, until then….
Hope to see you down the road sometime, thanks for reading,