McKinney Campground at Lake Alltoona, Georgia

Our longest trip in the fifth wheel was to Lake Alltoona, Georgia.  For us, it was well worth the drive.

After searching various websites, we decided to stay at Army Corps of Engineers Park. Lake McKinney Campground looked wonderful online and even better in real life.

The campsite was a huge well shaded site just within view of Alltoona Lake (used interchangeably with Lake Alltoona).  It included a fire pit, grill, and picnic table.

Although it was early June and not quite warm, we swam two of the days we were there. It was about 85 degrees, but it seemed a little cool for the water.

We took one day to go through Atlanta, about an hour away, to Stone Mountain.  Camping is available at the park itself, but we prefer camping in more seclusion.  Atlanta was a nightmare drive, but at least we weren’t towing the fifth wheel.

When we got to the park, we had already purchased the Adventure Pass Meal Deal.  It isn’t available at the park, and it includes most of the attractions.  

Our first attraction was the train ride.  It lasted about 45 minutes and took us around the mountain.  A staff member will narrate the sights as you wind around Stone Mountain.

It isn’t until you are very near the mountain that you realize the size of it.  It’s the world’s largest relief carving.

We also rode the tram.  When the summer Olympics were held in Atlanta, the Stone Mountain people traded the tram cars they had for much larger ones, so they could accommodate the crowds.

The tram takes you to the top of Stone Mountain.  People are free to go out on the mountain and explore.

After lunch, we visited the Stone Mountain Memorial Hall.  It is a museum of ancient civilizations located around the mountain to present day people and artifacts.

Although it may sound silly, our favorite part of our day at the park was the 4 D movie with Yogi and Boo Boo.  We’d never been to a 4 D, and it was wonderfully fun.

Things we chose not to do were Ride the Ducks, Geyser Towers, and Skyhike.  There is also a night laser show.  

Mostly, we enjoyed the beauty of Lake Alltoona and the gorgeous scenery surrounding our campsite.  We are very glad we made that trip.

Sounds at the Campsite

Knock, knock, knock, knock — The woodpecker is busy at a tree.  We search for him and are sometimes rewarded with sight of him.

Sitting by the campfire, we listen to it pop and crackle.  The sounds sooth us as night falls on us.  It lulls us into the mood for sleep, yet it excites us with the beauty of the fire.

During the day, hearing children squeal, “Daddy, Daddy, I found a trail,” is a thrilling sound because some kids have learned to love camping.  It doesn’t matter if they are in tents or in the finest motorhomes, they’ve learned to love the outdoors.

Sometimes the rustle of leaves gets our attention.  We look to see what made the sound.  If we’re lucky, we see one of the most beautiful creatures, a deer. If
we’re near the water, it may be getting a drink.  Otherwise, it’s just checking out who these interlopers are.  If we are really fortunate, we get to see a doe with her fawns.

These are just some of the sounds we enjoy while camping?  What sounds draw your attention while camping?

 

Camping, the Perfect Relaxation for Us

Sometimes friends ask why the Two Tired Teachers like camping.  The answer is easy; it relaxes us.  Whether we are reading on our Kindles or simply enjoying nature, we are totally relaxed.

Trees

We enjoy leashing up the dogs and exploring the campground.  We always seem to find an inviting trail.

Trail

Usually, when we return to our campsite, the dogs act as if they’ve been on a hike of miles and miles and miles.  They sack out in the first spot they find.

puppies sleeping

Most of the campgrounds we stay in have some CCC buildings.  We also enjoy seeing their work from the 30s.

replica of a mission

Sure, we have to do some work while we camp, but that time is limited, and the peacefulness of the overall trip make the even the work seem enjoyable.

McDonald Observatory, All the Reason You Need to Visit West Texas

Located in the Davis Mountains near Fort Davis, the McDonald Observatory sits high on the top of a mountain.  It is part of the University of Texas at Austin, a mere 450 miles away.


For miles around, the observatory is the only thing you see.  It is in a most desolate spot.  

It is well worth the time to go to this secluded place because you will be treated to a fascinating, awe inspiring time.

If you can’t spend a full day at the observatory, schedule your time for the Star Party held on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday nights.  It starts in an amphitheater down a dark path.  Visitors are asked not to use cell phones or tablets because our eyes need time to adjust to the darkness.  Please be courteous to the other visitors and refrain from using technology.

After a brief lecture explaining what you will see, and the coolest laser pointer ever — it is used to point out areas of the night sky, you will be released to view the sky through some of those magnificent telescopes.

Through the telescopes, we saw Mars, the rings of Saturn, Jupiter; and with the naked eye, we could easily see the Milky Way.  Staff are at each of the telescopes to explain what you are seeing and to make sure you can see it. They are most patient, refocusing the lens until you see what you are supposed to see.

It was definitely worth our time, and we took advantage of all of the programs that were offered.  If you can do only one, the Star Party is the one we most strongly recommend.  

Prices and more information can be found at https://mcdonaldobservatory.org/visitors/programs/star-parties  Reservations, even weeks or months in advance, are suggested.  When we were there both the twilight program and the Star Party were sold out for Friday and Saturday.

Due to the total solar eclipse during August of 2017, some programs will be limited to allow the staff to travel to prime viewing spots for the eclipse.

Dinosaur Valley State Park, Stepping Back in Time

Two Tired Teachers take a trip each Christmas to Dinosaur Valley State Park located just outside Glen Rose, Texas.  

The entrance fee is $7 per person daily, so having a Texas State Park Pass saves us $56 for our 4 day stay.  The park has a total of 61 campsites ranging from those with water and electricity for $25 per night, to walk in primitive for $15 per night, to backpack sites which are also $15.  

The walk-in primitive sites are between a third and a half a mile hike.  There are no restrooms, showers, water at these sites.  The backpack sites require you to hike one to two and a half miles and you have to cross the river to get to the sites. There are no amenities at these sites.  

We stay in our 5th wheel at the water and electric sites.  The campsites are roomy, a the park has many trails.  The most popular seems to be the trail that takes you from the campsites to the dinosaur tracks.  This is one of those attractions that favors drought conditions.  The tracks are in the riverbed and are not visible when the river is up.

It’s a pretty park with lots of trees.  It has over 15 miles of trails, so you can hike throughout the park.

Although December may not be the best time to view the dinosaur tracks, it has become a favorite park of ours for the Christmas trip.

Stepping Out, an RV Oops

We were camping at Bonham State Park, a small Texas State Park in northeast Texas.  We had a great campsite, and we had thoroughly enjoyed the lake at the park.

Not wanting to miss any time enjoying this park, one morning we were planning to have breakfast and coffee outside.  I remember I had a cup of coffee in my right hand and something in my left.

I started down the steps of the fifth wheel, and apparently I thought it would be quicker to ski down.  When I landed, I hadn’t spilled any coffee, but I had badly skinned my knee.

The other tired teacher insisted that I not swim that day, and in a sort of solidarity, she refrained from swimming too.

When we got home, I saw that the knee was infected.  It cost me a visit to my doctor, the price of the prescription of antibiotics, and wounded pride to learn why that handle is on the outside of the of the RV.

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Balmorhea State Park, “an Oasis in the High Desert”

One of the most fun trips the Two Tired Teachers have taken is to Balmorhea State Park, in Balmorhea, Texas.  


You need to know a couple of things before you go.  The park is famous for its spring fed pool which holds 3.5 million gallons of water.  More than 15 million gallons of water run through the pool.  The amazing part is that this pool is in dry, West Texas.


Another thing you need to know is not to plan on just pulling into the park on the weekend and using the pool.  It is packed on weekends in the summer.


A final thing to remember is that it is a natural spring, not a chlorinated pool.  That means algae is growing on the steps into and out of the pool.  I recommend that you go to the shallowest place to exit.


The water is some of the clearest you will ever find.  The pool is 25′ deep in places, and you can see the bottom as clearly as you can see the floor in your home.


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Another thing worth mentioning is that the water is cold.  It stays at a steady 72 -76 degrees year round.


One of the reasons the Two Tired Teachers enjoyed this park so much was that we snorkeled.  We’d never done that before, and it was spectacular.


The daily entrance fee is $7 per person.  Campsites with water only are $11, and those with water and electricity are $14.  I think we paid either $16 or $17 to get a campsite with cable hookups.  Do not expect even basic cable.  We got maybe one or two channels, but that’s okay.  We went to Balmorhea for the pool.


Rooms are also available in the San Solomon Springs Courts.  A room with a queen size bed is $75, and a suite with three queen size beds is $95 for two adults and $10 for each extra person who 13 years old or older.


Although the campsites don’t look like much, Balmorhea was a great trip for the Two Tired Teachers.  Get a cheap snorkel and go if you like to swim.