Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life-and travel-leaves marks on you.
----Anthony Bourdain

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mt. Pisgah Campground, NC

Mt. Pisgah Campground is 20 miles southwest of Asheville, NC. It is located on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The views from the Restaurant and Inn (just across the road from the campground) are breathtaking.

The restaurant is a bit pricey, unless you get a take-out sandwich from the gift shop area.  There is also a store with very minimal supplies next to the restaurant and inn. 

There is no electricity or water at the sites, although there are flushing toilets and a hot shower available. The modern bath house boasts toilets with dual flush. There is only 1 shower per bath house, so you may have a wait for the shower.
 The actual sites have plenty of space, although the paved space for the camper and the car are a bit tight. Each site has a fire pit, picnic table, and lantern holder.

The tent sites include a bear box to discourage the bears from getting into your food.
On Saturday nights, educational programs are available at the Campfire Circle.

The campground is open from 08 May through 01 November. Pets are allowed, although there are signs indicating that coyotes are active in the area. There is also a threat of bears & raccoons, so if you take your pet with you, keep this in mind.

There are hiking trails to be explored that are accessible at the campsite. indicates that a trail leading to the summit of  Mt. Pisgah starts at the campground and climbs for nearly two miles to an observation deck. 
The campground was gorgeous with the leaves changing. There are a lot of rhododendron on the property, so I would think the spring would also be a beautiful time to visit.

 We only stayed one night, but this would be a place where we would return for a weekend, or a long weekend. With an elevation of almost 5000 feet, this would be a perfect place to camp during the summer to escape the heat.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

James Island County Park, SC

(To see larger pictures, just click on them!)
We recently took a week-long camping trip to James Island, SC. James Island is located just outside of Charleston.  If you're planning on visiting the Charleston area, then this is definitely the place to camp. Downtown Charleston is only 15-20 minutes away (depending on traffic), and you're close to Folly Beach, Isle of Palms, and Kiawah. If you're a guest of the campground, the entrance fee to the Folly Beach County Park and Kiawah Beachwalker County Park is waived. After 1 October during the week, both parks (along with Isle of Palms County Park) do not have an entrance fee.
(The star on the bottom left corner is the campground)
James Island Campground is located within a county park. Charleston County has several very nice parks, but this is the only one with a campground. This particular park has so many amenities that you could stay here for a week and have enough to do without leaving the park.

There are miles of trails, so if you have a bicycle, plan on bringing it. If you don't have a bike, there are some available to rent for $10 the first day, $5 after that. There is also an extremely nice dog park on site, with places for your dog to get into the water. We didn't see any alligators, but had been told that there were a couple who were relocated due to getting too close to humans and dogs.

(View of the dog park from the road)
As you might have guessed, the park is extremely dog-friendly. There are containers for "doggy bags" all through out the park. You still need to watch where you step in the dog park: I saw one woman walking toward the water while her dog pooped. She never even noticed.
Also in the park are a water park, climbing wall, 18-hole disc golf course, kayak & pedal boat rentals, and a fishing dock. The water park was closed for the season. I'm assuming that, even though you are a guest at the campground, you would still be required to pay the $11.99 entrance fee (non-residents of Charleston County).
 (Boardwalk to fishing dock)
 (View from fishing dock)
While we were there, the lights were being put up for The Festival of Lights. I was kind of hoping that they would have to test them while we were there; I would have liked to have seen what the park looked like with all of the lights on. 

The campsites were well-space out, and included , water, electric, full hook-ups, and a fire ring. 
The bathhouse, laundry area, and activity center are all together:
The bathhouses were as close to immaculate as you can get. The shower curtains are bleached at least once a week, and one day when I was in the bathhouse, several workers came in to double check that everything was the way it should be.
Even the laundry area was nice:  there are rocking chairs in front of the machines so you can rock the cycles away, or there is a swing directly across from them.
The activity center includes a tv, kitchen area (great for washing dishes when you don't have a sink in your camper!), ping pong table, foosball, fireplace, book swap, outside eating areas, as well as a swing overlooking a pond.
There is a sign around the pond area next to the activity center, just in case you forget where you are:
Wildlife is abundant, so it is important to make sure your food is packed safely away from the animals. One night, a raccoon walked within a few feet of me as he walked through our campsite. I had a non-food tote open, so I'm assuming he was planning on looking to see what he could find. I hit my book, so he scurried away. Our last night there, 2 raccoons walked on the edge of our neighbor's site, and then 2 more climbed down from a tree right behind our neighbor's back. We didn't see any gators, but the squirrels will come within a couple of feet if you sit very still. We also saw several toads & frogs. This little guy was on our camper window one night:
Cell service was decent; every now and then we would get a 4G signal. We had a WiFi router on our site and the signal was good, it was just extremely slow. If you're planning on working while you're visiting and need internet, it would be a good idea to have a booster.

Our overall impression of this campground was very positive. We would rate this as a very sound "A". 

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