Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Roughin' It, State Park Style

Once upon a time I wrote about how we had come to expect a new standard in the campgrounds we visited. Our campgrounds needed to come outfitted in resort amenities. That meant that if there wasn't a pool, boat rentals, and some other quirky amenity (gnome-themed restaurant! lazy river!) I wouldn't be interested.

Well, the only problem with that mentality is that it's an expensive one. I know that camping is considered the cheaper option as far as vacationing goes, but that isn't necessarily the case if you always look for the poshest campgrounds with the most facilities on tap. And even if we're only going to stay one night at a time, we still need to consider the price of gas and tolls. (Related rant: Why must everything be more expensive the larger your vehicle is?? We're already paying more to keep this thing fueled up -- why do we have to get charged more for tolls, too?) So, in an attempt to temper my naturally expensive tastes, we started looking into state parks.

The Poconos is a very popular summer spot for both Philadelphians and New Yorkers, but I've kind of resisted its appeal for a while. I'm fiercely loyal to the Allegheny National Forest for obvious reasons, which to me is the purer, more authentic way to experience mountain living. The Poconos is a tourist destination in every sense of the word. But it's also vast in terms of both its spread and its offerings. If you want to find a place that's off the beaten path, it's not going to be that hard.

So it was with this newly open-minded attitude that we set off for Hickory Run State Park in White Haven, PA last Saturday morning. We chose this place because it met all three of our criteria:
1) pet-friendly
2) beach and lake with swimming (Steve's main concern), and
3) hiking trails

When we pulled into the camping area, I was a bit nervous because our site was in the designated pet area. That meant that every single person had a dog (and in most cases, a kid as well). While Steve was filling up at the water station, I was trying to keep Lola from losing it every time someone walked by with a dog or a kid whizzed by on a bike. I was starting to rethink my whole "Lola's the best travel dog ever" assertion. She was even barking! This wasn't good.

Outside our site
Luckily, that's why trails were invented. We took her on a nice walk to the beach area, and then promptly got lost retracing our steps from whence we came. I don't know how, but I blame Steve. He *insisted* the trail would loop around the same way, but it didn't. By the time we returned to our site, though, she was sufficiently calmed down and ready for a little siesta.

This camping area, by far, was my favorite of all the parks we've been to so far. You definitely had the feel that you were in the middle of a forest, not an RV park. The people staying on the other side of us were in a tent, which added to that whole rustic atmosphere. And even though it's peak season for state parks and the camping area was nearly at capacity, it didn't feel crowded at all. I had high hopes we'd see a bear strolling by at some point, but alas, it didn't happen. (Steve thinks this is because bears would avoid the dog areas. I'd avoid Lola if I was a bear, too.)
No Mom, I don't wanna take a picture

We spent both afternoons sunning by the beach and swimming in the lake. This was a really nice spot, made even nicer by the fact there was a snack bar, shower area and picnic tables for people to host barbecues. By the end, we both had natural tans worthy of a guest spot on Jersey Shore, at least. This is turning out to be our darkest summer ever.

The beach
 On our way back from the beach, we stopped into the camp store. This place didn't look that promising from the front -- it didn't even have a sign you could see from the road -- but it ended up exceeding our expectations. Along with our budget. Oh, well. Here's what we picked up:
1) a waterproof container so we can keep camera, phones, etc. safe during canoe/kayak trips
2) percolator so Steve can stop complaining about the lack of strength in the instant coffee
3) Hickory Run State Park hats (Steve fell in love with a camo hat, and even though I'm not much of a hat person, I couldn't resist this one)
4) logs for the campfire
5) coffee for the percolator (It's time for the percolator!)
6) fire starters
7) tinfoil for cooking stuff on the fire
Sporting our spiffy new head accessories
Before leaving on Sunday, we visited Boulder Field, which was about a 20-minute drive away up a steep and winding hill (we also could've hiked this, if we had the three to five hours to spare, but no thank you). I was really excited because I'd been reading up on this place since we made reservations. Boulder Field is a national natural landmark that was created 20,000 years ago during the most recent glacial period. Apparently, people like to hop from boulder to boulder and play hide and seek, but I really don't see how. We brought Lola along -- poor decision, because one yank on the leash and we all could've suffered an uncomfortable death, or at least debilitating injury, on those rocks. (Actually, I don't really think dogs are allowed in that area, so we got in and out as fast as possible.)

Crazy how far out that guy is in the distance. We weren't that brave
The home front

For the first time in our trailer's history, we were able to use the central air. What a relief to come back from the beach and find it was almost *too* chilly inside! Of course, you'll never hear me complaining about the AC working well.

We had all of our meals meticulously planned out so we wouldn't have to buy anything extra. We brought more than we needed, but I think that's the smart way to go. In fact, I got to try out the two burners on the electric stove at once!

Me: "Can I cook the corn on one burner while the burgers are cooking on another burner?"
Steve: "Is that a real question?"

I promise those tasted better than they look

Pros: great camp store, beach, scenic hiking trails, lovely and serene campsite
Cons: no bears! (although they could've gone roaming through our campsite while we were sleeping and we'd be none the wiser)
False advertising?


  1. I love Boulder Field! Haven't been there since the kids were smaller. You weren't too far from where we live in our stix & brix..

  2. great little getaway..thanks for the ride along!!

  3. Love it! P.S. Steve asking you if your stove question was a real question? Have you told him about the time you didn't know how to peel an orange? Or when Mare and I taught you to boil water? 'Cause if you did, he should know better!

    I wanna come on the next trip!

  4. Woot woot! Another young RVing couple!! My hubbs & I are the midlife cruisers :) Hope yall stop by & "follow" along. Love your blog & fun writing style. I luuurve posh RV parks! Wish they didn't cost me my eye teeth though! Don't get me started on my love of resort SHOWERS! Hallelujah :)