The Beach Life in Old Florida (No Crowds)

T. H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park (we call it “St. Joe”), Port Saint Joe, Florida 

What’s Going on with Don & Norma?: Driving into St. Joe the RV was having problems. The ABS started acting up and the ABS light came on. This is the same problem we had last year with the jeep when we were getting ready to come back to Baton Rouge to help with the flood recovery efforts. Anyway, Don got on the phone and found the closest Mercedes-Benz dealer that works on Sprinters (Mobile, Alabama) and made an appointment to take Van Go (our RV) in next week. I’ll let you know in an upcoming blog how this problem is resolved.

Yes, we just got the RV serviced but our RV was made on a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis and we only got the RV part serviced. I guess after this check up we’ll really be ready to go out West.

At St. Joe we had planned to kayak and use the paddleboard but the winds were too strong, img_9054maybe next time. We did a lot of hiking on the trails, roads, and beaches, and it was all beautiful!  Our time at St. Joe was very peaceful and quiet, throughout our stay we were serenaded with the sounds of the ocean waves hitting the shore, woodpeckers in the trees, an owl hooting all night, and the crackling of a campfire.  It’s good to be back out in nature.

Small World: Woo Hoo! We had rare sightings of two other Leisure Travel Vans on the way img_9016to St. Joe. The first one we saw was when we pulled over to prepare/eat our lunch. While we were there another Leisure Travel Van parked on the opposite side of the lot and it looked like they were doing the same thing. Then a few miles down the road we saw a second one at someone’s house on the beach – small world. Update:  There was a Leisure Travel Van from Minnesota staying in the park at St. Joe.  Three LTVs – that’s a record!

T. H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, Port Saint Joe, Florida

Opinion: Highly Recommended. In 2014, this park was rated by Fodor’s Travel as one of top 10 best state parks in the U.S. and by TripAdvisor as the #1 beach in the U.S. These honors are well deserved and if you want to get away from it all, we highly recommend this park. It’s off the beaten path and affords you a chance to step back in time to old Florida’s Forgotten Coast.

Activities: Swim, sun, and play on 9.5 miles of snow-white sand beaches with clear, aqua-blue waters. St. Joe Park is perfectly situated with the gulf on one side and the bay on the other, making it a great place to fish, snorkel, paddleboard, kayak or canoe. At St. Joe it is all about the water.

Dates of Stay: February 2 – 6, 2017

Weather During Stay: 60’s-70’s during the day, 50’s at night

Overview of Sites: 119 campsites with water, 30 amp electricity, picnic tables, and grills. The park also has a Youth Camp and primitive camping. Eight cabins are furnished with kitchens, img_9160fireplaces, bathrooms, heat, and air. (Note: There is also a dump station on site.)

The park is divided into two sections: Gulf Breeze Campground (sites 1-59) and Shady Pines Campground (sites 60-119). We have stayed in both campgrounds and we don’t really have a preference.

Laundry: Each campground has a bathhouse with one washer and dryer. We typically go to the laundromat in town when we need to do laundry while staying in this park. (See “Housekeeping Hints” below)

Restrooms: The restroom at the Gulf Breeze Campground is newer and climate controlled. The restroom at the Shady Pines Campground is old and worn but functional with open ventilation.   Both restrooms are clean and well-stocked.

Rate: $28.50 per night (14 night maximum, you must leave the park for 3 nights for a new stay, the Park Ranger has the discretion to extend your stay for an additional 14 nights based on availability)

Our Site/Phone/TV: Site 61 (Shady Pines Campground) – Verizon and AT&T worked for phone but the Verizon signal was weak. Over air TV was okay and we received 3 channels consistently. WiFi is only available at the Scallop Cove Beach Store (strong signal) and near the boat ramp pavilion ( weak signal). Our camp site (#61) has exposed pine tree roots which made parking our RV difficult and we were at an awkward angle.  We also have a lot of work to do after we leave because pine sap got on everything.

Elevation/Landscape/Terrain: St. Joseph Peninsula State Park is on the Gulf of Mexico across the bay from Port St. Joe. (The Gulf is on one side of the Peninsula and the bay on the other – something for everyone.) The park is a part of a Wilderness Preserve, complete with sand dunes, beautiful trees, wild grasses, and well maintained boardwalks for crossing the dunes.

Lighting/Noise: No obtrusive lighting or noise at night. This is a designated ‘dark area’ which makes it the perfect place for star-gazing.

Favorite Camper Sites: Sites 1-13 & sites 64 – 75 are long and private, sites 94 – 103 are also nice and the higher numbers are paved. However, we have camped over time in many of the sites throughout the park and some had challenges but we enjoyed them all.

Park Office: The Park Office is located at the front of the park. It opens at 8:00 am and closes at sunset. Campers are given a key pad code so they can come-and-go after hours.

Good Toad Hook-Up/Un-Hook Site: We always pull into the Scallop Cove parking lot as we enter the park to un-hook (or hook) our toad.

Hiking/Walking: You can walk for miles on the beach or around the park. img_9125

Housekeeping Hints: The nearest grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, is in Port Saint Joe which is approx. 18 miles away, so stock-up before you go to the park.  However, there is a store near the park called the Cape Trading Post.  It’s on the same road you take to the park, Cape San Blas Road, and is good for picking up forgotten items and it’s an easy bike ride.

In Port Saint Joe there is also a good laundromat called The Laundry Basket on Reid Avenue (the main drag in town).  If you go to the laundromat go next door to No Name Cafe for coffee or tea, a sweet treat (they look & smell divine but we have resisted), and you can get on the internet while your clothes are washing.

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Happy Trails!

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