Croft State Park

croft state park
photo by @z_photoz_on Instagram

We were on our way for a convention in Orangeburg, SC but we had a few extra days we could add to the trip so we thought we’d test out a new state park along the way. Poose came up with Croft State Park which was in Spartanburg, SC.  It was a good decision. We didn’t realize it at the time we made our reservation, but it’s an equestrian park. So as we were pulling in we noticed everyone had horse trailers, and we we saw a show arena for horses, so Big Z and Pee Wee were particularly excited about this. They had taken horse back riding lessons this year, and have a fondness for horses.

 

IMG_6954
Pee Wee and Big Z testing out the waters

Croft State Park has a unique history to it we would learn. It was originally a military base in it’s early years. There was an army infantry training camp that at one point hosted over 250,000 soldiers, it closed in the 1940’s and was opened up as a state park afterwards.  It was called Camp Croft after a military general, and prior to that the area served as a prisoner of war camp for World War I, and held approximately 250 Germans POWs. Now this beautiful state park has over 7,000 acres of trails, farmlands, old homesteads, cemeteries, lakes and woodlands. It’s become a popular destination for hiking, biking, fishing, boating and for bringing your horses. There are trails made for horseback riding and an arena for horse shows. We were fortunate enough to get a glimpse at one of the horse shows.

 

IMG_6958
Poose and Lil’Z fishing 

We rented kayaks for the big kids, and then a John boat for me, Poose and Lil’ Z. It was March but the weather was beautiful, as so often seems to be the case in South Carolina. The sun was shining and the skies were blue. We all spent the afternoon rowing around Lake Craig. We were able to get Lil’ Z a bamboo fishing rod at the welcome center and he was able to give fishing a try. Compared to other state parks we have visited, we found the rental rates for their boats to be very reasonable. The Park Rangers were extremely friendly and helpful in answering all of our questions.

 

IMG_6971
Serene Fairforest Creek 

The campground itself was a nice little loop where the kids could ride their bikes. It was just a short walk from the show arena. Most campers in our loop had their horse trailers with them, and were clearly there for to enjoy time on the trails with their horses or there to show their horses.  There was another loop closer to the lake, where we will try to stay if we stay there again. It would be nice to camp so close to the lake. The facilities were nice, the showers and bathrooms were always clean and they are located central to all of the camp sites.

 

IMG_6970We enjoyed a beautiful hike along Fairforest Creek. It was such a serene area tucked in the woods. There were sandy areas along the creek. The winding trail took us up and down where we were beginning to think we were lost. We were not of course, since we were still on the trail. It brought us back out on the road leading to the horse arena. Sunday morning the horse arena was in full use. There were beautifully groomed horses all around. It was a cool experience to see the horse show. I was surprised how young and small some of the riders were on these large horses. One girl got scared and fell off of her horse during the show, that gave me a fright. She ended up to be just fine and apparently lost control of her horse. Everyone clapped and supported her as she got back up.

croft state park 2
Photo by @z_photoz_.. her pictures are so much better than mine. I love this one! 

We drove into Spartanburg for dinner one night. As I’ve mentioned before, we always seem to have good success with small family owned ethnic restaurants when we travel. The food is usually healthy, delicious and affordable. It seems to work well for our varied preferences. We usually can find something for the vegetarians, the meat eaters and gluten free for Perry.  This time we tried a place called A Caribbean Sweetness.  The owner, Gaston, was a very outgoing and friendly man. We arrived right before closing, but he was kind and quick to serve us and guide us in our choices. Everything was delicious. The kids enjoyed the mango smoothies and we talked about how delicious and fun the experience was on the ride home. That is a sign of a good meal.

IMG_6966
Crazy girls in the water in March, they bet each other Starbucks, and couldn’t resist. 

We loved our time in Spartanburg, even though it was brief. Croft State Park was the refreshing nature break that we needed. We were so happy to be in some sunshine and we could feel that spring was in the air. We especially enjoyed our fun out on the lake.The girls took it to the next level, and decided to jump in the water. They challenged each other, and they weren’t about to back down. So in they went, silly girls!

When you camp what activities do you enjoy most? For us, we love being out on the water. This was so great to be out on the lake in the sunshine in March. I hope we’ll go back to Croft State Park in the not so distant future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paris Mountain State Park in Greenville, SC

greenville 2
Downtown Greenville, SC Photo by @z_photoz_ on Instagram

So I’ve been doing this write tribe challenge this week and have been catching up writing about our travels over the past year. As a new blended family we just reached our year mark last month. It’s been fun for us to bond while we camp at different state parks not too far from home. Sometimes we get the opportunity to travel when Poose gets invited to share a bible lecture in American Sign Language at a local Deaf congregation. That was the situation that brought us to Greenville, SC.  When we get invited to attend a deaf congregation we always research what state parks are nearby so we can start planning our camping trip. We were happy to find that Paris Mountain State Park was close where we needed to be in Greenville,SC.


IMG_6870Paris Mountain State Park
is a smaller state park but with very nice camping facilities. There were paved camping sites for us to park our RV. This always makes things a little nicer when it comes to being level. We traveled to Paris Mountain in February, and had perfect weather for our trip. The kids enjoyed riding their bikes around the camping area and we had the chance to hike a few trails. The  park is surrounding Lake Placid which has a nice trail that circles the lake. Lil’ Z and I took a morning and explored wildlife and other cool things from nature on the Lake Placid Trail. It was an easy trail that took us below the dam and around the lake. We had a fun time seeing the ducks and squirrels on that quiet morning of our hike. IMG_6880

We went into Greenville for dinner and found a fantastic place called the Pita House. They served authentic middle eastern dishes, it was so delicious. There is a middle eastern market attached to the restaurant, we had fun there too. I often find that finding delicious ethnic food is often cheaper and most always more delicious than eating at a chain restaurant with the same ole foods.IMG_6883

greenville
Downtown Greenville photo by @z_photoz_ on Instagram

I found Greenville to be a unique and beautiful town. It’s definitely a town designed to make you want to walk around, hang out and enjoy the people and the scenery. Falls Park is an incredible downtown space designed with  plenty of space for kids to enjoy nature and families to relax together. My very favorite park of the park was the beautiful exposed root system of one of the trees along one of the walkways, it was like a piece of art in in itself. IMG_6871Our family enjoyed an afternoon just walking around Downtown Greenville. I was so impressed with the cleanliness of the town, the friendliness of the people and the beautiful layout of the city. The Liberty Bridge just begs for you to walk across and see what awaits on the other side. There was something for everyone in our family. Perry was  even thrilled to find a gluten free bakery.

Have you ever visited Greenville, SC? Where are your favorite places to camp? Do you have a favorite State Park?

 

Santee State Park

Santee
The fishing pier at Santee State Park, SC

Our family truly enjoys camping and spending time outdoors. Before Poose and I got married, each of us separately enjoyed camping with our children. I bought an old van that I used with my kids for camping, we’d take our tents and we’d enjoy our food over the open fire. Poose had a big 32 foot camper, with an outside kitchen and all the bells and whistles. It has been interesting for us to meet in the middle in our ideal camping experiences.

One of our first adventures together as a blended family was to Santee, SC.  Poose, PeeWee and Perry had camped there before with Lisa, ( Poose’s former wife, and Perry and PeeWee’s mother)ante before she passed away. They spoke highly of the beauty of the campground. We were attending a convention for the deaf nearby, and chose the Cypress View campground for the duration of our stay. I much prefer nature as my backdrop than the inside of a dingy hotel room anytime.

santee3
The sunset at Santee is breathtaking

I was very impressed with Santee State Park. It is in a very serene setting. There are small walking trails meandering off of the main road of the campground. There are many trees throughout the campground making it feel cozy and unexposed. You can walk along beautiful Lake Marion, see the boats skimming across the water and watch people fishing. There is a pier nearby where we tried our hand out at fishing, but to no avail. There is even a beach type area where the kids were able to wade into the water.

Santee Park does offer rentals of Stand up Paddle Boards, kayaks and canoes through an agency that has a small hut set up there. We did rent a kayak and paddle board for an hour. It was extremely overpriced compared to other state parks where we’ve rented kayaks. The kids had fun nonetheless. It was just our pocketbook that was hurting at the moment. Overall though, the cost of camping with a family of 6 is  much more inexpensive than staying in a hotel, so we still saved money. There is a playground area , and small pier cabins that are available to rent.

The facilities are kept clean for the most part. Like most State Park restrooms, they are nothing fancy, but serve there purpose. We all take our water shoes to wear in the showers. Take your own soap, because there isn’t usually any at the sinks. We found the staff to be friendly and helpful. There is a small store near the pier that also offers a small wi-fi hot spot for those techies in your life.

One great experience we had was meeting some neighboring campers. It was three families together that happened to have children the same ages of our children. We had a wonderful evening together with the adults talking and sharing stories. The children played some pretty crazy card games and listened to music under the stars. It made for a wonderful trip, and we hope to meet up with those friends again. Our kids still keep in touch.

Santee State Park is a place where we camp about 3 times a year. We always enjoy it. Lake Shore campground was sadly destroyed by some flooding and storms, and is still closed. We have found the Cypress View campground to fit our needs. It offers beautiful views, a relaxing atmosphere and affordable clean campground amenities. It’s a great option for family camping.