A festive three-night stay from April 20th over Easter at Paul B Johnson State Park just outside Hattiesburg, Mississippi Made me a little homesick for family. There was a buzz in the air with joyful activity and lots of laughing. It seemed a favorite pastime was riding around in golf carts, playing loud music from on-board speakers. There were kids riding bikes and walking dogs, people boating and paddling around in canoes. Our mood was bright when we arrived to a beautiful tiered site with a lake view, under a gorgeous old tree. The swimming area and pavilions were busy and the park Easter egg-hunt had just finished up. The sounds of all this activity and the pleasant warm weather reminded me of happy childhood summers.
The wooded and grassy park grounds were beautifully curved around the lake creating little nooks that were more like ponds. Lots of turtles were sunning themselves on partially submerged tree limbs in the ponds. The lake was pouring it’s excess water over a spillway that we had to drive through to get to the camping area, and with the recent storms, it was pretty deep.
We set up quickly in this level, paved, full-service site and I grabbed my camera and retraced our drive to catch some shots of the turtles that we saw on the roadway coming in. Little did I know that there were many more turtles in the lake right in front of our site!
Along the road
Coming from Florida, through Alabama and into Mississippi was such a beautiful drive.
We stopped at Buc-ees in Alabama to see what all the hype was about. We had driven by a couple of these huge fueling stations before and had seen YouTube videos about it, but it was more of a spectacle than I thought it would be. This new location, the first in Alabama, was on the highway toward the beaches and was so busy this Easter weekend that they had a flagger directing traffic.
We pulled our humongous ride and tow car to the edge of the parking lot. The 120 busy fuel pumps and 14 ice machines were just a hint of the craziness inside. Nice displays of beach-themed gifts, clothing and gear like beach chairs and mats along with plenty of Buc-ees branded merchandise made shopping enticing. I had fun wandering through there and could have spent lots more time shopping. I was careful not to get too involved because we had a lot more miles for Bruce to drive and he wasn’t into shopping (imagine that).
Beyond the gift shop area was a freneticly busy food-a-rama. Buc-ees brand candies, sauces, in-store roasted spiced nuts, fast food selections to order or a quick pick up of the featured selections. There were grab-n-go breakfast burritos, beef brisket sandwiches and lots more. We looked around for a few minutes, picked up some beef brisket sandwiches and returned to our house to eat since there was no seating offered. We thought about fueling up but the traffic pattern wasn’t optimal for our rig so we motored on down the road to Flying J where the high-volume pumps fill our 150-gallon tank fast. So now we know what the Buc-ees hype is all about. It was like a rest area/fuel-stop/ theme park with good food with some shopping thrown in – SCORE!
We took the kayaks out for a paddle around the lake and into a nice mangrove hollow. Kids were swimming in the warm water off a beach area. Lots of lily pads flourish where the lake is partitioned as a no-wake zone for paddling. Campsites were dotted along the meandering shoreline of the lake. It seemed that all sites had lake views and most had lake access with easy kayak launch or boat tie ups. A nice launch area in front of our site made it easy to get our boats in the water.
Turtles & Stuff
Normally elusive turtles were out sunning themselves all along the lake edge. Twenty at a time perched on the log near our campsite. For some reason, they tend to all face the same way once they get positioned on the log. If one gets startled and jumps off the log, the others start dropping off, plop, splash, plop, splash like a little melody. Then their heads pop up all around to see when it’s safe to return to the log. Usually, one big daddy will defiantly stay on the log peering at the intruders. Turtle sizes ranged from tiny babies to huge Goliath daddies.
They got used to me standing nearby clicking away on my camera, and would cautiously climb back onto the log, one-by-one and eventually face the way proper turtles face (except that one guy that has to break the pattern now and then). The most relaxed turtles rest on their shell and stick their back feet and usually one front foot up in the air, it looks so ridiculous!
Easter Supply Run & Lunch
Easter lunch was a date at the Keg and Barrel in Hattiesburg. The weather was perfect, the food was awesome, and the patio was spacious on the grounds of a historic house. Hattiesburg is a decent sized town and as much as I hate to admit it, it can be fun grocery shopping where supplies are good.
Our first RV stay in Mississippi has settled into my ‘happy memories’ place! Next, a quick 1 night stop in Louisiana then on to Texas!