This past week Kelli asked to go camping, again “Heck yeah!!!” I started looking around at local campgrounds. I started running some ideas by her and very quickly I got “does it have water, electric and a bathroom?” So that kind of narrowed down the search. I remembered that in a previous life that we had gone to a campground in Jacksonville, FL or more specifically just north of Atlantic Beach, FL called Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park. I remember this to be a fairly large campground with all of amenities requested and was also within walking distance to the beach, had a lake, as well as mountain bike and hiking trails. Perfect!!! We could take the bikes and rods and have a blast fishing, hiking, riding our bikes, and enjoying each other company.
I went ahead and booked a 2 night stay over the weekend arriving on Friday, price for the two day was just under $50.00, not bad in my opinion for a campground with so much to do and all of the amenities that “glamping” requires. I had reserved site 235, which the website stated was for tents as well as RV’s up to 30’. Now I remembered that there were a lot of RV’s the last time that I had been, but so what, it was going to be a great weekend. I had a 6 person Coleman Sun Dome tent that had been a great one over the past several years, but as with a lot of fiberglass pole tents the poles shock cord ended up wearing out last year. I had repaired them but figured that it was time to just go ahead and buy a new one. I had my eye on this tent on Amazon that was an 8-person tent for probably a year, so what better time to than the present to pick it up. The tent is a Coleman 8-Person Instant Tent for just about $200.00. It has a 3.5-star review rating with over 2000 reviews just on Amazon. I had reviewed the reviews over the past year, and it seemed like a nice enough tent, yeah there are some “negative” reviews about certain things but there are always going to be people that find the littlest thing wrong and will give a bad review plus it was only $200.00. If you want to check out my full review of this tent, then click here. So anyways, after we both got off work on Friday we headed out.
The trip up to Jacksonville is only about 2 ½ – 3 hours, it’s a nice drive out through the Ocala National Forest and through Palatka, FL. We got up to Hanna Park right around 8:00pm. You can check-in time at the park until 9:00pm and they expect your campsite to be setup by 10:00pm so we had plenty of time to get things setup. Mind you one of the “benefits” of this tent is that your supposed to be able to set it up in like a minute. This was only the second time that I had set this tent up, the first being in my living room the night I received it, and it went up fairly quickly but nowhere near One Minute. I would estimate that from the time I started putting it the tent was erect in probably 2-3 minutes, but…Then you have to stake it down, that’s 12 stakes and the guy lines for 6 of them. Then if your smart you purchased the rain fly, which is not included with tent, and that has to be put on. The specs for the tent itself stat that the height is 6’7” and I’m 6’ but Ms. Kelli is probably 5’3¾” on a good day. So we were dreading getting the rainfly up and over the peak of the tent. But it went on much easier than expected, and then the 6 guy lines for it had to be attached to the stakes. So from bag to the tent and rainfly all being setup I would say maybe 20 minutes. I was doing this in the dark and it only being the second time with the tent and first with the rain fly I think that is pretty darn good. After we got the tent setup, had some Arby’s that we had grabbed right before pulling into the park. Built a fire to take the chill off, it was supposed to get down to the low 50’s that night.
We sat by the fire for a couple of hours and then went to bed looking forward to Saturday’s activities. I had been watching the weather all week. This is Florida so a chance of rain is just a given, which was the forecast for Saturday. I expected that we’d wake up Saturday morning cook some breakfast, might get a rain shower during the mid-morning and maybe in the mid-afternoon according to said forecast. But we would have plenty of time to do some fishing in the lake, maybe even try our luck doing some surf fishing and hit some of the trails. Boy did I have big hopes!!! Turns out that Saturday we woke up to a slight drizzle and made some breakfast, which I had forgotten the eggs and butter, so breakfast was a can of Corned Beef Hash and Sausage Links. The sight drizzle turned into a heavier rain shower, not a down pour, but enough to where we didn’t want to be out in it. This continued on throughout the day the rain would let off to a slight drizzle and then another heavier rain shower so we spent the day going for huddled up in the tent to coming out and re-stoking the fire. Mid-afternoon we had both pretty much given up on any of the “fun” activities we had planned and settled for a quick walk on the beach.
The beach in the park was virtually deserted, maybe 5-10 people besides ourselves. We both were surprised at the amount of shells that covered the beach. If you’re a person that collects them I’d say that you might want to put Hanna Park on your list of places to go. Kelli, put her feet in the water and said it was freezing so I’m glad I hadn’t brought my swim trunks. After our walk on the beach we went back to the camp site and started cooking dinner. Now when it comes to dinner camping you can always go with the old stand-by of hamburgers and hot dogs but that’s not the way I like to cook. I had planned this dinner that is kind of like a pot of beef stew that has beef tips, potatoes, carrots, green beans, zucchini, cabbage, with a beef broth. Easy enough to through everything in a cast iron pot or Dutch oven and let it simmer down over the fire while having a few cocktails. It had stopped raining finally around about 8:00PM and we had continued with the cocktails and had dinner later that night before heading to bed.
We woke up Sunday morning to a cloudy dreary day. Again, had breakfast which consisted of corned beef hash and sausage links, got to remember to bring the eggs and butter next weekend! After breakfast toyed with the idea of taking showers and trying to get a little fishing in, but by this time we had both had enough of smelling like a campfire and the day was just so grey and gloomy that we elected to pack-up and head back home. The tear down of the tent was easy enough except for trying to get it back into the bag it came in. This is a common issue that I have personally experienced over the years, but I was glad to see that Coleman has started building the bags with a gusset that will expand the size of the bag. It is on the bottom with a white strip that just needs to be torn away. I haven’t had to open this up yet, but getting this monster tent into the bag is kind of like wrestling with a dog, you just have to get down on the ground and get dirty with it. Overall this weekend wasn’t super exciting and activity filled, but we were outdoors and did enjoy the time that we spent together. I am going to keep Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park on my to-do list, just so we can take full advantage of everything this place has to offer. I would definitely recommend it anyone that is looking for a campground that has just about everything.
Until next week,