My Kind of Camping Mini-Vacation!

Portsmouth Travel Blog

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Our home for 3 nights!

For a couple of summers, my husband and I have vacationed with our son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughters.  The idea is for "Papa and Nana" to enjoy time together with them, visits places, and help with the granddaughters.  Summer of 2006, we all drove to Washington DC and on to Virginia Beach, VA.  Last year, we didn't go anywhere - twins arrived!  So, summer of 2008 was to be something less "touristy" and something all would enjoy.  A "camping" trip was decided upon, the destination was chosen, and dates were set. 

The State Parks in Ohio are wonderful destinations for families!  Each park offers a variety of accommodations and activities.  Our little group of 4 adults, 4 children, and 1 dog were looking for camper cabins, and we were able to reserve a cabin at Shawnee State Park in Portsmouth, Ohio.

Fire Ring
  This State Park is nestled in the Shawnee State Forest in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains along the banks of the Ohio River, and was once the hunting grounds for the Shawnee Indians.  For most of us, this would be a part of uncharted Ohio territory.  Shawnee offers a wonderful lodge and conference center along with 25 camper cabins - PERFECT!

Now, you have to understand my idea of camping is at the Hilton, so camping of any sort isn't usually my style of vacation.  Convinced by my son I would have running water and flush toilets, I agreed to this adventure.  A bonus was the cabin included air conditioning!  Then, I knew I could handle 4 days of "camping."  I have stayed in another state park lodge before so I knew the accommodations would be very well kept.

Living Area
 

Another part of this whole vacation adventure included babysitting the granddaughters - aged 7, 5, and twins 16 months - a day before arrival.  Our son and his wife were taking "some time off" to celebrate their 10th anniversary in Cincinnati, Ohio, following a Jimmy Buffett concert, and we were packing the 4 granddaughters, 1 dog, and the remaining gear into the minivan.  Sounded pretty easy!  OK - we were only 45 minutes behind schedule!

We thought cabin check-in was sometime just after noon.  We thought wrong - 4:30 pm.  Our arrival in Portsmouth was 3 1/2 hours prior to  check-in time.  After we met our son and daughter-in-law, we enjoyed a fast food lunch in a picnic area located next to the campground and traveled down scenic State Route 125 to the entrance of Shawnee State Park Lodge and Cabins.

Kitchen
  The lodge area offered scenic views and lots of ammendities which we would explore later.  The front desk employees were very friendly, quick to get us checked in (we were a little early, but our cabin was ready), and helpful getting the cribs needed for the babies.  After obtaining the keys, the two vehicles loaded with "stuff" headed to the cabins.  We were in Camper Cabin #8 which was located near the turnaround and fire pit.  The cabin was actually a handicapped accessible facility.  Each cabin has 2 parking spaces, a front porch area, 2 bedrooms, a combination kitchen living area, a covered screened deck, and a wonderful bathroom!  One bedroom had 2 sets of bunk beds - one with a full bed below - nightstands and dresser.
Common Area
  The seven and five year old granddaughters claimed the top bunks, and all 6 stayed in one room with plenty of space for all their stuff.  My husband and I occupied the other bedroom with a full bed and dresser.  And the bathroom suited me - running hot and cold water, a nice shower, and flush toilet!  This was our "home" for the next three days!

For dinner the first evening, we ate in the dining room of the lodge (Sunday night was all you can eat spaghetti).  The dining room was floor to ceiling glass at one end overlooking the outdoor swimming pool and valley area beyond.  The food was very good, and the scenery was beautiful even though a thunderstorm was going on outside. 

Shawnee State Park offers an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, access to several hiking trails within the state park and state forest, fishing in Turkey Creek and Roosevelt Lakes (only electric motors were allowed on the boats), canoe, rowboat, and paddleboat rentals, beaches, sand volleyball, horseshoe, shuffleboard, playground equipment, tennis courts, basketball courts, marina, and an 18 hole championship golf course.

Bedroom #1 - sleeps 5 plus room for portable cribs.
  We tried out several ammendities.  Every day, we took the girls swimming in the outdoor pool.  The lifeguards each evening would have organized pool games for those who wanted some activity.  Hiking the trails provided several looks at nature, and although the beach isn't soft, white sand, the granddaughters loved playing in the water.  My husband and son played 18 holes of golf, and reported the course was very well maintained and challanging.  Hole #5 was the most spectacular offering a view of the hills and Ohio River, and never really encountered other golfers during their round.  While visiting the marina, the boat launch was never busy nor was river travel. 

The cabin location proved to be in a perfect area with the fire ring just outside our cabin.

Bedroom #2
  We roasted marshmellows and made S'mores a couple evenings, and cooked a breakfast and supper over the open fire.  Restaurants other than the lodge dining room were 14-15 miles away, so most of our meals were at the cabin.  After putting the girls to bed each evening, the adults would retire to the screened deck and play cards.  Most nights were quiet except for the barking dogs in the distance.  True to previous vacations, the weather was hot during the day, but cooled off nicely in the evenings.  Bugs weren't too bad, and it only rained the first evening and during the night one other day.  All in all, a very restful and relaxing vacation!

There are several things to do in the surrounding area if you don't care to spend the entire time at the park.

A "modern" bathroom - equipped for handicapped individuals.
  About 45 minutes away is the Serpent Mound - an Ohio Historical Site.  In Portsmouth, murals portray the history of the area on the panels of the flood wall.  York Park is located beyond the walls for a view of the Ohio River travel.  There are also antique shops and historical architectural buildings to explore.  And a "highlight" for our granddaughters was crossing the U.S. Grant Bridge into Kentucky. 

The camping experience was wonderful!  I highly recommend this Ohio State Park and the accommodations offered.  While there, I noticed that all new bed frames and mattresses were being installed in the lodge rooms.  The camper cabins fill up early, so once you decide to make reservations, do it soon!  Many state parks have been booked for over 6 months!  Yes! to Shawnee State Park - "The Little Smokies.

Gas Fireplace and TV

row-zzzzz says:
I love the real camping, but for you I'm glad they got you out ... it's nice when grandma's cooperate LOL
Posted on: Aug 13, 2008
X_Drive says:
Everything about this sounded good. But I would really have a problem not being on my computer for that long. :)
Posted on: Aug 11, 2008
cvanzoen says:
It is nice to spend time with your family like this. Especially when there are young children involved they usually keep the whole group entertained (LOL)!
Posted on: Jul 26, 2008
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Our home for 3 nights!
Our home for 3 nights!
Fire Ring
Fire Ring
Living Area
Living Area
Kitchen
Kitchen
Common Area
Common Area
Bedroom #1 - sleeps 5 plus room fo…
Bedroom #1 - sleeps 5 plus room f…
Bedroom #2
Bedroom #2
A modern bathroom - equipped for…
A "modern" bathroom - equipped fo…
Gas Fireplace and TV
Gas Fireplace and TV
Screened Deck
Screened Deck
Nice Screened Deck
Nice Screened Deck
Another inside picture
Another inside picture
Camper Cabin #8
Camper Cabin #8
Nestled in the woods
Nestled in the woods
Roading leading out of the cabin a…
Roading leading out of the cabin …
Turkey Creek Lake
Turkey Creek Lake
Beach at Turkey Creek Lake
Beach at Turkey Creek Lake
Beautiful Scenery surrounding the …
Beautiful Scenery surrounding the…
Ye Old Swimming Hole
Ye Old Swimming Hole
Access Bridge
Access Bridge
Natives
Natives
Greetings from the locals!
Greetings from the locals!
Bill is cooking scrambled eggs!
Bill is cooking scrambled eggs!
Audrey enjoys breakfast!
Audrey enjoys breakfast!
Teddy, the dog, looking for handou…
Teddy, the dog, looking for hando…
Waiting for the fire!
Waiting for the fire!
Group Shot!
Group Shot!
More cabins in the background
More cabins in the background
SMores!
S'Mores!
Toasting Marshmellows!
Toasting Marshmellows!
Ummm - Good!
Ummm - Good!
Fire Ring
Fire Ring
Tasting Great
Tasting Great
Fun Time Together
Fun Time Together
Road into and out of the cabins
Road into and out of the cabins
Boat Launch at Turkey Creek Lake
Boat Launch at Turkey Creek Lake
Nature Center - Closed during our …
Nature Center - Closed during our…
Paddle Boats and Canoes for rent
Paddle Boats and Canoes for rent
Picnic Spot
Picnic Spot
Campground Registration
Campground Registration
Marina on Ohio River
Marina on Ohio River
There it is!
There it is!
Hole #5
Hole #5
Dedication Marker
Dedication Marker
Marina and Boat Launch
Marina and Boat Launch
Putting Green
Putting Green
Marina from river level
Marina from river level
Golf Course and Marina - Turn Here!
Golf Course and Marina - Turn Here!
Building our supper fire
Building our supper fire
Roaring Fire
Roaring Fire
Hot Dogs!
Hot Dogs!
Shawnee State Park Lodge and Confe…
Shawnee State Park Lodge and Conf…
Base of Flag Pole
Base of Flag Pole
Entrance to lodge
Entrance to lodge
Family shot
Family shot
Bear Hug!
Bear Hug!
Another Bear Hug
Another Bear Hug
Lobby
Lobby
Dining Room
Dining Room
Outdoor Pool - beautiful scenery!
Outdoor Pool - beautiful scenery!
Turkey Creek Lake
Turkey Creek Lake
Kiddie Pool
Kiddie Pool
Dining Room Deck
Dining Room Deck
More lobby area
More lobby area
Main lobby
Main lobby
Front Desk and Gift Shop
Front Desk and Gift Shop
Granddaughters
Granddaughters
More lobby
More lobby
Stay in touch with TB!
Stay in touch with TB!
Dining room
Dining room
Landscaping in front of lodge
Landscaping in front of lodge
Welcoming Entrance
Welcoming Entrance
Turn Here!
Turn Here!
Scenic State Route 125
Scenic State Route 125
U.S. Grant Bridge, Portsmouth, Ohio
U.S. Grant Bridge, Portsmouth, Ohio
Looking west
Looking west
Beyond the flood walls - York Park
Beyond the flood walls - York Park
Looking Up at the bridge
Looking Up at the bridge
The Quiet Ohio River
The Quiet Ohio River
Welcome to Portsmouth - river side…
Welcome to Portsmouth - river sid…
Signed by famous people
Signed by famous people
City side of flood walls
City side of flood walls
Murals relating the history of the…
Murals relating the history of th…
From stagecoach............
From stagecoach............
Entrance to York Park through floo…
Entrance to York Park through flo…
Early churches
Early churches
Early Fire Department
Early Fire Department
Roy Rogers
Roy Rogers
The area before civilization
The area before civilization
Story of the murals
Story of the murals
Approaching the U.S. Grant bridge-…
Approaching the U.S. Grant bridge…
Beautiful Suspension Bridge
Beautiful Suspension Bridge
Welcome to Kentucky
Welcome to Kentucky
Unique look at the sky
Unique look at the sky
Portsmouth coming north on US Rout…
Portsmouth coming north on US Rou…
Welcome to Ohio
Welcome to Ohio
Another look at Portsmouth
Another look at Portsmouth
Unique Architecture
Unique Architecture
9 km (6 miles) traveled
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photo by: FishAtHeart