Saturday, June 9, 2012

Jetty Park Campground

Nestled in amongst the cruise ship and gambling boat berths is the Jetty Park Campground in Port Canaveral. This was such an interesting campground - just a few minutes walk to the beach, and you could watch the cruise ships leave form your campsite. Also there was a lot of military fly over action during the day, but it stopped by about 6pm so it didn't keep you up at night.

Arrival, and layout

The campground is NOT well marked, we wandered in some parking lots for awhile before we found the way in by the Ron Jon resort entrance. Once inside, the office is right when you drive in and the staff was friendly. There was a slight misunderstanding at check in as we asked for a site "near the tent area" and were given the actual tent area. We had friends that were tent camping there and we wanted to be nearby. It was quickly rectified and for $25 we were all set. One thing to note - our friends told us that a powered site was $37, but we got a deal because of the mix up. The Jetty Park website doesn't specify, so I'll have to check on it next time.

The campground is quite wooded (tropical style) on the east side, with more oaks and open fields on the west side. It is also a first come/first serve kind of things - you can reserve a spot, and even make a request, but they don't promise any specific site numbers. Check in and out times seemed very loose as well, but that could have a lot to do with it being summer time. We stayed on the west side, near the west tent area. We had a nice oak next to us for shade, but otherwise we were out in the open.

Things to do

The main draw here is the beach. It was a 10 minute walk from the west side, and would be about 3 minutes from the east. The kids had a great time at the beach, and there are rocks that form a jetty. The surf was pretty flat and it didn't look like it often got rough. There was also a long, tall fishing pier. This went out the end of the jetty and was packed all day. Its open 24/7 and from what I could tell, people were having at least a little luck. We spent some time on the pier and saw sea turtles and dolphin, while hearing reports of manatee and shark.

Outside of the ocean there is a small camp store with the essentials, clean bathrooms, horse shoe pits, shuffleboard, and volleyball courts. On the way to the beach was rental pavilions and a nice little park for the kids. You are not far outside of civilization, so if you need to run to the store or you want to go out to dinner - its all very close by.


This is a great summer camping spot - beach, breeze, lots of sea life to look at. Winter may not be the best as there are no campfires allowed and the main source of entertainment is the Atlantic. We had a nice time though, and we are already planning the return trip. We got to test out the Aliner stove for the first time, and happy to report we were "cooking with gas". Affordable, lots to do, friendly staff, and a safe, fun environment. We will be back for sure!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lake Monroe Park - Trip #1

We decided to forego the local KOA turned family owned (see: small and commercial) for the more rustic and less known for our "test" trip in the Aliner. Now lets keep in mind my family camping experience here - I've spent a dozen or so nights in a tent in my 31 years, and my wife about the same. The baby has tent camped once already in his short 9 months, so he got a head start. As far as sleeping in a recreational vehicle, this was going to be my first experience. Lets get the dry stuff out of the way first:

The locale

Lake Monroe Park is locted in Debary, FL - on the banks of Lake Monroe, which is wide spot in the St. Johns river. The offical info on the park can be found here. There are 25 camping sites, all with 30 amp service and water. We previously drove through (as its only 20 minutes from home) and selected our top 3 sites. Site 25 was the winner, since it was the only one vacant. Don't let that fool you though, it was a GREAT site and I'd stay there again any night. The other sites were 15 and 16; long, narrow drives that ended in a cul de sac type area with a large fire pit and several grills and table. Those are the spots you reserve when 10 of you are camping.

Bathrooms are very clean, and the camper bathrooms consist of 4 individual bathrooms in one building. Each has a toilet, sink, and shower. Very clean and accomodating. There are also restrooms across the dirt road from site 25, but they were lockesd at night. The main facilty was 150 yards, so no problem.

Each site has a fire ring with a hinged grate you can fold over the fire for cooking, as well as a grill you can charcoal on. Each site has power and water and a pretty thick oak canopy with palmetto scrub being the primary ground cover. The park has a boat ramp, and is the endpoint of a popular biking trail that spans about 4 miles back to Gemini Springs Park. There was a cut-through from site 25 to the dirt road, and it appeared that there was something similar at most sites.

Arrival and Setup

This is our spot:
We got in about 6pm after a mad dash to pack and run after work. The Park ranger was nice, but a little confusing. She came running out of her booth when we got there, wide eyed and excited. Well actually, she'd seen about 45 years of sun, and not through sunblock, so I have to assume she was wide eyed, since her experssion was actually sun-baked on around 1983. She says "is that one of those A-frame pop ups?", "yes it is". "ohhhh, ummm, you are the folks I ran after last week right?", "umm -no". Now I know tone is hard to translate in the typed word, but everything about this exchange felt like she was about to tell us to leave, and not that she was actually in lust with the Aliner. Turns out it was our first (albeit odd) compliemnt on the little trailer that could."I just love that, it's really neat" she went on. I invited her to come check it out once we got set up. Left my drivers license with her, so she didnt have much of a choice.  I pulled half off the entryway (more in a sec), and got out to give mrs. perma-grin my info and cash. One night at Lake Monroe park will run you $24.63. That was referrenced as the "RV rate", which makes me assume there is a tent rate that is even less.

Quickly met some fellow campers that had pulled in behind us, boats in tow, tents in the truck bed. Not sure which of us had the better idea. Now, I had slightly misjudged the initial curve into the park, and had rested the drivers side rear tire of the ALiner on the curb. Needed to fix that and get out of the way, and nice Mr. boat fella was happy enough to back up and to allow me to do so. Backed up, straightened out, and proceeded with minimal rub and only a slightly bruised ego. Found our site, backed her in, and started the set up.

Got the Aliner all set up, while the Mrs. started unpacking. Luckily Mason decided the drive over was as good a time as any to take a nap, and he was snoring with the best of them - giving us 10 mnutes or so after arrival to set up.
The Night

Got a little campfire started, as our friend Nicole and her baby Leon arrived. We took a quick walk through the park, checking out the dock and amenitites:

Not sure the boys were too impressed, or perhaps they were concerned we were going to make them gator food.

Back to the site for some hot dogs, baked beans, and potato salad cooked on the open flame. Excpt the potato salad, that was cooked at publix ha. Mason was quite thrilled with his new chair, as well as opportunity to hang out in just a diaper:

Had a nice dinner, and a few drinsk by the fire. Bugs were minimal, as were the treks to the restrooms thankfully. Somehow though, toward the end of the evening, I managed to walk straight into a large stump and do someting super special to my 2nd toe on my right foot. Pretty confident I'll be losing the toenail:

I let Nicole and Leon out of the park (they give you a lock combination) about 10pm and we went to bed. Christa and Mason took the larger bed and I slept on the dinette side. I was amazed at how comfortable the beds were, especially after reading quite a bit to the contrary. GREAT nights sleep, despite having to pretend to be old people and sleep in seperate beds. Need to find an odd sized toddler bed rail to set up for Mason on the dinette side so we can put him over there alone.


Got up about 7:45am, gathered some small peices of wood, just enough to start a small fire to cook a can of corned beef hash. Breakfast, then packed up and off to the Central Florida Zoo, which is about 3 miles away. Had a nice time checking out the animals and then Mason splashed in the splashpark:

Overall had a great time - the AC worked like a champ, the beds were comfy, the Mitsu towed the Aliner better than I thought she would, and things were about 140% easier than I prepared for (I knocked on wood a lot). Next potential timeframe for the 2nd trip is 13th-15th, so hopefully we can put something together for that weekend. Looking to stay within an hour or so from home so off to research.

Until then,

Todd, .Christa, and Mason

Friday, March 9, 2012

Innagural trip delayed

So our first official trip in the Aliner will have to wait another few weeks. For 10 days every March a special breed of tourist comes to Central Florida - Bikers. Now I've nothing against bikers, but they tend to overtake well...everything. Traffic sucks, stores and restruants are busy as hell, and apparently every campsite in 100 mile radius is booked solid. So we wait.

In the meantime, thought I'd post a few Aliner pics:

Thats her all popped up and lookin pretty

And a snapshot of the inside, facing the dinette. Stove and sink on the left, microwave on the right.

From the Dinette, looking at the pull out sofa. Pulls out to a queen size bed, plenty of counter space too.

The above pics are from the previous owner, but we'll shoot some of our own when we get out to a camground in a few weeks. We have a full wekend next weekend, so look to get her out to a local spot the weekend of the 24th.

Some Aliner Info

This is the largest model that Aliner makes, the Expedition. 18 feet long, 79 inches wide, weighs about 2100 lbs empty. She has a large storage box up front and folds up and down in 30-60 seconds, depending on your experience level. Two side storage compartments that are lockable and can be accessed from the inside as well. Check out a nice video of an Aliner in action here:Aliner in action The one in the video is just like ours, but has an extra center skylight on the front side.

Well not much to report on until we hit the road, ordered new Elixir skylight dome covers off Amazon last night, as ours are dry rotted. Also, a 30 amp to 15 amp converter plug, and another set of lashing straps for the kayaks to help better secure them on the Outlander racks at highway speeds. Really looking forward to getting on the road with the two Perception Illusions on the roof and the Aliner in tow.

Until then,


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Welcome to our first Aliner blog! We bought a used 2005 Aliner Expedition in March of 2012 with the intention of many family vacations, trips around the Eastern U.S., and overall fun. Being our first RV/camper, we've been spending the week getting acquainted with the camper, cleaning her, and of course making her feel like she's our own. Challenges So no adventure is ever easy right? The Aliner weighs in at about 2100lbs empty, which was a little much for my wifes Honda CRV to pull. So off to Truck Stuff in Deland, FL I went to get my Mitsubishi Outlander V6 hitched. They did a nice job and I was in and out in less than an hour. Well when went to pick up the Aliner from her former owner, he presented me with this crazy looking round plug, which certainly did not match the flat 4 pin connector I had just had installed! Luckily I was only towing her 4 miles and it was mid day on a week day so traffic was light. After a few trips to the auto parts store and a few confused calls to various RV and trailer places, I learned I had a 7 tab connecter that was all wired up for electric brakes, so there was no adapter that would mate the two plugs. ugh. Electric brakes were going to run north of $500 installed, as I wasn't quite ready to take that task on myself. Rewiring the car was going to be over $150, so I was a bit worried our adventures were off to a slow start (that's a braking joke, sorry). Luckily my buddy Tyler called and I was explaining my dilemma ( he owns a boat, those boat owners know everything right?), and he suggested I check out a brake kit that they sell for boating trailers - about $30 and easy to wire up to a 4 pin connector. Bingo! Wal-Marx to the rescue, out the door for $38 (needed a new pair of wire strips). On the road again...err for the first time New brake lights wired up pretty quick with little hassle. Four holes to drill in the big metal rear bumper, and I managed to hide all the wires really well. One hang up on a bad ground (rusty bolts are poor conducters), and we were good to go. My wife cleaned the inside while the baby played with our new plastic cups, using them as teethers; I cleaned the underside and rid it of the seemingly 10,000 spiders that had made it home while it sat idle in the yard of her former owners. All set to head out, and we picked a spot close to home to try things out. Heading there tomorrow, so stay tuned for our report from our first ever overnight in the Aliner!