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*see our 5-Bambi rating legend at the end of this review.
Our friends, Larry and Jacquie Cook recommended we drive past several lovely new, upscale, resort-style RV parks boasting perfectly level rows of angled pull-through concrete decks surrounded by manicured green screens and luxury amenities with stunning views of Carrabelle Beach … from across the highway.
Very nice, but no thank you. We fancy something without Hwy 98 between us and The Gulf of Mexico – a large site where we can sprawl out, rinse off our kayaks, hang wetsuits and towels on our clothesline and brew tea in the sun.
We stayed at Ho Hum RV Park for two weeks over Christmas week and New Year in the “Tier B, beach view” section (more accurately, it’s a Gulf View, since this natural shoreline has no significant beach). We paid $228 per week – about $32.50 per day. That’s cheaper than the resorts and we had easy launching in minimal surf. Bingo!
Every campsite here is near the water, so Ho Hum is a fishing and kayaking wonderland.
When we arrived to Ho Hum, we’d been driving from Pensacola – all day, in the rain – and it was getting late. But, even in the dark we couldn’t miss the big, yawning Ho Hum RV Park sign.
I grew up in Florida and the popcorn sound of driving on oyster shells triggered a flood of happy childhood memories of dad towing our boat into the marina. In Franklin County, oyster shells are still the usual pavement for roadside shops, driveways and even state park hiking trails – so, I’ll save my strappy designer sandals for Miami.
Ho Hum RV Park also uses an abundance of pea-gravel to demark each generous space, and the friendly campground hosts coordinate to keep the modest 48-space grounds clean and raked as neatly as a zen meditation garden.
Full hook-ups were provided on our comfortable end space where a conference of four tall pines made me wonder why we still don’t have a hammock. This “18 years-old and above” community of full-timers, part-timers and week-end regulars contribute to the balmy Ho- Hum, no-bad-vibes atmosphere. It’s not just an image they project, it’s a right they protect. Stress is actively discouraged. Residents will sometimes lift a languid hand and deliver the “Ho-Hum” salutation. Ho-hum: code, for “don’t stress.”
We prefer to use our own shower in our Airstream trailer, but when other first-time campers gave glowing reviews of the shower facilities, we had to investigate. Clean, beautiful, pristine – effortlessly maintained in the unusual Ho Hum way.
Like nearly every RV park, the coin laundry leaves much to be desired. We prefer to wash in our little portable and hang out to dry, but with limited winter sunlight and increased humidity we’ve, lately, been forced to use the dryers.
Hey, it’s Florida and we’re on the water, so rusty machines are to be expected, but … to dry a small load of mostly quick-dry fabrics, it took three (3!) twenty-minute cycles at $1.50 each!!! I know, I know. Don’t stress. Ho-hum …
Ho Hum’s abundant shoreline is absent of any significant area for beach-recreation or long strolls. At high-tide there’s no beach at all. But, there are several places on the grounds to hang out and de-stress.
The fishing pier…
the outdoor tiki lounge…
and, the swings near the water…
The thoughtful Ho Hum staff made us feel welcome. Pet-friendly stations with bags are provided, and guests were mostly vigilant about picking up after their dogs. Management received packages for us at the office – an important service for full-timers like us – especially at Christmas!
Another important feature for full-time travelers is WiFi. Connectivity is a fundamental reason full-timing is trending. Ho Hum provides better than many parks – the usual frequent lapses during high-traffic hours weren’t too bad – but, we were told that plans are in the works to repair the problem.
There is no camp store at Ho Hum. The closest store – the IGA at Carrabelle – is a three mile drive. I say, drive because after hours of boots-on-the-ground, field-exploration using Google Maps and Google Earth, we can vouch that no known safe bicycle access exists between Ho-Hum and Carrabelle. If we had found it, we would have provided a map, here. It is not recommended to cycle even a short distance on this stretch of Hwy 98. There are no pedestrian or cycling paths or even a decent shoulder. If it wasn’t such a nasty road-kill and trash strewn half-mile tromp on the soft shoulder toward the cute market and boat launch in Lanark Village, we’d have walked there every day. About 100 yards south we crossed the highway (no pedestrian crosswalk!) into the Lanark Village neighborhood which was pleasant enough for cycling the residential area.
For fitness walking and cycling we had to get in The Beast and go for a drive. About 8 miles west is Tate’s Hell – named for a pitiful soul whom The Woods chewed up and spat out sparing him only a scrap of breath to declare, “My name is Cebe Tate, and I just came through Hell” before he collapsed dead on the spot. Okay. So, you try not to think about that and just appreciate the natural tropical landscape; admire the well-maintained and marked state park trails which are clearly signed and right off the highway. Picnic tables are on most of the loops but, since it’s a bear area, we chose to hike without food. Most hikers we encountered were with unleashed dogs and some were better at controlling them than others – we didn’t sense any danger, but pepper spray is always a comfort.
Fish markets are close by and we took advantage of the local catches – oysters, shrimp and grouper … oysters mostly! Many businesses were closed for the holidays, but a few restaurants we’d like to recommend are, Lynn’s Quality Oysters, for the steamed “poppers” with fresh cut slices of jalapeño and finished with a dollop of cream cheese; Dad couldn’t have been more pleased with the shrimp tacos at Tropical Traders; and, Jim and I enjoyed breakfast several times at Emsy’s Cafe where our special request for basted eggs was greeted with a smile and perfectly executed with a “no problem” attitude.
Plenty of room to move here in Franklin County, where the land still has a sense of frontier to it.
Even on 1 – 30 mile trips to Panacea, Lanark Village, Carrabelle, Apalachicola, and St. George Island we would often encounter fellow Ho Hummers at restaurants, or at the fabulous Oyster City Brewing Company…
…and even while walking a long stretch of warm and sunny deserted beach.
I write this review as we depart, Ho Hum. We thought about staying longer – possibly till Spring. Packing is an effort when you don’t want to leave … when you’re so relaxed and pleased with all you’ve seen and done, and still so much remaining to be discovered. But, we can always come back. We promised ourselves to see as much of Florida as possible this winter … So, off we go …
|Our “BAMBI” rating system for Public and Private campgrounds and resorts explained:
– One Bambi: Should’a boondocked.
– Two Bambi’s: Better than a Cracker Barrel or Walmart.
– Three Bambi’s: Adequate for a short stay.
– Four Bambi’s: Great place! Met our expectations for an extended stay. Needs minor improvements or is not ideally situated for all our preferred recreation (walking, cycling, swimming, kayaking) without driving.
– Five Bambi’s: Destination Camping at it’s best! Critical as we are, there’s nothing we’d improve, and you can bet your sweet Bambi we’re going back!