Campsite of the Month-Standing Indian Campground, NC

OFF FOREST DEVELOPMENT RD 67
FRANKLIN  NC  28734
(828) 524-6441
https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/nfsnc/recreation/ohv/recarea/?recid=48668&actid=62

The Scoop

Standing Indian Campground is located in the Nantahala Forest in Southeast North Carolina. Located just south of the Great Smoky Mountain Range within the Nantahala National Forest, this campground served as our viewing site for the August 21st total solar eclipse. Here you'll find great hiking, fishing, hunting and primitive, improved, RV and group campsites. It is well-know to hikers due to its access to the iconic Appalachian Trail. 

View from campsite #34 overlooking hill, grassy area and campsites 22, 23 and 30

What We Loved

There are some really awesome campsites here. Most sites are close together like you'd find at most parks, but a few, like the one pictured above, offered space and privacy and a break in the trees that was perfect for eclipse viewing! Standing Indian also offered great hiking. In addition to access to the Appalachian Trail, there were several trail systems within the park with great views and beautiful waterfalls. The camp store was well stocked and the park staff was friendly and helpful. The clean restrooms and hot showers were a much appreciated amenity as well.  

View from bridge crossing Nantahala River. 

What We'd Like to See Instead

There isn't really anything you could ding this park for so if we have to pick something, we'd choose the lack of a swimming hole. There were plenty of waterfalls to view and places where splashing in the creek was refreshing and fun, but an actual swim location would have been nice as well. Although, the water was pretty cold, so we probably would not have lasted long! 

Park Preview-Memorial Park

6501 Memorial Drive
Houston, TX 77070
832-395-7000
http://www.houstontx.gov/parks/parksites/memorialpark.html

 

Portion of the hike and bike trail

Portion of the hike and bike trail

The Scoop

Memorial Park sits on 1400 acres of what used to be Camp Logan, a World War I training facility. With ammenities too numerous to list here, the Houston Parks and Recreation Department works in conjunction with the Memorial Park Conservancy to support growth and conservation of the park and surrounding area. 

Pond along one trail at the Nature Center

Pond along one trail at the Nature Center

What We Loved

I've been looking for "the park," the one would rival my favorite hometown park, for a while. Well, this is it.  Aquiatic center, playground, tennis center, nature center-it's all connected by the three mile Seymour Lieberman Exercise Trail as well as other multi-use trails. I'd yet to find so many people utilizing any one park at the same time until we visited Memorial.  You'll find plenty of parking and shade as well as 

"For the children of Houston The Vale-Asche Foundation"

"For the children of Houston
The Vale-Asche Foundation"

What We'd Like To See Instead

Highway 610 on the western border of the park and Highway 10 on the north provide a constant drone of vehicle noise. In my opinion, this is a small price to pay to take advantage of all the park has to offer.  There are some areas of the park that are a little unsightly due to expansion projects, but this represents exciting growth for this already wonderful park.  

Memorial Park Amenities-Aquatic center, baseball fields, Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, bird sanctuary, exercise trail, equestrian trails, fitness center, gazebo, golf course, hike and bike trails, nature center, picnic tables, playground, restrooms, running trails center, soccer fields, softball fields, swimming pool, tennis center, and timing track. Park Map

There are mosquitos...and then there are Houston Mosquitos

If you are one of those people that on a summer day can stand next to the most stagnant body of water for hours and not have a single mosquito land on you, congratulations.  You have no idea how lucky you are.

For the rest of us, it seems that no matter what we do, we will be eaten alive.  A single mosquito found its way into our boys' room and overnight managed to attack our youngest son multiple times.  Our oldest awoke without a single bite. Hardly fair.  Add to that the fact that Houston mosquitos are not messing around.  When you combine humidity with a flat, marshy landscape, you get a breeding ground for the largest, most awful mosquitos around.

 
mosquitos.jpg
 

We've made an effort over the last few months to decrease the number of chemicals we use in our home and so I spent the summer experimenting with some different natural options for protecting the family against these crazy, flying insects. 

Probably the least effective of all the things we tried is the Cutter Natural Insect repellent.  One of the most common themes in online reviews I read about this repellent was that it stinks.  My thoughts? It stinks.  And it doesn't smell very good either.  Kudos for being deet-free, but it absolutely did not repel mosquitoes for hours as the bottle claims. 

cutter natural.jpg
 

Next we tried these really neat citronella bracelets (sorry "bug bands") that we picked up at the local DIY hardware store. You can adjust the strength of the band (how much citronella is released) by removing up to five plugs from it.  They are packaged in reusable containers that help to preserve the citronella scent.

We first put these to use one afternoon while working in our garden.  Both boys had the bands on their wrists with two plugs removed and neither complained about getting bit.  I thought we were onto something until I noticed that while the mosquitos were not biting their arms, they were attacking their legs with a vengeance.  The citronella was keeping their upper bodies protected, but their legs were "out of range."

It was about this time that I got a shipment of essential oils in the mail.  From the research I'd done on essential oils I knew that lemongrass, lavender, clove, citronella and tea tree were good candidates for keeping the annoying creatures away and safe for little ones.* Ready to put my new blue-glass, spray-mist bottles to work, I whipped up a simple and effective batch of mosquito repellent using:  

2oz-Boiled water (Let cool slightly before pouring)
1.5oz-Vodka
45 drops-Citronella
30 drops-Clove
30 drops-Lavendar

This combination of oils works really well for us.  I love the fact that I know exactly what is in the spray and it can be sprayed onto skin and clothing.  You can, of course, adjust the combination of oils to suite your preferences.  Citronella is a great mosquito repellent, so I tend to add bit more of it than the other oils.  You can experiment with only two oils or work with four or five.  For this amount of liquid you'll want about 90-110 total drops of essential oils. Since citronella needs to be reapplied every hour or so, sometimes I will use the bug bands in combination with the homemade repellent in case we lose track of time.   

Do you have a favorite natural repellent or homemade recipe?  Leave us a comment and tell us what works for you!  

--The LIN Crew

 

*Be sure to follow all warnings that come with your essential oils.  

Getting Started

"Starting" seems to be an appropriate enough topic, as we ease into this blogging thing.  While some of us seem right at home in the wilderness, getting outside can be intimidating for many.  The backcountry remoteness that the seasoned hiker longs for is the ultimate nightmare for the nature novice.  So, in the spirit of getting started, I offer our nature novices three tips to assist their entry into the wild.

1.       Start small.  Don’t take on the Appalachian trail during your first outing.  There is much fun to be had by just throwing up a tent in the backyard and consuming s'mores until your stomach hurts.  Backyard camps are a great dress rehearsal for the real deal where you can test your equipment and outdoor tolerance in a forgiving environment.  Trust me, the backyard is the best place to discover that your toddler won't sleep in the tent.

2.       Bring a friend.  Ask a more experienced friend to show you the ropes.  An experienced buddy will quiet your anxiety about being eaten by a bear in the middle of the night.  And, your friend will likely enjoy sharing her love of the outdoors with you.  Maybe, just maybe, your BFF will carry all of the heavy stuff. 

3.        Just go.  If you find yourself with the opportunity to get outside, do it.  Don't worry about the weather or having the right gear, although we can help with that, and just go. 

--The LIN Crew