Lake Alma State Park

Our first camping trip of the year took place at Lake Alma State Park, during our girls spring break. This was our first time camping this early in the year, but with our new camper we wanted to use it as much as possible.

We traveled approximately 80 miles southeast of our home and the new 5-point Equal-i-zer anti sway bar worked great. It does take some time to get used to the “popping” noise they make while turning though. As we drove farther down 23 south the beautiful rolling hills of southern Ohio started. A few trees started to have buds on them and a great awareness that spring is coming was welcomed by all.

When we arrived at Lake Alma we almost drove past the campground entrance. (our review of the campground itself will be coming in the next few days) Lake Alma’s entrance isn’t as “official” as other state parks we have been too; there was a very tiny park office which was still closed for the season. By the time I looked through my email for our site number we had already passed by our site. So we drove to the middle of the campground and used their only turn around to come back toward the front of the park. The roads are pretty tight at Lake Alma and navigating with larger campers or new drivers could be problematic. After we turned around we came back around toward the front and found our site, number 64, it was one of the very first sites into the campground.

My husband worked on the narrow roads to back in-between 2 trees, as mentioned previously the roads are pretty narrow and turns were much tighter than most other state parks. This time it was a lot of back and fourth to get close to the water and sewer hook ups and far enough from trees on both sides for our slide-out and the awning to be expanded.

Our first night was pretty cold. 37 degrees when we arrived….brrrrr. Sean worked at getting everything set up outside. First thing of importance was getting us hooked up to electric so we could turn on the heat. We have an electric fireplace in our new Springdale camper which is great for taking off the chill or maintaining heat in the camper. Our girls stayed in the warm truck while the camper warmed up a bit. I plugged in our instant-pot which had our dinner in it, chili! An easy recipe (see link) that I cooked at home during the day and stayed pretty warm during our travels. Which was perfect for our arrival at the campground shortly after 6pm, we were all pretty hungry.

That night it got down into the 20’s, we stayed warm inside running the furnace off our propane and using our electric fireplace. We decided to try dripping our faucets to prevent the water lines freezing but our water hose on the outside still froze. We discovered that in the morning when our oldest daughter tried to flush the toilet. So Sean got up and realized that the hose from the faucet to the camper was frozen! He unhooked the hose and sat it in the sun to thaw. We ended up bringing the hose in the shower, thinking the warm inside of the camper would help it thaw. Even though we have been camping for 4 years, we are still learning. Thankfully our Keystone has an “arctic package” (to allow for 3+ season camping) and the underbelly stayed warm enough we didn’t have any pipe issues. The next two nights we decided to unhook the hose over night and reattach in the morning, as well as drain our lines as a precaution.

After lunch it warmed up and we went out to explore Lake Alma! The girls played on the playground for awhile and then they took their scooters around the lake. Lake Alma has a really nice paved 1 mile loop. You share the road with one-way traffic but it has a nice “walking/biking” lane. We took Oscar (the pup) on this walk. Perfect for people concerned about having a level surface or for people with disabilities. There were a few hills but smooth footing underneath.

When we got back Sean worked on seasoning and removing rust from our Blackstone (more on that to come!) grill for the year before we grilled hamburgers and hotdogs for dinner. We watched the beautiful sunset over the lake and the girls met friends at the campground and played until it was time for bed.

The following day we hiked the Acorn Trail. It took us about 90 minutes to hike 1.9 miles. Max elevation was 861 ft. The girls loved it, well at first our youngest complained about her legs hurting. But when we started treating it like a scavenger hunt we didn’t hear any more complaining. The trail took us up and down hills, across small creeks, and maneuvering over trees that lay across the path. Overall a great hike for families with young kids. There was one area that was steep (see picture) and Sean went first to help the girls. Otherwise the obstacles we faced were fun adventures for the girls to do alone with low risk of getting hurt and trails were marked well with paint to keep you moving in the right direction.

A map of the trails that are offered (left)

We took the Acorn Trail and finished on the Sassafras back to the campground

The girls also learned the phrase “if it has 3 leaves let it be!” We saw what we believe to be poison oak/ivy. Enjoy some of our pictures below!

Click (coming soon) here for our review of the campground layout and what to look out for when booking certain sites!

Wednesday’s Chili

After talking to my mom she believes this was a recipe made by my grandmother. The french onion soup adds a different flavor to this chili and it’s o so good!

  • 1.5 pounds ground beef
  • 1 can french onion soup
  • 1 TBSP chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • .5 tsp pepper
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) sliced, stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
  • 1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 1 can black beans

I brown the beef and then throw everything in a crock pot for at least 4 hours. It can be cooked as long as you want or need. My oldest child has a dairy allergy and who would have thought french onion soup has diary in it, but it does! So I cook everything except the soup. Then about 30 minutes before serving take out a portion for her and add the french onion soup for everyone else.

It’s easy to travel with as well. If eating it the day you arrive at the campsite, I just travel with it in my crock pot. If eating it a few day later – cook it, let it cool and thrown it in a ziplock bag or container to travel. Then use a crockpot liner and warm it up for a few hours during the day and it’s a delicious warm dinner for a cool evening outside. The crockpot liner makes clean up a breeze!

The perfect recipe for colder spring/fall camping days. I always bake corn bread before we leave home, throw it in a zip lock bag so people can have it on the side (or my husband crumbles it up in his soup).

New Year, New Travel Trailer

We upgraded our camper in February 2021 to a Keystone Springdale 298BH. We had an entry level Coleman for a few years and loved our memories we made. The only tricky part came when we took other families with us or we have inclement weather. The 27 foot travel trailer became small on the inside with 8-10 people inside!

My husband and I had a date day when he suggested we look at travel trailers. He has been looking over the winter and we decided that we would pray about it and see what our tax return would look like. We visited RCD-RV in Delaware, OH. My husband and a sales man (Ben) had talked over the phone prior to our arrival. They had a variety of travel trailers with our “wants” and in our price range. Ben let us tour them first on our own (which I appreciated because it felt less like a sales pitch).

We walked through a few that had the small upgrades we wanted. Basically we wanted to add 1 slide out to our floor plan. The slide out provided us with more living room inside. The Springdale 298BH we decided on had a few other nice features and now we will feel like we are living in luxury.

The process was smooth. They took our evaluation of our previous camper for trade in value. Down payment was given on that day. We then parted ways for the weekend and the following week we signed on the dotted line, had a 2 hour walk through of all the features, we could ask a million and one questions, and got our last few tips/tricks from more experienced campers.

So all in all we are very thankful that we had the ability to make these small upgrades. And looking forward to the adventures to come!

The sign had our name on it the day we went to pick it up. Nice personalized touch!

Thanks to everyone, especially Ben, at RCDRV (Delaware) for making it such an easy process.

Bunk Bed Railings


Our last travel trailer had double bunk beds that was sandwiched in between the bathroom and outside of the camper, this was nice when they were smaller because there was no way for them to fall off the side of the beds. And since they were smaller they were more easily convinced to sleep on the bottom bunk! Now with our new trailer the kids have a bunk room!

They are so excited about this and are already asking if they can sleep on the top. I knew we wouldn’t get very far with making them sleep on the bottom. So I have to come up with a cute and creative way of installing a bed railing for them. This will allow me to sleep better at night knowing they can’t fall out!

So with my idea and my husbands handiness we came up with these. It was a team effort, which are projects I love the most.

We purchased all the items and measured it out. I didn’t want one long enough to stretch the entire side of the bed so we ended up with a 2 foot pipe. We put all the pieces together then I used Goo Gone and a decal scraper to clean the pipes up and get the grease off of them. Then we sealed them with spray sealant. Once they were dry we attached them. Since the camper wasn’t level at the time we used out best “eyeball” to determine they were level.

Check out link for Goo Gone

Cleaning them up and sealing the metal

The final look was perfect and will allow us to all get a good rest at night!

The finished product!



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Welcome to Gardner’s Go Camping. We have been praying about this move and excited to get started. The idea to start camping about because we needed a way to get away from the hustle and bustle of our life in the suburbs. We were being pulled in many different directions from work, personal lives, and church. We wanted an avenue to be able to invest our time in each other and especially our girls.

We discovered a love for camping when our girls were 1 and 3. We bought our first travel trailer for $1,000. It needed work, but in the price range where we could determine if camping was the right move for our family. We brought that camper home and parked it in our driveway for a week (sorry neighbors). My husband worked tirelessly cleaning, replacing the floors, painting every night for our maiden voyage! Our first trip was to a local state park, Alum Creek. To say we fell in love would be an understatement. We spent that weekend playing in the sand and on the playground. Eating hot dogs and smores. We left that weekend being happy with our investment and our future, and our souls were rejuvenated.

Our maiden voyage

The next week my husband spent more time updating the camper and we shortly realized that we didn’t make this investment so he was working so tirelessly on it, we made the investment to have more time as a family. At that time we started looking at new campers. When we found the right entry level model we traded in the old for something new. With the work my husband put in the first one we actually made money on the trade in!

As allergy kids we love Oreos!

We camped as much as we could that summer. Exploring new campgrounds around Ohio for the next 2 years. We discovered and learned a lot. The girls enjoyed the campgrounds that had kids activities planned out throughout the weekend and Sean and I enjoyed the state parks where we explored, hiked, and had nature all around us.

As for everyone else in 2020 the pandemic started and the summer wasn’t what we all wanted it to be. Once campgrounds in Ohio opened we spent almost every other weekend exploring a new place!

In 2021 we decided to upgrade our camper, something that offered more inside living space. We are the proud new owners of a Keystone Springdale and excited to see what the summer of 2021 has to offer!

Our goal for this journey to is document our adventures around Ohio (for now) and even further in the future. To show you what works for us and how we have learned the hard way (breaking pieces of the camper and forgetting necessities at home) We have a goal of visiting every Ohio state park and adding some commercialized campgrounds in-between.