After doing a day trip to Powhatan State Park on the James River earlier in the month, we knew we wanted to camp there as soon as we could. A lot of campgrounds are booked solid on weekends, but when I checked reserveamerica.com towards the end of the week, two sites had opened up at Powhatan due to cancellations. Yay, I was able to make a reservation!
Friday, April 23rd was a crazy-busy day for both of us (made a bit crazier by planning to go camping!), but at the same time we were excited to get out! Fortunately, traffic on I-64 East wasn’t too bad for a Friday, and at the Gum Spring exit we turned onto Rt. 522 South. When we reached the small town of Goochland, we stopped at a Food Lion to pick up a few items we’d forgotten. This is somewhat typical for the first camping trip of the season. 😉
Next stop, Powhatan State Park and River Bend Campground!
Our reservations were for site #15, with water and electric hookups. Such a nice, big, level site! All of the sites in River Bend have water and electric, all are “site specific,” and all of them are actually pretty nice. 🙂
LOL, celebration snacks after getting everything set up!
There was a trail near our campsite that wasn’t on the trail map that we’d gotten during our previous day trip, so we decided to see where it went. We could tell it headed towards the James River, but we weren’t sure how close we’d actually be to the river.
There were Mayapples all along the trail on the forest floor:
A couple hundred yards into the woods, the trail formed a “Y” with paths to the right and to the left. Both trails offered a glimpse of the river through the trees. Apparently the park service hopes to ultimately connect this trail with River Trail, but due to the steepness of the terrain down to the river–and the lack of funding–this hasn’t happened yet.
This satellite image shows the location of the campground in relation to the James. While it looks pretty close, flooding should never be an issue in the campground due to the difference in elevation. (The yellow arrow points to our campsite.)
After we walked back to our site, we drove to Canoe Launch C. It was such a beautiful evening!
I’d heard good things about the bathhouse at Powhatan, and when we got back to the campground, I checked it out. These pics were taken inside one of the private bathroom/shower rooms, which appeared to be handicapped accessible. The shower had fold-down seats (inside and outside) as well as grab bars. All of the bathrooms and shower rooms are single/private.
There’s also a laundry facility in the same building:
By this time it was getting pretty late (yes, thankful for longer days and lighter evenings!) so we fixed an interesting dinner of leftover chicken noodle casserole with a can of baked beans. It was definitely an odd combination, but it tasted good! (LOL, follow us for more recipes. 😉 )
Wayne started a campfire, and although we didn’t fix S’mores, we did toast a few marshmallows.
Beautiful moon above our campsite….
….And a beautiful little trailer in the woods!
The temperature started dropping quickly, so once the fire died down we went inside. With a little ceramic heater to keep us warm, and our antenna pulling in a few channels on our TV, it was a nice way to end a very busy day.
The next morning Wayne fixed omelets, and even though it was still pretty cool outside, we ate at the picnic table again. (Whenever possible, we cook and eat outside.)
Sadly, the little coffee maker we keep in the trailer chose that morning to die, so we decided to make a trip back to the shopping center in Goochland in hopes of finding a new one.
On our way out of the park, we saw the most beautiful bird–a Tree Swallow.
After that delightful and unexpected treat, we continued on to Goochland and we were happy to find a coffee maker–and a variety of other things!–at the Family Dollar store. It was really nice to have a variety of resources–a Food Lion, Family Dollar, pharmacy, ABC store, gas stations, a couple of restaurants and more–within an easy drive of the campground.
With rain in the forecast and wanting to be outside as long as we could, we went to Canoe Launch A as soon as we got back to the park. This is one of the tent sites in the primitive camping area along River Trail near Canoe Launch B.
We kept hearing and seeing a tiny, tiny bird flitting between the trees above us along the River Trail. Finally I was able to snap a couple of pictures of it. I learned (later) that this is called a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher. In size, it’s somewhere between a Hummingbird and a House Wren.
Most of the Pawpaw blossoms had faded and fallen off the trees, but we still saw a few:
What can I say? We love this state park!
A weather alert pinged on my phone, letting me know that it would start raining soon. Sure enough, by the time we got to the parking lot it started sprinkling. (By the way, I had 1 or 2 bars of service on my phone with AT&T. I didn’t try using my phone as a hotspot and I don’t think there’s any Wi-Fi available at Powhatan; there was certainly none in the campground.)
With no storms associated with the rain–and with no wind–we put up the awning on the trailer so we could continue to be outside. And kind of funny–earlier in the day I was wearing a lavender cardigan, but I changed into the new zippered hoodie I’d bought at the park office that morning. There were only two colors in my size–black and lavender–so guess which one I picked?
Thanks to the awning, we were able to cook dinner outside and stay dry while doing it. We use this electric skillet a LOT now, and tend to use it more than we use our propane camp stove.
In case you’re wondering, yes, the awning is crooked. We do this on purpose to allow rain to run off one corner instead of pooling in the center and weighting it down.
It rained hard at times during the night, but we stayed warm and dry, watched Bob Ross for a while, and fell asleep by 10. 🙂
The next morning the clouds were moving along quickly above our camper:
After a breakfast of bagels and coffee, we decided to walk on a trail that started across from the entrance to the campground. Such a beautiful mix of sunshine, clouds, meadows, cornfields, and wildflowers!
There’s an old cemetery to the left of the trail towards the top of the hill. While only a few graves have stones with inscriptions, I noticed a number of field stone markers as well as some flags probably put in by the park service. I wonder how many people are actually buried there?
Further down the hill there was another grave with a headstone, but there were indications of several unmarked graves.
Walking back down through the meadow, a little Chipping Sparrow sang his Sunday morning song for us:
We knew we’d have to leave soon (checkout time is 1:00 pm at most Virginia State Parks), but we made another trip to the James River at Canoe Launch A. SO pretty!!
Wow, I really could have stayed a few more days–walking on the trails, photographing the birds and flowers, relaxing by the river–but we’re so glad we were able to visit beautiful Powhatan State Park for our first camping trip of 2021!
Until next time,
Sharon & Wayne