the dyrt
Ashley C.
Rosharon, TX
Joined August 2017
Mother of 3 and loves to camp!
Ranger Review: INA389 INNO Bike Rack at Turf Trailer Lodge

TO CLARIFY: The two stars is for the CAMPGROUND, not the Bike Rack.  The Bike Rack receives 5 stars.

Campground Review

If you want to LIVE somewhere in an RV or Mobile Home, this is a good place for you, possibly.  If you are a camper for a night or two, this is not your spot.

This “campground” is in the middle of a concrete jungle and does not have greenery, or a playground, or any amenities.  

There is electric and water hookups at each site.  Most of the sites were occupied but there were a couple vacant spaces.  

Again, not for camping.  This is for residing in.

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products for free in exchange for my honest review.  This is one such product:

It was really fun to take the INNO INA389 Tire Hold II Bike Rack out for a spin.  My husband and I decided to install it without looking at the instructions to see how easy and intuitive the set up was.  The answer: very easy and intuitive! After we were done hooking it on, we looked at the instructions and we had done it 100% correctly.  

Basically you have to have an existing roof rails on your car, and then this just easily pops right on.  You latch the front and back to your rails, then heft the bike up (the hardest part of the whole process; you have to be strong enough to lift a bike onto a car) and press the front and back loops into place and boom!  You’re done! It was as easy as that.

We started out driving cautiously, since we’d never used a rooftop rack before, but quickly became comfortable and knew it would stay firm.  We took surface streets to the campground to be sure it was safe, and the highway home since we knew it was perfect.

I highly recommend this rack if you like to take your bike out places and still have easy access to your trunk.  Easy to install and easy to remove. It even has a key-lock on the top so the bike can’t be stolen.

Great product!

Spacious and Wild

If you are looking to get out of town and not be bothered by many other campers, this is the place for you.

Each site has lots of room! The trees are beautiful and the scent of pine is lovely. There are no facilities, so be prepared for that! No toilets, showers, water, electricity, etc.

The place is really beautiful though and I can't wait to come back.

Ranger Review: Escape Campervans at Flagstaff KOA

Campground Review

The Flagstaff KOA is a great place to stay! And a great jumping-off-point to fabulous destinations.  We were visiting the Grand Canyon from Phoenix, so we were able to make it to the campground in about 2 hours (leaving after work) and then drive to and from the Grand Canyon the next day, since it is only an hour drive from there.

The sites are pretty close together, but that didn’t really matter staying in our campervan.  We had all the space we needed. I especially loved the very clean bathrooms! Flushing toilets and free showers (with attached changing stalls) made for a very comfortable trip.  

Our kid’s favorite was the Jumping Pillow.  It is this huge inflatable thing that the kids can jump all over and they wanted to do that constantly.  Super fun and easy entertainment.

There was also a large playground and little go-kart style bicycles the kids could rent.  

Our stay was really great and I highly recommend the Flagstaff KOA!

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products from time to time.  Escape Campervans allowed me and my family to take our their Maverick van for the weekend.  Let me give you all the details:

First of all, we LOVED traveling in this campervan!!  Driving in and of itself was wonderful. The back bench is very spacious, so our three kids in car seats/boosters had plenty of space.  I loved the huge passenger seat and could really spread out while we drove. The van was easy to handle and easy to maneuver. Even on little dirt roads and tight turns we had plenty of space (very unlike an RV).  

Once we got to our campsite, it was dark out and 9 o’clock at night.  All the kids had fallen asleep on the drive. Normally this would be a huge pain, having to pitch our tents and unpack the cots and sleeping bags, and pack n’ play etc.  But we just pulled into our spot (these vans can park in tent sites too!) and my husband got out and popped the rooftop sleeper (takes 30 sec. to do), we shuffled the kids up top while I unfolded the inside bed.  Took us just a few minutes to get both beds up and ready to go. The kids were nestled into their beds in no time.

My 4 year old daughter and I slept in the inside bed together, with my 1 year old son in a little pop-up baby tent at the foot of the bed.  My husband and 5 year old son slept in the rooftop sleeper. Everyone was warm despite the 35 degree nighttime temperature, and everyone slept through the night  (a FIRST for this family while camping!!).

The back doors open to reveal a complete camp kitchen, with pump sink, propane stove, all the utensils, prep surface, solar powered fridge and plates/cups.  We cooked up some homemade fajitas with steak strips and peppers on the stovetop and it worked fabulously. We literally just pulled off to the side of the road in Grand Canyon National Park and made this delicious lunch.  The kids ran and played in the trees while I cooked. It was a special moment.

I really can’t say enough good about the experience. We can’t wait to rent one again.  It made this trip so easy. Some things you don’t even think about, like how we all needed to change clothes at the Grand Canyon.  We just shut the curtains and were able to do that in a busy parking lot. In our minivan -- that would not have happened.

Tons of storage space, smooth ride, comfortable sleeping, large back bench.  Great. Trip.

Product Video

Overview video:

https://youtu.be/J1rhi6D8ckQ

Van tour:

https://youtu.be/h-IdQIlXpYk

Beautiful Views

Great little place to camp near Phoenix. The lake is beautiful and I recommend taking the Roadrunner hike -- even easy for kids!

Great access to Legoland!

This is such a great campground! We wanted to take a trip to Legoaland and this was the only park available and nearby. It takes about 25 minutes to get to Legoland.

This park really is made for RVs, so tent camping is a little awkward, but doable. We pitched our tent on the parking spot. Most of the sites are on a bit of a slope so that will be the case for most spots.

But we loved how clean the bathrooms were and easy to walk to. We also loved the plugs and water spigot at each site.

One downside was the streetlights -- they kept them on all night and they were VERY bright right next to our tent. Not a fan.

And don't forget about the huge awesome playground! The kids loved it!

Lots of space for a large group!

This is such a great campground for a big group! They have level gravel pads for tons of tents, and a covered pavilion with huge stone picnic tables that could seat dozens.

My loss of star comes from the vault toilets. They are stinky and have lots of flies and bugs living in there. Wishing they had flush toilets at this campsite.

I also really love the huge fire pit they have set up for the groups.

Ranger Review: ICEMULE at Box Bar

Campground Review

What a great find!  We had no idea what to expect when we rolled down a long and lonely road from Phoenix out to Box Bar.  But other people sure knew about it! There were lots of party people there, playing music, floating in the river, and enjoying some BBQ.  

Box Bar is not fancy, but it is FREE!  There are no reservations and no set camp areas, but there are plenty of flat and shaded spots perfect for a tent.  There is a large dirt parking area that includes 3 port-o-potties. If you were going to camp here, the potties are quite far from the camp spots, so keep that in mind.  

The best part -- the gorgeous river!  The Rio Verde runs right through here and is the main attraction.  At Box Bar there is a small dam that holds the water in just enough for a calm small lake to appear.  There is also quicker waters that can be kayaked or floated on. Many kids were putting in and going around the bend, getting back out, and doing it over and over again!  The water is cool and refreshing in the Arizona sun.

When we went, it was a Saturday.  So I’ll be anxious to go back on a weekday or Friday to see if it is as crowded other days.  It wasn’t OVER crowded, but the loud music can get old :)

Overall, a truly great find.  Only 30 minutes from Phoenix too!

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time.  At Box Bar, I got to use the IceMule Pro Large Cooler.

Before heading out, we packed up sodas, juice boxes, apples, and a tupperware of cookies into the IceMule and poured ice all over the top.  The temperature that day was over 100 degrees, but when we got to the campsite and opened the top, the ice was still there and the drinks and food were freezing cold.  Never had such a refreshing soda! I’m used to having to drink a warm soda or water while adventuing, so this was quite the treat.

Besides keeping the refreshments ice cold, the backpack was also super comfortable to wear.  The straps are super padded, as well as the bag where is rests against the back. I am a super weak person and it was easy and fun to wear.  

I totally recommend this cooler to anyone wanting to reward a long hike, boat, or camp with freezing cold treats.  

For more info, visit: https://icemulecoolers.com/

Ranger Review: OOFOS at Houston Mesa Campground

Campground Review

What a great day at Houston Mesa!  We are from Phoenix and the weather has been 115 every day, so we needed a break from the heat.  This campsite was only an hour and a half from our house, and there was a 30 degree temperature drop.  Loved the relief!

Each of the sites has a lot of space and are well spread out and mostly shaded.  Our site was gorgeous with big trees and no one we could see or hear nearby. When we arrived, one of the camp hosts came right to our spot in a golf cart to check if we needed anything and to give us a pamphlet on bears (yikes!).  

There are several bathrooms with flush toilets, and each was clean and well cared for.  Showers are there and are coin operated ($3 for 6 minutes). Firewood is also available to purchase for $7 a bundle.  

Features we loved: privacy, clean bathrooms, and they even had an adorable nature trail!  The kids loved running from sign to sign. There is also an amphitheater there, if you were having a family or group gathering.  

The campground is rather close to the highway, so you do get some noise off of that, but it really wasn’t bad and didn’t bother me a bit.

Really recommend this place, we can’t wait to come back!

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time.  At Houston Mesa, I got to test out some OOFOS OOahh Sport Slide Sandals.

These sandals are SO SOFT and SQUISHY!  They claim to absorb 37% more than other foam type shoes, and I sure believe it.  They are incredible soft and take a lot of pressure off my feet.

I chose the slip on ones because I like to wear socks with my sandals (haha) especially while camping.  Going in and out of the tent I could put these on and off so easily, I loved it.

The only negative thing I have to say about them, is that I got a small blister on my instep while wearing them (barefoot).  This is hardly a negative remark because I have VERY sensitive skin (my feet always get blisters if I’m not wearing socks) and I have been wearing these all day every day since I got them!  

I promise these will be your new favorite sandals!  Perfect for camping, the gym, around town, or lounging around the house!  

Grab your own pair at https://www.oofos.com/

For a video of the campground from our trip, visit: https://youtu.be/ZAtHtVGTjU4

Ranger Review: IceMule Cooler at Box Bar

Ranger Review: ICEMULE at Box Bar Recreation Area

Campground Review

What a great find! We had no idea what to expect when we rolled down a long and lonely road from Phoenix out to Box Bar. But other people sure knew about it! There were lots of party people there, playing music, floating in the river, and enjoying some BBQ.

Box Bar is not fancy, but it is FREE! There are no reservations and no set camp areas, but there are plenty of flat and shaded spots perfect for a tent. There is a large dirt parking area that includes 3 port-o-potties. If you were going to camp here, the potties are quite far from the camp spots, so keep that in mind.

The best part -- the gorgeous river! The Rio Verde runs right through here and is the main attraction. At Box Bar there is a small dam that holds the water in just enough for a calm small lake to appear. There is also quicker waters that can be kayaked or floated on. Many kids were putting in and going around the bend, getting back out, and doing it over and over again! The water is cool and refreshing in the Arizona sun.

When we went, it was a Saturday. So I’ll be anxious to go back on a weekday or Friday to see if it is as crowded other days. It wasn’t OVER crowded, but the loud music can get old :)

Overall, a truly great find. Only 30 minutes from Phoenix too!

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time. At Box Bar, I got to use the IceMule Pro Large Cooler.

Before heading out, we packed up sodas, juice boxes, apples, and a tupperware of cookies into the IceMule and poured ice all over the top. The temperature that day was over 100 degrees, but when we got to the campsite and opened the top, the ice was still there and the drinks and food were freezing cold. Never had such a refreshing soda! I’m used to having to drink a warm soda or water while adventuing, so this was quite the treat.

Besides keeping the refreshments ice cold, the backpack was also super comfortable to wear. The straps are super padded, as well as the bag where is rests against the back. I am a super weak person and it was easy and fun to wear.

I totally recommend this cooler to anyone wanting to reward a long hike, boat, or camp with freezing cold treats.

For more info, visit: https://icemulecoolers.com/

For my video of the campground and IceMule: https://youtu.be/y0Miubrib-k

Ranger Review: Humangear at Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Ranger Review: Humangear at Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Campground Review

We had a great time at Dead Horse Ranch! We just moved to Arizona, so we went in with zero expectations and were very pleased with just about everything.

Just 2 days beforehand, we booked our cabin on the campground website, the official Arizona State Parks site. The process was seamless, and we even got to pick our specific cabin out at no extra cost or fuss. We even got a confirmation email with our cabin unlock code on it when we booked. So convenient!

When we arrived at the park, we were warmly greeted by the Ranger and given instructions on getting to the cabin and activities in the park. Our cabin was small but just what we needed. It has an air conditioner/heater, so what more could you want!

After settling in, we drove around and saw the park has a lovely fishing and paddling area. Sadly we didn’t bring our fishing gear or boat, so we will have to do that next time. But there are lots of covered picnic areas and shading trees along the water.

While there, we did three “hikes”. They have real hikes there, but we have a 5, 3 and 1 year old so we had to keep it mellow. But the nature walks they had were great for that age group and was just enough to not burn out the kids. One of the hikes, per suggestion of the ranger, leads down to a little lagoon of water stopped between two dams. The kids were able to splash and play there -- it was just perfect! We went there twice in the 24 hours we were at the park.

All in all, a wonderful experience. There is a lot to see and do at this park. My only criticism is the bathrooms for the cabins. They are just fine, but there are only 2 of them for 8 cabins. Instead of having a bathroom with stalls and showers, it is just two stalls total that include a toilet, urinal, sink, and shower in a big lockable room. Seemed like an odd choice. I had to wait to use the bathroom several times because of this, and only have the cabins were occupied.

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products. At Dead Horse Ranch, I tested a GoToob+, Flexibowl, and GoBites products from Humangear.

With the GoToob+, I decided to homemake a special hot dog sauce ahead of time and bring it to the campsite with me in the GoToob+. It worked perfectly! I especially love the new feature, called the LoopLock that slips up over the top of the cap as an extra security against leaks. When I have all my food packed for camping, the last thing I want to think about is leaking sticky sauce all over everything. Awesome feature.

Here is the recipe for the Sweet Campin’ Sauce:

  • 1/2 tsp Onion powder
  • 1/4 cup Honey
  • 3/4 cup Ketchup
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup Brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Cider vinegar

Mix all these together in a saucepan until all sugars are dissolved and ingredients are melted together. Allow to cool slightly and pour carefully into your GoToob+ and snap on the LoopLock. Throw into your camping cooler and enjoy some high-class dogs as you camp!

Here is a video I made to show you how: Ranger Review: https://youtu.be/Oj7enCSig5U

I also really loved the Flexibowl and GoBites utensils. The Flexibowl has a lip that can be flipped up or down, if you want more of a secure “bowl” or more of an open “cup”. I used it for homemade cole slaw.

The GoBites utensils came in really handy, especially the sharp knife! I needed to cut up hot dog into tiny pieces for my baby, and the knife did a great job. Also love the little toothpick included in the box -- shows a level of thougtfulness.

If you want any of these products, visit http://www.humangear.com/

Ranger Review: MH2 Headlamp by Ledlenser at Jellystone Park Hill Country

Campground Review

This was my first time to Jellystone Hill Country, and my family had a wonderful time.  We will be returning in the near future for sure!  Luckily for us, they do have a very detailed website that addresses a lot of the questions and concerns one might have.  So in this review, I will do my best to give insight to the aspects that may not be clear on their website.  

CABINS

We stayed in a Cindy Bear cabin, number 6 specifically.  What a fabulous cabin.  It had everything we needed and had plenty of space for our family of 5.  I love that the “master bedroom” is on the opposite side of the cabin from the bunk room.  Makes the space feel larger.  The kitchen has a full size fridge/freezer, microwave (huge, modern microwave), coffee maker, toaster, and plug-in 2 burner stove.  NO oven so skip the frozen pizzas.  You will need to bring ALL your own linens, including sheets, blankets, TOWELS, and dish rags.  There was a small bottle of dish soap on the sink for us, but no sponges or rags.  There was also plenty of plates, bowls, cups, silverware, etc. but the pots were somewhat old and had lost their non-stick properties.  I would throw a frying pan into your luggage if you plan to make pancakes during your stay.  (Actual items vary by cabin, so another cabin may have a very nice frying pan, who knows?).  I literally didn’t see a single spider or fly in the cabin the whole time we were there, which is a miracle considering all the buggy cabins I’ve stayed in over the years.  What a clean and pleasant experience.

GOLF CARTS

We rented a golf cart during our stay.  While they are cute and fun to buzz around in, the park really isn’t big enough to warrant one, unless you are staying in a cabin or site very far from the action.  When booking, there is an option to choose your specific site for a $15 fee.  My advice is to pay the $15 and choose a site close to the Hill Country Hall and the waterpark, and save the $62 a day on the golf cart.  We stayed RIGHT next to the HCH and had no noise problems whatsoever.   

ACTIVITIES

Each weekend they have planned activities for the kiddos.  Most of these activities occur on Saturday.  Our weekend was Carnival Games and Halloween.  The carnival was cute little games set up for the kids to play with candy as prizes. I would say the optimal age for that carnival was between 4 and 7 years old.  In the evening they had a costume contest (we won best group!) and trick or treating around the park.  The kids had a blast.  Check their website before your trip to see the calendar of events.

WATER AMENITIES

Wow!  If you and your kids love to play in the water, this is the place for you.  Their outdoor complex includes: one standard rectangular pool, one very shallow splash pad with several water spouts and a tiny kids slide, which flows into a deeper (3 foot) pool, and a large kids water play center that includes two decently large kids slides, high pressure water cannons, and lots of stairs to climb around.  We were so impressed by the sheer square footage of fun and how a whole family could be happy in this one place for hours.  Also, plenty of seating for mom to relax ;).  Here you can find their concession stand, that serves fairly priced hot food and Blue Bell ice cream.  

If the sun is not your scene, no fret!  They have an INDOOR pool too!  The water is the perfect temperature, and has a connected hot tub for soaking.  Perfect for mom and dad to relax in the hot tub and keep a close eye on the kids swimming.  

STORE

If you forgot anything, or have the unexpected occur (like my husband having a stomach ache), the store is there with items you may need.  They also sell tons of souvenir items if you want to adorn your entire house (or RV) with Yogi Bear paraphernalia.

Overall, I can’t say enough good about this place.  The staff is friendly, the cabins clean and roomy, the activities sweet and age-appropriate, and the water park out of this world.  We are already planning our next trip back!

(My family and I were given a discount in exchange for this review, but these opinions are my own and no way affected by the discount)

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - here I am testing the MH2 Headlamp by Ledlenser ( http://www.ledlenserusa.com/mh2-505.html#start=3 )

One night, my daughter noticed a “cave” (read: drain pipe under a bridge) that she wanted to explore.  Sure that there would be dangerous critters in said cave, we strapped the MH2 on her and followed close behind.  Well if there were any critters, we would have seen them for sure!  

The lamp was bright and strong and showed exactly where you needed it to shine.  You can simply twist the lens in the front, and the beam can change from focused to broad.  It also can shine red light, or flash, both of which would be very useful in an emergency.  The headband is also wide and comfortable.  The adjustable strap made it easy to transition between my daughter, all the way to my husband in a second.  Both could wear the light comfortably.   I recommend this headlamp for anyone looking for a low-price hands-free lighting option.

First to Review
Camp on the sand

Went camping here and got to set up our tents right on the beach. Beautiful place to camp, but don't expect ammenities! Port o potties only, no bathrooms or showers. The biggest problem however, was the mosquitoes! At dusk we had to retreat to our tents immediately or be eaten alive. So beware!

Gorgeous views, great activities

Really pretty campground with open campsites. The lake has great fishing and there are lots of nice mountain activities very close to the campground.

Great ammenities!

The campsites are not very large, but it's ok because the sites are separated from each other which is nice. Some sites even have corrals for horses! The best part is the proximity to the lake. Kayaks and canoes are available for rent for a really low price. Bathrooms and showers have good access from the sites and are kept clean. Overall, one of the best state parks we've stayed at in Texas!

The alligator park!

Brazos Bend is know as the Alligator Park…and for good reason! Of you go on a moderate temperature day (this is the key. If it is too hot or cold you won't see Gators) you can see literally dozens of massive alligators. We are talking 6 feet long and right on the pathway. It's a fun adventure! There is a small nature centre where you can pet baby Gators and learn about them. Lots of pretty trails and look outs.

Great place...bad drainage

We loved our visit to Martin Dies! Coming from Houston it wasn't a long drive, and we enjoyed the greenery. The day we went, we were literally the only people there. I think this place is a bit of a hidden gem. Our cabin was very nice and spacious and air conditioned. There is fishing and a playground and bathrooms close by. The downside? It rained really hard and the whole place flooded up. Huge pools of water everywhere. We ended up leaving early because of it. But besides that, awesome spot!

Bayside Beauty

We loved our stay at Galveston Island State Park at the Bayside sites. Each pad has it's own picnic table with covered pergola, a large hook to hang items you don't want critters getting into, a water spigot, and fire pit. But the best ammenity?? Those bathrooms!! Gorgeous spacious bathrooms with literally granite countertops. Lovely. During the day we took our inflatable boat out on the bay, went fishing (no license needed at a state park) and went to the Oceanside beach. The beach had clear water really nice sand. The only downside? The mosquitoes!! Right at dusk they attacked with a vengenge. Be prepared for that!

Laid back fun for the whole family

We have been to this park twice now, once at a tent site and once at a Yogi on the Lake cabin. Both during Halloween time a year apart. What a FUN place to be!! Our kids loved that we got to go Trick or treating at a campground! But probably my favorite thing about this place is the waterpark. Really refreshing on a hot day, and the best part? The staff are usually pretty lienient about slide rules, so small kids and parents alike are allowed to ride! I just can't say enough good about this place. Can't wait to go back again!