During the Skinnie Winnie rally, we took the opportunity to visit two nearby state parks that we have driven by a number of times, but had not visited. Perhaps one of the reason for this is that neither of them have a campground.
We first stopped at Camp Helen State park, which is on the national historic register. The park is surrounded on three sides by water and provides access to the Gulf and Lake Powell. Lake Powell is a rare example of a coastal dune lake. Based on the ancient mounds and other artifacts, it is known that the area was occupied by humans more than 4000 years ago.
This area was first developed for recreation in the 1920's. In the early 1930's, the area was purchased by the Avondale Textile Mills in AL. It was used as a resort for vacationing employees for 39 years and most of the remaining structures were built during that period.
The park is a great place to hike, enjoy the beach and coastal environment, and imagine how the earlier visitors enjoyed the rustic resort.
Visiting the beach, we spotted one of those sites, that as long time sail boaters, gave pause to reflect on all the things that can and do go wrong in the unforgiving water environment.
The second stop just a few miles away was Eden Gardens State Park. This park started as the private residence of William Wesley and his family, built in 1897. Wesley built up a large lumber company in the area, which prospered until after WWI. The family lived in the home until 1957, when Henry's wife Katie passed away. It was sold twice, with the second buyer, Lois Maxon, turning the home into a showplace for her antiques and prized possessions. In 1968, she donated the home and gardens to the state for everyone to enjoy.
Walking the grounds along the bay and looking back at the home, you can almost see the southern bells walking the large veranda and strolling around the grounds among the huge oak trees.
The home is open for tours, and many folks return regularly to walk the garden and stroll the trails on the grounds. Or you can just sit on the shore and enjoy a peaceful sunset.