Friday, March 11, 2016

3/11 A Few of My Most Memorable Campgrounds

I have been sitting in my recliner all day yesterday and today watching my satellite TV because I have been having an attack of vertigo, so I can’t go out walking or sightseeing.  (I can barely walk around inside without falling over.)  I started thinking about the hundreds of campgrounds I have stayed at over the last almost-four years I have been full-timing and how some of them have been memorable, not necessarily for positive reasons.  Here are some of those in roughly chronological order, as best as I can remember them.  Dates are postings on this blog:

·       Wahweap Campground, Lake Powell, AZ – (9/26/2012)  This is the campground where I lost my motorhome.  Or at least I couldn’t find it for over an hour. I had walked to the laundromat in the facilities building and spent more time there than I expected so it was dark when I headed back. But I had not left any lights on and did not have a flashlight with me, and few campgrounds have lights. The roads were paved, but so were campsites, and it was hard to tell when you were in a campsite or on the roadway. I could barely see the pavement and kept wandering into dead ends. The problem was that I was on the wrong loop.  Lesson learned from this experience is that I always leave my porch light and some inside lights on with the drapes left open when I leave and might not make it home until after dark.  I also take a flashlight with me, just in case.

·       Mammoth Caves National Park Campground, KY – (10/10/2012) This was the first and only campground I have ever stayed at where I started to freak out because I believe I was the only person staying in this 105 site campground. There were not even any camp hosts, and the place was really, really dark. It was a Thursday night in the fall, so not exactly the busy season.  Don’t know why this bothered me so much—there was no one to bother me, and I never saw any wildlife other than a chipmunk, but I was happy to see more people arrive the next day.  I have been the only or almost the only person in several other places since, and it does not bother me now.

·       Gamble Rogers State Park, FL – (3/4/2013) This is a gorgeous state park right on the ocean.  It is located north of Daytona Beach and just south of Flagler Beach.  Although it is very close to US 1, that is not a problem except for one week out the year, which happened to be the second week of my reservation—Bike Week!  During that week, 500,000 motorcycles descend on Daytona Beach and bikers take side trips everywhere around the area, and they visit a lot of bars, so the noise was continuous, letting up only a little between 4:00 am and 6:00 am!  Big lesson learned on this one.  Remind me not to go within 100 miles of Sturgis in early August! 

·       Palm Canyon Trail, Borrego Springs SP, CA – (11/27/2013) This is a state park in the southern California desert. I decided to hike the Palm Canyon Oasis trail, which was supposed to take a total of 2.5 hours and was right at the end of the campground I was staying at.  About halfway up, a tiny stream appears and then a grove of huge California palms and even a small waterfall. Absolutely gorgeous!  Except the sand on the trail had mostly been washed out a couple of months earlier in a heavy rainstorm, so it was mostly rocks that you had to step on and over. If my knees and I had been younger, I could have hopped from rock to rock.  Unfortunately, sand on big rocks acts like ball bearings, so on the way back, I slipped off a rock and slid seat-first into a dead cactus!  I was sitting there trying to figure out how to get up without getting more spines, when I was rescued by a nice older couple.  He pulled me up, and his wife pulled the 2” long spines out of my rear end!  Oh, and the 2.5 hour walk took me a total of 7 hours!     

·       Death Valley National Park, CA – (12/7/2013)  In four years, the coldest place I have stayed was, believe it or not, Death Valley. Daytime highs were mostly in the 50s and one night it dropped down to 22 degrees. If you look on this date in my blog, you will see a photo of ice on Furnace Creek.  One day, I drove to a big crater that I wanted to walk around. I got bundled up in long pants, long-sleeved shirt, sweatshirt, jacket with a hood, and socks and regular shoes. I stood outside in the strong wind for long enough to take some quick photos and gave up.  On the way back, I saw several busloads of people running a half-marathon and all I could think of was how those runners were going to go home and brag about running in Death Valley and surviving the heat!  (They were all bundled in sweat suits.)  What made it feel even colder was that my little electric heater died, and I had to rely on my furnaces, but since I was there several days, I started to run low on propane for those, so I had a very long drive one day to get a fill-up.  And as usual, my water pump was not working, so I had to disconnect my water hose every night to keep it from freezing.  I still love Death Valley and want to go back when it is just a trifle warmer!    

·       Mesa Verde National Park, CO – (6/12/2014)  This was an interesting campground because we had to unhook our water hoses at dusk because the neighborhood black bear had discovered that RV water hoses were a great way to get a drink in the desert. My water pump was not working so I could not use water from my fresh water tank, so every night after my shower, I had to go outside and unhook my hose and put it away to prevent it from getting chomped.

·       Highland Hammocks State Park, FL – (1/1/2015) This is the park where I took the wrong road and ended up on a very narrow one-way road with big overhanging trees.  There was no place to turn around, so I had to drive the whole two miles, but it took some occasional stopping to make sure I was clearing overhead live oak branches.  Also, this campground had a unique dumpster with an electric fence around it to keep bears out!  The top was open so you had to toss accurately from about 8 feet to get your trash into the dumpster.  Check out the photo of this dumpster on this blog.    

I am sure I will think of more memorable campgrounds as I go. 

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