Monday, May 17, 2010

Tobesofkee Recreation Area near Macon, GA

This was my first stop on this camping trip. This journey was my last of the season; the following five posts are from this trip. I'm home now, the Scamp will be stored until about November, and this blog will doze until then as well. Come with me on this trip via these next posts (this one, Victoria Bryant State Park, Solitude Pointe campground, Hard Labor Creek State Park, and Georgia Veterans State Park), and then I hope you will join me again when I hit the road this fall. And now let's get back to the trip posts!

I had chosen to stay in the Claystone campground (there are two in the rec area), in site #43.



This was a good site as far as the view, as you can tell, but there was no shade at all. This was also one of four sites situated very close together; I was lucky that there was an empty site between me and the next camper over (and mine was the last one in the row). On the plus side, it was a pull-through and very level. The sites with shade and privacy were surprisingly unlevel.

I think the last person who camped in the site next to mine had been feeding a pair of ducks, as they showed up several times a day and wandered around as if looking for food. This female was particularly bold. I was glad I had an extra dinner roll to offer them...



After I had set up, I walked down to the lake. The park is located in a finger of the lake; this man was fishing at the end of that finger.



A family of ducks swam close by.



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After letting me get a few photos, off they went.



The next day before I left, I went for a walk around the park. There is a very large beach there.



When I got back to the camper, a family of Canada geese were swimming by.



I headed out to the next stop at about 11:30 or so. I'm glad I got to see this campground but I don't anticipate returning.

Victoria Bryant State Park near Royston, GA

This was the second stop on my way north to SC. There are two camping areas, a small upper circle and the lower loop, which I never got around to seeing. You cannot reserve specific sites in GA state parks (a very frustrating policy), so after registering, I headed to the upper loop to see what was available there. Apparently my timing was excellent; there were only a few available sites in this very small circle, and the one I ended up with seemed like one of the best (it was site #9, not that that helps you if you are planning a trip to this campground...)--later my neighbors told me that someone had vacated it shortly before I arrived. It was a very roomy pull-through site with woods providing the backdrop. This is a hilly area and there was a sharp drop at the outer edge of the campsite, putting me about halfway up several of the tree trunks in height. There was a wonderful breeze.



This is the view from the camper.



You may notice that pink bicycle showing up in photos. I decided that it would be fun to have the option of riding around some of the campground roads, so I bought the bike and finally located a carrier that would let me easily transport it, positioned between the camper and the car. I knew that on this particular trip there would not be many biking opportunities since much of it would be too hilly for me, but I took it specifically for use at my last stop. For the rest of the trip, it was just along for the ride (so to speak).

There is a hiking trail that leads from this campground down to a stream and beyond. I walked down it before dinner on the day I arrived and took some photos of the stream.



I left this park at about noon or so the next day. This park is somewhat near I-85; the sites, at least in that small upper loop, are all large and level, all have gravel, and are fairly far apart. I don't anticipate being in this area again any time soon, but I would definitely return here to camp if the opportunity presented itself.

Solitude Pointe campground near Cleveland, SC

This was my primary destination on this trip; I was going to be here for four nights, which seemed a total luxury after two one-nighters in a row.

There were many good things about this campground, although overall it fell a little short of my expectations. The good things included the owners, who were extremely friendly and helpful--at least for my first two days; they seemed to be avoiding me for the second half of my stay, and I will probably always wonder why...gee, was it something I said? Or perhaps they just decided to put the solitude back in Solitude Pointe? At any rate, another plus was the roomy and sparkling clean bath house, which was actually two separate full bathrooms side-by-side. Less appealing to me was the setting, which is more a function of location than anything else. It was beyond "hilly" there. One walk around the campground loop was physically exerting. On the day I arrived there were tenters on the other side of it, some people involved in a wedding reception that was being hosted by the property were staying in the cabin directly opposite my site, and I believe they and I were the sole residents. The tenters left the next morning, and the bride and groom took over the cabin the next night. Everyone was gone the next morning, but later someone moved into the RV that had been parked next to my site. Speaking of my site, I was in #2.



One note about that site. In order to back into it, you have to overshoot it (as usual), which has you going down a very steep hill as well as over a large speed bump. And then you must push your camper in reverse up the hill and over the speed bump to get into the long, narrow site. Given the amount of trouble my car had with this (the towing capacity of cars does not reflect their ability to push that same weight while in reverse....) with my tiny Scamp, I can only imagine the struggle it would be with a large, heavy camper. There was really no way I could conceive of for them to avoid this, given the layout of the campground. If you are going to camp here and this seems like something you would want to avoid, I would get a site numbered 5 or above, at the bottom of the hill. Unfortunately, the only bath house is next to site #2, which means, if you use the bath house, negotiating that hill on foot if you are in a site at the bottom of the hill.....

I visited Table Rock State Park one day, which is just down the road from Solitude Pointe. Now this is a spot I highly recommend! Nice park with a lot of trails, a lake you can paddle in, and many, many waterfalls. And great views of Table Rock itself.

This is the lake near the visitors center, which is across the road from the park itself.



This is a view of the visitors center, with Table Rock in the background.



Here is Table Rock from a park road, along with a smaller mountain, which was considered by Indians that lived here long ago to be the stool that goes with the table.



And then off to Carrick Creek trail and the waterfalls!

Here are some waterfall photos that I got as I hiked the trail, which followed the creek for some distance.



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I spent several hours at the park; the weather was fantastic.

There is no cell service at all at the campground so I stopped at a gas station/diner on my way back to call DH and touch base. I parked around the side of the building and got out of the car with the phone. While it was ringing at home, I turned around to see what was behind the building. I was more than a little surprised to see this staring at me:



There was a young one, too.



I took this long shot before I left.



There were also large white geese in the enclosure; it seemed to be on private property. Very strange!

I stayed at the camper the next day and relaxed and did a lot of reading. I was ready by then to head back south. I left before noon the next day.

Hard Labor Creek State Park near Madison, GA

Ah, and now I came to my favorite spot of the whole trip! I had never heard of this park, did not know what to expect. I registered and was warned that they had just gotten new signs and they were wrong and confusing, so to be aware of that as I drove around looking for a site. The woman in the office recommended a site near the top of the campground (which is very large with many loops and turns in a wooded area) on the lake. I made the mistake of following signs to try to find it...luckily I ran into Bob, one of the campground hosts, at a bath house and he pointed the way to the lake sites.

There was no one even close to those sites except for Jim, another host. The lake was a small brown pond and not much to look at, so I drove on. And I found the best campsite I have ever had, bar none. It was next to a shallow, swift creek (Hard Labor Creek itself?), which turned to follow the site perimeter. I couldn't see any other campers from the site. A Canada goose swam by while I was setting up, following the creek current.



The stream is in the background of that photo. Here is the view of the stream from the camper.



And the bike finally got some use, though not a lot yet.

If I had known this site existed, I would have simply stopped here on my way north and stayed here for all my vacation days!

Again there was no cell service at all. I drove back down to the office and used my calling card on their phone rather than leave the park to find cell service. On my way back to my site....I got lost. I honestly could not find that road I had followed to get there! It was site 40, but following the sign (I had been told to ignore signs, hadn't I?) that had the arrow pointing to "Sites 38-51" of course took me on a loop that started with site 45. Luckily good old Bob was still around in his golf cart and again pointed to the narrow road leading to the creek. It didn't seem likely that I would have neighboring campers that night.

My last pleasant surprise at this campground was that when I turned out the light, it was pitch dark. I don't know if they have security lights in the lower level closer to the entrance, but there were none around site 40, and that was a joy. In every other campground, I had security lights shining so brightly through my curtains that I could have read by them. I got my best sleep at this park.

However, I don't plan to return to this park, since I cannot reserve this site. It would be a long drive to end up in any other site, which would be as likely as not. Their policy is very puzzling to me.

I had only a short drive to make to the next stop so I stayed here past noon the next day, just enjoying the peace and quiet. If you go to this park, try to find site 40--you'll like it!

Georgia Veterans State Park near Cordele, GA

My last stop of the trip!

I was surprised by how crowded this park was, given that it was a Wednesday night. I was fortunate to find an empty site along the lake.



Here is the view of the lake from alongside the camper (and my windchimes).



There were many Canada geese there, which, as you may have figured out, are favorites of mine. They came right up to the campsite.



Another family of geese came by with two parents and about a dozen large goslings. I was standing in my site aiming the camera at assorted goslings, taking several photos such as this one:



I had the camera to my face, concentrating fully on taking photos of the little ones, when I heard a hissing sound quite close by. I lifted the camera away from my eye and looked down to see one of the adult parents of the little ones I was photographing--standing about eighteen inches from me, head about waist-high, hissing at me and drooling a little. This can be somewhat startling. They are big birds. I backed up slowly, making my excuses and apologizing. It actually followed me as I backed up. Kinda scary. But then it left, having made its point.

But I still got more photos of them later, heh heh.



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(Not sure why the leg is protruding, it was not injured in any way....)

My pink bike got a lot of use at this park--it's flat and there are lots of roads to explore. I put the little camera in the basket when I went for a long ride before leaving. Near the registration office of the park, they have a large field display of assorted planes and tanks used in various wars. I'm not a war fan, but this park celebrates and honors veterans of wars, and that's a whole different thing. I rode to the field where they have the planes and first took this photo of a B-29.



Farther down the line they also had a Huey.



This park is kind of like the redneck/good ole boy/fishcamp version of Seminole State Park near Bainbridge. Another one I don't think I will go back to--if I want to camp on a lake, my best bet is Three Rivers State Park here in Florida, or Seminole State Park. As much as I enjoyed the geese and the bike-riding, my camper neighbors left a lot to be desired, and they were the common element here.

And so I headed home the next morning in heat and humidity!