Thursday, July 12, 2012

Two More Firsts at Philpott

I always haul a small leaf-blower along to clean off debris from the campsite, but until now have never used it. A small broom has always sufficed to clean off what little dirt or leaves we track onto our big front mat. I use the blower for the first time Saturday morning to send the mass of leaves and branches left over from the storm that passed through the night before over the edge of the pad and into the abyss. It works like a breeze, so to speak, and within a minutes, the campsite is once again clean.  Another reason to always carry an extension cord.

The new world of tent camping:  A wide screen projection TV shown against a tarp.
Another first is when a park attendant asks the people on the other side of us to leave. They arrived late the evening before with a pop-up trailer, one of the easiest to tow of all camping trailers, but one with the least amenities. With a lift up center section, fold out bunks and canvas walls, it has to be unfolded and assembled before use. Many pop-ups have small air conditioners as part of the package, but few have any type of toilet. Some of the better fitted ones have a porta-potti arrangement, but it is still closer to tent camping than we like. This one has a dog. A big, loud, black Labrador mix that barks at everybody, all the time. It barks constantly until someone has enough and the park attendant finally drives up and chats with the owners. They are gone in half an hour. This is the first time we've seen anyone evicted from a campground. We just love Corps of Engineer parks.

The group next to us on the other side prove to be good campsite neighbors. Several families joined forces to bring boats, tow-tubes, food and a lots and lots of kids. They share several campsites spread around the campground, but the site next to us is the chuck wagon/dining hall. It is fun to listen to the dads quietly mete out instructions and stern warnings that were absolutely adhered to, with the sing-song, North Carlina accent. The kids are great. Well mannered pre-teens and teens alike. Especially the one who went over his handlebars to keep from running over me when I step out from behind my Toyota on the way to the toilet. He is taking a high speed, down hill detour against traffic to avoid a pickup truck coming through the one way loop when he picks the front of our campsite to cut across. He pays the price dearly, but he doesn't hit me. He even apologizes as he gets up off the pavement.

Saturday turns out hot, and the campground is soon packed with locals who use the lake on weekends. Ilse and I forgo the outside activities and spend the day in the conditioned camper, watching a DVD. The campground is full and we are surprised by the number of tent campers who have rented regular water and electric hook-up RV sites. The center loop, dedicated to tent campers, is empty. Tent campers like the centrally located toilet of this loop, and above all else, the electric power. We found one canvas tent with an air conditioner propped up on a card table, blowing into the tent. They mainly want to use the electric outlets it seems as many bring fans. Kids on bicycles fill the narrow roadway, and we envy their immunity to the heat. By nightfall, campfires are burning throughout the campground and everyone is happy.

Sunday dawns quietly. Everyone is sleeping in. The songbirds have regained control of the forest. Ilse makes coffee and pancakes and after breakfast, we turn on the TV just to catch up on the weather. A rainstorm is forecast, and as we watch the news, the sky around us turns dark and blustery. We seem to have a knack for seeing the warnings just before the events hit us.

 Winds pick up, and within minutes, hail the size of marbles begin pelting the campground. I quickly drop the canvas awning down as far as possible, not enough time to put it away properly, and make sure we can still open the camper door. The group next to us is up making breakfast when the hail hits, and they immediately run under a canvas shelter that doesn't look like it will offer much protection. But everything holds up, and within a few minutes, the hail turns to rain. They begin breaking camp, they have had enough. They clean up all the sites and are gone in half an hour. Ilse and I are happy, we know Sunday night is traditionally the quietest night of the week at a campground. Aah, the weekend is over, our peace and quiet will soon be here!

Beavers?  Nope, thoughtless campers who wouldn't pay $5 for firewood!

Our solitude is short lived as tent campers begin to fill the vacated sites. Where we usually find empty campsites, we find multiple tents. I forgot it is Fourth of July week, the popular National holiday falling on Wednesday, right in the middle of the week. One group of kids is replaced with another. By night fall, groups have link campsites with each other and we realize this isn't going to be a quiet night, probably not a quiet week. All the sites are filled except one. Campfires are aglow all around the campground. Somebody even thoughtfully brought a barking dog.

NEXT: On the Road - Philpott Lake to Robert Craig - 

1 comment:

  1. I came across your post looking for reviews of Salthouse Branch campground. Enjoyed your musings.


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