Friday, August 17, 2012

Raystown Lake Revisited

We pulled into the main gate at Seven Points once again in just under four, leisurely hours on the road, and that includes climbing a couple of small mountains. We took a casual, easy going, sight-seeing journey from Tionesta, using backroads and avoiding the Interstate altogether as we headed back to Rays Town Lake. We made a side trip through Punxsutawney, famous for its annual ground-hog day festival every February 2, just to say we have been to the famous, somewhat unique town. Giant ground-hogs of every shape, size and color can be found all over the city, including one dressed as a mail carrier in front of the U.S. Post Office.

Raystown Lake is the most popular campground run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The Seven Points brochure states there are “First Come, First Served” campsites, however, every campsite at Seven Points is reservable on line at, or by telephone through the National Recreational Reservation System (NRRS) at 1-877-444-6777. In my book, if they had full hook-ups here it would be the winner of best COE campground, hands down. We really like the facilities at Raystown Lake, however, there are no water hook-ups at any of the 264 campsites here, and after having the full hook-up, complete with sewer, at Tionesta, the services here seem somewhat lacking by comparison. That doesn't deter the campers who solidly reserve all the campsites possible.

It appears most of the sites are booked through the next eleven days we are scheduled to be here. As soon as one RV departs, another takes its place, even on Sunday. Sunday evenings are normally the quietest evenings as many week-enders head back to work, but here it is hard to tell as the sites simply don't stay empty very long. It is almost as busy this Sunday evening as it was Saturday night.

We tanked up with fresh water before setting up in site number 42 in the Ridge Campground. We know we will have to head for the dump-station at least once during our stay here, but we buy extra water to help extend the time we have before we need to refill our fresh water holding tank. We are in full shade in a heavily forested part of the campground, quite different from our first campsite on Bay Campground which was out in the open. The stepped, or terraced, campsite is roomy, but the bottom is still somewhat muddy from the rains the day before. The top section is dry however, and we set up without any problems. Our new power converter is working just fine.

We head into Altoona on Saturday just to see what we can find. The GPS says it is 18.4 miles away, but when I compute the track, it comes out to 41 miles! I just love those little, talking boxes, they are a constant source of amusement.

We find all the big-box stores and restaurants we have missed at the last several campgrounds. After our first Toscana soup and salad special in two months, we head back to Raystown Lake. We take a different way back just for a change of scenery. The country roads past Canoe Creek State Park, then over the mountain through Williamsburg, down through farmlands where I have to make an emergency stop to keep from hitting a slow-moving groundhog, are a nice change from the main roads. We are back at the trailer soon and having a glass of wine. Alcohol is permitted here, a pleasant change from most COE campgrounds.

One of the unique features about the Seven Points Campground is the vendor's display done every Tuesday morning during the summer season. From 9:30am until 10:30am, the visitors center hosts a myriad collection of local vendors who display their wares and brochures, answer questions, and graciously donate prizes to be awarded by drawing from a collection of email addresses submitted by the attendees. This time Ilse wins a hat. A fishing hat, in fact. Ilse doesn't fish, so I inherit the Raystown Lake Striper's ball cap. A few minutes later I win the book “Civil War Sketchbook: Civil War Diary,” from the Huntingdon Historical Society. A hat and a good book, it doesn't get much better than this.

Yes, it does. At the vendor's display, we meet Terri and her family once again. They are visiting Seven Points for the second time this summer. Terri and her husband, Scott, told us about the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, Trough Creek State Park, and several other points of interest we would have otherwise missed back when we first met them over a month ago. They are here this week with no less than 32 family members for a reunion! The Meadow Campground where they are staying is perfect for large get togethers. Our loop is better for seclusion and privacy.

We also meet Caleb once again. He again has his impressive bike on display, promoting the Allegrippis Mountain Bicycle and Hiking Trail. Caleb is the young man who we met back-packing on the Dark Hollow section of the Allegrippis mountain bike trail over a month ago. He amazingly remembers the names of our dogs, Daisy and Taz! We again chat and talk about the impressive bike and hiking trail, and one section that is now open that isn't shown in the old trail maps. It really doesn't get much better than this.

NEXT: Timing is everything, at:

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