Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Watsadler RVisited

Actually, it's Watsadler revisited as this is the third time we have camped at the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Campground on Georgia's Lake Hartwell. We planned to meet Arlene and Richard at the campground for a three-day reunion since we have shared side-by-side campsites here twice in the past, but illness forced Richard to cancel their reservation and kept him home under Arlene's special care. Ilse and I spend three days at Watsadler parked next to a reclusive stranger and his dog, and toast to Richard's health. It must have worked, latest news is he has recovered from his bronchial infection.
Rolling out of the Watkinsville Publix, all clean and shiny

We simply have to reschedule for Watsadler for next year. This is the perfect time of year to see the dogwoods and azaleas in full bloom, the weather just has to cooperate with the schedule. The perfect schedule is to pick the week after the Easter week public school vacations when everyone has returned home from the first outing of the year. Nobody here but us. Seriously, the next twenty sites are vacant the entire time we are here.

The weather had been anything but good the entire preceding week, from cold and rainy to rainy and cold. Not much fun to camp, or RV for that matter. We packed our trusty electric blanket, despite heckling from our Viking friends, when we headed out from Port Charlotte, Florida, two weeks earlier. The blanket was used gratefully every night of our trip but the first two, so we didn't have to use our camper's gas heater. Not until we got up in the morning, that is. Fifty degrees inside the camper means turn on the heat.

We spent the previous week outside of Watkinsville, Georgia, parked next to our daughter's house. We had the opportunity to babysit our granddaughter, Claire, during her school break while Mom and Dad worked. A great time for us to get to know our granddaughter. We also got to share her fourth birthday. The only problem is there is no place to empty our gray and black water holding tanks as we sleep in the trailer while we are there. The only RV park in the area doesn't accept outside dumpers, even for a fee, so we usually just haul it, carefully, to the next campsite and dump when we get there.
By the end of the vacation week, the weather turns warmer, trees begin to show the first shades of light green, and pollen covers us like a blanket. We leave Watkinsville late Monday morning, but by the time we pull into Watsadler campground on Monday morning, my blue SUV is green. The yellow pollen sees to that. Funny thing is it rained all day Tuesday the week before and washed everything off, only to be inundate us once again as soon as the trees dry out. I even hosed off the Toyota before we left the house that morning. Hay fever season is in full swing here. Yellow pollen swirls up from the road behind each passing car as if to say “don't leave without us!”

It Pollened last night

The Watsadler campground, located on Highway US 29 just before you cross the state line into South Carolina, is one of the few campgrounds in the area that is open all year long. They close one loop on December 1st of each year as the demand simply isn't there to keep the whole campground open, but by Easter, the whole campground is back in service. 

We take our time driving up from Watkinsville, Georgia, but it is still a short trip, less than fifty miles. Despite my dawdling and slow driving, we still arrive a little after 11:00am. I checked the reservations the week before on the possibility we might check in a day early and found our site was open until our first reserved day. Usually it isn't a problem to arrive early if the site is vacant. We have been allowed in early at many Corps campgrounds. If your site isn't cleared yet, you have to wait until the other camper checks out as happened to use last year at Raystown Lake. There, we simply drove to the visitor center parking lot and waited until check in time. 

As it turned out at Watsadler, someone reserved our spot in the meantime and hadn't yet checked out. For the first time in the many, many times we have checked in at Corps of Engineer campgrounds, we meet Grumpy. Grumpy informs us she has our on-line reservation but the site is not yet vacant [It turned out to be vacant - the site had not been used] and we can go back into town and wait at the Walmart parking lot. OK, fair enough, rules are rules. But I mention I was going to pull through the dump station and empty my holding tanks as I turned around.

“I'm sorry but I can't let you do that!” came the grumpy voice from inside the dark gate shack.
“Excuse me?” I said, looking around the almost empty camp ground.
“I'm sorry but I can't let you do that!” she repeated.
“Why not, there's no one here?” I asked incredulously.
“Someone might check out and you'd be in the way,” was her illogical answer.

Even the Corps of Engineers can't get it right every time, so we toodle back to town with full holding tanks.

The town of Hartwell is only a few miles west of the campground, so it is no big deal to wait in the parking lot at the nearby Wal*Mart. We use the time to shop, pick up groceries and even buy a mobile hot-spot. We buy the Virgin 3G/4G unit for $89 and a $20 access card. I know, I know, coverage is Sprint so we will have spotty coverage at best. But, it is exactly what we need to check e-mails and pay bills. We won't be watching Netflix, though. At least we won't have to lug everything to the nearest library just to see e-mail. I have to charge the battery in the new hotspot before we can activate it so we'll have to wait until we get settled in the campground. No, we don't have smart phones with built in hot-spots. We have two old, flip-open cellphones on a Dinosaur Verizon plan that only costs us a little over $70 a month. No reason to double that for a smart phone and a hotspot since we won't be on the road for more than a couple of months. Not yet, anyway

When we finally check in at our appointed time, we have to deal with Grumpy yet once again, and yes, it is just as frustrating as the first encounter. Some people just know have to have a good time. But, we are in our slot within fifteen minutes after arriving, and completely setup within a half hour. It is going to be a great three days. Richard, here's to next year! Clink!

NEXT: Another great visit at Lake Hartwell, at:

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