Sunday, August 23, 2015

Vogel State park - Pouring In

Pouring in. Not the rain, the campers. It's Thursday evening and the beat-the-weekend-crowd crowd - no, that is not a typo-  is pouring in. It's raining again as well, – it's rained every day since we got here on Monday – but the stream of campers is more impressive than the water flowing down the middle of the loop road. RV's of every shape and size pull through the loops of Vogel State Park looking for the best possible camp site. The bigger units like the Class A and larger Class C's have to drop their towed cars before entering the shire, sorry, the campground, and those campers use the smaller vehicles to reconnoiter the camping loops while the mother-ships wait behind patiently. I would imagine it's hard to distinguish camp sites in the rain but many of the campers are repeat visitors and know exactly which of the 68 sites they are looking for. The weekend crowd is going to be disappointed they didn't get here earlier.

Vogel has somewhere around 300,000 visitors a year, but how many are campers and how many rent one of the 33 cabins isn't clear, but after spending four days here, almost solid rain not-withstanding, we see why this park is so popular with RVers. This loop filled up quickly and many RV's make the cul-de-sac turn at the end of the road and head back past us hoping the remaining available sites aren't the worst ones in the park. We retire to the trailer and fix dinner when the rains once again start and darkness slowly falls on the campground. A few late arrivals still drive through searching for open sites.
Hungry tree attacks slow moving rock...

Friday morning breaks dry and cool and several campers up the road from us who were here when we arrived, break camp and head out, probably to avoid the weekend crush. Ilse and I decide to explore one of the trails at the end of our loop while walking Taz, our Golden Retriever, and take an excursion into the woods on a well-worn path that isn't well marked. The recent rains have left their mark on the trails as the paths are well rutted. We follow a trail that wanders around the base of Blood Mountain, then drops back into the campground about a mile a way. Great hiking trails here, and we'll do this one again on Monday after the crowd heads home.

Most of the newly vacated sites are soon occupied by new arrivals as very few sites remain open for long. A steady stream of campers towing trailers make the futile trip looking for sites.

Soon, a throng of onlookers watch as Don and Wendy struggle through the campground with their 42 foot long, three axle trailer looking for an open site, and after making the excruciatingly tight turn at the end of the loop, finally back into the last remaining site on our loop just below the camp shower facility. There isn't any free space left on their campsite after they get settled; the front bumper of his pickup truck is right against the roadway. The Vogel campground dates from the 1930's when trailers and campers were smaller, and while some of the sites are suitable for newer, bigger units, the roads and bridges are confined and narrow by most modern, commercial campground standards. There isn't much clearance on many of the tight turns and curves. Still, they are happy to be here, and plan on enjoying the coming weekend.

In a case of irony that couldn't be scripted, Don and Wendy have to park next to an eighteen foot long Casita, one of the smallest travel trailers on the market and definitely the smallest camper in the campground. Our dear friends Richard and Arlene, who got us interested in camping in the first place, also have a Casita, so I had to take one of those comparison photos of the two units side by side. Two different views on Rving, and each has its own merits.

An 18 foot Casita is dwarfed by a 42 foot Fuzion - Each has its merits...  and drawbacks

Good weather is forecast for the weekend and we are supposed to get a break from the rain. There's live music scheduled by the lakefront tomorrow evening, all we have to do is bring lawn chairs. School started in Georgia two weeks ago, so most of the campers here during the week are older, mostly retired couples, almost always with their pets. Weekend campers usually are younger, working people with kids, but there are few children here so far. The campfires all smell like hickory, and the only water we hear is from the creek behind us. All in all, life is good in the shire.

Saturday morning is when the park staff earn every penny they're paid. The weekend warriors are here in force and every conceivable question about the park or situation that requires immediate attention takes place now. We walk down to the visitors center to pick up a hiking trail map and watch in horror as an elderly fellow backs up in the parking lot, after looking as best he could, into a family with young children and a dog on a leash that wander unconsciously behind his car. No one is hurt, but we are reminded why we like empty campgrounds.
Lord of the Rings, anyone?

People are standing in the visitor center elbow to elbow. The weekend crowds are here, enjoying the lake and the hiking trails. Almost everyone seems to have a dog, but they are all leashed, and so far, well behaved. The kids aren't leashed, but for the most part, they're having a good time and except for an occasional pack of young bicycle riders frantically pedaling past, you wouldn't notice. For a full campground, it is relatively peaceful.

Ilse and I walk around the small but pretty lake – some would call it a large pond – and walk down the short spillway trail at the far end and are quite taken back by the beautiful waterfall at the bottom of the trail. A woman taking photos from the wooden deck lookout accidentally drops her walking stick into the creek below and her companion dutifully climbs down the rocks to retrieve it for her. He clambers over the rocks and avoids falling in, and successfully retrieves the hiker's aid. Another young woman watching with us on the deck volunteers to take our photo with the waterfall as a backdrop. Our first photo of the trip with the three of us.

The rains hold off for a second day so we decide to take advantage of the good weather and set up our screen room. We take the formidable looking collection of fabric and aluminum poles out of its bag and wonder how did we do it last time? No problem, after unfolding a few legs or arms or what ever, it begins to look like the picture on the outside of the box, and within just a few, trouble-free minutes, it is set up and ready for use. We position the screen room just behind the camper, then set up the gas grill and open another bottle of wine. We sit and watch as the curious crowds wander by, and by early afternoon, we are pretty much left alone. The campground is full but it is relatively quiet up here at our end of the park. Time to grill the chicken and kick back. Ilse is already deep into a book she has been trying to read for several days, and we still have over a week to go. Come Monday we will have the park to ourselves once again. Vogel gets great marks from us, a park we will return to in the future.

NEXT: The Last Train to Clarksville, at:

1 comment:

  1. It was a delight sharing your shire this week and we greatly enjoyed yours and Isle's company. This park seemed to have a vibe that brought camping neighbors together as we enjoyed visiting with several of our neighbors. We spent more time visiting with folks here than we did hiking and exploring but still managed to get all the cool video and photos we were looking for (minus the obligatory "bug shot"). Yoly and I had a great lunch on the way home at Yahoola Creek Grill on the east side of Dahlonegha (grouper fish tacos & NC rainbow trout sandwich) and greatly enjoyed a nice hot shower when we got home. Now that I've discovered your marvelous blog, it looks like you'll have me captive for days. Can't wait to meet up with you folks again .... you're great camping neighbors :-)


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