a winter trip to south carolina’s hills
it’s februrary tenth and we’re finally in the woods again! specifically at devil’s fork state park in the northwestern part of the state on lake jocassee just off of the cherokee scenic highway not far from the town of salem, sc. google can tell you all about it. no matter what they say it’s a damned hard place to find. we did great the first hundred or so miles (of about a hundred fifty total). after that things got a little weird. first there was a ten buck toll to travel about twenty miles on a deserted freeway (tolls are not something southerners are accustomed to). then when we got on the two lane roads our gps went wonky. damned thing took me up a small road that proved to be closed after only a quarter mile or so. it was indeed a small road with deep culverts on each side. well, nothing to do but back out. backing out with a trailer is not on my list of fun things to do. i tried a couple of times to turn the rig around to no avail. then, after a stellar display of my backing up skills (not!) i finally got back to the spot where we’d turned. this was a somewhat busy two lane with limited view of traffic. my technique was basically to close my eyes and go for it with emergency flashers on. it worked, but i wouldn’t recommend you try this. after that misadventure i foolishly followed a road sign toward what turned out to be another state park. well, even tho it was great to get directions to the park i was looking for, that visit resulted in another difficult turn around event. not as severe as the first, but time consuming. following those good ole’ boys directions i finally arrived at devil’s fork. i got checked in and a map to our site. it only took two laps around the circle to locate site number thirty eight. did i mention that all this was taking place in a driving rain storm? well, it was. and yeah, the whole setting up thing was more than moist. so, here we are. still raining but we’re hooked up to water and electricity which means heat and bathroom facilities. both make for happy campers.
not long after we were set up and i was about to relax simple started making her “take me out noises”. noises that you can’t really ignore. so…back out into the wet. now simple is very particular regarding her spots to relieve herself. finding her place took longer that i would have cared for. that spot was finally found and we returned to the trailer. then the puppy made it clear that another trip into the wet was required. another lengthly stroll in the rain. that need satiated we came back again to the warm, dry cabin.
so…here we are. sitting in the dark with that soothing sound of rain falling on the fiberglass roof. finally! i treated myself with a cup (or two) of bourbon coffee. the puppy is curled nose to toes and npr is providing the soundtrack. all’s well that ends well. we’ll talk more tomorrow….
tuesday here at devil’s fork. last night we went to bed with raindrops pelting the fiberglass roof. that soundtrack continued thru the night and greeted us when we woke. simple slept in while i drank coffee listening to the rain in the early darkness. at first light (there wasn’t much) the puppy let me know it was time for her to go outdoors. our first trip out was nothing but wet and none of it came from simple’s bladder. we both returned to the trailer frustrated with the lack of success. wasn’t long before i heard to “take me out” song so we did it again…same results. well, there wound up being five (maybe six) trips out into the monsoon before her bladder and bowels were emptied. needless to say we spent a very moist morning. i love the smell of wet dog in the morning.
around midday the rain stopped. the clouds didn’t really go away but at least they weren’t emptying their buckets on us any longer. finally a chance to get out and walk about a bit. that improved simple’s outlook a bit but, she really wants to run. i’d chance a run in with the rangers if i was sure she wouldn’t go off and get lost…she’s still very much a puppy.
as usual there’s some new stuff in our gear arsenal. one is a pretty big deal. a new truck! at over two hundred thousand miles the mighty nissan was beginning to act her age. that was a great truck that never failed to deliver whatever i asked and i didn’t feel like pressing my luck. all things considered i could see no reason to change. so, i now have the mighty nissan two. exactly like the original except it has four doors and a proper back seat. that back area with the seats folded out of the way is simple’s space. equipped with a large plush bed of furniture pad and a sleeping bag. she seems to appreciate the comfort. i chose to get an eight foot bed (that’s truck talk for the box in the back). the first nissan had the same size bed and i wasn’t interested in loosing that precious storage space and i’m able to use the topper (that’s more truck talk for the enclosure over the bed) i’d installed on the other truck. you know, the thing that makes it look like an ambulance. number two is a couple feet longer than number one. i only notice that increased length when i’m in a grocery parking lot. this is our first trip with the new and improved tow vehicle. so far i’m satisfied. a new tow vehicle inspired me to improve the storage system under that topper. now there’s all new plastic boxes (two sizes) that stack neatly and securely and generally work better that the hodge-podge of boxes i’d accumulated over the years. and yes, it is definitely my ocd in overdrive. the all electric fridge i installed last summer is working wonderfully. the days of dealing with the inconsistent behavior of the original unit is fading into just a bad memory. thank goodness…
we met and chatted with a couple of our neighbors. well, all of our neighbors since we have only two. one an older guy who’s been forced into retirement by illness and just purchased his first rv. a mid size motorhome and this was his maiden voyage. our other fellow camper is a young guy who gave up a career at microsoft, purchased a ford transit van, put in some cabinets and a bed and set out about five months ago to see america with his girlfriend. her visa ran out and she had to return to canada. he’ll travel a bit longer before moving to vancouver.
wednesday at devil’s fork. a cloudy, cool (verging on slightly cold) with little or no breeze and for a change no rain. there is a fog hugging around the lake. peacefully quiet. we did the many trip outside thing agains this morning with about the same results. dry runs… when finally there is a fruitful event the puppy and i rejoice! it’s a shame we don’t have an audience for our happy dances.
after breakfast we set out on a leisurely walk about to find a trash receptacle and just poke around a bit. stopping for a chat with the guy out on his first adventure with his new used motorhome. we were joined by a new guy from texas who travels and works out of his big trailer. his rig is a “toy hauler” and his toy is a big honkin’ harley that has it’s own room. his work involves driving remote submarines around the bottom of lakes (“aquatic drones”?). i’m not sure why this needs to be done but it seems it would be kinda fun to get paid to do that. both of these men were chronic talkers. they took turns trying to talk about one thing until the other saw a opportunity to use his voice to go right back to what he was talking about before the other guy started….i didn’t have much to say and before too long simple and i moved on.
all this strenuous activity simple and i were ready for an afternoon nap.
thursday morning after one hell of a storm sometime after midnight. shortly after i fell back asleep my slumber was interrupted yet again by a puppy vomiting in our bed. i can tell you this is not a pleasant way to wake up. lots of paper towels and a bit of water took care of the mess and then i could rearrange simple’s blanket so the wet spot wasn’t where she sleeps. it wasn’t long after that that we could both return to our dreams.
when next we woke it was still raining with serious winds blowing. as the morning progressed things gradually improved. now it’s totally beautiful. blue skies with white puffy clouds. see…if you wait long enough the camping gods will smile.
this will most likely be the last entry for this adventure. the plan is to break camp early and head home tomorrow. even with the inclement weather i feel this trip was a success. the puppy grows more comfortable and confident with each trip out. she’s on her way to becoming a true traveling dog. there’s a trip to buck hall campground scheduled for the middle of march. and…there is the possibility of a grand tour this summer. there’s still some details to be worked out but, it’s beginning to look like a seriously fun adventure so stay tuned.
and thanks for checking in….
the gnome (who remained subdued this trip, the puppy simple and your humble wanderer