I pulled out of Magnolia Springs and that was as good as it got. It was a long, exhausting and exasperating day.
The slides came in very slowly and I had to pry the jack up AGAIN. The road out of Magnolia Springs to I-95 was unbelievable. Down one after another tiny wash board road and by the time I’d stopped for gas I was ready to just cancel Poinsett and my next stop at Medoc State Park in North Carolina and head back to the farm directly.
But a Dairy Queen Blizzard convinced me to forge ahead. Never trust Blizzards. The roads in South Carolina were equally bad and the most narrow and pot holed roads of all were inside the park. The campground is up a seriously steep rough road not even wide enough for two cars to pass. As I climbed up the road in Winnona with Ruby on the back I hoped no one would be coming down and there would be somewhere up there to take the car off of the RV before backing into campsite #2.
When I got up there without any car having to back up the road to let me continue, I stopped, got out and found that I would have to take the car off in the road as there was no where else. No one could get around me while I was doing that. And even worse, I found the entrance to the campsite was between two trees and there was a 3rd tree in the middle of the site. Even after having driven all day long at ridiculously slow speeds due to the horrible roads, I seriously thought about leaving - but for where at 4:30pm?
It had been an entirely horrible day until my neighbors, Dave and Lynn from Michigan, in site #1 driving a nearly identical Winnebago Adventurer, got out and came over to see if they could help. They said they had wondered who would try to get into this site and hoped it would not be a big rig. The opening between the trees looks much larger in my wide angle lens than it was in person. Plus the roots in the entrance and on the narrow road made it very hard to maneuver the RV into place to back it in. In the end Dave volunteered to back it in for me. I was so exhausted, I didn’t see how that couldn’t be a great thing. He and Lynn managed to get between the two trees and beside the 3rd one. Not sure what I would have done without them. They saved my day from being a total disaster. Thank you, thank you, thank you Dave and Lynn.
And I also can’t believe the only pictures I have of them are these from a hike we took on Saturday. I have lots of their backs on that hike but these are the only ones of their faces, not great but one is ok of Lynn and the other is ok of Dave. Duke the Wonder Dog looks great in both pictures. More on him later.
When I went to bed that night I found that the rough roads, even at my 30 and 40 mph speeds had left 3 pieces of clothing hanging in my closet. In 10 years of full timing I have never had more than 1 or 2 things on cheap hangers fall off the rod.
SO glad to have the horrible Thursday travel day behind me, I was up and out (after unsuccessfully playing the Reserve America lottery) for a hike on the Whippoorwill Trail which goes off directly from the campground. While Poinsett is definitely NOT for big rigs, it does the partially redeeming value of an extensive trail system.
You can see the Whippoorwill Trail in yellow adjacent to the campground. I followed its entire circuit getting lost once and having to backtrack. It was good exercise though I didn’t see anything of note but leafless trees and some tiny wintergreen plants. I’ve gone one state North but it’s still too early. It’s still winter.
In spite of that, it was good to be outside and hiking in the natural world which is beautiful in every stage. There were some cute little long leaf pines just coming up. The tree I could look completely through that was still alive was a bit of a wonder. When I passed that tree with the hole in it for a second time, I knew I was going in circles.
Little Longleaf trail guards.
Isn’t it darling. Looks like an umbrella with those great long needles. At one time, the southeast was covered with longleaf pines.
Here’s the tree that saved me from going round and round on this fairly long loop trail. Yes that is a window through the front tree half way up. And someone’s home in the tree behind at ground level. Nice front yard.
My site was #2 at the entrance to the campground so I had to walk its length to get to the trail head at the back. When I left there were possibly 8 or so sites with RVs in them. When I returned the campground was totally full. It is Friday.
The rest of the world arrived in their tiny tow behinds and popups. Some with their sleeping quarters on their car roofs. Obviously they knew the Reserve America statement that this park is suitable for big rigs was a lie.
I’d only seen one of these car top things before and just can’t imagine sleeping in it. Especially this one since it looks like it is listing the the left. No one seems to pay much attention to the sites or site limits or boundaries.
I was making dinner inside when I heard someone chopping. I thought they were splitting firewood but it seemed like it was right outside my window. So I looked out to see if it was the person in the next site over. I didn’t have the presence of mind to take a picture of what I saw which was someone actually using a hatchet to chop down a small sapling in my campsite. I was furious and incredulous but in rural South Carolina I thought better of going out and confronting the woodsman whom you can see next to his “RV” in this picture. But I watched to see what he was doing. How could he think he could burn green wood in his campfire. Well that was not his intent. Do you see what he did with the sapling?
It turned out that his pop top wouldn’t stay up. It had a broken support and he was making do. Below is a better look at the sapling.
Here’s my set up. I have two cell phones for coverage hopefully anywhere and a laptop with a mi-fi and still my signal is minimal in many of the places I camp. SIGH……….. that’s a separate but clearly related issue since I can’t compete with the folks using DSL to get campsites.
I have each device set to a different site. At 7:59 after assuring them I am not a robot, I start clicking “book”. As soon as I get to 8am and am told sorry that site’s been taken, I hit the first phone and then the second. I have the best luck with the laptop but TODAY I actually got a site for two weeks beginning February 13 2022 at Silver Springs State Park. AND I did it with a mediocre signal no less. This marks a full month of trying every day and being shut out every day until today. So now, what to do from January 16 to February 13? But that’s a problem for another day. (BTW I know Jan 16-Feb 13 isn’t a full month but I started looking for a site days before I absolutely had to have one). Still I’m thrilled not to have to play the reservation game for at least another 10 days.
But I’ve also been playing the vaccine game, checking the CVS website daily for slots for the Covid vaccine back in Virginia. No luck there yet so I’ll have to continue that multiple times a day.
Second good thing was hiking on the Laurel trail my 3 neighbors. Lynn wanted to look for a particular trail she’d been trying to find earlier in their week here. Spoiler, we didn’t find it but we had a good time anyway.
We headed up the steps to the Laurel Trail. It’s in the lower area of the park in the section that looks like the tip of Texas on the map.
Sandy rivers in South Carolina.
We checked out the old Mill site and Mill Race on the way.
And a CCC built shelter. Those guys were everywhere and obviously did very good work given that it was 90 years ago and things still look perfect. Someone does need to get the moss off of the roof. The earlier pictures of Dave and Lynn were taken on these steps.
The woods was mature and open of understory. I did see some Bloodroot, named for its red sap particularly in the roots and used as a dye and for medicinal purposes by Native Americans. I looked for other ephemeral wildflowers without success. Still spring is on its way though I won’t be here when it arrives. As we were chatting away, I mostly forgot to take pictures. It’s not often that I have anyone to hike with now and it was great.
Afterwards I stopped their place by to get some other pictures of Duke who is so incredibly well trained and great to hike with. I’m not usually a fan of large dogs but he is amazing. I told him if they didn’t treat him right, he was welcome to move in with me. He wasn’t all that excited about having his picture taken and sadly not interested at all in my offer.
Duke also has his own chariot for Dave’s long bike rides. I had missed seeing him in it by arriving late in their stay.
Sunday is “spring forward” day. I have done many ranting posts on this unnecessary, who benefits?, disruption of everyone’s body clock so I won’t repeat myself. My motto is PICK ONE, stick with it and stop this twice a year idiocy.
This morning all the folks who’d shown up Friday afternoon packed up and left and by mid morning the campground was turning into a ghost town. The roof toppers, who’d been parked nose to nose, pulled out just as I headed for another hike. Lynn and Dave had gone to see Congaree National Park which I’ve visited several times. So I was on my own.
Compare this with Friday’s picture of the campground.
There seem to be two main trail entrances at Poinsett, the one off the campground and the one we started at yesterday with the boardwalk across the water and steps up to the connector trail. From each you can choose several trails to hike or combine them for a longer hike which is what I did.
Same starting point and I have to say, the connector was the most scenic and closest to the water of my entire hike.
By choosing a different connecting Trail, I managed to find the trail she was looking for and made a loop out of it. Which to take first? Hi knot or low knot?
I’m thinking Lo knot, nearer the water right? Turns out it was the wasn’t very close to the water. Can you even see the water? It’s that light tan horizontal at the bottom of the hill.
I walked down the hill through the leaves a bit to get closer to the stream and found the biggest tree that I recall of any of my hikes. So I took our picture together, tree hugger that I am. The first one is my too slow attempt to beat the camera flash.
Hi Knot actually turned out to be closer to the water but higher up other than at this one point.
Not much else to report on the hike. No birds or flowers or mammals wanted their pictures taken. A wintery woods on a Sunday afternoon in Mid March in rural South Carolina.
Sorry to say there are no more pictures to accompany my trip north from Florida. Lots of things happened but I was too involved and busy for pictures.
I have one more day here but in checking the weather, I find rain is predicted for all day on Tuesday when I would be traveling. I hate packing up and driving in the rain particularly since I have to force that jack up with a crowbar, dump the tanks and am going to have to ask the camphost to lead me with his golf cart down the horribly potted single lane road into the campground so I don’t meet someone coming up. It’s not a big chance given that the campground doesn’t look very popular during the week. There’s really nothing more I want to do here at Poinsett so I’ve decided to skip my last day/night and leave in the dry weather tomorrow.
I also see that rain is predicted for 3 of my 5 days at Medoc Mountain State Park in North Carolina. That means only my first and last days would be dry. I’m tired of fighting the jack to get it up and frankly just am not feeling from the descriptions that Medoc would be worth the hassle. If any of you have been there, please give me your first hand report. So I cancel Medoc to head straight to Virginia.
I had planned to stay in the Lumberton Walmart on my way from Poinsett to Medoc and then drive directly home from Medoc. This change in plans sets me up for two Camp Walmart nights in a row. Lumberton NC and Roanoke Rapids NC. Two successive nights is rare in my case.
But that’s what I do. Cancel on Sunday, and on Monday drive the horrible campground road and the wider but equally bad Park road and then 19 miles on a S.C. rural road to I-95. 125 miles or so later I’m in Lumberton where despite having at least 1/2 the parking lot to choose from a Semi pulls in next to me and runs his engine all night long. Well it is the Ides of March. Still nothing really terrible has happened. Very glad for that.
On Tuesday I drive only 152 miles but it was all in the rain and at least half of it in work zones. Concrete barriers about 1/2 foot from the white line on the right and tractor trailers whizzing by throwing water on my windshield on the left. White knuckle time!!
No pictures of either Camp Walmart but in Roanoke Rapids it was so cold over night I had to run the generator to keep warm. But there is a gas station there where I can fill up. Morning can’t come too soon until I go out to set the Blue Ox brake controller to pull out and into the gas station. It says low battery and will not set up. Low battery? Is that really true? I disconnect it and try to start the car. Won’t start. Too many very cold nights I suspect. Ok so I’ll jump the battery and we’ll be on our way. Won’t jump either. Long story short. 3 hours later I have the only battery they had for my 2002 Honda Accord which was a 1 year battery. SIGH……….. But looking on the bright side, at least I was in a Walmart Parking lot when it happened.
So despite the battery and the rain and everything else, on Wednesday afternoon March 17, St. Patrick’s Day (too bad I don’t drink beer), I am back at home base where it is freezing, literally. Low of 30, 28 and 29 degrees my first three days back. But, it could have been even worse since 10 days before it had been 19 and 20 degrees. No wonder I head south until April. This is the earliest I’ve returned to Virginia since we bought Winnona 10 years ago. Covid and hydraulic problems forced me into it.
BUT – I MADE IT despite everything.