Thanksgiving Camping in GA Part II

Posted on 11/28/2023 in misc

Trip: 40
Nights: 130-137

Part 1

Photo Album

We woke up Wednesday morning to more rain, which killed our plans to go birding before heading out. We only had a 90-minute drive to our next stop, so there was no hurry. Since birding was a bust, we instead packed up and headed out to the Hofwyl Broadfield Plantation State Park in GA. It was a rice plantation with over 350 enslaved workers from 1820 through the Civil War. After the war it started a slow decline and became a dairy operation around 1920. The last owner, the great-granddaughter of the founder, willed it to the state on her death in the early 1970s. We got a private guided tour of the house as the only visitors there at noon the day before Thanksgiving. The tour was fine, but it was very just the facts and lacking personal color regarding the people whose story could be told there.

After lunch in the truck, we made the 30-minute drive to Blythe Island Regional Park for a 1 night stay. We should have been at Jekyll Island, but somebody screwed up and left Wednesday off the registration. The campground is okay. The park is nice, but the campsites are too close to each other, and this place very much caters to the large 5th wheel and Class A crowd. Also, people at this campground were weirdly obsessed with leaf blowers. We were camping in the woods, and we saw three different people blowing leaves away from their campers that were parked in the woods, under trees. It did have the best campground wifi we've ever experienced, though. We did a walk around the lake birding and though the birds were mostly hiding, I added 1 species to my life list. I made cacio e pepe for dinner, and it was fabulous. After some campfire and chill time, we did the YouTube and chill thing in the camper.

Photo collage

We got up at 7 AM on Thanksgiving to take showers, then relaxed in the camper watching the Macy's parade until it was time to move out. We got to Jekyll around 1130 AM and campground check in was at 1. I can park the Ascape anywhere, so we parked at the fishing pier and spent 90 minutes birding before a picnic lunch. The boat-tailed grackles here have no fear of humans. They landed on the picnic table and squawked at us. It didn't work. We don't feed the wildlife. After we set up camp, we split because our existence was upsetting our camping neighbor, who apparently drove up from Florida with his six figure 5th wheel to sit under the camper awning and watch college football. We went to Driftwood Beach, the ruins of a 1742 plantation that includes Georgia’s first brewery, and a beach on the south end of the island that looks west for sunset. Sunset was underwhelming. Then we when went to Cracker Barrel for Thanksgiving dinner. When we returned to the campground after dinner at the late hour of 7:30 our too close neighbors were apparently already in bed. So we got some campfire and chill time without having to listen to their TV.

I'm typing this paragraph on Thanksgiving, and I have plenty to be thankful for. But that is not going to stop me from bitching about Jekyll Island Campground. It's the only campground on the island. My camper is maybe 12 feet from the neighboring camper, and that is only because I was able to pull my tiny camper forward in the spot. If I was backed to the edge, I would be 6 feet from him. They have way too many campsites crammed into this space. Also, it was simply the least friendly campground we’ve ever stayed at. Not a single person said hello as they walked by the campsite. Michelle witnessed two women fighting in the bathroom over who used up the hot water, and another woman yelled at Michelle from the shower when she flushed the toilet. I’ve lived in an old frat house with bad plumbing, and it was expected that you would yell flush first so that the person in the shower could step out of the way for a second until the temperature leveled out. But not flushing was never an option. That said, the bathrooms were clean, but very dated. As we were packing to leave, I saw a state trooper driving out of the campground. Given the family argument we heard from a neighboring campsite on Thanksgiving, I’m guessing he was called out at 7 AM for a domestic dispute of some sort. The whole vibe of the campground was just off.

Photo collage

On Black Friday, we started the day on the retail end of Jekyll Island, where we were able to knock out some Christmas shopping in the local independent shops. We also visited the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, which is a rehabilitation facility for injured sea turtles. It is a really great facility doing good work, and we learned a lot about sea turtles. Only 1 in 4000 baby sea turtles survives to mating age, which is approximately 23-25. So the couple of dozen the center saves each year is actually rather impactful. We also stopped in the local Irish Pub for a pint and a snack. We spent the late afternoon cleaning out the truck and loading up to head home on Saturday morning. After burgers for dinner, we headed back into the historic district for the Christmas Light tour. We hopped on an open air trolley for the 45-minute ride through the area where over 1 million lights were on display. It was certainly a much better time than our last Christmas light tour.

We hit the road about 8:30 AM on Saturday morning, headed for Badin Lake Campground, which is a National Forest Campground in NC where we planned to spend the night. We got there with no issues, but the quiet, empty campground I was expecting was not there. Apparently it’s a popular campground with the local ATV crowd, as almost all the campsites were filled with tents, large 4X4s, and heavy-duty ATVs. It felt like crashing a party we were not invited to. We arrived just before dark, so by the time I was parked and leveled, we simply went into the camper and stayed there for the night. It dipped below freezing that night, and my camper battery, which I’ve known was on its last year of service all summer, didn’t quite make it through the night. The propane alarm went off very loudly at 630 AM from low voltage, as we realized we could have light or heat, but not both. So we turned off the heat, packed up, and headed home. Since it was the Sunday after Thanksgiving, I decided to stay off the interstates and take a state and US highway route home that was only 45 minutes longer assuming we cruised the interstates at the speed limit all the way, which was highly unlikely. As I pulled into a gas station to fill up (both gas and coffee) the oil pressure light came on. I was a quart low, and fixing that seemed to eliminate the issue. The engine has 125K miles on it and about 8000 miles since the last oil change, so burning a quart in that time is not particularly concerning. It was due for an oil change anyway, so it’s at the mechanic now, and I asked them to take a look for possible leaks. The rest of the trip was a scenic if uneventful drive through rural NC and Virginia. We got home to a forecast of low 20s on Monday night, so I had to drop everything and winterize the camper Sunday afternoon.

Photo collage

Update - no evidence of an oil leak.

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