Last fall, we bought a 6×10 cargo trailer, and over the winter we converted it to a bare-bones camping trailer. We did a couple of shakedown trips, and on May 23 we started our first vacation camping in the trailer instead of a tent. Our first day of driving was not as stressful as I expected, even with learning new skills like pulling up to a gas pump with the trailer in tow.
The first night, we camped in the Uwharrie National Forest just south of Greensboro, NC. We drove miles and miles over bumpy, dusty roads, past several large horse camps where families were eating dinner, the family at the picnic table on one side of the campsite, the horses on the other. The family campground is on Badin Lake, a large lake popular with boaters and anglers, and the place was full to capacity. However, the sites were large and fairly private. We pulled into our site, and got a surprise when we opened the trailer. The interior looked like a hurricane had hit it, with all our gear strewn on the bed and floor. After restoring order, we cooked dinner and enjoyed a short walk along the lake shore before turning in for the night. With the trailer doors and windows open, we enjoyed a nice breeze.
In the morning, we battened everything down as securely as possible, and by midafternoon, we arrived at Hunting Island State Park, a barrier island on the coast of South Carolina. Last September, the mosquitoes here nearly ate us alive. It’s been a dry spring, and except for a few no-see-ums, we had no bugs this time. The raccoons were as hungry and clever as ever, and we lost a package of Aunt Jemima pancakes that we hadn’t stored securely enough overnight. We certainly knew better and deserved a pot of oatmeal for breakfast.
Hunting Island was nearly booked up when I reserved, and I was only able to get 4 days there, split between two sites. It wasn’t a long move, just across the street. We were thinking checkout time was 2 PM, but after getting back from a bike ride at 11:30, we realized we needed to move by 12 noon. While Dave hitched up the trailer, I threw everything I could in the back of the truck. We carried the shade canopy across the street together, and while he drove around the loop, I went to talk to the ranger and make it official. We were on our new site by 11:50. Our performance amused a neighbor who told us, “I couldn’t take the stress.”
Another couple in the campground were avid canoeists and hikers from Ocean City, MD. They visit our area several times a year to canoe the Potomac or hike the Appalachian Trail. After socializing a couple of nights in camp, we exchanged phone numbers. We’ll enjoy getting together with these new friends.
One morning we got to tag along with volunteers who check for new sea turtle nests each morning. They located some tracks, but determined that the turtle had left the beach without laying eggs. The campground area had several nests, which the volunteers had covered with screens so the raccoons wouldn’t dig up the eggs and eat them. The baby turtles will hatch out in August or September. They use the moon to decide where to find the ocean, so no lights are permitted on the beach for the protection of the mamas and babies.
On Friday, we moved up the coast to Edisto Beach State Park for one night. Unlike Hunting Island, this park is located at the edge of a resort community, with a grocery store, restaurant, souvenir shop, and convenience store across the road from the day use area.
We arrived before check in time, and had a picnic lunch in the day use area. I got out our food while Dave went to the restroom, and soon found a squirrel on the table trying to stare me down. When I tried to shoo him away, two more squirrels joined him. I didn’t know squirrels were capable of such menacing behavior, and relocated to another table some distance away. Dave had a lot of fun with the idea of my being forced to move by a gang of squirrels.
We didn’t spend much time in the park at Edisto, because it’s just an hour and a half from where my high school friend, Susie, now lives. We hadn’t seen each other since 1971 and had lost contact, but I’d found her through Facebook this spring. Don’t ask me how I remembered her married name–she’d written to me when she got married, but I’d never met her husband. We met for dinner halfway between her home and our campground. We were so excited and talked so much that we forgot to get out our cameras and take pictures. Our men were very patient with us, even though they had to remind us to order dinner. Next time, we’ll get them to remind us to get some photos.
Saturday morning, we took a long bike ride and visited a huge pile of oyster shells left by native people who used the site as a picnic ground for 4000 years. Due to lack of time, we didn’t visit the place where visitors often find fossils. We returned to the campground and made an early lunch, planning to check out at 11:59. Along came a park volunteer, who told us that a parade was lining up ten miles up the road, and the road would close at noon for several hours. Once again, we made a speedy exit and got past the floats and fire engines just in time.
Saturday evening, we camped at Lake Norman State Park in North Carolina. This is another large TVA lake, and quite beautiful if you don’t think too much about the signs warning of PCBs in the water. I was sitting in the trailer after dinner when I had a visit from a towheaded three-year-old boy in a Superman shirt. Staring at our rig, he asked, “Why you in this?” When I said, “So we’ll stay dry when it rains,” he nodded in approval.
Sunday morning we just didn’t want to head home. Maybe next year we can just keep going and going?