Georgia Family and the Corps of Engineers

First, my apologies for the gap in posts. The last six weeks or so have been insanely busy, but we've finally got a bit of downtime and I hope to get caught up in the next few days.

We left Gulf Shores and headed north-east destined for the Marietta GA area to visit my Dad and Grandmother. We had a devil of a time finding an RV site there, mostly because of the inability of Sweetwater Creek RV Reserve in Austell GA to get their act together. I played phone tag with them for over two months and could not get the caretaker or the owner to actually take a reservation despite both of them saying they had availability. If you're heading this way, steer clear of them. They have no idea what they're doing. Nearly all the RV parks in and around Atlanta looked like pretty run down mobile home parks and we were planning to be there for a couple of weeks, so we kept looking for something better. In the end we decided to break up our trip a bit and stay in two locations, both Corp of Engineers campgrounds.

Corp of Engineers campgrounds are generally found near dams and reservoirs that the Corp created and are run by the federal government. Most are really nice, on water, wooded, and not very expensive. The only gotcha is that most don't have sewer hookups on the sites. We can go about a week without sewer so we decided to spend 5 days at the R. Shaefer Heard park in West Point, GA and then head to the Victoria Campground on Lake Allatoona for 8 days. This way we wouldn't necessarily need sewer and we could dump on our way out of each campground. As a bonus, we'd finally get to experience these CoE campgrounds we've heard so much about. And they are NICE!

Practically had the place to ourselves!

View of the lake in the early morning light

Our site R. Shaefer Heard was a very nice spot right on the lake and the sites to either side of us remained empty making the site seem all the more private while we were there. The area was wooded and as a lover of trees I've really missed trees for the last few months (pretty much since Point Reyes and Willits, CA in Nov). Cell service was sketchy but serviceable with our booster. Crayton enjoyed the water, playground and nice weather. I got some work done and we enjoyed some nice campfires and just unwound a bit. One odd thing from our time here was the carp in the lake were in full mating frenzy causing quite a ruckus along the waterfront the last few days we were there.

Had to rescue these two from a surprise rainstorm!

Mating Carp splashed around like this for days

While we were there, a section of I-85 near downtown Atlanta collapsed after an uncontrolled fire underneath it weakened the bridge. This threw the already bad Atlanta traffic into utter chaos. Naturally this happened just 2 days before we needed to drive through Atlanta. Moving day came and we hoped that the traffic re-routed onto I-285 wouldn't be so bad. We timed our move to be going through the city mid-morning on a Friday, hoping to miss the chaos. As we were packing up, though, the bunkhouse slide wouldn't come in. We'd press the button and one side of it wanted to come in, but the other side wouldn't budge. We tried having me on the outside pushing as Pam worked the controls but that didn't work. With our time window slipping away, I called Grand Design Customer Service for help. The fellow I talked to asked a few questions and decided to have me reset the controller for the slide. After finding it and walking me through resetting it, the slide came in. A quick re-calibration later and we were back in business. Yes, that's right, we had to reboot our slide. Must be running Windows 95.

By now, though, we'd lost several hours and it looked like we were going to be going through Atlanta in mid-afternoon, just before the evening rush hour. Sure enough we got caught in some traffic, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been and by 5pm we were rolling into the Victoria CoE Campground on Lake Allatoona. This was another great campground with wooded spacious sites on the lake-shore. The site we had picked out online was super-private, but was tricky to back-in to. There were both large trees and a ditch on either side of the nearly 90 degree entrance off a narrow campground loop road. To my utter surprise and intense delight, I nailed it on the first try. I'm sure it will be months or years before I match that feat of camper wrangling. We weren't right on the water this time as we'd made our reservations pretty late and this visit was going to be over a weekend so all the waterfront sites were taken. In hindsight this was nice, though, as the non-waterfront sites had a lot more room and privacy.

That's right, I backed our beast into that!

The focus of our time here was to visit family, so we spent some time Saturday at my dad's new place in Marietta. Crayton's twin step-cousins were there visiting and a neighbor girl about their age came over to play as well and they had a great time enjoying the swing set and shed my dad had redone as a playhouse in the yard. We then got to visit and catch up, not having seen each other in about two years. It was a lovely afternoon. We had taken advantage of having somewhere to ship things and ordered two inflatable kayaks and a portable holding tank that we could use to shuttle waste water to the dump station without having to haul the entire camper over there. Thanks Dad for playing post office for us!

Kids playing in their 'fort'

Back at camp we tried out the kayaks. They were remarkably sea-worthy given how inexpensive they were. It is kind of a pain to set them up and an even bigger pain to clean, dry and put them away, but I could see them being nice to have when we're near water and going to be there for a bit. Time will tell if we'll get much use out of them for the added weight to the camper. If we choose not to keep them we won't have lost much money in the process. Crayton really seemed to enjoy our little trip around the lake. We might make a boat-lover out of him, yet.

Trying out the new inflatable kayaks

The next afternoon we drove down to Douglasville to visit my grandmother. At 94 (I think? bad grandson!), she's getting up there, but is still just as unstoppable as always. She would have cooked us a four-course meal if we'd let her. Crayton enjoyed the two dogs at the Residential Care Home she lives at and Nanny doted all over him. This was another case where it kinda stinks to have what little family I have spread all over the country. It makes it difficult to see everyone as much as I'd like. I'm hopeful that our nomadic lifestyle will make that easier and we'll visit more often...or at least allow the visits we do make to be longer.

Three of four generations of Stubers. Wish Dad could have made it!

The next work-week we visited my dad another couple of times, went to dinner with he and his wife at a nice Indian restaurant and also had a nice visit from an old college friend who lives in the area. Jonathan is a delight to talk to and he hit it off with Crayton. It was great to catch up, my friend, I hope we cross paths again soon!

A visit from Jonathan!

Eventually it was time to move on, Our next major destination being another week on the gulf coast in Eastpointe Florida, but we broke up the long drive by staying for the weekend at Reed Bingham State Park in Adel, GA. This was another reservoir campground (I'm seeing a pattern here on the east coast), but it was quite nice with a huge playground, miniature golf, hiking trails, two swimming beaches and lots of weekender friends for Crayton to play with. We only had two nights and a day here, but it was a great restful stopover on our way south.

Checking the map hiking at Reed Bingham State Park

Tortoise Friend!

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We went from 3700 square feet in the suburbs to 370 on wheels. We work and travel fulltime with our son and kitty.


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