Mistletoe State Park: Dry Lake and Frozen Pipes

  Clarks Hill Lake at Mistletoe State Park

Clarks Hill Lake at Mistletoe State Park

I think the common thread for this trip is the changeable spring weather. We expected warm weather (rain or shine) at the southern parks and cold at the northern parks. So far, we are finding the opposite! We arrived at Mistletoe this afternoon (half way stop on the way to Black Rock Mountain), and the winds are howling, but it should be warmer tomorrow and almost 71 on Friday. I am not sure what we will find at Black Rock Mountain or Cloudland Canyon and just hopeful we will find warm and sunny at our last stop at Florence Marina State Park. 

So far, Mistletoe has been the park with the best water view. We found a site facing the lake and spent the afternoon looking out at the water from inside the RV. The wind we experienced at Crooked River followed us the whole trip to Mistletoe and then kicked up as we settled into our campsite. The wind and low temperatures were a brutal combination, so no kayaking and no hiking this afternoon. We just stayed snugly inside watching the white caps whipped up by the strong breeze. We took quite a few photos, and then retreated back inside as the sun went down. We played guitar and uke for a while before dinner and wrapped the day with a little TV. 

One of the challenges is the low cell signal here. Now, I know we are "roughing it" but for us, the internet is a life line necessity. We communicate with the family by text and submit blog posts and instagram photos. No signal, or low signal, means we have to postpone the posting until we can find a better signal. Fortunately, texting uses such a small amount of signal that, once the wind stopped, we could at least communicate with the family. I keep up a conversation with my granddaughters each evening by text, so missing that is most certainly a hardship! 

We also learned we are quickly outpacing our data plan. Even though we have 15GB, we have used almost 70% of the plan in just a few days. With another 10 days on the road, we will be way over our limit. Part of the issue is uploading photos for the blog. The other is watching netflix in the evening. Between the West Wing and the photo uploads, we are zooming through our data allowance. In the future, I will try to locate wifi in each destination where I can upload photos and blog posts. That will lighten the load a bit. Time to upgrade our data plan.

"Glamping" is what they call it. We sleep in a queen sized bed, cook on an induction cook top, have refrgierator and freezer, tv and stereo, full shower and bathroom, as well as heat and air conditioning. Not exactly roughing it!

Nonetheless, we do enjoy being outside. Hiking and kayaking all day, playing the guitar and uke, reading - all without any set schedule. That is part of the sabbatical experience. We are enjoying the beauty of each place and learning new things as we go along. That learning is about the RV experience, the travel experience and how to conduct a proper sabbatical. Every trip helps us get more comfortable with the unit. Every destination allows us to learn something new about the people and places. Every evening's campfire or stargazing gives us time for reflection on why we are doing this. 

  The pines are so tall! Beautiful against a brilliant March sky.

The pines are so tall! Beautiful against a brilliant March sky.

Day 2 at Mistletoe

We woke this morning to 25 degree temps outside and a frozen water filter on the hose from the camp hook up. Turns out the hose was fine, but the filter froze solid. We put it in the shower to thaw and simply ran water directly from the hookup through the main RV filter system. I am glad that the unit has an all-RV water filter. We bought a filter for the intake hose to act as a primary filter between the hook up and the RV. That gives us double filtration - important since we use it as our main water source. What we didn't consider is that the exposed hose and filter need insulation in these low temperatures.

Once that excitement was resolved, we made breakfast and bundled up for a morning hike. It was very cold, but the wind had stopped, so it was still and very sunny. The hike was beautiful - through the tall pine woods circling back to the lake shore and then the RV camp.

  The color blaze on the trees indicate which trail you are hiking

The color blaze on the trees indicate which trail you are hiking

This park offers several good trails that range from 1.25 miles to 6.25 miles over varying terrain with elevations that climb or drop between 10 and 25% over 200 feet. Each trail is assigned a color and are well marked on the trees lining the trail. There was no concern about getting lost here. We finished the first trail in about an hour, rested a bit, and then walked for another 30 minutes around the lake shore.

This is an army core of engineers lake and is lowered in the winter to prevent flooding during spring rains. Even with the low water levels the lake is impressive. About 74,000 acres with a huge main pool. We walked the dry edges noting that we would be five feet under water if the level was up! The bottom was gravel and clay and there are long stretches of sedimentary rock that emanate from the banks into the lake bed.  It was interesting to see the layers of clay that make up these "roots" of some ancient mountain. The rock crumbled easily underfoot and the dry lake bed was littered with the gravel from these disintegrating roots. 

  A dry lake bed reveals a few surprises.... clams?

A dry lake bed reveals a few surprises.... clams?

We walked along and saw thousands of tiny shells- I suppose they are fresh water clams and I am sure the birds must love them. So many of the little clam shells were still "hinged" together, which is unusual to find on the seashore. Further down one dry peninsula we saw a sign and walked over to read it: "Danger, shoals ahead!" Well, it will be a shoal when there is water covering them, but for now it is just a pile of rocks and gravel beyond the sign. We will have to come back when the water level returns to normal so that we can see just how far that area is from shore.

After lunch, we ventured out again to walk a bit and finally settled in on the patio of the campsite with our chairs, basking in the sunshine. Even though it was still cold, it was lovely to sit outside and gaze on the lake. The light breeze that kicked up in the afternoon rippled the surface of the lake and created a lapping sound as it came ashore. Very peaceful. The only other sound was the wind through the tall pines. At first, I thought it was the sound of traffic on a nearby road, but soon realized there were no thoroughfares in this area, and the sound only occurred as the wind swept through the trees.

  Another beautiful sunrise

Another beautiful sunrise

It is Thursday, and the weekend campers are beginning to arrive this afternoon. One by one, the vacant campground sites are being inhabited by tents, campers and RVs. I suppose by the time we leave tomorrow morning, there will be nearly a full house. When we arrived, there were perhaps 20 RVs in 90 sites. We chose a site that allowed us to park broadside to the lake so that our awning and side window faces the water. With no campers on either side, it meant our view was just the lake. It has been delightfully quiet, peaceful and private. Quite a difference from our site at Seminole or Crooked River, both of which were quite busy.

We will head for my daughter's home tomorrow to spend a couple of nights there to watch the grandkids while she and her husband steal away for a night. The break from camping comes at a good time. We need to do laundry and we also need to go grocery shopping for the second half of the trip. This break at my daughter's will allow us to take care of that and, bonus, get to see the grand kids too! We will be back on the road on Sunday and headed to park number 4: Black Rock Mountain.  

Truly the weather has been a player in this trip. Where we thought we would have warm weather, we had chilly weather. Where we expected to have cold weather, the forecast is for warm temperatures! It is a good thing we packed for both, although I didn't expect to need my thermals in South Georgia! 

It has been too cold in each park to kayak, but I am hoping for a chance in at least one of the next three parks. Perhaps the weather will cooperate and we can get out on the water. If not, we will enjoy the hiking and make the best of the weather. Having learned about the water filter's propensity to freeze, we will keep a closer eye on the weather reports over the rest of the trip.