Monday, March 21, 2011

Shangri-La

Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina
As a child, I came to this island many summers.
I fell in love with islands, summer, the sea and boats.
When we packed up to leave after our  one or two week stay, I would cry.
As an adult, I eventually managed to  pursue those loves.
This island has changed very little since then, thanks to the protection afforded by  being a gorgeous state park.
Last November, I spent 24 hours of pure heaven here. I cried when I left.
(You can use my search box in the right column to read about Hunting Island last November).
Now it's March and through a miracle, I find myself back here again, in spite of the lengthy detour when I became lost.  




After spending the past 9 weeks in a crowded RV park, with tiny lots,  I am now able to spread out and commune with nature.
As you may know from my past posts, my motorhome loves trees! 
See "My Motorhome Is A Tree Hugger"



The campground is quiet except for nature. Birds of all types are singing that spring is here!

I see the sunrise playing peek a book through the jungle that separates me from the Atlantic Ocean. I lay in bed with the shades up, rubbing the tummy of my puppy dog, who is ensconced in his kitty cat bed, which is situated on the corner of my bed. He drifts back to sleep, while I slowly wake up, marveling at the sheer beauty of tropical oasis.

I think I am in heaven. Any moment, I expect the angels to come fluttering by.

I check my calendar. Guess what? Today is the first day of spring. No wonder the birds are so happy.

This is just so funny, because Saturday it was very hot like mid summer.  Then Sunday, it turned bitterly cold with chilly winds.  I heard on the radio it was record breaking high  temperatures for Saturday, but I didn't recall if they said for which area, but my motorhome was over 100 degrees inside when Camping World graciously offered me electricity during my overnight stay. Actually, once the motorhome cooled down and the sun set, I was able to shut the air-conditioning off and open the windows back up.

Sunday, when I arrived at my Shangri-la, it was very chilly with  ferocious winds.  I looked like a total fool. When I awoke Sunday morning, I put on a bright pink tropical print sleeveless summer dress. I was excited to be on night two of my odyssey into boondocking by permission.

But for Sunday night, I had treated myself to reservations at one of my all time favorite spots in the whole wide world. Check-in was at 2pm, and I intended to be there exactly at 2.

Well, six hours later, a bedraggled puppy and I came limping into our destination, beaten down and wore out. We had drove off the map again, this time we were lost in a place we didn't want to be. Normally, we just forge ahead, making lemonade out of lemons, but we had reservations somewhere else.  Somehow, someway, we had to make sense of where we were and how to get to where we wanted to be.

It's so rare for me to have a reservation anywhere.

Normally I don't make reservations for anymore at all. I just show up, and if they have room for me, I stay, if they don't, I leave. Often I call ahead to inquire about space availability before I arrive, but I generally quit making prepaid reservations. I've been burned before and it was an expensive mistake.

Many campgrounds have overly complicated cancellation policies. Getting lost often constitutes losing your prepaid reservation. Some campgrounds charge extra if you're late.  Yes, I have seen that on several websites, an hourly surcharge if you come after your exact reservation time. So I just wing it, with a wish and a prayer.

Last June when I broke down on the highway, I had a reservation at an RV park. I had just made the reservation that morning.  The manager insisted on a credit card to hold my spot, claiming if I showed up without a reservation, they would not have room for me. That afternoon, after calling AAA for help, I called the RV park to explain my predicament.  I wanted to change my reservation, as obviously I wasn't going to make it there in time. The manager told me in no uncertain terms, that I was losing my money and that was that.

I've since discovered that where campgrounds and RV parks are concerned, there is no norm.  Everyone has there own set of unique rules, that seem vastly different than the last place. Some managers I've encountered at RV parks, should be in charge of prisons, not in charge of offering lodging to the public. Others are wonderful folks who are well aware that running an RV park or campground is part of the hospitality industry.  They make you feel welcome, as well they should.

I've come to recognize the potentially hard to deal with managers by their websites or their signage in their park. If their website is full of sentences that begin with "NO..."  or "You must..."  or a long laundry list of surcharges, you can bet the managers are not very gracious hosts. Ditto for excessive negative signage that starts with multiple "No's". I was in one pretty campground that was heavily marred with excessive signage that was all negative. It seriously detracted from an otherwise beautiful place.  I would have preferred a printed list of rules, rather than an abundance of negative signs all over creation.

As I recall, the scenario last June,  went something like this; I called around noon for space available. I foolishly made a reservation for that night and gave them my credit card number, per their insistence that they were hugely popular and a spot for me would not be available without a prepaid reservation. Three hours later, I broke down just as rush hour traffic descended upon my location. After speaking with AAA, I called the RV park to explain my predicament and asked to cancel my reservation.

She insisted on keeping my money, so I asked to apply the money to the following night, assuming I was able to repair the motorhome, as all this was happening on a Friday in late afternoon, but I was assured that my RV would be repaired Saturday, if all went well.  The manager would not allow me to change my reservation, claiming they had turned away multiple reservations because of me. She acted like I was pushing them into poverty and near bankruptcy or some such foolishness because I had the bad manners to break down on the highway. She charged my credit card for the night I never got to use.

Just for grins and giggles,while waiting on AAA,  I called a friend of mine and asked him to call the RV Park, claiming to be a large family with 4 RV's, wanting four spaces for that night. Incredibly, the RV park told them they had exactly 4 spaces left, but would need their credit card, because otherwise they would fill up and the family wouldn't have accommodation.

So it sort of burned me up, that this RV park, was not at all suffering because my motorhome had the bad manners to have an emergency. They obviously were going to bed that night, with empty spots in their campground.  Furthermore, they had apparently not turned others away, at my expense at all, as they had claimed.

Since then, I've been very gun shy about making prepaid reservations except at super popular places, which I rarely frequent anyhow, but it happens.

Like my Shangri-La, where I am now, is popular, sad to say *giggle*.  But what the heck, I went to kindergarten. I learned to share.






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