Saturday, June 15, 2013

Good Tidings and Cooler Heads

Good tidings!

How do angels just fall out of the sky when I least expect them?   It's a miracle.

I called the volunteer coordinator to ask about moving to another park or campground or somewhere (anywhere!) with shade until I sussed out this air conditioning problem. I was hoping they might let me borrow a shady camp site until something was worked out about my ailing failing air conditioner.  I planned to eventually return to my volunteer park host spot.  I hated to make this request, it made me seem like a failure.

I have been park hosting at a busy boat ramp and not so busy picnic park on the lake, there is no campground, just the park host spot. It gets super hot some days (not all) when the wind dies and the heat literally rises up to greet me. Just an unfortunate lay of the land and asphalt.

The ranger was aware I was previously having electrical problems which it turns out might have been the power company.  Might...

However, I did go over my entire electrical system recently. Plus two others in the know checked over it to. The little coop power company was laying new lines near me. Also a recent storm knocked down a lot of trees on top of lines, so there was ongoing repair work. Were they causing fluctuations in power?

I was explaining to the volunteer coordinator the strange phenomenon that some days (not all) the sweltering heat from the black asphalt where the truck, boat and trailer parking is, would waft right up the hill then sit stagnant in my campsite, sending my temperatures 10-15-20 F degrees hotter than the rest of the park. Mornings and late afternoons I was treated to shade thanks to the tall forest, but those few hours of full sun and the extra heat wafting up from the asphalt, on a windless day was getting to be a little too rough on me especially since the air conditioning was kicking breakers every 10-15 minutes. I was becoming delirious.

My camera just doesn't do justice to the  depth perception on this picture. The parking lot is black asphalt but the sun is brightly bouncing off of it, it slopes downwards from my park host spot which is higher on a hill behind me as I take this picture. This has been my volunteer workamping for 6 out of 12 months the past 3 years. 

Oh how I wish I was young and healthy again when such things like the fluctuating weather never bothered me at all.

The ranger mentioned that another US Army Corps recreation park on Lake Hartwell had a vacancy. She thought it would be a bit cooler.  She suggested I make a temporary move, then let her know which park the bark ranger preferred. If Harley dog loved it, then I could be reassigned to the new park. She said the USACE would be delighted to have me move there.

The park was 25 miles away in another state. How ironic, I was born, raised, bloomed and harvested in South Carolina where the park was located.

It was late in the afternoon when she told me all this by phone. I was covered in stinky sweat but the thought of taking a nice drive in my little old wheel estate to another park while the engine's dash air blew icy cold comfort on me sounded positively delicious.  I filled up a pint sippy cup of iced tea then hit the road.

Last autumn on a freakishly hot day, my engine AC quit cooling me. When I went to get more freon, I found out I had to convert my old beast to a newfangled freon.  Last winter on a cold frigid day,  I managed to have my engine air conditioner upgraded and repaired in Florida. My friend who came to pick me up for a day of sightseeing in their car, thought it was funny that in the dead of winter I was repairing my dash air conditioner. I said "But one day it will suddenly be hot and I will be ever so grateful I repaired this last winter.  Besides, once you start falling behind in maintenance, it snowballs and suddenly it seems like there is just too much to fix and too little wallet."

Thursday afternoon, Harley and I wandered down country roads for 9 miles, then traversed 14 miles up the interstate to South Carolina.  We made the correct exit but managed to miss all our turns, so I had to do a few strange maneuvers in my little old wheel estate until I finally found the park.  Funny how the last 2 miles turned into 5.

The new old park has a sandy beach with a beautiful swim area, a picnic shelter for private parties and a triple boat ramp with the obligatory large parking lot. I found the Park Host spot (no campground because this is a day use  public park.)

Just for grins, I backed my rig in, plugged up the electricity, turned on the AC, then took the little Bark Ranger on patrol. Harley was thrilled with the new park as we toured it on foot and paw. We looked over the spacious park host spot. By now I was dead tired, and seriously debated whether to spend the night or not.

But I figured if I was to pack up my patio camp at the former spot, I would need to start at the crack of dawn. Back on the road for 15 miles we had a leisurely trip with darkening skies. Then 10 miles from home the heavens opened up with a huge downpour. We were reduced to driving at a snail's pace.

Arriving back at the old park host spot, the rains stopped but everything outside was soaking wet.  Grrr... I ate a bowl of oatmeal and went to bed.

At 5am Friday, I wearily climbed out of my lair making coffee with eyes half mast. It was a huge wet mess to gather up my outdoor living gear.  Everything was wet or muddy and quadruple its normal weight. In short order my work gloves were covered in Georgia red mud and muck.

Sometime before noon, I managed to finally depart with my worldly goods, with a promise to return another day for the firewood left behind.

An hour later, I was setting up camp at our new home. Friends called to say they were coming to visit, so I explained directions to my new location.  Ironically it shaved 20 miles off their trip, so they were delighted.

Well, lawdy mercy, that built a fire under me to race around setting up my new patio with my outdoor living gear, including prominently placing the electric-wind-in-a-box where we could enjoy the maximum electric breeze.
outside patio cooling by
The fan is sitting on a board that is laid across the arm rests of an old chair that has no seat nor back. Both dry rotted but the sturdy folding chair frame makes a nice side table for keeping the fan at a preferred height. 

My friends drove up. We relaxed at my new temporary home under the shade of the awning with a large pitcher of iced tea.

Later we wandered down to the swim area, where they swam while Harley and I went on litter patrol. The beach was covered in random debris, it wasn't long before my bucket was full.

Amazingly, even in full sun, this new site never got overly hot. I did string up a white sheet as an extra sunshade to supplement the awning, so my friends weren't sitting in direct sun. The air conditioner inside purred without interruption although it did not get overly cool, it was comfy enough that had we needed refuge it would have provided some relief.

chic sunshade for RV by
An old bedsheet is re-purposed into a chic sun curtain. When the sun was bright, the sheet was draped down with a corner attached to the blue chair.  The cooling effect was amazing. When natural shade appeared, I clipped the curtain out of the way. 

I am still on the fence about the condition of my AC, whether to replace it or not. Mostly the wallet doth protest. But I do like my new park hosting location.  I might just stay.

The rangers came by to check on me and offered me this spot year round permanently, but alas, I am not quite ready to hang up the keys just yet. But they also gave me the option of continuing my assignment here, then returning next year for my usual 6 months. That might just be the ticket.  For 3 years I have workamped for them for about 6 months each year. We are both happy that I am signing on for a 4th season in 2014 whether here or there, time will tell.

While I am strangely homesick for my old location since I was on my 3rd season there, I do like the new park too. The ranger said another couple had recently expressed interest in moving to this park. I said "Um well, tell them too bad, they are too late!"

workamping by

I guess I am going to settle in here. The bark ranger approves.  Hard to tell, but in this picture he is lazing about in his favorite little blue chair surveying his new domain. . 


  1. That site looks great to me...I bet it
    will soon fell like home...just like the other one

  2. Looks like a nice site. Great improvisation with the sheet! :-)

  3. Oh, I'll take that spot!!! Bad power here forces me to use a portable a/c that pulls less power, but also puts out less cool air too. I fear it's going to be a long hot summer. I'm going to have to move my dogs back into the kennel in the house again. :-(((
    Wanna tradeS???

  4. I really like that spot. Hope it is everything and more than the other.

  5. Do you just need a "window" airconditioner, or an R/V type that goes on your roof? I might be able to supply the former...

    1. Thanks for the offer but I don't think I can do a window AC because I have no car, which means I drive the motorhome to fetch groceries. So... having a window unit hanging out might make the highway patrol a tad mad. Not sure they have a specific ticket for that, but I am sure they might think one up. LOL!


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