Off to Florida
Ocala, FL - Events of Monday, September 25 to Friday, September 29, 2017
We got a fairly early (for us) start on Monday morning on the first leg of our journey back to Florida. It was a 6-hour drive to Fort Chiswell RV Park in Max Meadows, Virginia. Even though it's a little farther than we usually like to drive in one day, Fort Chiswell RV Park is a good place for an overnight stop because it is a nice campground that has full-hookups, it's relatively quiet considering it's minutes from the interstate (it's behind a hill that blocks most of the traffic noise), and almost all the sites are pull-throughs.
The main road in the campground is paved, and the rest of the roads are gravel. Most of the sites are also gravel, but there is one row of about 10 sites where the parking pads are paved. We have gotten one of the paved sites the last few times we were there; but this time we got a site in the row in front of the paved sites. Unfortunately, the electrical hookups in that row are about midway along the length of the site making it a long stretch to the pedestal for our electric cord since our cord attaches at the rear of our rig. As you can see in the next photo, the front bumper of the truck intruded onto the road a little.
In addition to full hookups with 30/50-amp electric, Ft. Chiswell also has free Wi-fi that is pretty fast and reliable, and they have free cable. There are also good Verizon and AT&T signals. We paid just under $35 a night at Ft. Chiswell with our Good Sam discount.
We took our time leaving on Tuesday morning because we had only a three-hour drive to our next stop at Ebenezer Park in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Ebenezer Park is a county park on the banks of Lake Wylie located to north of the city of Rock Hill. We stayed there back in 2008. At that time it was a first-come-first-served campground with no reservations. Although the rules prohibited saving sites, the locals had figured out a way to put empty pup tents on sites to save them for themselves or for friends, and the rangers turned a blind eye to the practice. When we stayed there in 2008, there were very few sites available, and most of those were in the section that is heavily wooded. Fortunately, we eventually found a site that would work for our rooftop satellite dish back then.
All that has changed today. Ebenezer Park is now tied into Reserve America so the locals can no longer skirt the rules by using tents to reserve their sites. We picked our site in advance using Google Maps to help determine our rooftop satellite dish would have a clear view of the southern sky.
Ebenezer Park has one loop with open sites and one loop of heavily shaded sites. The main roads are paved, and the secondary roads, the parking pads, and the patios are somewhat dusty gravel. The sunny sites have grass between them. As far as we can tell, all the sites are full-hookup with 30/50-amp electric, and most of the sites are widely spaced. There is free Wi-fi, but we had trouble connecting to it. Fortunately, there are good Verizon and AT&T signals in the area.
Our site had a nice view of the lake.
The campground is at the end of the road, so there is no traffic noise. It was nice and quiet when we were there during the week, but it could be a little zooy on weekends because of the crowds. Depending on wind direction, the park can also be on the flight path for Charlotte Douglass International Airport like it was when we were there. Fortunately for us, the wind was coming out of the south so all we got were inbound flights. Departing flights are a lot noisier. The cost of our site was $32.75 a night.
We usually don't like to drive for two days in a row without taking a break so we planned to stay two nights at Ebenezer. Since we were staying two nights, we unhitched the trailer and went to dinner at Texas Roadhouse in Rock Hill late on Tuesday afternoon. We always like to go to Texas Roadhouse for their early bird specials (8 or 10 different entrées with two sides for $8.99), but this time we had an added incentive because Paul had received an email coupon for a free appetizer for his birthday. For our appetizer, we had Rattlesnake Bites, which are deep-fried cheese bites containing diced jalepeños.
We both had 6-ounce sirloin steaks. Margery had a Caesar salad and a baked potato for her sides, and Paul had a house salad and mashed potatoes. Everything was delish!
When we got back from dinner, we took a walk down to the lake. The lake was created by a dam built across the Catawba River in 1908 to produce hydroelectric power. In 1925, the water level and size of the lake were increased to what it is today.
On our way down to the lake we saw a hawk on the ground back near the tree line at the edge of the field adjacent to our site. It looked like the hawk had something trapped in its talons. We couldn't see exactly what it was, but it looked like it might have been a squirrel. On the way back from the lake, the hawk was still standing there, but there was no evidence of the prey so it must have escaped.
RVing friends of ours that we met years ago at a campground in Iowa live near Rock Hill. When they heard we were going to be in the area, they invited us to their new home for dinner on Wednesday, which was another reason we stayed at Ebenezer for two nights. We had a delicious dinner and a great visit.
We were hitched up again early on Thursday morning for the 6-hour drive to Ponderosa RV Park in Fort Valley, Georgia. Ponderosa has about 50 RV sites. Most of the sites are sunny, but there are some that have shade, and most of the sites have full hookups. The main roads are paved, the secondary roads are gravel, and the sites are mostly dirt with grass between. There is free Wi-fi that was fairly fast, and there are good Verizon and AT&T signals in the area.
Ponderosa has some sites with 50-amp electric, but there weren't any available so we had to settle for a 30-amp hookup. It was 93º when we arrived, and since we were able only able to run one air conditioner, it was a little warm inside the rig until the sun went down.
One problem with our site was that it sloped downward toward the front. That wouldn't have been a big problem if we had unhitched, but since it was only a one-night stop, we didn't want to do that so we had to be satisfied with the front of the RV being a little low. The cost of our site was $35.
On Friday, we made the 5-hour drive to Ocala Sun RV Resort in Ocala, Florida. Ocala Sun is a winter destination campground so all have full hookups with 30/50-amp electric. There is a mixture of pull-throughs and back-ins. Some sites are fairly widely spaced while others are kind of close. Fortunately, the RV park wasn't very crowded so we had plenty of room with a corner site and empty sites on both sides. Most sites are all grass, but they have recently added paved patios to some of the sites.
There is free Wi-fi and free cable, but they said they were having problems with both and were trying to get them repaired. Ocala Sun is in the process of adding new sites at the back of the RV park, and the construction may have had something to do with the Wi-fi and cable problems. The construction meant there were big trucks passing our site during the day and that the road in front of our site was very dusty. There was also some traffic noise from nearby I-75, but we could only hear it inside at night when air conditioner didn't run as much.
Since there were several things we wanted to do in and near Ocala, we made reservations for a week at a cost of $193 (summer rate). We'll tell you about some of our activities in Ocala in our next post.