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Our First Workamping Gig!



Friday 3/29/2013

J. Strom Thurmond Lake Volunteer Village

Modoc, SC

Time sure flies when you’re having fun!  It’s hard to believe we’ve been volunteering for seven weeks already!

We’re at J. Strom Thurmond Lake north of Augusta, GA.  The lake is located in the Savannah River Basin on the Georgia/South Carolina border and is part of the Savannah District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

Thurmond Lake is the largest USACE lake east of the Mississippi River.  There are numerous USACE (a.k.a. COE) campgrounds, boat ramps, and day use areas with picnic areas and/or beaches located around the lake in both Georgia and South Carolina.  Some of the campgrounds have water and electric with dump stations available, and some are “primitive” with no hookups.

On Tuesday, 2/5, we left Country Boys RV Park, Madison, GA, earlier than we usually get going on a travel day.  Our Volunteer Coordinator, Ranger Hatfield, was only working a half day Tuesday along with all of Wednesday off.  We wanted to get there before he left for the day, so our “abnormal” departure time was about 8:30AM and the trip took us just over two hours including a stop for diesel.  We arrived at the Volunteer Village about 10:40AM.  Ranger Hatfield stopped by a few minutes later, just in time to watch us get backed into our site, #12.  He, and one of the volunteers, Dennis, welcomed us with handshakes and smiles.  After talking  for a few minutes, Ranger Hatfield told us to take the rest of Tuesday and Wednesday to get settled in.  After he and Dennis left we unhooked the truck and got all set up for our stay.

The Volunteer Village is situated on a peninsula near Modoc, SC.  It’s only about two years old and has twelve sites with full hookups including 50 amp service and WIFI.  Each site has a concrete pad for your rig, picnic table, grill, another small table, and a lantern post.  Ten of the sites are lakeside.

We’re parked on one of the two non-lakeside sites.  However, from our vantage point up on the hill, we can see the lake on all three sides of the peninsula!  Smile
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We’re actually uphill from everyone, so it’s very easy to look out over the other rigs and see the lake.  This is a view of our site from down the hill.

Just up the road from us is the meeting hall.

It has a bathroom with a shower, a laundry area with two washers and two dryers available for our use free of charge, and a folding area.
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There’s also a kitchen area, a wood-burning fireplace, book exchange, exercise equipment, tables, and chairs.
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This is a view of the village from the meeting hall.

That’s our rig right in the middle of the picture above.  Here’s a photo of our first sunset here, taken through the left rear side window of our rig.

On Thursday, 2/7, we headed up to the meeting hall for a 9AM volunteer meeting conducted by Ranger Hatfield.  It was a good icebreaker for us and others to get introduced to each other.  After the meeting we went to the Visitor Center, which overlooks the dam, for our orientation meeting with Ranger Hatfield and another couple, Bill and Carol.  We received our vests, nametags, and keys, along with a welcome packet and some other printed information.  The Visitor Center is also the main headquarters for the rangers and other staff.  We received a tour and were introduced to many of the staff members.  That evening we joined six other couples, including Ranger Hatfield and his wife, at Chili’s for dinner to celebrate volunteer Mary’s birthday. 
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This was another great opportunity to get to know some of the other volunteers!

Volunteers are required to work a minimum of 20 hours per week per site in exchange for the campsite.  Our primary task, currently once per week, is to count fees collected from day use areas, campgrounds, and boat ramps.  Once the busy season starts up we’ll start counting twice per week, and that should just about fulfill our weekly time commitment.

In the meantime, in addition to counting fees once per week, we’ve done a number of different things to fulfill our time requirement.  We’ve made several trips to town to retrieve boat motor parts, decals, and Corps vehicles that had received recall updates.  A major project that Terri and I completed recently was to check for the “no wake zone” and “no boats allowed” buoys and their positioning at all of the Corps beaches around the lake.  That particular job took several days and many miles of driving, and required us to go into campgrounds and day use areas that are “closed for the season.”  It was fun to be able to venture into those areas while they’re not yet open to the public.  Smile  Currently we’re working on a project that again requires quite a bit of driving and entering closed areas.  This task entails placement of reflective tape on road gates so that they’re more easily visible during road closures.

So far we’ve really enjoyed ourselves and have had no problem fulfilling our time requirements.  In fact, we easily put in more hours than are required.  Open-mouthed smile  The work is very easy, and everyone has been good to work with including fellow volunteers, rangers, and other staff.  Everyone here at the Volunteer Village is friendly, and we’ve gotten together a few times for potlucks and happy hours.  We’ll be here until July 15th, and we’ve already made arrangements to return in October for at least another three months!

We’ve had some other fun times since arriving here, but that will have to wait for now.  Stay tuned…

Smile   Open-mouthed smile   Smile   Open-mouthed smile   Smile

Columbus to Madison, GA… and what’s next

Monday, 2/4/2013

Country Boys RV Park

Madison, GA

We left Lake Pines RV Park, Columbus, GA, and drove northeast to Country Boys RV Park just south of Madison, GA, on Sunday, 2/3.  We traveled the first 17 miles on 4-lane U.S. 80 and then the rest of the trip, except for about a mile on I20, was on 2- lane roads.  It was an uneventful 2.5 hour trip of about 130 miles.

Country Boys RV Park has pull-through sites with full hookups, 50 amp, cable, and a clear southern view for satellite.
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The nightly rate is $25 per night, and we’re here for two nights.  The park is older and a bit run down, but the camp host was very friendly and helpful and we’ll stay here again if in the area.  I got all the utilities hooked up and the satellite dish set up just in time to settle in and watch the Super Bowl… and the commercials.  Smile  Other than a couple of visits to Walmart and a stop at a recycling center, we stayed close to home.

After just 10 days, my laptop crashed… again… Saturday night.  It’s rather frustrating because I just spent the last week reloading and re-setting everything back up and getting it back close to where I had it before the first crash!  Of course the computer repair shop is about 5 hours away, so I guess I won’t be going back there!  Sad smile  It’s 4-5 years old, so it’s time for a replacement anyway.  I’m very much looking forward to getting a new one. 

Tomorrow, Tuesday, 2/5, we’ll be back on the road.  We’re headed for J. Strom Thurmond Lake north of Augusta, GA, where we’re excited to  be starting our first volunteer position with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers!

Smile  Open-mouthed smile  Smile  Open-mouthed smile  Smile

Another Columbus and a Birthday

Saturday, 2/2/2013

Lake Pines RV Park

Columbus, GA

On Thursday, 1/31, we packed up and pulled out of Pine Lake RV Park near Fountain, FL,  and drove north to Lake Pines RV Park in Columbus, GA, for a three-night stay.  Yes, you read that right, Pine Lake to Lake Pines.  Confused smile  Also, this is our third Columbus!  We stayed in Columbus, MS, in October of 2011 and Columbus, OH, in September of 2012.  Hmmmm, I guess I’ll have to find another Columbus for 2014!

The trip took us about 4.5 hours, including a stop for diesel fuel at Flyin J and a one-hour stop at Camping World in Dothan, AL.  We exchanged a failed water pressure regulator for a new one and also bought a few things including a folding step stool and a water hose.  We’ve gotten used to shorter travel days of 2 to 2.5 hours recently, so today seemed like a long day for us and the cats.  Sad smileCat faceCat faceCat faceSmile with tongue out


is located just east of Columbus, GA.  It’s a Passport America park with a rate of $17.50 per night. Unfortunately that rate is only available for two nights.  They did give us the Good Sam 10% off rate of $31.50 for the third night.  So the average rate for the three nights was $22.17 which is well within budget.  Open-mouthed smile  The park is very pleasant and quiet except for the occasional train passing by… and yes they do blow the horn for the nearby crossing.  Our site had a long, level, concrete pad, full hookups with 50 amp, and a clear view of the southern sky for satellite TV.
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This is the road leading to the office…

a “flower bed” and the whimsical speed limit…
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the pool (closed for the season) and the office…
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and the very clean and spacious laundry room which we utilized.
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We saw at least three of these “banks” of electric meters.

I guess this makes it much easier to read the meters instead of having to trudge throughout the park.  It appears that the park owner is possibly a “hoarder” or at least a “collector” of vintage Airstreams.
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There are six of them here “in storage.”  This is a nice park for a short visit, and we’ll be back to check out the Columbus, GA, area someday.

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Friday, 2/1, was Terri’s **th birthday!!!  So… how did we celebrate?  Well…  for starters, I went and picked up her birthday breakfast desire of donuts.  (NO, we didn’t eat them all on Friday!)
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Mid afternoon we had a snack of potato chips and homemade shrimp dip (a family favorite recipe) along with a bit of bubbly.
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Early evening I went back out and picked up her birthday dinner!
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And then later… homemade, from scratch, chocolate CAKE with homemade buttercream frosting, which was absolutely outstanding!!!
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So the answer to the question “How did we celebrate?” is GLUTTONY!Eye rolling smile  By the way, she chose to make the cake, frosting, and the shrimp dip herself.  I offered to make the dip and buy a cake, but this was what she wanted to do.

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