Not All Campsites Are Equal

We were on road for several days last week. We’d planned a trip to Delaware that was changed at the last minute. We still took to the road, only in the opposite direction.

Hiking along Beaver Dam Trail at Little Pee Dee State Park in Dillon, SC

When we travel, Brenda and I go by RV so that we can bring our dogs. We were traveling so often with archery and other adventures we bought a small Winnebago – for the dogs. Before the purchase I analyzed the cost of the RV along with gas, food, site fee and compared it to hotels, gas, food, and kennel fees. The spreadsheet numbers showed that the RV cost for travel stays will break even on the investment in 28 months.   A real benefit is that we enjoy the camping. That is most of the time.

Last year, coming back from the IBO World Championship in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania I stayed at a really bad RV camp. It was simply too crowded, too noisy, and too commercial. It was not by any stretch camping.

River taking in the view in from of our camper

But, it was just overnight. I’d not made a prior reservation and pulled over when I became too tired to continue the drive. Beggars can’t be choosers.

More hiking at Little Pee Dee

On this recent amended trip we planned as best as possible. Our first stop was excellent. It was so nice we stopped there on the trip back to North Carolina. We’ll stay there again in September. That was at a State Park. So far, we’ve found that State Parks are the nicest campground in general.

Hiking at Little Pee Dee

Little Pee Dee State Park in Dillon, South Carolina was no exception. The campsites are large so we didn’t feel pinned in. It was quiet and very much an outdoor experience.

Our campsite at Little Pee Dee State Park

The second stop, Whispering Pines in Rincon, Georgia was not as nice. It was packed with many long term or permanent residents. It remained me of a drive-in movie theater without the big screen. Our corner lot was located at the intersection of two small and one large road.

This little car just drove through our campsite – that was really weird

I did  meet one fellow there, Jerry, while walking River. That was the highlight of the stay. Jerry and his wife have one of those mega-motorhomes. They’re building a home nearby and were parked at Whispering Pines during the contruction of their new home. Jerry is an engineer and contractor, his motorhome doubles as his office. He takes on major jobs aroud the country, most recently finishing a project here in North Carolina.

Jerry and a companion.

Aside from Jerry, I can’t really offer much else to say positive about our experience. Seriously, at one point two young men were working on a car five feet from my RV. Throughout their mechanical deliberations revving the car’s engine attached to one of those throaty after market mufflers was the whisperings through the pines.

That white truck is passing by our campsite on a major road only separated by that white fence

We do our best to find campgrounds that are as primitive as possible, that is with at least water and electricity. I mean, we aren’t traveling in a covered wagon.  Still, we look forward to having as much of an outdoor adventure where we stay as we can find.  It doesn’t always work out.

Yes, it was a little rough

Camping Rocky Hock and Shooting in Plymouth

Mornings here in the Little River are often spectacular. We’re all awake just before sun up not because we particularly enjoy it, rather because our dogs seem to think we enjoy it. For whatever reason we are usually out of bed before the sun has crested the horizon.

Friday fit that pattern and there was time to feed dogs and take a walk to the end of our dock to catch the sunrise. After that came the hooking up and hauling off of the Winnebago for the trip to Rocky Hock Campground not far from Plymouth NC.

Typically, for an archery tournament as close as Plymouth I wouldn’t take my camper. This weekend was different. Brenda, my wife, had planned a “Girls” weekend that included a ‘Pilgrimage’ to Edenton, NC. The Pilgrimage is a tour of old homes and plantations. Having experience being the only guy among this group of women it seemed a good bet to go camping.

Trying to find a campground nearby Plymouth was more difficult than I’d have thought. The search landed me at Rocky Hock Campground. My expectations were low based on the Google Earth views of the facility. However, once there I was pleasantly surprised.

My site at Rocky Hock Campground

Granted the camping area, aside from that for tents only, was a bit treeless. To counter the lack of trees the grounds were immaculate and the individual campsites spacious. Now, at the time I was there only 10 other campers were overnighting. Even had Rocky Hock been jammed full I would not have had another RV parked right on top of me.

Evening view directly in front of my Winnebago

The view at my site was nice being directly on a good-sized fishing pond. Within a short hike I was on a creek that led to the Chowan River. The grounds were extremely clean, only the rest rooms and showers, I checked and didn’t use them, were lacking. I was happy to have not needed them.

A short hike from camp

Aside from the public shower and toilet there was nothing in which to find complaint. It was also close to the Roanoke Archery Club in Plymouth where the 3D tournament was held on Saturday.

After I’d set up the Winnebago on my site at Rocky Hock I made a ‘test’ drive over the range at Roanoke Archery. The plan for Saturday’s competition was to meet up with friends Mike and Angelo by 0900 so that we might hit the course first.

Definitely coming back with a kayak

Although I have been to Roanoke Archery several times, on Saturday I’d be driving in from an untested pathway. There had been road construction leading into Rocky Hock and if the way was blocked to Plymouth I wanted to know in advance.

River enjoying a hunt

The test drive turned out to have been a good move. Initially, the GPS landed me in the middle of a plowed field in the wrong direction. It wasn’t a nightmarish error and a U-turn led to the solution. In any event, I was glad to have made the discovery the day before the tournament.

On Saturday, with the way planned and practiced, I arrived on time, just after Angelo and minutes before Mike. Angelo was warming up on the marked practice range so I joined him. Mike arrived and skipped warm-up practice whereupon we three registered and headed onto the range.

Angelo aiming for 12

Mike and Angelo are top archers. Angelo, a BowTech Pro-staffer, shoots open class where Mike shoots traditional. The three of us shoot from different stakes so our yardage is unique to the divisions. Despite the yardage differences we managed to smack each others arrows a bit too frequently for comfort.

These couldn’t have been any tighter without busting an arrow

For the second week in a row we were on course first and completed our trip in less than two hours. I didn’t earn a new high score for 2017 on the ASA style 3D range. But, I did slighter better than my average per arrow for the year, by 0.4 points. Even so, I was 0.25 points per arrow below my high water mark of 10.05 points per arrow. And still further away from my 2017 goal of consistently hitting an average of 10.6 points per arrow.

Mike, shooting with a stick at around 25 yards

It was temping to have another go at the course for fun. But, River, my lab, had been waiting patiently for me to finish the first 20 arrows and it seemed unfair to have her wait any longer. There were Canada Geese to chase back at Rocky Hock and for a retriever such concerns are of the upmost importance.

Eight Days in the Winnebago

Despite taking a break after the Nationals, only a few days, I was a bit worn. I exercise and practice archery for hours nearly everyday. A few times a year there are breaks in my schedule for physical and mental recovery. This past week was one of those breaks.

First stop in Virgina

This vacation coincided with my youngest grandson turning four. Brenda and I planned a trip to enjoy the graduation from a mere three years old to that pinnacle of maturity – four years old. My youngest daughter and her family, that holds title to the birthday boy, live in Pittsburgh.

The view in Charlottesville.

The drive from New Hope, NC to Pittsburgh, PA can be done in a day. However, it is literally a pain in the butt to drive straight through. The drive is a much more tolerable, if not pleasurable, when breaking the trek up and going camping along the route. We decided to make the trip last eight days and have a little adventure.

Our first stop was outside of Charlottesville, VA where we camped at super KOA. Typically, we don’t stay at KOA facilities preferring smaller campgrounds that are less commercial. This one, KOA Charlottesville was a gem and one of their highest ranked facilities.

Maryland – aside from Georgia the State where I’ve lived the longest

This time of year the campground was not packed and we had site choices with views from which to select. There was a nice wooded hiking area and key to being outside, it was quiet.   While in Charlottesville we met up with Tomas Rahal at his restaurant, Mas Tapas and ate like royalty.

View near our campsite in Little Orleans

From Virginia we made our way to Little Orleans, MD and stayed at the Little Orleans campground, another outdoor treasure this time of the year. The park has just 16 spaces for transient campers in area separate from the permanent campsites. Each night we stayed, we were the only transient campers.

Camp in Maryland

The Little Orleans campground is a ½ mile from the Potomac River and the C&O Canal Towpath. We didn’t pack our bikes or our kayaks for this trip but we’ll plan to return with those toys.

This screams kayak

Pittsburgh was, well Pittsburgh. It is a beautiful city in a hardy way. Passing though it does it little justice. We once lived there and made lifelong friendships. We found a KOA in Washington, PA. It was too close to a major highway and noisy. Aside from the non-stop road noise the camping was okay. Being 30 minutes from my daughter’s home counted for something.

Washington, PA

The time with my daughter and her family wasn’t marred by any sports and they got our full attention. The birthday party was exactly as requested – pizza and cake. Oh, and an over-abundance of presents.

On the trip home we booked the same campsites as the trip out and were just as pleased.

The first day home, I shot an easy practice in the morning and skipped the afternoon. I was forced to spend the afternoon grooming the lawn and 3D range.

Six Days, Two Archery Competitions

The first event was the inaugural opening of the PGF Outdoors, Indoor 18-meter League competition. The next day was travel leaving the first shoot in Elizabeth City onward to Brevard, both cities in North Carolina. From Brevard I would drive to Columbus, NC to compete in the USA Archery sanctioned Green Creek Archery Club’s Fall Indoor event. During the trip we’d camp, hike, tour and visit our life-long friend, Ken.

Setting up camp Day 1

Shoot number one was the kickoff to the fall indoor league at PGF Outdoors. Each week they allow archers to compete on either Thursday night or Saturday morning. The flexible timing is good for most people. It can be difficult for families to join a league that only shoots at 7:00 PM on a school night. The alternatives allow schedule constrained people two choices. Even with the divided schedule there was a fair turn out for the Thursday night event.

PGF Outdoors League

Friday, Brenda, my wife, and I along with our two dogs River and Nixie headed to High Point, NC while hauling our Winnebago camper. The final stop would be Brevard, NC where we’d camp. On Sunday, the day of the second event, I’d drive to Columbus, NC to compete in the Green Creek Archers USA Archery Sanctioned 18-Meter fall event.

The lake at Oak Hallow

The drive across North Carolina is a long one. If you can it is fun to stop along the drive then spend a day enjoying the diversities across the State. North Carolina offers beaches on the east and mountains in the west. It is really a very beautiful state and a great place live (even if you are a Georgian from birth and at heart.).

One of the several wildfires burning in NC

We did just that, stopping about midway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pisgah National Forest. Midpoint was near High Point. The Oak Hollow campground where we stayed has 110 sites of which only 20 were occupied. The campground was very clean and there is a nice sized lake next to the campsites.

Oak Hallow is a large campground that was nearly empty.

From Oak Hollow we packed, reconnected camper to truck, and headed to Brevard for two nights at the Adventure Village. By comparison to Oak Hollow, Adventure Village is a dive. Well, my any standard, this campground is a dive. What Adventure Village has going for it is location. The campsite offers easy access to excellent hiking and mountain bike trails. It is close to Brevard, which is a very cool city, and where out life long from Ken lives.

Campsite number 2, days 3 and 4
Night in Brevard

Ken and his late wife Dianne are our children’s’ godparents. It was always a treat when we get to see Ken, which is several times a year. While I competed at the indoor tournament held on Sunday, Brenda along with Ken and two of his friends attended a classical concert in Brevard. Later, when I returned, we headed to Ken’s house where dinner was prepared and I mostly watched the Pittsburgh / Dallas football game. Sadly we didn’t get to stay as long as we’d have liked because there was still a two-day drive home and another shoot to attend.

Smoke in the mountains near our campsite

On the round trip we stopped in Mebane, NC. There we stayed at the Jones Station RV Park. That is one of the nicer parks where we’ve stayed. We’ll plan to stay there again.

Campsite number 3

We needed a few supplies and wanted to visit the Historic District so we headed into Mebane. Mebane is located mostly in Alamance and Orange Counties of North Carolina.  Named for General Alexander Mebane, Jr., and American Revolutionary War general and member of the U.S. Congress, it was incorporated as “Mebanesville” in 1881. Mebanesville became Mebane in 1883.(1) The town had a lot of Southern Charm and some really good-looking restaurants.  Alas, our meal ready back at the camper

Morning fog, not smoke, in Mebane

We did, however, need bread and a few other groceries that we’d eat once we got back home in New Hope. Additionally, we wanted to find a Redbox and rent a movie. Of course, the camper has an entertainment center, flat screen TV, and DVD player – camping is not what I remember from my youth in hot canvas tents. So we ran a few errands while we returned to camp.

Beer row in Lowe’s

In Mebane we discovered a Lowe’s Food Fresh Smart. We’d never been into one the Lowe’s grocery stores. We were very surprised. It was well stocked, bright, clean, and the service was exceptional.

Produce section

After the food purchase we headed back to our caravan. There we ate spaghetti and meat meals. Outside it was damp, foggy and misting so there was not much after dinner hiking. There was morning hiking the next day.

Heading home

Once, the morning hikes for the dogs were completed we began the final leg of our 6 day trip. Home again, home again – two shoots down.





Getting back home after Matthew

We’d just about gotten back to normal following Hurricane Hermine and Julia when Hurricane Matthew drove up the east coast. Living near the Outer Banks of North Carolina is not the best place to be during hurricane season. Actually, since we purchased this property six years ago we’d had tropical cyclones visit us on an annual basis.

Hurricane Matthew looked like a serious storm, to me anyway, from its onset off the coast of Africa. I’d been watching it from the very beginning. Eventually it formed into a Category 4 storm and was a big one. If you’d placed the cyclone in the center of the Caribbean it would cover that entire sea.


The weather forecasters were suggesting this massive hurricane was going to poise little problems for those of us near the Outer Banks of North Carolina with the exception of a brush past Cape Hatteras. Many of my friends felt otherwise. Brenda and I decided we’d secure our property, load up the Winnebago and head northwest.

Our camp at Chippoke State Park

If you’ve followed the news you know the forecasters got this storm wrong. Even though we’d selected a campground 102 miles away from the coast we still got the storm. In fact, we’d discussed driving further west before it hit. However, the forecasters seemed confident our maximum impact might be 1 to 2 inches of rain. Man, by the time Matthew had passed I was thankful we didn’t have a tree on top of our Micro Minnie.

The flooding and damage to North Carolina isn’t 100% the blame of Matthew. Within weeks of Matthew Hermine and Julia had hit us. A lot of folks had forgotten about the water those two storms dropped on the State. When Matthew hit, and Matthew did pack a punch, the already saturated low country couldn’t handle any more water. The result was one of the worst sets of conditions for a hurricane imaginable.

Rain blowing sideways, a water spout, and waves crashing our bulkhead during Mathew (I’d set a trail camera up facing Little River before we left)

After the storm we added a few more days to our campsite stay. The reports of flooded roads were enough to keep us off them. When we did drive back to our home near Hertford, NC was passed areas that were severely wrecked.

There were houses with water up to their first floor windows. Cars in water leaving only the roof of the vehicle exposed. Two of the roads leading to our house remained underwater and cars could only pass driving single file, slowly, in the middle of the road.

A week later we drove into Elizabeth City. Their flooded streets and homes remained blocked and barricaded. Friends in Hampton Roads and Virginia Beach told us that in their area ditches are now creeks and creeks are rivers.

Hurricane season 2016 is nearly past. Currently, Hurricane Nicole is moving away, never a danger to the US, and a yet unnamed (but numbered) storm in the Caribbean may develop as it moves toward the Bahamas. Like many others, I hope this is it for 2016 and that we get a break in the future.

This River Otter seemed happy to see us returned home.

Diverted to the NC ASA State Championships

The Sage Creek Archery Club was the host of the 2016 North Carolina ASA State Championship. I’d planned on skipping this event. Plans changed and we headed north from Georgia rather that south toward Alabama.

The original plan called for a trip from North Carolina, to Georgia, then Alabama where I’d shoot in Georgia and then at the USA Outdoor Nationals in Decatur, Alabama. The one-day, 72-arrow contest in Madison, Georgia was enough to divert my drive back north.

On this adventure, 22 days in total, Brenda, our two dogs and I were stopping along the way at campsites making use of our Winnebago. The Madison, Georgia tournament was a warm-up for the Nationals. The problem arose after the event in Georgia. It was a matter of timing.

Not a bad place to wait – but not to wait all day

The one-day 72-arrow tournament took 7.5 hours to finish. This was too long to expect Brenda to stay at a campground, in Decatur. The 7.5 hours did not include travel time (to and from the Winnebago to the competition). If the Nationals were going to have any resemblance of the Georgia shoot it was going to need to wait until 2017. In 2017, Brenda said, she would not come on the trip. I could hardly blame her.

I’ve competed in some long sports events, but 7.5 hours for 72 arrows? Heck, I can nearly complete an Ironman in that much time, certainly less time is needed for a 70.3 Ironman. When I consider I can swim 2.4 miles, complete a 112 mile bike ride, and be running a marathon (running it not finished with it) in less time than shooting 72 arrows – well time to change the agenda. The agenda change was to head north to Mt. Airy, North Carolina and shoot in the ASA State Championship.

Prior to that change I had not looked at a foam animal in weeks. Still, lack of preparation has newer been an issue for me. I’d go do my best and be thankful I had an alternative to the Outdoor Nationals.

You can take it to the bank – this guy is showing up at a 3D shoot.

At Mt. Airy the range amazed me. Sage Creek is a very difficult but not unreasonable course. It seemed each target was thoughtfully arranged to make shots a challenge, yet they were shots that seemed realistic.

Large crowds for all start times at the NC ASA State Championship (My friend Randy in the foreground)

Another bonus from the Sage Creek shoot was the speed with which it ran. The tournament was conducted so that archers needed to shoot twice. The morning shoot was over in around two hours. There was a short break and for those people shooting at the second start time, of which I was included, we were done by 2:30 PM. One of the best-organized events (all sports) were I’ve competed.

Yep, there’s a target in from of the eventual winner of my class

The guys in the group I shot with were really Top Guns. Among them they held multiple World Championships and Shooter of the Year Titles. It also contained the eventual winner of this State Championship (as well and second place and 5th place.)

You never know what you’ll end up seeing at a campground

It was a little disappointing to not shoot at the Outdoor Nationals. But, as a family event, unless it’s an archery-centric group, all day (like that of Madison) is a non-starter. I’ve done a lot of sports over the decades. I recall a USA Masters National Indoor Track and Field race where my start time was delayed three times. Still it was not as bad the experience in Georgia that ended up being the action that led me to Mt. Airy. But, Mt. Airy proved to be one of the best-run sports events where I’ve been a competitor.

Some of the scenery at Sage Creek Archery

A Bit on Our Camping / Archery Trip

A couple of weeks ago we were camped in Brevard, NC.  This was a stop on our way to Mt. Airy, NC where I’d compete on the NC ASA State Championship.  While I didn’t get to shoot in Brevard on this trip I did get to mountain bike and run.

Brenda enjoying the cooler temperatures of the mountains

Before either cycling or running Brenda and I took a road trip with out life long friend Ken.  Actually, we’ve been friends for 30 years and Ken is god-father to our children.  His wife, Dianne, passed away, and she was their god-mother.  Our daughter Candace and her daughter Cordelia both have Dianne’s name as their middle name.


I’ve ridden my bike on the Blue Ridge parkway a number of times.  But, until this trip I’d not run on the Parkway.

River having a Free Range run on the Parkway.

Running on the Parkway was a real pleasure for River.  There was no traffic and I was able to let her “Free Range” a bit.


The views were incredible and a run I was glad to have taken.

Brevard has some seriously good MTB trails

The run were easily matched by the mountain biking.  Ken took me on a trail that have on of the best downhills I’ve ever ridden.  My only regret is I didn’t have my GoPro on the bike.  Next trip, I’l have it.