Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Chilling out at Lake Thurmond Recreation Area

October 30-November 4, 2013
Appling, Georgia
Petersburg COE Campground

One of the obvious benefits of reading RV blogs is learning about good places to camp that are not on our radar. I heard about this very large Corps of Engineer Recreation Area from Paul of R Sanity RV Adventures as he and his wife Marti volunteered for their first work camping position here this fall.  We have been very impressed with every COE park we have been lucky enough to stay at, so I was curious to see where this park was and if sites were available. We hit it lucky on both points as the location of this campground, Appling, Georgia, was a perfect midway point to our next location on the South Carolina coast.  I was able to book a choice site on-line through Reserve America, and the biggest bonus is the cost: with a senior national park pass, you pay half-price—$12 a night for a site with 50 amp electric and water hook-ups.

lake toxaway to beaufort

This map gives you an idea of the size of Lake Thurmond or Clarks Hill Lake.  (It’s called Thurmond on the South Carolina side and Clarks Hill on the Georgia side.)

Having never been to this part of Georgia before, we were not really sure to what to expect. The park is situated on a very large lake; in fact, it is the “largest Corps of Engineers lake east of the Mississippi River encompassing 1,200 miles of shoreline, 70,000 acres of water and 80,000 acres of land”—Recreation.gov. The closest town to the park is Augusta, home of the Masters Golf Tournament. Other than that, I still can’t tell you a thing about Augusta as we never even bothered to venture the 18 miles into town. 

In spite of our last minute reservations, we scored a great site, #48, right on the water looking to the southwest.  No satellite TV but who cares when you can have campfires every night and a gorgeous view of the night skies. The dogs were in heaven too as the first day we were there no one else was in our loop and I let them get out their zoomies. (Definition of zoomies from Plop Dog Blog: Zoomies is the act of running full speed, usually in a circular motion around the backyard, open field or in your living room.)  It didn’t take long before they were both in the water having a good ole time.  Did I have my camera to record this event? Well, no.

By the time we arrived here, our plan was to just chill out for a few days. It turns out we met another couple doing the same thing. Shortly after arriving, I discovered that Jane of Flamingo on a Stick, and her husband John were in site #58, just one loop away.  I took a walk and knocked on their door to introduce myself. Jane and I spent the next hour on their “patio” sharing away. There is definitely a special connection when you meet folks who have bravely gone in the same direction as you—selling one’s home and choosing this gypsy lifestyle.  I also learned that Jane and I have another connection and that is being mom to two sons. (Those of you who have daughters would never understand.) 

Having been deprived of the usual social connections I thrive on, I invited Jane and John over for happy hour which we enjoyed way beyond happy hour.  If you have been following my blog, you would know that I have been collecting wine as we travel across the country and I was eager to share.  Vic and I both felt grateful to meet this special couple who have a year on us as full-timers. We hope to have another chance to get together again. It sounds like the giant Tampa RV Show in January might be a grand opportunity for a reunion.

While the guys were visiting around the fire, Jane and I grabbed our cameras, excited to catch a beautiful sunset on the lake that night.

One disappointment of our stay was learning the work camping couples I was looking forward to meeting had gone on vacation for the week so we did not get a chance to meet Paul and Marti or Mike and Terri. However, I discovered Jim and Judy of The Meandering Maddox’s were scheduled to arrive here the evening before we left so we had the chance to meet them also. We have been following each other for quite a while now so it was very special to meet this lovely couple in person and hear their fabulous Georgia accents. And for the record, Jim’s is twangier than Judy’s. Ironically, their only son used to work at Good Samaritan Hospital in Corvallis (our home town), but now lives in Portland. It sounds likely we will be in Oregon at the same time next summer but we hope to cross paths sooner than that this winter in Florida. (For many RVers, all roads this time of year lead to Flo-ri-da. Imagine that. . . . ) Jim and Judy are also planning to attend the big Tampa RV show in January.  I am starting to consider organizing a blogger extraordinaire Tampa RV Show gathering. Chime in if you are interested.  Neither of us took any photos of each other.  Here is a photo of them I stole from their blog.

My Photo

Back to our 5-day stay here. It is easy to write about since chilling out was our main pastime. We had one very rainy day that was part of the same storm that moved eastward after flooding Texas.   

rainy day in coe

We wisely chose to see a matinee that day, Captain Phillips, at a theater about 12 miles down the road. Even though we knew the outcome, the film was highly engaging and Tom Hanks performance Oscar-worthy for sure. Another pastime here involved renting two Red Box discs of House of Cards, a series that was a Netflix exclusive starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. We would give it an 8 out of 10; some parts of the Washington, D.C. political scene seemed overblown, but not having an insider’s perspective we may be way off base.  Another film we rented that I had been anxious to see was Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby.  This version of Gatsby excelled in portraying the visual delights of the setting vs. the dramatic storyline. I would give it a 6 or 7 overall, but still think it was worth seeing—especially for the Red Box price of $1.30.

After playing tourist in so many places in our cross-country tour, I was more than ready to hang around a campfire, take a few walks, fish a little in the lake, and maybe go kayaking. We burned up all the rest of the firewood we have been carrying since July and were lucky enough to have a camp host bring us at least two more loads that he discovered at empty sites. We did not get in any kayaking due to strong wind on the lake and rather chilly temperatures. Sometimes just having a great campground that calls you to stay there and NOT do anything else is the highest accolade. 

More fun to come: the South Carolina low country. Fresh seafood at long last!


  1. Sorry we missed you! Hopefully our paths will cross some time and we can meet you. Sometimes it's all in the timing.

    1. I am sure they will. Planning to go to the Tampa RV show?

    2. We'd like to get to the Tampa RV show one year, but I'm afraid it won't be in 2014.

  2. It looks like a wonderful campsite you snagged.

  3. Paul's brother, John, lives in the historic part of Augusta. It is a very nice town. The downtown is small but has tons of neat stores.

    We love COE parks. We haven't stayed in that one...yet. It is a bit of a drive to John's house.

    1. I remember your amazing opportunity to attend the Masters last year. We'll have to check out the historic distrct in Augusta next time.

  4. Looks like a jackpot spot. What a view!

    Fun times meeting blog friends! That's what we are doing here in Myrtle Beach.

    I hope you get in a paddle with that lake right there.

  5. We're not heading out FT until next summer, but I've been taking notes on these beautiful campgrounds, especially with kayaking possibilities. Thanks for sharing!

  6. What a great spot with lakeside dining and terrific sunsets even. I may have to overcome my attitude toward Strom and check this place out. :-) We're headed for the low country too so I'll be anxious for your recommendations.

  7. We have added that campground to our visit list.

  8. Oh my, what a lovely spot you found. Will definitely add it to our list.
    So nice to meet fellow bloggers...what a yummy looking spread you had there.
    I so relate to the "chilling out". We just extended our stay here in Freeport, FL for that reason...will pull out Jan 5th. It's a long story, but our check engine light came on about 15 miles away from Live Oak Landing...then it was the stop engine light and we crawled in here because the computer slowed us down. Anyway, we have an appointment on Monday. Joe thinks it's related to the DPF stuff. Wish us luck! Just want to "chillax" !

  9. That looks like a great park! We have yet to stay at a COE park. Sounds like a bunch of wonderful meet ups!


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