Caution-Lady, 76, and I returned yesterday afternoon from a weekend at Lake Jocassee with the Fattony and the Math Doc families from the Christian Rogues bulletin board. We left Saturday afternoon because the Cautious One didn’t like the idea of another night in the tent with our almost 11-weeks old son. The boy, however, really liked the tent. His first reaction upon being placed therein was to look around at the lamplight reflected greens and shadows of the tent fabric, and to pronounce for the first time ever the happy baby word, “Ah-goo,” that is, “It is good.”
Turns out the tent-site I’d reserved back in January had no drive-up access, although that information was not available on the Reserve-America website. Caution-Lady trekking a hundred yards with camping gear, kayak gear, and baby gear? No way. At the Devil’s Fork State Park check-in and information center, the lady behind the desk rented me campsite #45 for $11.00 more. Located across the lane from the remarkably clean bath-house, #45 was situated at a considerable distance from the lake’s shore, but just up the hill from our friends’ campsites closer to the water.
I think it was shortly after we’d set up the tent, or while we were working on it, that two little sandy haired girls walked by our campsite. One of them asked, “How old’s your baby?” Told he was about 10-weeks of age, the older of the two girls asked, “Are you Christov?” I answered, “Yes,” and asked how she knew. “We’re Fattony’s kids,” she said. “See that red tent right down there,” she pointed, “that’s ours.”
Once we completed setting up camp, we put the Small One in his stroller, covered it with bug netting, and made our way down the hill, past the campsite I’d originally reserved, and into the Fattony domain. What a gentleman – more soft-spoken than I expected, Tony resembles the gun-toting, cigar smoking avatar cadged from the sketchbook of Matt Groenig, only he didn’t seem as portly in person as his cartoon fiction twin appears on the pixilated screen. Tony, his wife “Special-K,” son, “The Boy,” and daughters characterized by freckled nose and continual smile, respectively, invited us to visit with them for awhile. As we were getting acquainted, Math-Doc, Vic-Chic, and their three sons Nacho, Burrito, and Fajita arrived. They didn’t have any trouble toting their own gear, but we walked with them to their car, helped them carry some stuff back to their campsite, and helped pitch their tent.
Tony invited us all to share the hamburgers and hot-dogs they grilled, I walked back up the hill and returned with a couple of camp-chairs. Had to go back and get a can of powdered formula for ’76. Weekend travel and camp-food were totally off the Weight Watchers charts. The Vzzztbot clan was pretty tired, so we said our goodnights and returned to the green tent beside our rented van.
A word about that vehicle, a Dodge Grand Caravan with Stow & Go seats – I’d be willing to own one. Decent mileage obtained, I think, with an engine management system and transmission that keep RPMs generally in the low 2000s. Handled well enough I never worried about skidding out of control into some ravine on that narrow, winding road between Highlands and Cashiers (pronounced “Cashers”). Carried with room to spare 18′ Pouch RZ-96 in bags, bag of kayaking gear, baby gear, camping gear. I think the one we rented was an ’06 or ’07 with maybe 26,000 miles on the odometer.
Because we arrived late Friday afternoon, because our campsite was far from the water’s edge, because our RZ-96 weighs well over a hundred pounds, and because we had to leave by mid-afternoon Saturday because my cautious wife didn’t want to spend another night in the green tent with our infant son I never did assemble the RZ. Too much of a headache to assemble for two or three hours paddling, then disassemble, towel dry, and repack before a long drive. Tony had arranged with a local outfitters to drop off a couple of rented tandem kayaks. He paddled with his smiling, fearless youngest daughter while I paddled with MD & VC’s youngest son, Fajita to a jumping off rock and some caves, normally submerged.
The ranger I spoke with said the water level at Lake Jocassee is about 27 feet below what is usual for this time of year, so although Fajita climbed the rock, he didn’t jump in. The sandy beach at the bottom of the photo should be lake bottom. Fajita, standing upon the rock, did spontaneously pose like Il Duce – someday he may make the kayaks run on time and the water reach its appointed level by fiat and dam.
Of course there’s more to say – Fattony’s cigar box, the aggressive squirrels infesting Fattony’s campsite, exchanging speech with friends as opposed to internet correspondence, the retired couple at the campsite adjacent to ours, the Microtel with microroom at Franklin, North Carolina, discussing chemical toilets with Caution-Lady after having used one at a Lake Ocoee boat ramp.
Looks like the Christian Rogues website is offline just now (10:30 pm Central Time 5/20/08). Informe.com seems to have frequent problems keeping its hosted sites online.