Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Santee State Park, S.C. Part III. Checking in and the Lakeview Campground.

Click here for the first post in this series.

And, as always, click any of the photos to view a larger image.

The Mio GPS, however adventurous, landed me at the parking lot of the Santee State Park’s Visitors Center at just before noon. Well ahead of schedule, and well before the normal 2:00 p.m. check-in time. With trepidation, I entered the building.

Visitors Center The starchy lady in attendance checked my identification and reservation in the computer. I was certain I’d have to wait to check in. As was only proper. But she kindly prepared a window tag for the car, and directed me to my site. Which, fortunately, was already vacant. I thanked her and went outside for a look around.

Parking Lot The parking lots at both the Visitors Center and the dock/boat ramp area were busier than I expected for this time of year. People loading and unloading boats. Families picnicking. Local young people here doing what young people do, while enjoying the natural environment of this Park.

I spotted a new Aliner parked nearby, and spoke with its pleasant owners. They were from Baltimore, and just passing through. The I-95 SuperHighway is near enough, it seems, to encourage that. On their way north from Florida, if memory serves. They had reservations at Little Pee Dee State Park for that night. [I look forward to visiting there in April!] But pulled off here just to have a look around. Said they were pleased with their Aliner. No surprise there!

Campground Map Then, map in hand, off I went to find campsite # 87. Santee State Park, it turns out, is an enormous place. Nearly 2,500 acres in all. Encompassing a variety of environments. More on those diverse environments later on.

The Park maintains two campgrounds. The Cypress View Campground with 50 sites, 13 of which are pull-throughs, is near the Visitors Center. The Lakeshore Campground with 107 campsites, 19 of which are designed as pull-throughs, is nearly five miles east, on the shore of the lake.

Gate I’d chosen a likely-looking site in the Lakeshore Campground when making the on-line reservation. And was delighted with the selection upon arrival. More on that too in a moment.

Santee State Park is open for RV camping year round. But, according to one informant, only the Cypress View Campground is used during the coldest winter months.

Bath House 1 This Lakeshore Campground, then, was just awakening from its winter hibernation. Shaking off the accumulated winter-long efforts of the surrounding forest to reclaim its rightful territory.

Campsite Here and there Park Service folks had felled trees that awaited cut-up and removal. Many of the most desirable campsites had been blown free of leaves, while leaves and small branches still covered other sites. All of the sites I saw had hard-packed dirt and sand surfaces. With the maintenance challenges those fragile surfaces bring.

Site 87 a Site # 87, it turned out, was right on the northeast corner of the Campground. Just as the on-line reservations map had suggested.

Site 87 b The surface was rough, as you see above, with tree roots sticking out here and there. It sloped toward the lake shore. Which made leveling the Mobile Studio a challenge. Thank heaven for the BAL Leveler!

Site 87 c But imagine that view! Lake and lake shore from the Mobile Studio’s front window, and from both side windows. With beautiful trees in every direction. With a little effort I could almost imagine I was out in the forest! Though, the water and electricity provided at the site were a blessing. I wouldn’t have traded this site for any other in this Park. Or for any in other Parks as well. It’s incredible.

Campground 1 After set-up, I walked around this Lakeview Campground, delighted with my good fortune. For the next five days I’d be able to enjoy this special environment in relative comfort.

Outdoor AuditoriumNow, Santee State Park’s Lakeview Campground is no sterile, “full-service” campground. It exists unapologetically in the wild. Those facilities available are simple and practical. As you can see in the photo above. They fit into their surroundings.

To enjoy all this, we RV campers are required to make some accommodations with nature. [Like some extra effort to level rigs on a site!] But the effort is worth it.

Stay tuned as I introduce more of the Park’s features in the next few posts.

Click here for the next post in this series.

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