Yesterday we left Edisto Island an hour later than we intended, some of which was our fault and some of it wasn’t. We weren’t overly concerned about it since we were only driving approximately 132 miles northwest of Edisto. Our destination was Poinsett State Park in Wedgefield, South Carolina. This appeared to be the closest campground to Congaree National Park that I could find. The South Carolina State Park website has it listed as big rig doable. I also checked another park review website, it too said it could accommodate big rigs. Well we have to question what these folks consider to be big rig sized.
We arrived at Poinsett and drove in looking for the park office. We expected it to be near the front entry but it’s actually located at the very end of the park where the road ends in a loop. On the way to the office to register we passed by the campground road turn off. Don commented that he could not make the turn from the direction we were headed as it was too tight and nearby trees made it difficult. No matter, we would continue on to locate the office and would be making the campground road turn from the other direction. Finally at the park office, I exited the truck to go register us. The office was closed and no sign was on the door to indicate where we could find the park ranger or when he would return. We decided to head into the campground assuming someone would be at a ranger station there.
The road to the campground is on an incline and wide enough for just a single rig. It curved enough that we couldn’t see the top and were concerned that we might meet another rig exiting. There was nowhere to pull off should that happen. Not only was the lane heavily wooded to either side but both sides dropped off as well. It would be extremely difficult to back down. It is a dangerous setup. Fortunately no one was coming down at the time we were climbing. At the top, the rough black topped lane ended and became a narrow red clay road that was little more than a two-track fire trail. The campsites started immediately, there was no ranger station. We located our assigned spot and realized immediately there was no possible way to back in. Except for one Class C, the park was empty so we checked out the other sites available to see if one of those might work for us. Nyet. Nada. No way. Very judiciously lest we damage the Suite Pea we continued our circle around the loop passing by a park ranger station. It too was unmanned. It was here we met a man who said he cut grass as a volunteer. He told us the ranger had left the park to go into town and should be back in an hour. What to do?
We knew we couldn’t stay here. We opted to wait down on the main campground road for the ranger’s return. The curve past the station proved to be impossible for us to make without scraping the top and side of our fifth wheel. Now were we perturbed. Back on the main road we waited. No ranger. With no bars on my phone I was unable to call the office to leave a message. Don drove to the nearest town where I was able to get 3 bars. I called the park office. No answer. I got a recording. I left a message. It was at this point we felt we needed to focus on finding an RV park for the night. Then we’d try contacting the Poinsett office again.
Don pulled into a Walmart on the outskirts of Columbia, I turned on the hot spot and went to work looking for a place for us to stay. I located one that sounded acceptable. It sat another hour’s drive north of our location. I inquired if they had a site available and was told yes they had two sites but only for one or two nights as the Memorial holiday weekend was coming up. Damn! We’d forgotten that the first big camping weekend was upon us. Now we were really going to need to scramble for a site. We chose to stay for the two nights to buy us some time.
We pulled into Magnolia RV Park in Kinards and what a welcome sight it was. Nicely laid out, adequate spacing between sites, very well cared for and the bonus was the pleasant office staffer that greeted me. A gentleman guided us to our level, full hook up pull-thru site. We were set up in record time. Again I called Poinsett State Park, again no answer, again I left a message. We never did get that call back.
Our future plans after leaving Poinsett was to head into Asheville for a weeks stay. I contacted the park we are intending to stay at to see if it were possible to arrive sooner. I explained to him what had occurred earlier that day and I was so relived to hear that yes, he could manage to find us a site for the next 5 days. Oh, Thank you! Thank you!
Today I contacted the Reserve America Customer Service Department to discuss our Poinsett reservations and what we encountered at that facility. They in turn referred me to the South Carolina State Park Headquarters. I pleaded my case anew. I had not expected them to return our reservation fees as one, Reserve America has a reputation for bad customer service and two, according to my reservation contract, I wasn’t entitled to a refund but I was told they would refund me the entire amount before I had requested them to do so. I also went into detail about our concerns with the park being listed as big rig friendly, the dangerous campground entry road and the lack of contact with or from the park’s ranger. I was assured they would look into the matter. Maybe they will. Maybe they won’t. I certainly hope they do.
Tomorrow we continue enroute to Asheville. We hope there’ll be no surprises.
Here’s lookin’ at you kid……………….