Monday, June 4, 2012

Family Adventure #1: Yurt Camping at Red Top Mtn

I have made up my mind that this will be a good summer. Last summer my husband worked long hours (and we were grateful for the work) but we had very little time together as a family. He missed out on a lot of our daughter's life last summer- and she will never have a summer of being four again. It seems like she and I spent all our time waiting around for his day off in order to go here or there, then that day would come and he'd have to work.  I promised her that this summer would be different. I promised her that this summer we would have fun. His schedule has changed so he can join in as well. I'm determined this summer will be FUN!
We began our "summer adventures" this past weekend.  I plan to blog each one.  Family Adventure #1 was planned on the spur of the moment.  My husband had the weekend off, but we all had plans/ commitments for Saturday. We thought a one-night camping trip would be fun. There are several campgrounds near our home, so we didn't plan to travel far. At first we planned to just pack the tent. However, Saturday night (late) I discovered that storms were going to move in Sunday night. Storms in a tent are not fun. And lugging the pop-up out for a one-night camp is a little much. Sunday morning before church, I was checking out the web, looking for fun things to do nearby.  What could we do that was close to home? We didn't want to spend our entire day in the car.
 I was checking out the website for Red Top Mountain and discovered that they have a yurt! Hey- it's camping, but will protect you better than a tent if it storms! YES!!! I called the park and reserved the yurt. (If you call the 1-800 number you have to reserve for 2 nights, but if you call the park office or walk in, you can get it for one night.)  I told my husband excitedly that we were camping in a yurt. He responded with, "A what?!?!?" Nevertheless, we hurried home from church, packed our things and were on our way...
Red top Mountain is a short drive on I75- less than 45 minutes from our house.  In a short time we were arriving at the yurt:

 How cool is this? Inside we had bunk beds (full on bottom, twin on top) and a futon. We brought our own linens.
 The yurt had a ceiling fan and electricity. (There was a water spigot outside.)
This was our view of the lake. I loved these rocks! As soon as we were settled we climbed up on the rocks to watch the boats on the lake below.
Here are a few more pictures I took of the lake as we strolled down to the shore.

 See that huge houseboat backed into the cove in the photo above? Remember that thing. More about that later.

We were just enjoying the view, watching the boats and jet skis.  We were admiring the houseboat across the lake and wondering what it would be like to vacation on a houseboat.  The boat was playing music, people were laughing and swimming- it was a beautiful afternoon.
My daughter enjoyed exploring the shore of Lake Allatoona.  She wasn't too sure about wading, but she eventually decided to put on her bathing suit and play. She also discovered a tiny frog. They made friends and then she sent Mr. Frog on his merry way.
Here is a view of the yurt form the shore:
That hill is steeper than it looks!
I did some exploring of my own and discovered an old road bed that ran beside this old stone wall. The road ran straight into the lake. It made me stop and think about the history of this area: the battles fought here during the Civil War, the families that lived here before the lake existed.

We decided to drive over to the mini golf course to play a round or two.  When we got there, it was empty. We asked the girl in the snack bar next door where we paid to play mini golf. She looked a little blank for a moment then told us she wasn't sure. She told us she thought you had to do that in the park office (about a mile away) but she really didn't know. Okay- We reasoned that the park office closed at 5:00 and it was now 5:30ish, so golf was out.  We decided to drive around the park and see what we could see.  I have to say it really is a beautiful park. Very quiet and wooded. We saw several deer.  My daughter was quite impressed with all the playgrounds (of course).

Arriving back at the campsite, we decided to prepare dinner and chill awhile. Evening and nightfall are always my favorite part of camping.  For one thing, there is FOOD!  The outdoors makes you hungry! Three is something so peaceful about preparing the meal together and eating together outside.Tonight we grilled some steaks and baked potatoes along with some steak side mushrooms.  (I didn't take any pics of the food, but I will include pics and recipes on another camping trip.) 
After cleaning up, we sat back by the fire and roasted a few marshmallows. (We decided we wanted just marshmallows- no s'mores tonight.)  Again, this is usually my favorite time. We can just sit around the fire and talk. It's peaceful and it gives us time to  talk and really listen to one another. However, our reverie was cut short by a few loud yells and a blast of music.  We looked around- quiet time is 10 PM-7am. One rule of camping etiquette is that quiet times are honored and we respect other campers.  It is fine to laugh and have a good time- but you shouldn't destroy the peace of the other campers.  The music continued on and we realized it was coming from the huge houseboat across the lake. (Remember those guys?)  I decided to make a trip to the bath house with my daughter and continue the campfire time later.  Maybe it would be quieter then.
The bath house was an adventure of it's own.  (Really.)  One VERY important part of any campground is the bath house. It should be CLEAN! (The cleanest I have ever seen is Indian Creek in NC,  but that's another story...)  This bath house was very clean. I had no complaints.  For those of you who are non-campers- a bath house shower has 2 parts.  There is an outer section for dressing (and undressing) and then there is the actual shower. Always (ALWAYS) wear flip flops in a shower. I don't care how clean it looks.  We placed our shower caddy and clothes in the outer section and I proceeded to help my daughter shower.  (I've found that the easiest way to do this- although a PAIN- is to put on a bathing suit and just get in there and wash her. Then, put her in the outer section and get her dressed. She waits there while I shower.)Yes, this IS a big "to-do". (Every self- respecting southerner knows what a "to-do" is.) One small problem with the bath house tonight- the drain is CLOGGED!! I am half way through washing my daughter when I realize a huge flood is heading straight for our clean (DRY) clothes! We scurried to save them. I'm in a (non-flattering) bathing suit and she is in her birthday suit and we are running all over this bath house like blathering idiots. We saved some of the clothes- the ones we planned to put on.  Yeesh! Back to the shower. By the time it was over, both of us were soaked, but I'm not too sure about clean. Oh well... We headed back to the yurt.  While we spread our wet clothes out on the deck to dry, Dave headed out to the men's bath house. Suddenly, above the yowling and music that was still going on across the lake, we heard sirens. My first thought was, "Good grief! They scream and play loud music and NOW they have sirens?" Then I saw the blue lights.  Who needs TV when you can watch an episode of Cops from your camp site?  I don't know what took place, but as soon as those cops pulled away, it was ON! I swear they were howling! Standing there howling!!!  My daughter, who loves to camp, was asking me,"What are those people doing? Can we go home?"  I was livid.  I used this as a time to teach her about the importance of manners and respect for others. What else can you do?  I was considering the fact that I was very close to home. Should we just pack up and go?
 When Dave returned to the yurt they were still howling.  We helped our little one into her bed and he broke out his iPhone and  found a LONG lullaby video on YouTube. (Bless his youtubin' self) She was out fairly quickly.  While he and I fumed on the deck, the houseboat idiots began to quieten down. "Great!." he said, "Maybe their dumb butts are beginning to pass out." But NO! What do we hear then but.."Dum dum DUM DUM" The beginning strains of the song came on and Dave threw up his hands and shook his head in disgust. "Great! They've done broke out the Skynyrd! Its ON now! They're just getting started!"  
For those of you "non-southerners" out there. We all love Lynyrd Skynyrd. We ALL do. However, if you are ever near a rowdy crowd of drunken rednecks and you hear Skynyrd start up-- LEAVE!!! Nothing good will come after that...
We went to bed to sleep as best we could amid the racket.
Sometime in the wee hours I awoke with a start- silence! I walked out onto the deck and stared at the lake. The moon reflected on the water below. Other than the night creatures there was nothing to be heard.  David followed me out onto the deck. THIS is what a campground should sound like.  THIS is why we love to camp. Sadly, our little one missed it.  
The next morning, I awoke to the sound of rain.  I was so glad we decided to camp here instead of a tent.  We were warm, dry, and snug. I walked over to the window. As usual, the lake was beautiful.  I arrived at the window just in time to hear the famous houseboat start up and glide away into the mist.  I watched as it glided out of sight. "Of course!", I thought, "Your work here is done. You ruined every one's night, so it's time to leave." 
Would I come here again? Maybe... I have to say the people who work here are extremely helpful and friendly.  You couldn't ask for nicer folks.  However, the houseboat makes me hesitate.  My dad told me he has heard of a boat down here called "The Party Boat" that is a rental. If this is true, then they must be creating havoc here every weekend.  So... maybe in the fall...when the "Party Boat" is less likely to be terrorizing the campers. Other than that, I'd come here for day visits only.
 As for the rest of the summer...
Bring on the next adventure. I can take it! HA!

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