Tuesday, March 18, 2014
MY HORSE THREW A SHOE, PART 1
It’s been a good long while since I posted on this blog because basically we’ve not been traveling, although I do still need to finish up my reviews from our Las Vegas trip nearly 18 months ago.
I’ve been working so hard on my Princess Plan and the posts for that, so most other blogs have been neglected. I’m working hard to correct that problem now.
Sunday was our 41st wedding anniversary, so we went over to Branson, MO for an extended weekend to celebrate. It was definitely a trip to remember, both good and bad.
Our weather this year has been much of a roller coaster ride so we were very hesitant to make our reservations until the last minute, because I have no love for snowy weather, and especially not in the Ozark Mountains pulling a fifth wheel. If you want to call me chicken, that’s just fine. I’ll even make clucking noises for you, because this fat lady has a mortal fear of sliding to her death on icy roads in the mountains.
I finally made our reservations on Monday of last week after much discussion and scouring every version of long range forecasts we could for the area. All agreed 50-75 degree for Thursday through Sunday, with it cooling off to the 40’s late Sunday afternoon and rain moving in that night. Since we would be home by Sunday night the forecast was perfect as far as we were concerned.
I made our reservations, against my better judgment, at The Wilderness Campground that is owned and operated by Silver Dollar City. We have stayed there a few times before, but have been less than pleased with them for various reasons. More on this in a bit.
Generally we stay at the Corps of Engineers on Table Rock Lakeat Indian Point for $9 per night using our National Parks Pass, the people there are pleasant, the sites are reasonably flat, and they are a clean campground. I’ve reviewed them before. Unfortunately they had not opened for the season yet.
Our second choice is generally Compton Ridge Campground which is directly across the street from The Wilderness. That was where I first tried to book, only to discover they were closed and had been sold. They are scheduled to “open soon” according to the signs we saw while there.
I checked various other campgrounds and none would be opened on Thursday, our scheduled arrival date. A few, at much higher rates and with no Silver Dollar City shuttle would open on Friday, but that would do us no good.
So finally I settled on The Wilderness. Let me explain to you why I was reluctant to go there.
Our first visit was probably about 10-12 years ago and that trip was great. We went during the Bluegrass and BBQ festival, we were lucky enough to be in a good, easy accessible site and next to some of the Bluegrass competitors so we got to listen to wonderful bluegrass music all weekend both in the park and at our campsite.
The next year we went back to the Wilderness because we had a good experience there the previous year. I made our reservations well in advance with the dimensions of our camper and truck correctly listed. Because Memorial weekend was so busy we knew we needed to reserve early to get a good site. So we had.
We arrived, luckily, during daylight hours and were given a site that was technically big enough for our camper, but to say it was difficult to get into would be an understatement.
My husband is a good driver, and he can generally park our camper with little to no effort, but not in this spot. Before it was over we had my husband, an employee of the campground and two truck drivers all trying to get our rig into the site, while I spotted the trees and yelled stop using our walkie talkies when crunch time was near. It took 45 minutes and a lot of tension to squeeze the trailer in because of the trees surrounding the entrance to the parking spot, the sheer drop offs on all sides and the narrowness of the road.
The employee later told us that generally much smaller trailers were put in that spot and everyone had trouble getting in it.
Once we got it in there we had a horrible time getting out of that site when it was time to leave. Walkie talkies (this was before we started using hands free cell phones for this project) were essential and it took a lot of forward and backward to get out without dropping the trailer off one of the drop offs or clipping the trees.
Our next few trips we went to Compton Ridge and the Corps because we refused to get in that situation again.
Our last visit there was again during the Bluegrass and BBQ annual festival. I made our reservations early in the year because the corps, and Compton were already booked. I was very clear about the size of our camper again and requested a pull through site to avoid similar problems. I was given a confirmation number, a pull through site number and was guaranteed that site was ours. We verified it all again before we left home, including taking our confirmation print out with us.
We again arrived in the daylight hours to discover we had NO PLACE to camp. They had booked us, according to them, for the following YEAR at that time, despite what my confirmation email said. Furthermore, they had no sites available and chastised me for waiting so late to try and get a site—I had booked MONTHS early.
I demanded they find me a place to camp because I had already purchased my tickets for the festival and had driven over four hours to get there. The situation was their fault and therefore they needed to fix it. Of course they had nothing, not even a cabin they were willing to let us stay in for a campsite price, but said they would try to find us a place to camp somewhere else. The place they came up with was nearly an hour away, back toward home. I was livid.
I insisted they call non-sister campgrounds and find us a campsite locally because they after all had ran the charge through for me to camp that weekend there and then had given our campsite away, when we arrived well before deadline. The fault was entirely theirs.
They finally found us a place nearby at Tall Pines, and it was an easy to park in site, we were pleased with Tall Pines, the little we were there.
When I asked for my deposit back they informed me I was cancelling my reservation less than five days before I was to arrive and therefore was not entitled to a refund of any sort. I was truly angry by that time. I reminded them that they had my reservation for the FOLLOWING year, not this year and therefore, was entitled to a full refund IMMEDIATELY. By then a crowd had formed of people waiting to check in and they decided quickly a refund was in order.
Based on this past history when I made our reservations I insisted not only on a confirmation number, but for her to read me exactly what site AND what YEAR the reservation showed. I then insisted on an email confirmation. Which I verified all the info on when I received the email. This I printed out, just in case.
I also made certain of the campsite size. I was told 40 x 19 which would be a bit short for our 30 ft rig plus the dually, but we knew we could make that work. I also verified it was an easy in, easy out site. I was guaranteed it was. I warned the woman I had bad experiences with their sites before and that we would not even attempt one that was too short or had sheer drop offs with trees when we got there.
She assured me this site was PERFECT for us. She said that if it wasn’t to let them know immediately and they would arrange a different site for us, but to arrive early as we could to allow for a better choice because it was the first weekend for Silver Dollar City 2014 and they were filling up quickly. All of this was included in the confirmation email I received, printed and took with me. Good thing I did.
So we did just that. Oh the site was maybe 40 x 19, but it was 19 long and 40 wide, and the area you had to pull into to park… you guessed it a drop off. Not only was the site less than half the length I needed, and I had stressed what our size was, that length had a retaining wall on the side our slides would have to come out on (and I had told her where our slides were), and a picnic table was taking up part of that 19 foot length.
We went immediately back to the office, where the woman (a different one than I had booked with) informed me that we WOULD fit in that site and they were full up and we’d absolutely have to park there.
Then she took one look at my face, as I handed her the confirmation email and changed her tune immediately. She grumbled the whole time she was looking through her site book and kept suggesting short campsites and us parking elsewhere. I told her no, that we had booked for a set size site and I would NOT be treated this way by them AGAIN.
Suddenly she came up with a 50ft site, and suggested I walk down and see if it was empty(why she didn’t know if it was empty or not I have no idea) and if it would work for us. It was and would, but it was no 50 ft either. Our fifth wheel is a 30 ft, and we drive a one ton dually to pull it. Once we were parked (which was easy access) all the way back in the lot we had to angle our truck up under the tongue of the fiver to fit inside the campsite boundaries. Someone needs to re-measure all their sites for certain. My truck is definitely not any 20 ft long.
While the campsite is clean, however, this third time of basically poor service on their part will make us hesitant to go back there ever again. Especially at $34 per night, less a 10% discount for being annual passholders.
We were just a few sites from the office, yet our wi-fi was spotty at best. If you are going that way and decide you want to chance them so you can use the free Silver Dollar City shuttle if your rig is 30ft site 154 will hold it.
As for them being full up, not in their wildest dreams. We kept watching for rigs coming in all three nights we were there and over half the campground was empty.
Oh and we drove by the previous campsite later that weekend. They had someone parked in there. The smallest pop-up camper I’ve ever seen and it completely filled the site. That was campsite 90.
About their shuttle. Currently it is running at 9 am, noon, 3 pm and 6 pm only. You better be there for it at those times because he loads who is there when he arrives and then leaves, they do not wait around. It is, however, a clean kneeling bus that has the drive on lift system for wheel chairs and reserved seats for strollers.
Our overall review of this campsite based on this trip and our previous experiences is a C.
Prior to the trip we had major repairs done to the truck, that included replacing the water pump and hoses because we had been getting “low coolant” warning lights on our dash.
As dh backed into site 154 the “low coolant” light came on again. Not good 400+ miles from home pulling a trailer. We kept a close eye on the temperature gauge all the way home I can guarantee you. The truck went back to the shop first thing Monday morning!
So that started our weekend off on a bit of a sour note, but once we were camped the real fun began.
Stay tuned for part 2.
Jan who refused to let The Wilderness ruin her anniversary trip in OK