Posts Tagged ‘happy campers’

Josh Laird had no clue he’d be riding out Tropical Storm Lee in his Volkswagen van when he checked into a campsite Thursday for a two-day fishing trip to Florida’s Fort Pickens Campground.

Laird was among 71 campers stranded for more than 48 hours after Lee’s pounding waves and high surge swamped and shut down the only road in and out at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

With no way to fish in the stormy weather, the 23-year-old Pensacola man said he subsisted on canned soup and water out of the campground faucet.

“The first thing I’m doing? Getting a huge steak,” he said Tuesday afternoon while waiting in a long line of recreational vehicles, cars and trucks poised to be escorted out of the Gulf Islands National Seashore by park officials.

With the first break in the weather on Tuesday, four bulldozers began at 7 a.m. pushing tons of sand and water to the side of a three-mile stretch of road.

Six hours later, most of the 2-to-4-feet deep of soggy, quicksand-like sand was cleared from one lane, a path wide enough to get Airstreams and Winnebagos out.

Most park visitors survived the ordeal in style in their RVs and praised seashore personnel.

“We’re happy campers,” Sarah Lowery, of Branson, Mo., said about her ordeal. “We knew the road was prone to flooding. So, we knew what we were getting into. This is what camping is about.”

She and her husband, Vernon, were among the second wave of 10 campers waiting to be escorted out.

“This was the most awesome Labor Day vacation ever,” she said. “I know not everyone would say that. But we were out here with nature. The park rangers and campground host checked on everyone to make sure no one was short on supplies. People tried to make the most of it.”

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Last week, torrential rainfall cut a swath of destruction across parts of Ontario that will cost millions of dollars to repair, officials say.
The Outaouais was hammered by about 200 millimeters (7.8 inches) of rain Thursday and Friday (June 23-24), causing partial or full road washouts in more than 40 locations from Eardley in the west to Cantley in the east, and as far north as Lac Philippe, The Ottawa Citizen reported.

In two days, the region got more than twice the amount of rainfall it would normally get in the month of June, according to Environment Canada. Eerily, the storms began on the anniversary of the earthquake that shook the region just last year.

Meanwhile, there were few happy campers in Gatineau Park, after heavy rains forced as many as 200 vacationers to leave the Lac Philippe campgrounds; five of the park’s beaches were closed.
A road leading into the campground at Lac Philippe and another to Lac Taylor collapsed on Friday; park staff rescued a few families by boat that evening, but most campers opted to stay overnight, said Renée Bellehumeur, senior manager of visitor services for the National Capital Commission. The road to Taylor Lake was repaired Saturday, but the road to the main campgrounds remained inaccessible until Sunday, when crews finished building a temporary bridge and reinforcing a service road to take the weight of tent trailers.

About 150 to 200 people were removed on Sunday; a handful who wanted to stay longer were relocated to a different part of the park.

“Unfortunately, we are not accepting new campers for a few days,” until a more permanent solution can be built, says Bellehumeur, adding that people who have already paid camping fees for this week will be reimbursed. Officials hope the area will be at least partly operational by the weekend, she added.

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With the unofficial start of camping season a few months down the road, getting ready for the upcoming summer may be on the back burner for a lot of people.

But if you happen to be in the RV or camper business, it’s a busy time of the year. With sports shows scheduled around the state this time of year, RV dealers are busy — and that can translate into some good deals.

Even with the downturn in the economy, RV dealers say business has been good, as North Dakota’s economy remains comparably strong. Nationally, participation in camping has seen a resurgence.

According to RV Magazine, in 2008 there were about 300,000 more RV campers that took to the state parks and elsewhere than did in the previous year.

That trend followed in North Dakota. The state park system reported higher visitation in 2009 — a jump of 19 percent from the previous year.

Last year, there were 1.05 million people who visited state parks in North Dakota. The number of campers also increased by 11 percent over the previous year.

Rod Klinner, sales manager at Capital RV, said the RV industry has been making changes as well, keeping up with the ways people are choosing to spend their leisure time.

“Our local economy isn’t as bad as it is nationally,” he said. “In fact, we have had a very good year.”

He said manufacturers have come up with a lot of new floor plans geared toward those who don’t just camp.

Statistically, 80 percent to 85 percent of campers do more than just camp, whether it’s fishing, hiking, biking or riding motorcycles or ATVs.

One of the new types of floor plans that has come along in recent years is the “toy hauler,” an RV that drops open in the back with room to haul a motorcycle or ATV.

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