When we last left our heroine, she was newly accidentally as blonde as she had been at 16 and had bravely pointed her RV in the direction of Tahlequah, home of her high school-era youthful discretions.
That blonde heroine would be me, in case you’re new to the RV journey.
I left Tulsa a lot later than I had planned and started looking for a place to stay the night as bright sunshiney day turned to dusk. After the accidental four-wheeling adventures in Colorado, I try to avoid strange dirt roads at night. And since I learned how to drive in this part of Oklahoma, I had first-hand knowledge of its many dirt roads. I don’t remember any of them with street lights.
A campground wasn’t too far down the road at Fort Gibson Lake, so (with great hesitation) I let Google Maps lead the way. And here’s what I’ve (belatedly) realized about Google Maps and campgrounds: the campgrounds don’t always really have an address. And particularly if I find a campground using the AllStays app and then click the directions link, Google Maps opens using GPS coordinates. And those coordinates might be, say, the middle of the lake. Not the entrance gate.
Want to hear how I came to that realization? It’s a cautionary tale for us all. Spoiler alert: Google did not send me to the entrance gate for the Fort Gibson Lake campground. I’m not exactly sure where it sent me, but I ended up (once again), on a tiny dirt road in the pitch blackness. Had I turned off the RV, it would have been like one of those trendy restaurants where a waiter leads you into a room with no lights and laughs at you. Only you don’t know about the laughing because it’s so dark. You just think he’s in the back getting your fancy food.
I finally came upon what seemed to be a fenced in trailer park, which didn’t seem exactly right, since supposedly I was headed to a state campground, and in any case, I couldn’t figure out how one would get to the other side of the fence. I turned down what I hoped was a road and found myself in a completely empty loop of RV sites, right on the water. I could barely make out what was probably the site locations. Should I just pull into one of these for the night?
Every RV park and campground has entirely different rules. With some, a central board has details on which spots are open for the night. At others, reserved spots are marked right at the location. I didn’t want to just pull blindly into a random spot.
I realize this makes no sense. Clearly, the campground was completely abandoned. Completely. It was unlikely that a group of RVers had reserved the whole place and would accost me in my sleep. But I tend to have an irrational fear of being in the wrong place or doing the wrong thing. Even in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere, apparently.
I inched my way along in the blackness. I turned right. More blackness. Through a miracle, I eventually found what may have been the entrance (on entirely the other side of where I had come in). Shining like a beacon was a kiosk, the likes of which I’d never seen before or since. Just punch in the number of your chosen site, swipe your credit card, and be on your way.
Which meant I had to go back out in the dark and find a site, then somehow find this kiosk again, then find that same site a second time. Just what kind of herculean obstacle course is the world turning into?!
I ventured out again and headed towards the water. Surely that would be the direction of camp sites at a lakeside campground? The road inexplicably turned from asphalt to gravel. Maybe this isn’t the right direction. I turned around and eventually could make out another RV! One RV in the barren darkness. I pulled up beside it and noted the site number.
I somehow found my back to the kiosk. Where I found yet another obstacle. A huge spider had made its home just beside the numbers. I took a deep breath and did my best to not disturb him as I put in my site number.
My brilliant plan of using the sole RV as a route marker worked and I made my way back.
It’s seriously bad form to choose a site directly next to another RV when several hundred empty spaces exist. And it’s doubtful that a homicidal maniac axe murderer was waiting for me in an empty campground. Also it was only about 9pm. But apparently I’m way more afraid of the dark than I realized.
The next morning, I got up early and looked outside at what had scared me so much.
Maybe not my finest moment.
The people I’d totally crowded the night before hadn’t stirred yet, so I snuck away before they saw me and drove my RV down to a waterfront spot (all I had to do was drive about 50 feet down that gravel road I’d turned around at the night before) to make some coffee and enjoy the scariest campground in America.