Thanks for joining me!
A favorite quote of mine “Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton”.
The Journey began in may of 2016 for my wife Michelle and I, we were at a cross roads. Upon recommendation of my Doctor I was to retire due to failing health and stress, my what was I going to do, the only thing I have known my entire 35+ years of adult life was getting up and going to work. Well we came up with a bucket list, hers and mine, hers was to travel the 50 States and visit all the beautiful natural wonders, mine was to buy a trawler and travel the ocean. We all know who won. Well after about 15 States I was driving everyone around me crazy, Michelle especially, after all a man who’s only purpose in life has been to build and maintain things can’t just stop! So after many waxing’s of the RV in many different campgrounds and snide comments of other male RV’rs after their other half said why can’t you do that to our RV? Michelle said to me in her nicest possible way, you are driving me crazy, why can’t you just enjoy life? So our trip was shortened and we returned home to VT to come up with a plan. Well after much contemplation, I with my never ending idea train said if we had bought a trawler we would not be in this situation, wrong answer and plan! So we settled on combining two things we each enjoy, Camping and campers, so naturally buying a campground so I have something to do was the answer. We looked at campgrounds from the Mississippi to the Coast. What I found was finished campgrounds that required just maintenance and a whole bunch of employees, Campgrounds that needed work but had no draw for campers other than hookups and campgrounds that were neither and had absolutely nothing to offer. So what could we do? Well morning of returning to VT for another brainstorming session I gave the Campground Connection one more look, and up pops this campground in GA by the Okefenokee Swamp, wow it must be new on the market, wrong it has been on the market for 3 years but eluded my discovery, so I hastily show it to Michelle. In response I get “by a swamp, what, it must be a wet mess, does it have any dry land and what is the attraction of a swamp?”. Well in my normal demeanor I say I don’t know we will have to see it to answer it, and after all Hun I spent a large part of the 80’2 in GA and loved it, “well in actuality it was North not South GA and it was a military post at Ft Benning, and although I did love it, most of my time I was deployed somewhere else”. So we set up a time to view this mysterious place. Upon first sight Michelle said what dump, it is not friendly looking or inviting and where is this swamp? So we took a tour of the swamp while waiting for the seller to set up a viewing time of the facility, well we never knew a swamp could be called beautiful, but it is, the wildlife, the history, the uniqueness, what a draw (or at least it should be). So the fateful day arrives for viewing, and the property does not disappoint (well me anyway, after all since leaving the service my concentration has been construction in one form or another). So we with a lot of coaxing on my part towards Michelle, make an offer and it is accepted. Now the work begins, clean up, renovation, upgrading a long never ending battle, I find a local who needs some work but most of this type of work he has never done, but is eager to learn and picks it up quickly. Now the place is coming together quickly, even Michelle is liking it, then bam the 2017 West Mims Fire hit’s, everything comes to a halt, no visitors, the Govt closes the Swamp “for safety reasons”. So we stop everything, after all no income, we need to weather this out with banked money. Well a few weeks go by and the Fire personnel start using our facilities, not at capacity, but at least enough to cover operating expenses, so work starts again and we are still getting the occasional traveler. Well one night I am called to deal with a problem in the campground from our RV on the far end (the house above the office is still under renovation on my way back to the RV I dropped my keys reached down to pick them up and on my way back to vertical I happen to look at the sky. Bam there is the sky of my childhood, there’s the Milky Way, Orion, Mars, Saturn, Polaris, I have not seen the sky so clear, so vivid, I must share this with Michelle so I go in and insist she comes and see’s it, reluctantly she does. What I hear in return is WOW it is so dark and clear, it is beautiful. Well daily life is calling and renovations continue, although I keep thinking of the sky, so I start researching, only to find we are in one of the darkest best seeing areas in the Southeast, actually one of the top 10 in the Country and there is a International Dark Sky recognized park on the other side of the Swamp. It is not until a friend of a friend comes to stay with us and upon me showing him the night sky and watching him have the same reaction as Michelle and myself, that I decide to do something about it. Kurt is the first to take action and buys a dobsonian scope so we can see what we can’t with the naked eye, well that started us in motion. I immediately draw up a plan, send Kurt to see the stargazing at the dark sky park and report back. So on a fateful Friday night in June he does, he comes back and says “it is and introduction to stargazing, one scope, long lines and an astronomer who is doing his best, but is disappointing and all we saw was the moon”. Well we can surely do better than that can’t we, Kurt asks. And as always I say yes we can, so the quest for the stars start’s, equipment is purchased, back to the books as both of us did a lot of astronomy in our younger years, but much is lost. Now the quest for our own stargazing area, we can do it up front, well lighting now needs to be changed, advertising starts, learning, new equipment, what renovations, lol. I search for the perfect area on the property and find it in a far corner, trees need to go, land needs to be leveled, we need access to it, after several weeks it is a star field, the excitement a truly dark area, one where can host large groups and share our love of the night sky with many. The reward, ” there is nothing like the WOW or the OH MY, or the squeel of an excited child or adult for their first view of Saturn or the moon as they have never seen”. So if you are new to stargazing or a seasoned professional, come out and let’s enjoy the night sky together.