In the border of South Carolina and Georgia sits a magnificent stretch of quiet water known as Lake Hartwell. With 56,000 acres of water and 962 miles of shoreline, it is a popular destination for locals and out-of-state visitors, particularly with anglers looking for Bass and Stripers. As a project of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, it is one of the region’s largest man-made lakes. 1
The Lake Hartwell State Park in Fair Play, South Carolina, is surrounded by forest, and close to Interstate 85. It was a beautiful – and convenient setting for our Carolina LTVers Annual Fall Rally. With 115 paved campsites as well as walk-in tent sites and a fishing pier, it is a delightful location for fun and fellowship.
The group has grown since its inception in 2016, when Jerry and Debbie Stephens offered to lead a group after moving from Ohio to Greenville, SC. Beginning with 15 rigs at that first rally, it has expanded to 160 members today. This event hosted 32 rigs with members hailing from Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Indiana, and of course, North and South Carolina.
The dominance of pine trees makes the shoreline look like summer, but the sprinkle of oak, poplar, maple, and hickory tells the story of autumn all through the campgrounds. Our gathering place each day was the pavilion near the ranger station. Set among the trees just beginning to flush with fall color it was a typical fall scene. Yet, this was not a typical rally.
With the threat of COVID still fresh on everyone’s mind, the group chose to meet outdoors for all of the sessions. Catered dinners replaced pot luck suppers, and the group put a “hold” on their popular “Rig Hop” event where members showcase their RVs models and modifications to the rest of the group.
Nonetheless, the group enjoyed their gathering with typical enthusiasm. The rally started with the Annual Meeting and the introduction and election of officers who each serve for a one-year term. The majority confirmed the slate of officers for 2022 and the Annual Meeting adjourned. A lively discussion began about future rally locations and brought suggestions of trips to surrounding states and potential joint rallies with other clubs. Most agreed these options sounded like fun, as everyone was ready to start traveling again.
The next day, brought a full morning of presentations and discussion on a variety of topics. Victoria Bouldin moderated the discussion on Maintenance and upgrades. The topics ranged from awnings to Lithium batteries and many voiced their own experiences with each. The talk soon turned to troubleshooting with members offering suggestions on upgrades for suspension, after-market levelers, battery upgrades as well as answering questions on inverters, plumbing, and refrigerators. Several members offered resource websites including the LTV Enthusiasts Facebook Group, The Sprinter Forum, Leisure Travel Van Upgrades, and a group for LTV Wonder Owners.
The second session featured Phil Rodokanakis leading a discussion on technology with topics on internet and TV reception, cellular signals, boosters, and HDMI. His detailed and thoughtful presentation sparked many questions about technology among the group. So much so, that the next planned session on “Cooking in the RV” had to be rescheduled for Tuesday!
The best was yet to come, with a catered barbeque dinner from Southern Appalachian Smokehouse. Singer and musician, Karl Lauber from nearby Greenville entertained the group with guitar and banjo tunes from many different artists and genres. As the group dispersed and made their way back to their campsites, there was a lot of “buzz” about all the e-bikes present. With the hilly terrain between the campground and the pavilion, those e-bikes looked pretty terrific to us “walkers”!
On Tuesday morning, the session started with a presentation on Caravan travel. Gary Cooper offered an alternate format to dispel the misunderstanding that all caravans have to be 20 or more rigs. He talked about smaller groups of 3-5 rigs with more flexibility and more member input. By the end of the discussion, he had a list of members who were interested in these small group excursions!
The second presenter, Robin North, author of The Small RV Ninja series, offered tips on trip planning and RV organization. The two topics are complimentary since you have to know where you are going, to know what to pack – and how to pack it! There was lots of input from the group on trip-planning software, favorite tips for finding attractions along the way, and many great ideas for storage including resource websites and retailers who specialize in storage solutions.
The third topic of the day focused on cooking in the RV. There was enthusiasm in the group for both cooking equipment and methods of cooking. Many talked about grills while others offered the convenience of Instant Pots, induction burners, and even old-school dutch ovens.
With all the interest in e-bikes, an impromptu session was planned for this new transportation option. After the noon free-time period, a large group reconvened at the pavilion to talk about the bikes. E-bike owners explained the differences and options available as well as showed off their particular models. The parking lot featured about 10 e-bikes for the group to explore.
The session was in full swing when Carolina Kitchen caterers arrived to serve a dinner of spaghetti and salad with a luscious blondie brownie for dessert. As dinner finished, and the rally came to an end, the group lingered at the pavilion talking and laughing and just enjoying the company of fellow LTV enthusiasts. The long separation caused by COVID made the gathering that much more enjoyable. It was great seeing old friends and making many new friends. That is, after all, what rally time is all about!
https://www.scpictureproject.org/anderson-county/lake-hartwell.html Accessed 11.2.2021 SC Picture Project, Lake Hartwell