Saturday, July 12, 2014

First Corps of Engineers campground

Location: Mill Creek Recreation Area Campground; Berlin Lake, Ohio
(click pics to enlarge)

I arrived here last Thursday afternoon. I choose this campground because it will be the first Corps of Engineers campground for me. I have read in other’s blogs abound how great they were in terms of layout, cleanliness and careful thought being put into every aspect of the campground. I figured they must be designed and operated logically if it is being run by Engineers.

First off, Elise (gps) took me to an entrance that was fenced, gated and no signs. It appeared to have been closed for some time since grass was growing tall in the cracks of the pavement. I figured I must be in the wrong place because engineers would surely have placed a sign here saying what was going on and where the campground entrance was located. I was able to stop on the small country road because no one seemed to be using the road and I hadn’t seen a car in a while. The country around here is flat with farms everywhere. The road system layout for this part of Ohio is about a 5 mile square grid with the roads being generally straight as an arrow and running either due north/south or due east/west. Lucky for me the roads were flat because about a mile up the road I saw what looked like a big pontoon boat making a turn. There wasn’t a place to turn Freedom and Liberty around, so I drove forward and sure enough, there was the entrance to Mill Creek. The waiting line was about 6 deep of cars, RV’s and a couple pick-ups full of firewood. The road curved and narrowed between curbs to a width that only gave an extra 6 inches or so on either side of Liberty’s tires. I do not know why they would do such a thing. As I walked up to the check-in station to stand in line I discovered why there was a line. There was only one woman working in the building. She was checking in campers, giving day use passes and checking vehicles for permits as they passed through. I mentioned to one of the guys in line that she needed help, he said there was another guy but he left as the line got longer. After about 30 minutes I got checked in and received all my paperwork (one permit for the rearview mirror another one to put on a post at the campsite.

Before going to the campsite, I had to take on fresh water because the sites are electric only. That’s fine with me, I have gotten used to that and sort of prefer it that way. I found the fresh water spigot but it was in a bad location unless you were coming from the other direction. I couldn’t see anything as far as I could see down the road and

since I didn’t trust the layout already, I decided to back Liberty into a driveway and turn her around right there. Once I was turned around, I had to back up about 40 yards to the water spigot. Maybe these Ohio engineers are different, because so far they haven’t made anything easy or logical. I found the campsite. It went slightly up hill and half of the driveway is made of rounded rock and the other half is compacted dirt. Each campsite has a driveway pipe and roadside ditch. If you don’t center your RV as you’re backing in, you may have a big problem. If you drop a tire off the edge of the pipe you may be buying a new tire. Oh, and there are trees on each side of the campsite. I stopped in the one-way road to get out of Freedom

to have look at the campsite to see how best to back in and get set up. I knew I had to make room for the slide out so it wouldn’t hit the tree. The pipe and ditch worried me as well. As I was looking over the site, two RV’s pulled up behind Liberty. So now I was blocking traffic and would have an audience as I backed into a tough campsite. I jumped back in Freedom and got lined up the best I could while still avoiding a wooden post, a dumpster, a sign and another campsite. I jacked Liberty over as much as I could and as quick as I could. I knew from the beginning I was going to have to pull forward and straighten up to get lined up better and to keep Liberty from jackknifing into Freedom’s cab. Then in my side mirror I saw a guy waving at me. He was from one of the waiting RV’s and he is telling me “come on back”. I hollered back that I was going to pull forward first. He looked disgusted and hollered back sarcastically, “if you THINK you need to, go ahead”. This guy is already violating one of the rules of campground etiquette by helping without being asked or without offering first. I ignored him and pulled forward as far as I could and then started backing again. I was keeping my eyes on the mirrors and a wooden post that I thought may be in the way on my right side. The guy is waving wildly again and telling me to “turn this way, then turn that way”. Each direction was opposite of what I needed to do. I’m not sure if he was doing it on purpose or not. I saw the post out of the corner of my eye as it was getting closer and closer. I stopped, put the emergency brake on and got out of Freedom to take a look at the situation. I have become a big believer in what the truckers call, GOAL (Get Out And Look). As I stepped down from Freedom, the guy hollered, “what are you doing now? You have plenty of room back here.” That fired me up and I began to see red. I was about to have some words with this guy and educate him about a few things. Instead, I politely said, “I want to make sure I have enough room by this post”. His response, “What post? I don’t see any post. Keep on coming back”. I ignored him again and walked around in front to take a quick look. Sure enough, I needed to pull forward just a little bit then I would have it made all the way back into the site. By then the guy had walked to the other side of Liberty and saw how close the post was to Freedom. He realized that if I had continued to follow his directions, the post and Freedom would have met. Did he apologize? Did he come up and shake my hand? Nope and nope. He just said, “Looks like you have it now” and walked back to his RV. I finished backing into the tight spot and he drove off. I haven’t seen him since, which is good news.

I got set up and the site turned out to be pretty level side to side. My slide out comes to within about 6 inches of the tree. The two trees provide plenty of shade and it is a comfortable site once you’re in it. I’ll worry about pulling Liberty out tomorrow. The lake is a very pretty lake. In talking to some of the people, the lake and campground is a local weekend attraction for this area. A lot of the people come here about every other weekend during the summer months. Many of the people know each other. This campground has been a rest stop for me with nothing planned in this area.
Tomorrow is moving day and I’ll be heading to a state park north of Columbus called Delaware State Park. There are a couple of things I want to see in Columbus before heading north.

Ya'll take care of each other. Cya down the road.


  1. Hello from '65 Airstream that you met today. We will enjoy following you.When you were here at Mill Creek ( us locals just call it "Berlin Lake"), did you happen to hear the lions in the morning and late evening from the reserve up the road? We enjoyed hearing them. Not actual roaring, just rumblings. Have a safe trip.

    1. Hello Airstream. I see you made it back home OK. Yes, I did hear something this morning about 5:00. It woke me up with a start and I jump up. To me it sounded like a tire losing it's air very quickly or a propane tank being opened. I thought I was dreaming but now you have given me another possibility.

      I hope ya'll enjoy the blog and feel free to comment at anytime.