When I first heard the word “glamping,” I was intrigued.
It’s a step up from traditional camping as far as amenities are concerned — a bed instead of a sleeping bag, a climate-controlled tent and a mini-fridge — even a coffeemaker.
And the photos on the website made it look so appealing — the super cute tents with rugs, house plants and throws on the chairs. They were cozy and inviting and did someone say hammocks overlooking the water? I was sold.
I was a Girl Scout growing up, and camping was a regular occurrence for a couple of troops I was in. I’m not afraid to do it, and I really enjoy being outside. I love the smell of a campfire.
But it’s not something I’ve done in — well, do we really have to talk about that?
Earlier this year, I wrote a story for The Augusta Press about the Georgia Glamping Co. and its expansion to Wildwood Park at Clarks Hill. I interviewed the owners, and I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to go glamping. I just didn’t until this past week.
Part of me wanted to wait until the temperatures cooled off some, and I wanted to be there at non-peak times.
Georgia Glamping Co. is now Timberline Glamping Co. According to owner Nathan Self, he and his wife, Rebeka, have expansion plans outside the state, and Georgia Glamping Co. doesn’t suit a site in South Carolina or Tennessee or Montana for that matter.
They are working franchise agreements in other states.
The Selfs first ventured into glamping at Lake Lanier before opening Clarks Hill earlier this year. It’s been a learning curve at Wildwood, he said. The first sites were located in two different spots at Area 1 and Area 3. Initially, there were only four glamp sites; now they are six, all of which are located in Area 3 so that if families or friends wanted to glamp together but not in the same tent, they could.
Self said they also installed a different type of heating and air-conditioning unit that could cool the tent even on the hottest of July days. With the heating available, the glampsites can be used year-round.
I needed a brief respite. My elderly fur baby died Oct. 23 of heart failure after a rapid decline. I’d cried a lot over the past month due to her condition. I find water, trees and fresh air to have healing elements like no others, and that was what I needed, even if it was for less than 48 hours.
My husband is an Eagle scout, and honestly, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen him more excited to go on a trip. I get grief for all the stuff I pack when going on vacation, but for two nights, he overpacked my car. We brought the cornhole boards he made to the lake.
Bret referred to the trip as “returning to the scene of the crime.”
He and I met at Girl Scout camp, and I promise that is not nearly as creepy as you might be thinking. I was working as a counselor. At the end of the regular session of summer camp, the camp director, another counselor, a lifeguard and I were scheduled to take a group of about 12 preteens on a canoe trip to the lake. The only problem was our regular lifeguard got sick and the last-minute replacement was this super cute lifeguard from Boy Scout camp — but I digress.
In the ensuing years, my husband and I have never been camping together — until now. So without our own camping gear, the only option for us to stay at the lake was glamping.
Just a short trip out Washington Road to Wildwood Park’s Area 3, and these cute white tents are set up. There are different size tents. Some have a queen size bed alone; others have a queen-sized bed and a set of bunkbeds.
A small porch area is outside the tent with a couple of matching Adirondack chairs and a firepit and the hammocks.
Crisp white linens covered the bed, which sat atop an area rug in the center of the platform. A cute sign at the foot of the bed wished us “Happy glamping.” The clean space was truly inviting.
Nathan told us to be on the lookout for the bald eagles because they’ve been known to fly above the campsite.
I spent the first afternoon wandering. A small plaque in the tent reminded me that “not all who wander are lost.” And I wasn’t lost; I was just exploring. I enjoyed taking in the beauty of the lake as it lapped against the shore with the sun glistening off its surface.
I knew the Professional Disc Golf Association’s headquarters were at the park, but I’d never visited them. In my wanderings, I found a few of the tees for the disc golf course.
Apparently, my husband saw the bald eagles. He stayed at the campsite cooking supper while I wandered.
We ate at the picnic table under the strand of lights. Bret bought a set of cookware and plates just for camping. I told you he was excited.
After supper, my husband proved “once an Eagle scout, always an Eagle scout” as he expertly built a fire in the pit. I remembered that technique as being the same one my leader had taught me all those years ago.
I watched the dancing flames for a couple of hours until there was nothing remaining but glowing embers. Then we walked toward one of the points and sat underneath the stars. The cloudless night revealed a sky full of the celestial bodies, and I breathed in the peace of the brisk night.
Of course, I picked the one day in weeks that it decides to rain, but on Thursday before it started to rain was the most majestic sunrise. The brilliant fuchsia sky gave way to a vibrant orange before the sun peeked above the pine tree line and glistened on the water.
I wrote several stories as I listened to the light tapping of the raindrops on my canvas rooftop.
Glamping is a good way for people to try an outdoor experience. If you don’t own a tent, camper or recreational vehicle, there aren’t a lot of options for camping.
Glamping is definitely something I’d try again — even if it rained. Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bret showed up with our own tent. I could tell he missed it.
Rates vary depending on tent size. I also discovered if I kept watching the website, some dates were discounted from the listed price. I’m not sure if they offer flash sales or what. The reduced prices weren’t always there.
Weekends are booked for most of the rest of the year, but if you can get away during the week, you can likely find an opening.
To learn more about Timberline Glamping and what’s available locally, visit timberlineglamping.com.