[Chaos-l] Facilities at Medoc Mountain
robertnielsen at nc.rr.com
Tue Jan 27 14:54:03 EST 2009
First, a little explanation about Medoc Mountain State Park ...
The park itself is a set of acreage just east of Hollister, NC ... which
(if I remember correctly) was primarily some land owned by a particular
family. A couple of state and local roads run around the perimeter of
it, and one road actually runs through the middle of it. That road is
always open ... it is a public thoroughfare ... and you could access
some of the park land from that road if you wanted to (sorta like the
land around Jordan Lake). Off that road are two park "areas" - to the
north is a ranger station and visitor center (with nature trail); to the
south is a gate that leads into what most people would consider the
"park" (a field, a picnic pavilion, camping area, etc.) But if you go
hiking, you could travel a good ways in the rest of the "actual" park,
and never even go to the campsite / pavilion area.
OK ... that said, when Allen Davis and I have observed at the park,
we've observed in the smaller area in a field. In the winter time, the
area where this field (and the campsites) exists is locked behind a gate
starting at 6 PM. In the summertime, the gate is unlocked at 8 AM.
I've always gotten there before 6 PM (it's 1.5 hours away ... and I'm
fortunate that I can quit work at 4 PM). So far, I've always left the
area *before* 8 AM, thanks to Allen Davis, who knows the park rangers
and superintendent and knows the combination to the gate lock. Perhaps
if I (or other members of CHAOS) observe there frequently and build a
repoire with the rangers, they will feel comfortable and give one or two
of us the combination as well. But I have not pushed this issue to
If needed, you could definitely get out of there in an emergency ... by
calling the ranger and asking for the gate to be opened. If someone
was there, they could let you out easily.
So far, I have not setup a tent and camped ... although I did go over
and view the camping facilities. They were very nice! Heated bath
building (with showers with hot water), what looked like brand-new
campsites (about a third of which have electricity) ... although I now
know they were renovated about 4-5 years ago, and even some group
campsites near the other campsites (but not so close as to interfere
with lights, etc.)
The campsite is separated from the main "field" (where we setup) by some
amount of woods ... let's say 500 feet. Mark Lerch asked if you could
setup a scope right next to or on a campsite, and Allen and his friends
responded that they had ... especially at the back of the campsites ...
but I would expect the treeline to be a factor of some sort.
More interesting to me is the group campsites. There is a second
cleared field near them ... and (depending on what other groups were
camped there) it looked to me to be a great place to setup a few scopes
and observe. None of the group campsites have electricity ... and
there really isn't electricity accessible on the main (larger) observing
field. I'm not sure if you could run an extension cord from the
bathhouse at the group campsite to the smaller field, or whether the
rangers would even allow it. But they might; the rangers there are
*extremely* friendly ... and seem to really support Medoc Mountain as an
observing site. They understand their resource as a place with low
levels of light pollution.
So far, I've only observed with batteries. So if you need 120V to
drive your scope, it might not be the place for you (until I figure out
whether it is possible). But if you want to go for a few nights ...
leave your scope setup in the big field (even though it is separated
from the campsite ... I would feel comfortable doing it as long as I
brought back all the eyepieces and such and locked them in my car) ...
and charge your batteries during the day off the campsite electrical
hookup ... it would be perfect. We just need to see whether powered
observation will work.
Jim Pressley wrote:
> Thanks for an excellent report on your successful Medoc experience.
> Could you comment on how access to the park worked, for example, what
> hours must you be "locked" inside? If an emergency arises, can you
> get out? Were you able to camp (set up tents) relatively near your
> scope and was electricity available?
> Thanks, Jim
> On Sun, Jan 25, 2009 at 8:55 PM, Robert Nielsen
> <robertnielsen at nc.rr.com <mailto:robertnielsen at nc.rr.com>> wrote:
> Well, you might not believe this ... but there was a useful
> observing session at Medoc Mountain State Park last night.
> Moral of the story: trust the Clear Sky Clock!
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