Sunday, September 15, 2013

Friday the Thirteenth Campout - We Were Attacked!

View from site D-10 at Bailey's Point on Barren River Lake
 I've been to Bailey's Point many times over the last several years, both tent and pop-up camping, but this is my first written review of the campground.  It sits on Barren River Lake, not too far from the state park campground, only at Bailey's you don't have to deal with the highway noise of 31E lingering nearby.

There are several loops, A-F, with loops A and B not having nearly as many trees. 

Think of the loops as a spectrum.  From loop A all the way to loop F, the crowds diminish and the trees multiply. Tons of trees in E with the most being in F.  There's no power hook-ups in F, so the fewer campers in the area and wooded setting give it a Jason Voorhees-ish vibe.   This is most likely heaven for some, but will probably provide unease to most.  After all, there aren't many around to hear you scream.  I'm not kidding!

I'm a shade and privacy kind of girl, but I also value my life so we camped in D-10 this past weekend.  The weather was absolutely perfect for camping.  A pleasant seventy-two degrees during the sunny day with a crisp forty-eight degrees at night and a constant light breeze coming off the water. 

All was fine as frog hair as we roasted hotdogs over the campfire until the sounds came.  It started as a light buzzing, then a perpetually louder motor-sound.  I saw a black blob begin moving like a crazy horse fly under our awning.  I first thought it was a strange moth because it was well into the night hour.  Derek quickly realized this was a hornet of some type.  He grabbed the fly swatter while I hesitated and ran for the shelter of the pop-up.  I slammed the door behind me, realizing I'd left my family behind!  "Did you kill it?!" I asked through the canvas. 

" won't be still!  Ahhh!"  Now my husband doesn't actually scream but let me tell you, this had him on his toes.

"It's in my hair!" my daughter cried.  "Get it off!"  I go for the door to help and peer out and she's leaning her head down as Derek combs through with his fingers.

"There's nothing in there.  You're fine," Derek says. 

Buuuzzzzz, slaps into the camper, Buuuuzzzz, slaps into the awning.  Derek sorta hollers out again.  I open the door this time and tell Bella to get inside.  Now it's just Derek and the nutz-o hornet.  Man verses insect.  There's a sudden loud slap.

"Did you kill it?"


Now my daughter and I anxiously await the death of this horrid flying insect that just crashed our campfire.  There's mere silence and we wonder if we'd scared it off. 

"I think it's gone," Derek says.  In no way does this convince me to take one step outside the camper.  Buuuzzzzz, slaps into side of camper.  "Nope, it's back."  He bangs around a few more times with the fly swatter, desperately trying to kill it. "I think I got 'em!" 

I find a flash light and shine it on the ground (through the window of course).  We inspect, well, Derek inspects as I peer through the screen and observe what had just attacked us, because that's what it felt attack.  This thing was very aggressive.  "There he is," Derek says as he stomps it to make sure it's dead. 

All of a sudden, we hear another one.  I begin to wonder why it sounds like everyone else is having a jolly ol' time and we're fighting for our lives, er...fighting for our dignity.  I figured there's gotta be a nest close by. Yes, I am a genius. 

Derek quickly kills the second one.  We wait a minute, hear nothing else, and I finally pep-talk myself into coming out and enjoying the night. 

We're not two minutes into a new conversation when Derek stops and looks behind him.  "There's another one!  $#%!" 

Before the night ends, he's killed a dozen of them.  Slightly alarmed of the obvious nearby nest, we decide to inform the check-in post the next day.  Yes, I realize this is camping and pests, bugs, etc. are all part of it, but we've been camping all over Kentucky, from the banks of the Mississippi to the Red River Gorge area, including a few times here at Bailey's Point, and we've NEVER experienced anything like this before.  If a child were to wander around and stumble into a nest, it could be seriously dangerous. 

What really had me stumped is there was only one that would show up at a time.  Seems like when one didn't come back, another would come check it out.  At one point there were two at a time, but no more. 

The next morning, I crept out of the camper and there's nothing buzzing by.  I sip my coffee and watch.  I see a few buzz by - they are REALLY fast - but they don't pay any attention to us in the daylight.  I notice a tree or two they seem to fly around, away from our campsite but still too close for comfort, and I observe.  They crawl around on the bark finally disappearing near the bottom of the trunk.  See my picture below.  It's the dead tree on the left and the one to my right.  Isn't the view fantastic at least?

I felt like Chief Brody on watch for the dangerous creature lurking nearby.

I checked out Google on my cell phone (Yes!  Cell phone service at Bailey's) and quickly found something called Japanese Hornets.  These things are reported all over the southeast but are supposedly from Aisa - hence the name.  I told you I was a genius. 

The sting is described as a hot nail driving into your skin.  That's nice.  Some property owners I read about noted they couldn't mow their yards anymore without being attacked, so they tried mowing at night but they were still attacked.  Spray didn't faze the little terrors.  Apparently they don't go hunting humans, but will attack if they feel threatened such as being stirred by loud noises, vibrations, or if you get in their way.  Our particular situation, they were attracted to the light.  They have orangish-yellow and black stripes.  And they have FUR.  Seriously.  See image below.

I wish I could zoom in better but I forgot my Nikon.  Me, Derek and my daughter headed up to the camp post to report, and the guy (friendly staff by the way) tells Derek they are aware of the problem and have tried spraying but don't know what else to do.  All the while I'm thinking, 'Thanks for the heads up, Dude' but that would be like screaming shark at a beach on the Fourth of July.  They don't wanna lose 'da business. 

The Army Corps of Engineers has even been out there and sprayed to rid the campground of these hornets and it doesn't kill them!  The guy at the post said the only thing that will are those electric bug zappers.  He proceeded to show us and there were dozens of zapped hornets.  We suddenly remember we've got one of those!  I dig through the camper storage and find it.  Heck yeah, baby.  These hornets are getting roasted tonight.  A little happy dance took place.  PETA hates me.

All in all, we didn't let this ruin our camping trip.  I still ate the HECK out of some roasted marshmallows and walked down to the lake shore with my daughter.  It was a beautiful day and as the sun sank in the sky casting oranges and pinks on the water below, I smiled and gave thanks to the Father.
Coolin' the feet.

The next morning, Derek found about a dozen more dead on the electric bug shocker.  Some were still alive in the bottom, but trapped.  He carefully killed them and made sure the others were dead before cleaning it off.  We packed up a little quicker than usual this time and were glad to leave without any stings.  I bid farewell to the lovely lake and drove home. 

Bailey's is a great campground.  It's located on Barren River Lake in the Western/Central part of Kentucky off of 31E.  Technically it's off a country road off another country road from 31 E but if you follow the signs, that should get you there without problems. 

Bathrooms were clean, sites are nice and woodsy (except loops A and B) with lots of sites overlooking the water.  There is a camp store behind the bath house in loop B and they also sell firewood. 

Just beware there's a new insect in town, and he isn't quiet or concerned with how rude it is to raid your campfire party.  Be careful.  Don't try to go hunt the nest and kill them.  If the Army Corps of Engineers can't come up with a concoction to kill these little SOBs, then I doubt your little can of grocery-store bought Raid will do any good.  You'll just tick them off and outrunning these hornets is impossible.  Just keep your trusty fly swat nearby and your eyes and ears open.  I would even suggest asking the campground host if they know any areas of the campground that have infestations so you know ahead of time what areas to avoid.  Get a bug zapper. That seemed to help, too. 

Then you can mosey on down in your comfy camping chair and do whatever it is you like to do when chillin' by the fire. 

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