Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Return to Yogi Bear Jellystone Campground, Hagerstown, Maryland

We were at Yogi Bear Jellystone Campground, located in Williamsport, Maryland, for our trip to For Frederick in Big Pool, Maryland a year ago. This campground is located in the town of Williamsport but is listed for the area of Hagerstown, Maryland. For our trip to Fort Frederick again this year at the end of April, we returned to this campground. When we travel we travel to relax and enjoy the time we are away. We don't want any unpleasant surprises. This visit with Yogi Bear brought unpleasant surprises. We had a few surprises last year when we stayed here, but this time was the ultimate.

We made our reservations over a month in advance. We wanted to be sure to reserve a space in the "premium" area away from the rock and tree hazard campground sites and roads that we experienced last year. A year ago, we had reserved a site in this section of the campground also, but when we arrived we were told that someone was in our space and we would have to be relocated. We were relocated last year to a "standard" site with no difference in rate. As per the website, at this time of the year, the premium sites and standard sites have the same rate. I tell you this now for what is to come in our experience this year. So - our reservation for 2013 was a "premium" site located in an open section of the campground with no trees or rocks in the way. That is what we wanted.

I made sure to arrive at the campground while the office was still open. This was not easy making the seven plus hour trip in one day. We did not stop anywhere along the way other than for lunch. There were several places that we would have liked to stop at but that would have gotten us there after the office closed. We arrived as anticipated and the office was open.  As we entered the campground we immediately noticed that the entrance road had been repaved. Gone were the large pot holes and ruts that were there before. The interior roads were still the same dirt and/or gravel. We went into the office and were told our site number and were told to wait for the "ranger" in his golf cart to accompany us to the site. Let me explain, that all employees here are called "rangers" to be like "Ranger Smith" in the Yogi Bear cartoons. Well, Ranger Smith met us outside and we followed him in the Roadtrek to the site. The site was a large pull through - and that was what we wanted. What we did not expect was that the site went uphill. Ranger Smith showed us the hookups and was off. I got into the Roadtrek and drove around the site looking for a spot that was level or at least close to level. The site was level side to side but with the hookups on the passenger side, we had to face in the direction that we were in to hookup and the site was on a steep incline in that direction. This would mean that when lying down to sleep, your feet would be hirer than your head.  There was no place on the site that was any different. We got out and decided to level the Roadtrek with the leveling blocks that we carry. These are large "Lego" type blocks that fit together in different combinations that you drive up onto and even out your RV with the angle of the ground. We would need blocks under the rear wheels. We tried one block under each rear wheel - and there was no significant change. We tried two blocks under each rear tire which requires a combination of three blocks to achieve. Still there was no significant difference. Three blocks under each of two tires requires an assembly of six blocks for each tire and the set of blocks is a set of ten. I suspect that they don't expect anyone to need to raise their RV that high to get level. The bubble was pushing at the end of the level in my Roadtrek.   At that point I asked Meryl to go to the office - walk to the office - and tell them that we needed another site and I would stay there and continue to find a spot on the site that we might be able to get even close to level. As it turns out there was none. While I was waiting for Meryl or a "Ranger" to return, I looked around. All of the sites along side of us went uphill at the same dramatic angle. I saw the levelers on trailers and RVs (large RVs have mechanical systems to level with) built up with blocks and wooden boards. I saw the same in the sites in front of us and behind us.

"Ranger Smith", the same man who escorted us to the site arrived in his golf cart. As Meryl was on foot and the office was a walk of distance, she had not returned yet. He saw what I was talking about and pointed to a site behind us. This was a back in site which was fine with me if we would be level. That site was not only on an incline but it was also off side to side. He pointed to another site in the row in front of where we started. Again we were on a steep incline. I pointed this out to him - how the front was higher than the road and it all went uphill. I held my composure and remained polite but did say, "The sites are supposed to be level. These are not even close." He did not say anything. By this time Meryl had arrived. We had tried one more and then he pointed to one that actually looked by eye to be level. "Try there," he said. OK. I pulled in and to my surprise it was very close to level. It was good enough and I was relieved. We thanked him - a lot - and before he drove off on his golf cart I asked him if we needed to go back to the office and let them know that we are now here and get a new hang tag with the new site number on it that needs to be hung from the rearview mirror while you are in the campground. He said no - he said that he would go back right then an inform the office of our new site and all we needed to do was change the number on the tag ourselves. Fine.

We settled in. Checked the power box and instead of the glass fuses that the site we had last year had, this box had circuit breakers - which is what we have found in every other campground we have stayed in. (Hooking up with a glass fuse means you are plugging into a live 30 amp or 50 amp outlet. It is best to have the circuit breaker on OFF and then plug in - and then turn the circuit breaker on.) the power was good and there was even a light on top of the power box. We assumed that this would go on in the dark (it didn't) as this is a very dark campground at night. For the first time since we've had it, we put out a little flag stand with a banner on it staked into the grass on our site. This was to do a little personal decoration to the site as we see so many others do (often to excess)  at campgrounds and also to show that the site is occupied when we are not there during the day.

It was early and we decided that before leaving for dinner we would walk around the campground and explore in this area, as last year we had not really looked in this back section. We walked around for an hour and a half. I took some photos which I had intended to share with you all here in this review but under the coming circumstances, there really is no point. While we were walking we passed "Ranger Smith" (the same man who got us the new site)  - twice - who waved and went about his business riding in his golf cart.

Over an hour and a half later from getting settled we left the campground to go to dinner at a restaurant. When we came back we went into our space, hooked up for the night and we were delighted to see the extensive selection of television channels that came in on the campground's cable connection. We settled in for the night happy.

The next morning (Friday) we got a late start getting out to our event at Fort Frederick. It was after 11 am before we pulled out of the site and went on our way. We had a pleasant day and then returned to the campground at 5:30 pm. We drove into the section that our site was in and drove down to it - not seeing any open sites. I thought that we were in the wrong row. I asked Meryl and she looked at me and said. "There is a big trailer in our site." I looked and there it was. Our flag was gone too. I said to Meryl that we would drive to the office and that I was not going to confront these people in our site. If a confrontation was necessary the campground employees should do it. When we walked into the office and I told them what happened, we were sent to a lady at a desk behind a partition. "Oh", she said,"those people had reserved that site." She followed with, "That's OK, I can move you to another site" It was in the standard section. What!?! (Remember what I said happened to us last year - how come, as with what happened to us, they were not sent to another site?)  I asked if "Ranger Smith" had informed them of the new site he changed us to last night. She said he had but they realized that it was reserved. She claimed to have come to find us then. I told her that we were in the campground at that time for more than an hour and a half and no one including "Ranger Smith" who we saw twice during our walk came to find us and he never said a word to us. No note was left on our van while we were walking around the campground.  Basically she did not care and she then told me that she would refund a one day's difference to us from the premium rate to the standard rate for the site she was sending us to. What?!? The sites were supposed to be the same rate. I got no refund last year we were sent to a standard site rather than our reserved premium site. There were no apologies and no concern to make sure that we were "satisfied". When I asked about our flag it was handed to us with the stand from behind the front counter. She did offer us a choice of five sites in the woods with the boulder hazards at the sides of the road - exactly where we did not want to be and the reason why we were sure to make the advanced reservation that we did. She recommended one that was "secluded" and level. It was between two large boulders and we did not even take a chance on trying to squeeze the Roadtrek in to this site that was shaped in a curve.

Of those five sites - and we tried them all except the curved one mentioned - one was almost level. The rest were not even close - front to back or side to side. The one that we settled on had a broken power box  - with glass fuses - that was hanging at an angle on the post that contained the box's power cable. The box moved when it was touched. Plugging into it later that night resulted in it leaning over. (I will share that we tried to contact the campground we were going to the next night in another state to just leave Yogi behind right then and there, but that campground's office was already closed.) We had the hazards again of getting into the dark campground at night and making our way through the large trees, sharp turns, and boulder rocks along  the road in the dark. We were furious and we were stuck for the night.

That night when we hooked up, I thought that the cable connection did not work. We connected the cable and few of the channels that were scanned into the TV on the cable the night before were there and the ones that came in were fuzzy. We reconnected the cable three times. I rescanned the channels and discovered that this area of the campground had different cable channels than the side we were in the night before. The selection here was half what there had been and the choices were basic broadcast channels and a few other channels with fuzzy reception.

We were very happy to leave there the next morning and thankful that we had not planned to stay at this campground through the weekend as we had considered when planning this trip. Here is the kicker- when we returned home five days later, there was a message on our answering machine - AT HOME - from Yogi,  made on that Friday of the problem at about 1:45 pm telling us that there was a problem at our site and we should come to the office. Well, I guess calling you at your home 400 miles away when you are there with them in Maryland is their idea of contacting you. They never asked for a cell phone number which we would have gladly given them when we arrived. So, here was proof that their attempt at contacting us was not Thursday night but when this trailer arrived that Friday afternoon to check in. That was when they realized there was a problem. So they lied to us when we were there. They lied again when they said they took our flag away that Saturday morning as we actually got to speak with the people in our site and they told us that they had to argue with the Yogi people to take our flag away from the site and that the Yogi people were surprised that it was there. (As if we were never there.)

We will never stay in Yogi Bear Jellystone Campground in Williamsport/Hagerstown, Maryland again. I suggest that you avoid it. The people who work/run this campground have no concern for their guests at all. There is no effort to make sure that a guest feels that things have been made right. Management is as if Yogi himself was running the place. Though, perhaps, Yogi would do it better. They are totally disorganized and seem to function in a whim. Stay away! We will be contacting Yogi corporate with what took place here.

There is one other campground in this area and, if we make the trip to this area again, we will check them out. Stay away from Yogi!

1 comment:

  1. You're stacking a pyramid of 6 blocks to get three high -- a base of 3, then a layer of 2, and then 1 at the peak. If you're only planning to drive up and down one side, you can skip the 3rd block on the opposite side of the base, and then you can make 2 of those out of a 10 pack of blocks. One of the blocks in the second row hangs out into space, just don't drive on that side. The important thing is that the 1 peak block is supported all the way to the ground.