Businesses with Heart:

This isn’t the post I originally had scheduled for this week but, that’s one of the great things about blogging (and retirement!) – I get to make my own schedule!😊 We are a multi-cat household and we’ve been purchasing all of our pet supplies online from for several years now. (We made the change shortly after moving into The Cabin four years ago.) I was tired of schlepping forty-pound boxes of cat litter around. Now, instead of a trip to PetSmart every two weeks, I place an online order with Chewy at the beginning of the month and a couple of days later our amazing FedEx delivery people arrive with a stack of boxes. I’d like to pause here and give a shout out to delivery drivers everywhere. Our Chewy order is easily 200 pounds each month. Even though it comes in multiple boxes, handling it can’t be fun. So, dear delivery drivers, I appreciate you!😘

What makes a business with heart? In short, their customer support. It’s easy to find examples of poor customer support on social media so I think when someone does an exceptional job, we should be willing to post that as well. (Side note: if you’ve never done customer support, it can be hard y’all. I spent most of my adult life in IT customer support. As much as I enjoyed what I did, there were also days where just tossing it all and moving to a shack in the mountains and living off the grid sounded like a wonderful idea.) Chewy’s prices are easily in line with any other places from which I have purchased pet supplies – and shipping is free with orders over $49. But, if there is a problem with your order, say you receive the wrong item or no longer need an item you purchased, Chewy will not only refund your money but they ask you to donate the item to a local animal shelter rather than return it.👍

I have a couple of examples of Chewy going over and above on their customer support. We have used Sentry brand calming collars for Delilah, our fourteen year old deaf cat, for many years. Delilah was, understandably, easily startled by pretty much everything. The calming collars release a pheromone that helps the cat relax and worked wonders for Delilah; she was always more relaxed (and stylish) when sporting her purple calming collar. However, Sentry has recently re-designed the clasp on their collars rendering them somewhat useless. (A calming collar that won’t stay on doesn’t work well.) I went on and wrote a review. In my review I stated that, up until the past few months, I would have given the collar five stars but that, due to the change in the clasp, I could only give it three. I wrote the review just to let others considering purchase know that yes, the product works, but that getting it to stay on is now problematic. I was greatly surprised to get an email from Chewy a couple of days later apologizing for my experience and refunding the cost of the collar. I was gobsmacked. Chewy is in no way responsible for the change to the Sentry collar, customer satisfaction is just that important to them.

Delilah napping in my lap

Delilah had pancreatitis in January of this year, spent four days in the hospital, and came home on special food. I created a profile for her on Chewy so I could order more of the prescription food for her. Sadly, Delilah’s health took another turn for the worse a couple of weeks ago and we made the difficult decision to have her euthanized. I contacted Chewy and let them know so they could remove any information regarding her from their system. (They’re good about sending out birthday cards, etc. to your pets.) I’ve seen various posts on social media about people receiving flowers from Chewy upon the death of their pets and…

The beautiful roses and vase pictured above arrived yesterday afternoon along with a sweet card from Lauren, the Chewy representative who responded to my email about Delilah. (Chewy sent a friend paintings of her pets based on the pictures she had used for them in their profiles.) Chewy is an amazing example of how to run a business. If you need pet supplies, in my opinion, there’s no better place to purchase them.

Businesses with Heart: Who Gives A Crap

I know that title doesn’t make much sense at first glance. Maybe not even at second glance so, allow me to explain. For me, a “business with heart” is a business that devotes some part of its profit toward making the world a better place. I’ve decided that I will occasionally highlight one of those companies here in my blog. (And no, I’m not receiving any sort of compensation from these companies for doing so.) The first company I’d like to share is Who Gives A Crap.

I discovered Who Gives A Crap via a Facebook ad during the Great Toilet Paper Apocalypse of 2020. We were fortunate. We saw the handwriting on the wall a couple of days before the toilet paper and paper towels disappeared from shelves in the local area and purchased a multi-pack of each. (Just one multi-pack of each; not a lifetime supply.) It’s just Kenn and I at home so it’s relatively easy to make the paper products last. (On a side note, it took a pandemic and limited availability for me to learn just how many paper towels I was using and to implement steps to reduce that usage.) By the time I discovered Who Gives A Crap a limited selection of non-quality toilet paper was once again available in some stores but if I could purchase enough to last me the better part of a year online and have it delivered to my house, why not?

For my first purchase I selected the toilet paper made from 100% recycled paper; 48 rolls for $48. There were many things I fell in love with right away. As someone who does what I can to limit the amount of plastic I throw out I loved the fact that Who Gives A Crap uses ZERO plastic in their packaging. My shipment arrived in a cardboard box, each roll individually wrapped in paper. As someone who is all about color and sparkle, the sight that greeted me when I opened the box made my heart happy. Oh, and on orders over $25, shipping is carbon neutral which is another win in my book.

So, how well does the product work? Well, it gets the job done, LOL. The toilet paper is not as rough as others made from recycled paper that I’ve tried. I also like the fact that the double-length rolls are not not glued to the cardboard core so you get to use the whole thing. I’m not a fan of the fact that it has a tendency to pill and to not tear completely at the perforation.

Now that we’re down to the last few rolls, I placed a new order, this time upgrading to the 100% bamboo toilet paper. The bamboo paper is a little pricier at $52 for 48 rolls but, since it will last for a year or thereabouts, I have no complaints about the price. After testing one roll, I like it much better. The bamboo paper is softer, thicker, and tears cleanly at the perforation. It also doesn’t pill like the recycled paper. My only “complaint” is that my color-loving heart is saddened by the fact that the bamboo rolls are wrapped in white paper with black and gold patterns; no cheerful colors to brighten my day.

In addition to toilet paper, Who Gives A Crap also sells forest-friendly paper towels and facial tissue in addition to “Dream Cloths” which are listed as being a “reusable and washable paper towel alternative.” I tried the paper towels and while I liked them, I found them a bit pricey at $16 for 6 rolls. They also aren’t as wide as what I’m used to and I’ve gotten a bit spoiled by the “select-a size” sheets, a feature that is not available from Who Gives A Crap. I recently purchased 12 boxes of the forest-friendly facial tissue but haven’t tried them yet; I’m still waiting on the last box of my existing tissues to run out.

But, product aside, what is it that makes Who Gives A Crap a business with heart? The company donates 50% of their profits to help build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world. FIFTY PERCENT y’all! That’s nothing to sneeze at. But, if you do sneeze, I’ll share my forest-friendly tissues with you. 😉

Until next time, happy trails and be sure to pass on any business with heart that you use.

Review: Amicalola Falls State Park

Amicalola Falls State Park is located in the north Georgia mountains near Dawsonville; it is hands down my favorite Georgia state park. My family and I have gone to Amicalola many times over the years but our recent trip was only the second time we have camped. (For those not a fan of camping, the park also has a lodge and cabins.) Camping at Amicalola is not for the faint of heart; from the park entrance to the campground involves navigating a 25% grade. (Yes, you read that right.) As one of the park rangers once told us, this is where a lot of people discover that their tow vehicle isn’t up to the challenge.

The first time we camped at Amicalola we owned an RPOD 177 that we towed with our Toyota Highlander. The RPOD was near the top of the Highlander’s towing capacity but Bonnie (the Highlander) made it up the incline fine. It was the hairpin turn covered with loose gravel within the campground itself that really got my heart pumping. We made it (obviously) but we also drew a bit of an audience. (“Yeah, that gravel gives a lot of people trouble.”)

Our most recent trip was our first trip with Ruby as our tow vehicle. Ruby hauled our Flagstaff Micro Lite 21FBRS up the 25% incline like it was nothing. Even the ridiculously heavy fog wasn’t enough to stress us out with Ruby on the job. (Can you tell I like my big red truck? LOL.)

The view from the cab

The campground itself is relatively small with only 24 campsites and one bath house. However, it is laid out well and the road had been recently paved. There was also no gravel on the hairpin turn this time so it seems that someone finally devised a way to prevent that problem. Even though we arrived in rain and fog (not uncommon when we travel) it moved out overnight so we were able to get out and enjoy the rest of our trip. There are all sorts of things to see and do within the park itself, not the least of which is viewing the falls. Many of the activities and events have currently been curtailed due to COVID-19 so I recommend that you check the website (link at the beginning of this post) for the latest information before traveling.

Amicalola Falls

It wouldn’t be a trip to Amicalola without viewing the falls so we did hike the stairs partway down the falls. The stairs at the falls are labeled as “Strenuous” and they are not kidding but there is also an accessible parking lot and trail which allows for viewing without the hike. We ventured out a little further this time and traveled down forestry service roads to reach the trailhead for Long Creek Falls. While the forestry service road itself was in less than stellar shape in some areas the ride was worth it for the winter wonderland of ice-covered trees we discovered at the top of a ridge. (You can see my favorite photo here.) The hike from the trailhead to the falls was approximately one mile and wasn’t strenuous at all. The falls were small but definitely worth the walk.

Long Creek Falls

Right now, I’m a happy girl. I’ve been struggling a bit with the continued self-isolation due to COVID and this was a much needed trip. My soul is always the most at peace in the mountains and being at my favorite park made it even better. *happy sigh*

Now I have to finish packing for our next adventure! Until next time, happy trails!

Review: Twin Lakes Campground

Twin Lakes Campground is located in Pendleton, South Carolina. We have family in the Pendleton area and Twin Lakes gives us a nice place to stay when we visit. We wrapped up our second visit over New Year’s. The website states that there are 102 public campsites; however, during both of our trips we have stayed in the section containing sites 25-58. Sites 25-58 are located on a finger of land extending into Lake Hartwell; all of the sites are on the exterior of the loop so they are all a short walk from the water’s edge.

The presence of Lake Hartwell means a lot of early morning fog. This is my favorite picture from our last trip.

I quite like Twin Lakes. The campsites are nicely spaced so you aren’t on top of your neighbors. That said, there are a few key things to key things to keep in mind:

  1. There are two bath houses available to sites 25-58. However, during the December 1st to March 30th time frame the bathhouse between sites 30 and 41 is closed. (The bathhouse near site 58 is open year round.)
  2. Also during the December 1st to March 30th time frame, if the temperature is predicted to be near 32 degrees (F) or lower, water to the campsites will be turned off. The bathhouse near site 58 will remain open.
  3. The gate to the park is closed from 10pm to 7am. Unlike the gates at most other campgrounds that we have visited, guests are not given a code by which the gate can be opened. So, if you get caught on the wrong side of the gate, you seem to be out of luck.
  4. During our first stay in February 2020 (just prior to the pandemic) I found it disturbing that there was no soap provided for the washing of hands in the bathhouse near site 58. (My husband confirmed that the absence of soap also applied to the men’s room.) I understand that keeping soap dispensers filled is just one more thing for the campground hosts to manage, but no hand soap in the restrooms? Gross. Since our latest stay over New Year’s 2021 was smack dab in the middle of a surge in COVID cases, I did not visit the bathhouse so I cannot confirm whether or not the lack of soap is still an issue.

When we pulled out to begin our journey home after our most recent stay, the dump station was closed and a crew was busily at work digging up pipes leaving us scrambling for a way to empty our grey and black water tanks before arriving at home. (There may be another dump station for the sites in the other section of the campground but that section has been closed during both of our visits.) Some of the Georgia rest areas/welcome centers have been retrofitted with dump stations; sadly, neither of the ones on our route home fall into that category. However, there is a new Love’s truck stop in Madison, Georgia which is quickly becoming one of our routine stops. A quick internet search showed that that Love’s had a dump station available. Using the dump station cost us $10 but it was money well spent to not have to worry about it any more. Allen, the Love’s manager who unlocked the cap for us, implored my husband to make sure that everything went down the pipe as it should; he said the last person had left a mess that he had to clean up. Once we began the process of emptying our tanks we realized that the dump station is poorly designed; there is no way someone emptying their tanks without assistance can avoid leaving a mess as the current set up requires there to be someone holding each end of the sewage hose. Once we finished, my husband went back inside and spoke to Allen again and explained to him how the dump station needs to be modified in order to avoid more nasty messes. (Not expecting the drainage to flow uphill would be a good start.) Allen appreciated the feedback since he is not an RV’er; it will be interesting to see if Love’s acts on the information.

Now I’m going to get on my soap box for a minute. While using dump stations is not anyone’s idea of fun, it is a necessary part of the RV/travel trailer lifestyle. When using a dump station, I believe it is our responsibility to clean up any messes we leave behind, even if the dump station is poorly designed. While we may not want to clean up literal crap, expecting someone else to do it for us is just wrong. Truck stops and rest areas do not have to offer dump stations; they do it as a service to their customers/visitors; abuses will result in the loss of these voluntary services. Don’t be part of the reason the rest of us can’t have nice things. End rant.

On another more humorous note, as someone who was in her late teens/early twenties in the 1980s, my brain seems to default to Back to the Future mode when discussing Twin Lakes. I had to double and triple check to make sure I didn’t refer to it as Twin Pines campground in this post like I usually do. (Twin Pines is the name of the mall at the beginning of Back to the Future.) 🙂

Review: Moccasin Creek State Park

This is the first of the reviews I will post regarding the various campgrounds/parks we visit. I’m not going be rewarding a star rating or anything like that. I’m just going to post my thoughts on the park, pros/cons, etc.

Moccasin Creek State Park is located in the mountains of Rabun county in north Georgia. The park is bordered on three sides by Hwy 197 and on the fourth by Lake Burton. First impressions are important and, when we entered the park, my first thought was “Wow. This place is small. I don’t like it.” The website lists the size of the park as 32 acres; I’m not sure what is included in that acreage but the actual area for campsites is nowhere near that large. Even so, the park features 53 campsites.

Small “falls” on the stream in the park

One of the most important things to me when camping is the layout of the campsites. Are they shaded? (Shade is an important consideration here in the South – especially in the summer.) Are they on top of each other or is there a little space in between sites? Our campsite was on the outer loop for which I was thankful. I don’t like feeling crowded, especially when camping. If we had been in the inner section, I would have probably been ready to leave the next day. Being on the outer loop meant that our campsite backed up to the road but that wasn’t a problem; Hwy 197 is a two lane “country” road and is hardly a beehive of activity.

In spite of my initial dislike of the park, it grew on me a little over our visit. Moccasin Creek is a really pretty park. A small stream flows down one side of the park and there are swings and benches scattered around where you can sit and commune with nature. Normally, it would have been possible to rent a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard; however, this is 2020 and rentals were not available due to COVID restrictions. Fortunately, no special equipment is needed to view Hemlock Falls and it’s an easy hike from the park.

Hemlock Falls

If you get twitchy without easy access to cell service at all times, brace yourselves. Verizon is our service provider and our signal strength was virtually non-existent at the park. However, there are a few towns within easy driving distance where signal strength is better.

Overall, while pretty enough, Moccasin Creek is not a park we plan to revisit.

Have you been to Moccasin Creek? If so, what did you think?