My wife planned a trip to Nacogdoches more than a month ago for our kids and ourselves. We purchased tickets to the local Zip-Nac zip-line place and planned a tour of a few sites in town as well as visiting the cold spring at Camp Tonkawa and a wonderful meal at Auntie Pasta’s.
She called Camp Tonkawa park and spoke to a woman named Francis whom my wife believed seemed to be being fed the responses she was giving her because she could hear someone else talking and what she could make out from the other person was then repeated over the phone by Francis. Francis took our name, wrote it down for the dates in question and that was that.
When my wife and I discussed the call, I told her I wasn't very comfortable with the idea that someone who may have been getting trained or new or didn't seem to know that much given she was being told what to say actually had set a solid reservation for us. I asked if she paid and my wife said she had not so she called back a day or two later to try to pay and firm up our reservation.
Francis answered again and when my wife offered to pay Francis told her that she did not know how to charge her(perhaps because it was over the phone?). She offered to write down the card number and have someone else do it later. My wife was not comfortable with that what with credit card fraud being so rampant and already going through cancelling a card once this year. Francis said we could pay when we came. My wife decided to follow up on our details again. This time they discussed our arrival time as being around 8pm. Francis said that we could not come in after 7pm. My wife indicated that there was no way we could get there by as we are nearly 3 hours away with no stops. She informed Francis that she would talk it over with me and see if we could perhaps get the kids out of school and leave a little earlier.
After we spoke about it, I suggested making alternate plans; however, my wife had already sold the kids on the place and was genuinely interested in seeing the springs. She decided to call back a 3rd time and offer to pay(using a one use card number from our credit card company this time) and see if we could come just a little late.
When she called again, Francis was in her car this time and said she definitely could not handle the payment right then. Francis again talked about closing time at 7 and my wife told her that we could not make it. Possibly the best we could do was 7:30 but that was a stretch. Francis talked about how hard it was to get someone to stay even until 7 so she didn't see how it would work out. She further explained that when people come late they often set up outside and wait until morning to come in however when she realized we were coming with a pop-up camper she concluded that we probably couldn't do that. My wife agreed indicating that this probably was not going to work out. Francis then said ok well look, I’m going to let you do this one time but don't tell anyone I let you do this(Sorry Francis). She told us to just come in because they do not lock the gate, take one of the first two spots A2 or A3, and come and check in the next morning. In fact, my wife could again hear someone in the background in the car giving Francis those site numbers that she repeated to us. My wife was thrilled and thought we were good to go. She thanked Francis and hung up. She told me the news but I was still not convinced this was going to work out.
Fast forward a few weeks and days before we are set to go our kids ask if we will be able to have a fire. I don't see info on fire rings etc.. on their website so I call the day before we are leaving and get their"assistant" as she was described to us later. I tell her our name, and the sites we were told to pick from. The assistant tells me she sees our name on the calendar but not on the sites. She says some sites have fire rings but not all but from where she is in the office she cannot see if either of those two have a fire ring because there is a big camper in the way right now. For some reason I bring up our arrival time and she immediately informs me that after 7 isn't allowed. I tell her that we were given permission to come in and pay in the morning. She tells me that was what they"used to allow" but no longer as they were under new management and continues to explain that they have"sugar sand"?!? on some sites and they prefer to guide people in to the spots. She further tells me that she is not a decision maker and that I should call back at 4:30 pm to talk to Francis.(at that time I did not know the name of the person my wife had been talking to)
I get off the phone and tell my wife what was said via text and she replies,"Oh, Francis is who I have been talking to and she is who said we could come in". She doesn't feel the need to call back and talk to someone that has already told us what to do but I still really don't have a great feeling this is going to end well:/ I ask her to look and see if there are any state parks nearby we could use which she does but they are all full for the weekend.
I have given you all this detail so far to put you in our shoes so you know how thorough we tried to be making these arrangements and understand our shock at what follows……
Now it is arrival day. I take the day off work to prepare so we can leave as quickly as possible after the kids get home from school. I even dropped my wife off at work and picked her up since she is a high school teacher and often has a hard time getting out quickly due to traffic from students. We did everything we could to try to arrive as early possible. We had a 15-minute delay because we had a last minute power problem with the trailer. We stopped once for a restroom break and arrived at the campground just after 8pm. We drove in and I walked up to the office because the sign said"Open" but it was indeed locked. We drove up to the first sites~60 yards from the office and looked for A2 or A3. We did not realize we had already passed it so we kept going all the way around the loop and came back to the front and I saw"A2" on a pole/box. We stopped and my wife and I got out with flashlights to inspect the site before pulling in so we could be sure we would not hit anything of have a problem. While looking we hear a golf cart with lights on the front start moving our way from about 20 to 30 yards away. My wife has a headlamp on and looks in the direction of the golf cart and I hear this surly voice yell"Get that light outa my eyes" as he rolls up. Perhaps that set the tone for our encounter with Francis's husband but what follows is truly unpleasant and uncomfortable. He starts in with"Now listen…" and proceeds to man-splain to my wife and I that we can't just come in here and pick any site we like and just set up. He said he believes we were the people who talked with his wife, Francis, on the phone because we have a popup so it must be us and we said we told them we would be there by 7pm. I reply,"No sir, every time we spoke with someone on the phone about arrival times we made it clear 7pm was not really possible". My wife tries to explain that we were told we could use A2 or A3, register, and pay in the morning. His response"No one told you that…"(That is 1). She tries to explain again but he again cuts her off and says you said you would get here by 7, its dark now. You see, he says, people come in here after dark and run over these power boxes or the water and break them and then I have to get out here at night and fix them!(To which I wanted to reply that we were trying to be careful and inspect the site when he rolled up rather than just carelessly pull in but I let my wife handle it as she was talking). She apologized and said we thought we were OK and that we were just doing what we were told to do to which he replied again that we weren't told we could just come in after 7.(that is 2) He further informs us we can go find another place to stay and continues to speak and say we would never have given us A2 as a site because we were in a popup and he would have put us closer to the restroom.
I watched as he continued to tell us what was what and saw my wife's face as she, for the sake of our children, bit her lip and let this man unload on us about our egregious act of daring to enter the campground after 7 pm. He further says in his gruff, terse, unpleasant way“Tell me if you have heard this before, you we close at 7 and you can’t come in after 7.” He explains we would have only spoken to him, his wife or their assistant and no one told us that we could come in after 7”(that is 3). Looking at the frustration on my wife’s face, I speak up and say that I spoke to their assistant yesterday and she did indeed say we could not come in after 7. I said though that I told her what we were told about coming and paying in the morning and she informed me to call back at 4:30 and talk to( I forgot the name and misspoke at that moment) but it was Francis. I further say that when my wife and I spoke about that call she said Francis was who said to do this so we didn’t think we needed to call back. His response again“no you weren’t told that”(that is 4)
He finally says after another minute of berating,"I'm going to let you stay though but no one told you that you can come in here after 7(that is 5) and don't ever come in here again after 7”. My wife replied that he wouldn't have a problem us again as we wouldn't come back. He said,"I didn't say you can't come back". She stated that because we live too far away we would never get here by 7 so we simply wouldn't be able to come back. He then said to"follow him" to the site he had for us but couldn't just let it alone though and had to have his final say by berating us one last time saying"Now just tell the truth, nobody told you to come in this late" and then again“just tell the truth”.(that is 6).
At this point I had had enough of this surly, unpleasant, unhappy man. Truthfully, I was ready to leave about 20 seconds after he began to speak to us the way he did but like I said I took cues from my wife to try to keep the peace for her and the kids sake. I stopped walking to our van and turned and said in a calm, reasonable manner unlike this jerk had been towards us,“I think that is uncalled for, I don’t really appreciate you repeatedly calling my wife a liar.” Had I been allowed to continue to speak I would have added“at best this was a miscommunication or misunderstanding and that we would have never just come in to a park if we weren’t wanted to/allowed because after all we would have had to face the music eventually and risk being thrown out then so who would do that?!”
Instead we were told to“Get out” and“Leave” followed by“No one called you a liar”. If this super sleuth of the truth ever reads reviews, he will see he did so no less than 6 times but I doubt he cares either way. From my read of other reviews they only want older retired folks there and don’t want/hate kids as they seem to classify kids as unruly and misbehaved. He seems to treat everyone as if they are GOING to be his worst customer destroying the place rather than expect good things and address bad ones If they happen. The worst kind of manager/owner who rules with an iron fist.
I felt the worst though in all this for my youngest daughter who announced on the drive up that“This is going to be the best camping trip ever!” and well… you see how it started out. Fortunately, we did find an RV park closer to town that let us come in after 9 with no issues, complaints or a single unpleasant word. In fact, the gentlemen who helped us stayed until we were nearly completely set up offering assistance so apparently not all campgrounds in the area are run by disagreeable, unpleasant, unhappy people who would rather be left alone than actually have paying customers.
So if you ever want to get thrown out of a campground, book here and show up after 7 or just commit any infraction that offends this“new management” and I’m sure your wish will come true. I believe I counted two other RV’s on premises during our drive through(both times since we left that night) besides theirs and it’s no wonder they were nearly empty with their brand of wonderful customer service and attitude. Perhaps it won’t take long for these folks to run it in the ground and someone else gets put in charge with real customer service skills who doesn’t assume everyone is out to get them/break rules or destroy the place.