Reprinted from the Pontchartrain Astronomy Society forums in the event that some of you do not regularly go to the Forums.
Note - this pertains to lodging availability at the White Horse Christian Retreat Camp, the new home for the Deep South Star Gaze
Note - I will be at the September PAS meeting and will have registration forms available. Due to a conflict, I will not be at the October meeting of the PAS.
As mentioned before there are no lodge rooms at White Horse (for the Deep South Star Gaze between 11/6/18 and 11/11/18) so we lose the privacy or semi-privacy of a lodge room. At the DSSG when at the Feliciana Retreat Center we typically used all the lodge rooms. About 6 of them were occupied by just one person, so 6 singles and 17 doubles. Add another 10 or so in cottages and we have a head count of 50 not counting those in tents, rv's and campers. So how does this number work at White Horse?
We have bunks/bunkhouses arranged as follows:
Main dining hall bldg.. bunkhouse can sleep up to 15 with 3 triple bunks and 6 in the loft
Main bunkhouse east wing has 7 triple bunks and so does the west wing (total capacity of 42)
An additional two dorms that sleep 15 each (5 triples each) Total capacity of 30.
Chaperone room with 2 triples (Total capacity of 6)
Barn dorm has 9 triples, so a total capacity of 27
Altogether we have 120 bunks which on the surface seems adequate, but is it?
Top bunks are very high and the bottom bunks are low, so most would opt for a low bunk and they would use the middle bunk for their gear/luggage.. If I can, everyone will get a bunk bed assembly, so the bunk capacity is reduced to 38 and that might be enough. If we do have to stack people it will only be spouses or families. I will avoid putting non-relatives in the same bunk bed assembly and will do so only by mutual consent of friends.
Priority and bunk assignments will be given by both the date registration is received and the number of nights stayed. Bunks will have registrant name stickers on them. I think we can work it all out. However if demand is high, we could run out of bunk space and if that happens your only options would be to talk to a friend who has already registered and secured a bunk to see if he is willing to release the storage bunk above him for you to use. If that is not possible you will have to either tent camp or stay off site at the motel in Columbia. My advice is to register early if you want to guarantee a bunk. For those planning on attending and staying for just one or two nights please be aware that preference will be given to those staying for 3 to 5 nights, but I think chances of getting bunk space, if needed is still fairly good.
I know that some of this sounds like a big negative but it is a much better sleeping arrangement than what you will find at most star parties; Okie-Tex and the Mid-South Star Gaze at French Camp come to mind. The White Horse bunk capabilities are at least the equivalent of what we had at Percy Quin State Park from 1983 to 2004 and far better than what we had at Camp Ruth Lee between 2005 and 2008.
The bunk arrangement scenario at White Horse, no doubt, gives many of you something to think about. Let me pass along some additional thoughts - more to think about -
While it is true that we do have a hard core group of attendees from the Pontchartrain Astronomy Society and other clubs that sign on for 4 or 5 nights at the DSSG, that is certainly not necessarily the recommended course of action or even desirable or necessary for many others. Believe me, two really good nights under the stars is plenty enough for many people
Carol at White Horse has the ability to be flexible (up to a degree) about meals so if some of you decide at relatively the last minute that you can attend, probably because the weather conditions are favorable, come on up. The possibility is good that you can get a meal or meals at our regular meal times of 9 am and 4 pm and in the event that you cannot, we will have a "Snack Bar" at White Horse between 8 pm and 10 pm where you can buy drinks, snacks, hot dogs, hamburgers, etc. For earlier meals, the Country Diner, which is close, is very, very good.
In respect to overnight lodging (bunks), I will have a good idea on how that is working out about a week or so out from the beginning of the DSSG, and one could always sleep in the back seat of their car. Better yet if your rear seat folds forward. I did that for two years in a row up at the Mid South Star Gaze at French Camp, MS.
For those that have never seen western dark skies at elevation, like in west Texas, you will find White Horse to be very good, and for those of us that have seen those skies, White Horse is a very good alternative and a lot more convenient.
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