This campground has a section down along the flood plain of the Ohio River, where campsites back right up to the river, with a high-enough bank for a great view of the river activity, and here we set up camp.
Alan was first to arrive (Carie arrived on Friday), followed by Tom and me, Lou and Larry, John and Suzie, and Steve and Cindy. The temperature was in the low 80’s with a very brisk breeze, and the setting was perfect for an afternoon lawn-chair gabfest overlooking the Ohio River. Conveniently in our midst was a big shelter house, and we staked claim on that for all our casual meal gatherings . . . and a place to sit-out the few sprinkles that moved through the area.
The big business of the days was campfire-sitting and barge-watching. Both took place on beautiful green grass high on the river bank.
One entertaining interlude took place at the neighboring campsite when three little boys found a large mud puddle temptingly in the middle of their campsite. Mom and Dad were tolerant as they discovered the fun of their own muddy slip-and-slide made by nature. I'll leave you with pictures of three little boys having the time of their life!
Our next planned outing is the Haydocy rally where we camp right on the dealership lot. Check back for the details about that great venue.
Months ago we planned a string of March and April campouts -- eager for the camping season to be in full swing.
We arrived Thursday early afternoon and found the owner Derk running around on his garden gator tending to all the business that it takes to open a campground and canoe livery for the season. Alan was already set up, and Georgia and Rick and Suzie and John came soon enough. Other than that, we had the whole place to ourselves and happily settled in to enjoy the serene surroundings. Rick and Georgia captured the site on one side of a shelter house, and Alan claimed the other side. This resulted in being able to daisy chain us all up to 110 electricity to keep the batteries topped of -- thus we were glamping primitive!
Friday there was a brief trip in to Lebanon for lunch and ice cream, but mostly a lot of campsite sitting and in-activity . . . except for Georgia. She kept to her usual gung-ho schedule of early morning hike, followed by late morning bike, and afternoon kayak (in her new inflatable two-seater); she ended up with some beautiful pictures of wildflowers and birds!
It all wrapped up on Easter Sunday morning by 9:00. Next weekend we are gathering again at Little Farm on the River, in Rising Sun, Indiana.
The Mothball Rally has a 4-year history as an early-spring NOVA Rally: Tom always plans it – nobody every commits to coming – but, we always end up meeting new Airstream people! This year the affair seems to have caught on, as we expected to have at least 6 Airstreams attend – all premeditated! That could be because it is scheduled a little later in March than usual, and because it is at the extremely popular Hocking Hills State Park!
Whatever the reason, we had been anticipating our departure on Thursday morning, March 30, and we were delighted that there will be other die-hard Airstreamers in the mix, regardless of a prediction for cooler temperatures and rain!
The drive down to Hocking Hills was a back-roads delight with fresh spring green tree buds and blooming pear trees, forsythia, weeping cherry, and fields of purple blooming clover . . . all signals that camping season was indeed here.
Late morning we headed into the town of Logan for a little shopping and dining and sightseeing. A deputy sheriff gave us a personal tour of the Court House which was nice, but had been a little overly modernized covering up some of the woodworks and other original structures.
The deputy then suggested M&M Family Dining, a block down, for lunch – Jane and Brad were just being served as Tom, Alan, and I walked in and joined them. The owner, Michelle, was a very novel character full of personal style and open friendliness. Tom and Alan posed for a picture with her, and we posted it to her M&M Family Dining facebook page.
As we finished eating, Lou and Larry joined us, and we all headed out back on the town for a stroll down to an unusual church we had spied. Here again, we found a 27-year employee willing to tell us everything she knew about the church, which had a rich history and had benefitted from dedicated upkeep from the congregation over the years.
The problem with Saturday was that the ground was still drenched from the steady drizzle on Friday. And the temperatures were quite a bit cooler, in the 40s. And the campsites were mostly muddy. But, the rain had passed through the area and many of us hit the trails – after all, we were in Hocking Hills State Park! Our little group drove down to the campground headquarters to jump on the gorge trail to Old Man’s Cave. On the trail by 9:30 traffic quickly picked up as the morning wore on. The trails, already soggy from the rain, were dicey and quickly worked into slick mud mires that were a bit treacherous. Long lines of people meant frequent stops and trail sidings as small groups picked their way along the quagmire. All in all, it was a great hike, and we were up out of the canyon and back at the camper by noon-thirty for lunch.
There was a lot of water flowing in the ravine and over the waterfalls, due to all the recent rains. . . getting Tom all pumped up!
It was an uphill climb all the way back out of the gorge, and gave Tom's new hip a good step-test. He was very pleased with the way it performed both in and out of the ravine.
Saturday afternoon was a casual off-and-on gathering around the sites as the weather dried up – but cooled down. Because we had full hook-ups (with sewers) many took the opportunity to de-winterize and sanitize and fill the on-board watering systems. Alan had a bit of a glitch in his routine, but Randy stepped right in to help trouble-shoot it! The afternoon led into a critical discussion: carry-on with the open grill and pot-luck plans – or weenie out and head to a restaurant? The open grill won out, and picnic tables relocated to accommodate all of us, and the fire was moved to a near-by fire-pit.
The final pictures prove that it takes more than a damp, cool background to ruin an Airstream gathering! This last campfire was well-tended as some sat out until midnight. Brad and Jane were first off Sunday morning, and others trickled out in no big rush. Tom and I were home with the trailer completely cleaned out and truck emptied by 2:00. Best Mothball . . . . EVER!
It’s been 5 months since our 2016-end-of-the-year trip to Tennessee in November. A whole winter of wishing, waiting, planning and anticipating the true beginning of spring . . . where a 2-day stretch of high temps and nice weather didn’t transform into another cold stint of winter. Undeniably, this winter has not been as dreadful as it was predicted to be . . . but the groundhog saw his shadow in February and declared 6 more weeks of winter!
The driving force for this weekend was epic for Alan and Carie – Alan’s niece plays basketball for Notre Dame who was in the NCAA Women’s tournament – sweet 16! Kentucky Horse Park campground was less than 20 minutes from the Friday night game, and if they won – Sunday afternoon’s game.
Tom and I had appointments and errands that kept us tied in Van Wert until 3:00 on Thursday, but even with that slow start we were eating ribs with Micah in Cincinnati by 6:00! Afterwards we rendezvoused with Alan at East Fork State Park in the Cincinnati area for our first night of spring camping.
Friday morning Alan commuted for a short work-day, and Tom and I made a trip to Jungle Jim’s smorgasbord grocery store, where we found $5 lobster tails (more about that later) and loaded up on a case of our favorite La Rosa’s pizza sauce. By 11:00 we met Alan for lunch and returned to East Fork to hook up the Airstreams for the 65 mile trip to Kentucky Horse Park -- Tom in the lead, and Alan following!
By 2:00 Friday we were all set up in the KHP campground and the weather had bloomed sunny and 74 degrees . . . with predictions for more of the same for Saturday. We had nothing to do for the evening but to enjoy the weather, the fact that we were camping, and cooking and eating outside! At this point Carie was not with us – she left work directly for the basketball game and didn’t meet up with us until that was over later that night.
For supper we had barbeque beef brisket, corn on the cob, a spring green salad, and a very funky-looking orangey piece of fruit from Jungle Jim’s, followed by a campfire.
During supper we noticed a family nearby with a hanging tepee camper. I went over to investigate and get pictures. When all three kids were inside, the bottom dropped perilously close to the ground.
The Notre Dame girls won Friday night, guaranteeing another game Sunday afternoon in downtown Lexington. Carie, Alan, Tom and I had all day Saturday to enjoy a shopping trip into old-town Lexington, a run over to the Horse Park gift shop, a campfire and snooze back at the campground, and another wonderful campfire dinner.
At the entrance to the Horse Park there was a mechanical horse in motion!
Dinner included steak on the grill and the $5 lobster tails from Jungle Jim's. . . not bad! The rest of the evening was spent taking down the Paha Que canopy and preparing for a quick take-off on Sunday morning. The good news is that we have plenty of camping trips planned in the upcoming weeks, and a whole summer of adventures ahead!
I was in the frame of mind for a computer design session, and Tom was in the mood for a scroll saw project . . . it led to a great addition to our Airstream trappings.
This sort of sign is different than the usual scroll saw cutouts where the letters are cut OUT – instead, all of the space around the letters is cut out. As I quickly discovered, this meant that the letters themselves and any sort of design would need to be firmly anchored when planning the drawing. The choice and shape of this font, along with the addition of the line above and below just fit the bill. The scrolls also had several touch-points that fit into the design to offer stability. Tom thought the drawing would be feasible, so he . . . set to work.
My final step was to print the sign in the size that I needed. Because the design was longer than a single sheet of paper, I had to print it on two pieces of paper and paste it together. Giving it to Tom, I was done . . . except for encouragement . . . and blog documentation!
Tom’s first step was to the cut the board the size needed for the project. He choose a ¼” board of Maple and used spray glue to adhere the paper design to the face. Then he used clear packaging tape to cover the whole front of the board. Believe it or not, the packaging tape helps to lubricate the saw blade!
The whole covered board disappeared to the basement where Tom drilled access holes for the saw blade in every piece of the design that was to be removed.
After that, it is just a lot of tedious, close-up, bending-over, detail work of following the pattern to cut away the unwanted wood. Tom mostly uses a skip-tooth blade for straight and circular cuts, but sometimes has to use a 360 degree blade that cuts in all directions for very small spaces. His scroll saw is set up in the garage where the light is good on a sunny day and the dust is easily swept away. However, during this project he learned that cold hands (temps in the 30’s and 40’s) could really slow him down . . . he had to keep coming in to warm them up! This meant that his progress was in lots of short attacks – not a continuous long siege. Here are some pictures of his progress.
At this point, SILVERMINE stands out in full relief, and Tom has only the areas around the scrolls to cut away. His worry was that it would be so thin and fragile, a piece might break off. He removed it from the saw, posed for a picture, and changed the blade, ready to start on the background cuts.
The final task was to cut away the wood around the details of the scrolls that anchored the letters to the frame. This was some of the most tedious cutting of the whole project. When done, Tom removed the project from the saw and gently pulled away his paper/tape guide. After a bit of gentle sanding, he posed for another picture.
At this point the sign is ready for several layers of clear-coat finish. Then, we will decide where to hang it inside the Silvermine. My biggest fear is that, now that I know what Tom can do. . . I will keep him busy with future scroll cut-out designs!
Those of you that have suffered the insult of a rear-end accident leaving you with an “almost” totaled vehicle know our pain! We have been feeling this the last 3 days as our truck languishes at Superior Auto with an original estimate of 5 weeks of repairs – mostly waiting for a new frame, truck bed, and other major parts to arrive from the factory. Imagine our delight when Superior called to inform us that that frame had arrived in just 48 hours, and our truck was well on the way to total recovery! Just like any good parents, we went down to visit her.
Feeling wonderful about the progress on the truck, and knowing that it would NOT be 5 weeks till we are back in business, we celebrated Friday with a picnic-trip to our favorite Harrison Lake State Park. The prediction was for 72 degrees with a storm and much colder temperatures moving in by the end of the day! We stopped in Bryan, Ohio and grabbed a lunch to take into the picnic area.
Harrison Lake is a beautiful state park with lots of tall trees, summertime shade, and green grass. Here are some views of the park in the winter!
Our travel buddy for the day was little Charlie Button. She is trying to stay in travel shape for the two-month long Alaska trip this summer. We had the park completely to ourselves, and Charlie enjoyed running free . . . looking for squirrels and running back to check on us!
While we were there, over the course of 2 hours, the clouds moved in and the wind picked up. Obviously, the cold front was on the way. We arrived home by 2:00, pacified by our little day-trip picnic and energized knowing that our wrecked truck was rapidly moving forward.
The unseasonably warm February weather lined up in perfect alignment with the weekend that friends Alan and Carie picked up their new 2017 26U Airstream. A full-blown camping weekend was launched to record the event! In mid February!
It all started two weeks before when Alan and Carie got word that their newly ordered Airstream was progressing down the line (4 weeks early!), and we met them at the factory for an early screening. Here is a very happy Alan visiting his very new Airstream.
The next weekend was the Columbus RV show, and a group of Airstream allies that met up to view the 2017 Airstream lineup brainstormed a camping weekend to join Alan on his first campout after his walk-thru and pick-up on Friday.
Our week started with a flurry of trailer activity – dragging out all the bedding, clothing and basic supplies that we would need for a camping weekend. Disaster struck on Tuesday (Valentine’s Day) when our truck was rear-ended and completely put out of commission. After a lot of detours, our truck was declared fixable with a complete new-frame-build – but it wouldn’t be ready in time for the weekend. Not wanting to miss this weekend, we opted for a day trip visit on Saturday. Here are some sad pictures of our "almost" totaled truck!
Deer Creek, because it is open all year round, tends to attract break-out campers on the first warmish weekend of a new camping season. Alan arrived Friday afternoon after his walk-thru at Haydocy Airstream. Joining him were John and Suzie and Randy and Chris in their Airstreams, and Pat in his little retro-drop. When we arrived Saturday before noon, they were all firmly rooted in a camping routine including a campfire circle down by the water. I walked around and got a few pictures of the rigs, but didn’t put enough effort in getting pictures of the campers. Here are a couple more of Alan's new 26U.
At noon some of us took advantage of the near-by Deer Creek Lodge for a quick eat. Tom loves the Reuben, and I love their large salad with chicken, goat cheese, cranberries. . . .
Another tradition at Deer Creek State Park on these early spring campouts, is that we meet new Airstreamers! George, Rose and Doug showed up in their 25', vintage, Sovereign, Airstream that had recently been beautifully renovated. We wasted no time in knocking on their door and inviting them to join our afternoon campfire. We'll be looking to have this Airstream join us on some upcoming spring trips!
For us, this little afternoon taste of circle-time-with-friends-around-a-campfire would have to suffice our urge for an early spring campout. It was hard to leave knowing that there rest of the crew would be lingering over the campfire, preparing wonderful camping meals, and snuggling down in the comfort of their Airstream.
Next on tap for us is the Mothball Rally the last weekend in March at Hocking Hills State Park. Hopefully the truck will be back in commission by then.
January 1st signals . . . the start of a brand new camping season! Rather than take the Silvermine out of hibernation for just a couple nights, we did the next best thing – we booked reservations at the Starved Rock State Park Lodge in Illinois.
So, we left New Years morning at 8:00, and arrived a little after noon – the time-jump “back” gave us a little extra time to stop at Cabela's on the far side of Chicago. We had a gift card from Caleb and Halie, but discovered that the sales had not really picked up yet. We did browse and get some ideas in mind and will keep our eyes on the catalog. There are two sections of the lodge – the original lodge-type rooms, and the newer hotel rooms. Yeah Tom – he booked us in a sweet little knotty pine room with all the modern conveniences . . . and all the old-world ambience. Upon arrival, we didn’t spend much time enjoying the charming room – just enough to haul in our luggage, snap a picture, grab some maps of the area, and head out on our first eagle excursion.
The lodge is just a mile from the Visitor’s Center, and it is from here that the trails stem. Studying the map, we left the back door of the Visitor’s Center and headed out on the trails towards the dam and “Eagle’s Cliff.” The trails are a mixture of maintained woodland walkways with stair-stepped boardwalks for the climbs up and down along the river cliffs. Many people had the same idea we had for celebrating New Year’s Day, and the trails were teeming with people out enjoying the 40-degree sunshiny day and hoping to spy some Eagles.
Long story short – we saw one lonely Eagle perched in a pine tree, on a cliff, overlooking the dam. Rumors of the Eagle sighting were all up and down the trail, with assurances that it would be easy to find because of the depth of people gathered at the trail rail overlook. He was magnificent, but I am not sure that my pictures at all do him justice.
We headed back to the truck and back to the lodge when Tom’s hip started protesting. (Surgery is in 17 days to replace that rusty hip!) At the Lodge I reconnoitered the lobby and lounge areas, and checked in on the dining room to make a 6:00 reservation. This left us with 2 hour to enjoy the room – the lounge areas – the large fireplace - our books . . . .
Evidently the welcome girl at the restaurant didn’t understand the essence of a “reservation.” She said “we are not seating anyone now, and you need to come back later.” She stubbornly stuck to that story . . . so we went into the bar for drinks – and a full-service menu! After dinner we meandered around the Lodge and I took some pictures.
Monday, January 2nd, is the official day that New Years is celebrated this year – because the 1st falls on a Sunday – and you can’t celebrate New Years day on a Sunday? The lodge was open, but minimally staffed, and the Visitor’s Center was closed. The good news was that the rain that had been forecast all week long went somewhere else! We walked all around the lodge getting pictures of the main structure, the cabins and outdoor pavilions, the totem poles, and the visitor's center from the high cliff outside.
In the truck we did a drive-by tour of the little towns close by – Utica, LaSalle, Ottawa. Sad to say they are all in the need of revitalizing. Aside from everything being closed for New Years (Jan 2nd), the towns are dingy, dull, and very lacking in stores, restaurants, or other amenities. But, our drive followed the river on the opposite side of the Park, and afforded us a good view of Starved Rock.
We did see a couple of Eagles on the drive – sitting in trees at a distance that didn’t give many options for my camera. We also saw a hawk tending to a possum/cairn right down by the roadway, and he held his ground as I took a picture.
Our stomach were still fooled by the time change, but we arrived back to the Lodge before breakfast was shut down to make way for lunch. It was only a 15- minute wait, and we were seated directly in front of the large fireplace.
Part of the plan for this trip was to enjoy the confines of the lodge, and this we did for most of the afternoon. We had hoped to venture on another trail at 4:00 (the time that Eagles like to come out!), but it was raining and the lodge seemed awfully snug and cozy. We ended up with drinks in front of the fireplace, dinner in the bar, and movies in bed.
Tuesday morning there was heavy fog – and clouds – and mist – and nothing at all enticing about hiking the trails. We checked out and headed for home. Most of our mission had been accomplished; we had seen 4 eagles, a lot of hawks, hiked some trails, and we greatly enjoyed the lodge setting.
That sad time of year comes around every year when the Silvermine is bedded down in the driveway for the winter. First she enjoyed an end-of-the-year SPA treatment at the factory where she was maintenance and winterized. At home everything that shouldn't freeze was removed from the basic on-board supplies, and there was one last clean-up for the winter. As she takes a 3-month hiatis, we are busy making camping plans for next season!
6 nights in one place might not seem like a lot to many Airstreamers – but for Tom and me it is somewhat of a record! Seven days, six nights, in the Smoky Mountains National Park! First though, on Tuesday, November 1st, we headed for East Fork State Park, around the corner from Micah, to celebrate his birthday. Leaving at noon on Tuesday, we were set up in our campsite by 3:30, and shortly after Micah called to say he was off work, done exercising, and ready for us to descend.
We arrived at Elkmont at 1:30, just as our Airstream neighbors-for-the-week, Terry and Sue, were returning from a morning hike to Laural Falls and a climb up Clingman’s dome -- they pack a lot into a morning! We wasted no time in choosing a spot and setting up the Silvermine for the next six nights. Terry and Sue were on their first adventure in their new 28' Airstream, and had already traveled from Ohio to North Carolina, and then joining us at Elkmont. Here are pictures of our rigs sitting side-by-side -- they all look alike, RIGHT?
Trails from our campground lead back to an abandoned village, and we wasted no time showing this little hidden gem to Terry and Sue. We ran into a painting club that was capturing the derelict buildings on canvas . . . while we did likewise on film.
This little collection of days-gone-by retreats always amaze me. They are inside the National Park, and I think they just can't decide what to do with this bit of nostalgia --- let them continue to crumble into decay . . . or fix them up for the sake of preservation.
Leaving the ghost cabins we took our time walking the campground loops back to our site, and admiring some of the very different camping fashion statements.
Back at the campground we did the minute-math, and figured we had time to head into Gatlinburg, only 7 miles away, and shop up our favorite outdoor supply store. An hour shopping yielded mosquito head-nets for next summer’s Alaska trip – a cheap trip!
We were back at the campsite with a fire going and dinner on the grill by 6:30. By 8:00 it was dark, and we shut down for the evening!
Up at 7:00 and ready to check an item off my bucket list! For many years (actually decades!) I have wanted to ride around Cades Cove in a lawn chair, in the back of a pick-up truck – redneck style. Leaving the campground at 8:00 it was a bit chilly, and I wasn’t sure that it would be good redneck-riding weather. First we took a quick trip around Cades Cove campground and stopped at the store to empty our tanks and snap some pics.
Before we even got to the start of the loop road we sighted our first wildlife - which the loop road ride is famous for. Unfortunately, this was about it for close-up wildlife viewing for the trip.
By now the weather was warming up, and Sue and I decided to try the redneck ride. Terry and Tom took over the cab, and we enjoyed the lovely views and smells in the open air,
We stopped at several of the viewing opportunities listed on the loop road map . . . and passed by several more. One interesting stop was at the Primitive Baptist Church where a volunteer gave a great lecture on the importance and meaning of the church in the lives of the valley people. He pointed out that they did not have welfare, health insurance, or any of the other stop-gaps between catastrophic loss and survival. But, they did have the church, and the congregation stepped to fill the shoes of all of our social programs!
Half-way through the ride, we stopped for a more extensive walk around the Mill area of Cades Cove, where there are several buildings on display and a nice little store. By this time it was well past the lunch hour, and we settled back in the truck with a switch of the girls up front and the boys in the back, and finished the loop without another stop.
A drive of 10 miles led us to the Subway restaurant in Townsend, and a late lunch. By 2:30 we were back at the campground, and settled in for a peaceful couple hours of enjoying the 70-degree temperatures.
We rallied in the afternoon for a walk around the “other” part of the campground which was closed off for camping at this time of year. Our favorite campsites, the “G” loop has large, flat, sites that are by the river.
We enjoyed a Cornish Hen dinner, and as dark settled we invited new friend, lone-camper Ruth to join us around the fire. Ruth’s husband had passed away in January, and she was on a solo camping, hiking trip, reaffirming her passion for the great outdoors in this new unaccompanied stage. Camping in a very small pup tent, Ruth relayed to us that she had just become owner of a 1962 25’ Tradewind Airstream. We certainly will keep our eyes out for Ruth in the future!
Friday morning Terry, Sue, Tom and I left the campground at 8:00 – destination: breakfast at the Pancake Pantry in Gatlinburg. There are scores of pancake places in Gatlinburg, but our favorite is the Pancake Pantry, and it is the first pancake house in Tennessee.
Shops were not open yet in Gatlinburg, so we headed for Pigeon Forge and the little shopping venue called The Island – Margaretville. It was also just waking up for the day, and a stroll through the little shopping street scored a new pair of shoes for both the girls! We rode the giant Ferris wheel for a great view of the surrounding mountains. The ride is not at all like a carnie wheel – the seats are enclosed and climate controlled, and the ride is very smooth and quiet! Here are some of our views from above.
Back on the ground we lingered just long enough to hit up a few stores and take in the views of the shopping smorgasboard
While in Pigeon Forge, Tom had two stops to make in his quest for an Outback jacket for the Alaska trip. The particular brand is famous for the below-hip and ankle-length “duster” styles, but Tom is looking for the oiled canvas that fits at the waist. No luck, but he still had some addresses of places to try in Gatlinburg later in the week.
Exploring ended early for the day as we headed back to Elkmont with the intent of taking showers in the Airstream. We were meeting brother Richard and friends for dinner in Townsend at our favorite Trail Head restaurant.
Richard, Paula, Barb and Josh arrived within 10 minutes after we got there – I spent the 10 minutes with the phone service and catching up on emails. Then it was time to catch up with my brother while we ate dinner Tom had a hamburger and I had the fried catfish, and we enjoyed 1 ½ hours around the table with chit-chat and catchin’ up. We got back to the campsite at 7:00, just as it was getting dark, and enjoyed a last campfire with Sue and Terry. They would be pulling out for home in the morning.
It was only 39 degrees when we got up this morning – we had fortunately closed all the windows before going to bed. I had the Yellowstone Pendleton wool blanket out, but we didn’t have to layer it on our regular quilt bedding. I did, however, sleep in a hoodie!
Tom started a fire and made egg sandwiches on the griddle outside. I perked coffee on the stove-top in an old-fashioned percolator. Tom said it was the best coffee he had in years, and that is how I felt about his egg sandwiches!
By 9:30 we were off to Gatlinburg in search of a couple more stores that might have Tom’s Outback, oiled, canvas jacket. Both stores that we found had the jacket, but they all just had the long, long, duster style in stock. We came back to the camper for a quick sandwich lunch and to pick up Charlie Button and then did the Roaring Fork auto tour that takes off from downtown Gatlinburg and winds up the mountain for 15 miles. Hiking trailheads are sprinkled along the 16 mile road, and although there are signs to prohibit parking on the roads, at each trailhead there were dozens of cars barely pulled over and parked. In several places it was a tight squeeze. On the back half of the loop, the road turns one-way, and become really tight. But the scenery is Tennessee forest at it’s very best, as well as several well-preserved log cabins and a grist mill.
In Gatlinburg we stopped for a splash of gas to fill up the generator (yes we are cheating and using a generator to recharge our battery, and power my hair dryer!) By 4:00 we were settled into the campsite for the duration of the evening . . . the temptation was to go into Gatlinburg to watch the Buckeyes play Nebraska, but Tom resisted that urge. Supper was lamb chops on the grill, salad, and potatoes.
Another cold morning in the 40’s (and a time change) greeted us, and a plan for a big day of more auto touring. The Heintooga Ridge road would require a trip past the famous Chimney-Tops, up to Newfound Gap, across the top of the mountain, down past the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and a short stint on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We had never done this drive before, and were anxious to check out the Campground on Balsam Mountain.
The Blue Ridge Parkway was quiet and peaceful and beautiful, as always, and we had no trouble finding the turn-off on the Heintooga Ridge Road. We drove along several miles just to find that it was closed for the winter! Turning around we headed back into Cherokee for lunch and a brief shop-stop to see if the local outer-wear store carried Tom’s Outback jacket. NIX!
With that we reversed our trip back down and through Gatlinburg, with a quick jaunt out to a grocery store in Pigeon Forge to buy a steak for the evening grill. We were back at the campground by 3:00, with plans for a book-session, a quick nap, dinner, and a movie in the camper.
Our last day began with a run in towards Maryville, my home town, for a visit to our favorite hiking store, The Little River. I saw the exact jacket that I want for the Alaska trip – the light-as-a-feather shell that is reported to be toasty warm. For $300 it ought to be! Tom had the same experience with looking for new hiking boots. We drove on into Maryville to the Route 401 cut-off to Sevierville – thru beautiful developed country homes scattered along secluded valleys. In Sevierville we renewed our relationship with the Smoky Mountain Knife Works – the largest knife shop in the . . . . .. area? It was a favorite of our kids when they were little and it has been at least 5 years since we have visited. Stock full of knives and guns and ammo and kitchen slicer and dicers, we left without a purchase. In Sevierville we settled on Long John Silvers for a quick lunch, and a return through Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and back to Elkmont. The temperatures were in the mid 60’s, and it was our last day to enjoy the 0-G experience in the lawn chairs at our campsite. Beautiful.
This last trip of 2016 was a great way to end the camping season. The Silvermine has an appointment for a spa day at Jackson Center, and we have managed to accumulate a list of items to be taken care of. She has performed admirably for 9 months and is ready for a few months rest. This ends my blog, also, for the season . . . except that I will be writing a summary of our statistics for the season! Tune back!
We don’t go camping any more . . . we go ‘streamin’ ! The “SIlvermine and His” is our 2016 23' Airstream, and ‘streamin’ is the name we use to describe our adventures. Stream along as we document everything from weekend trips to longer summer excursions and full-blown vacations. You know what they say: if you’re not in an Airstream – you’re just camping!
Tom & Ella Brown