My campsite with a beautiful shaded willow tree
I have always wanted to be presented to the Queen of England, but who would have thought that introduction would take place in a campground in Tennessee! So begins a tea party at Misty River Campground in Walland, Tennessee! Not just any tea party, but one attended by British Royals! Jimmy (Misty River’s owner) is always coming up with ideas to entertain his camping chums, and this spring he wanted to host a weekend just for the women! We arrived in our campers to enjoy the three-day event, and more girls came just for the tea party on Saturday at 4:00! (Maybe events such as this are why Misty River has been recognized as one of the "Best Parks in America" four years in a row!)
Jimmy runs a relaxed campground, but he did want this to be an elegant event, so he turned the event planning over to wife Diane assisted by Sharon, a favorite Misty River greeter. It was declared that hats would be required for this High Tea function, and that a full menu of British sandwiches and pastries would be served on china with fresh flowers and linen gracing the tables! Especially charming was the assortment of china that was accumulated from local antique shops in the area.
British-born Barbara Nugent and her husband Gerald arrived as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip. Barbara has a passion for Queen Elizabeth and educating people about the grueling lifestyle that is part of the Royal presence. She became personally acquainted with the Queen’s routine as she accompanied Gerald in his job as part of the Queen’s traveling advance staff. Dressed as a regal Queen Elizabeth with Prince Phillip supporting her role, her many stories were told with staunch British respect for the monarchy and many personal anecdotes.
As for the ladies attending the Misty River Tea Party, fashion was key to the event. . . everything from elegant tea dresses, British fascinators and blue-jeans were presented to her Royal Highness. And, of course, hats were “mandatory”!
My hat, while rather plain, did sport bright LED lights that were a great bonus after dark at the campground! Not so much at the tea party!
That is the story of the Tea Party at Misty River campground in Tennessee! A real girl's-only treat! Topping this great occasion would be hard to do -- but husband Tom managed to do just that . . . he had this beautiful bouquet of flowers delivered to me at the campground, and I have been dining with flowers on the table the whole weekend! I am blessed and can not wait to join up with Tom at the upcoming Blue Ridge Rally.
As any person owning one can affirm, having a T@B impacts camping awareness in wonderful ways. Tom and I learned that “less is often more”, and that the tiny confines of a little camper can open up the world of nature wherever your travel. After 7 years of enjoying the T@B lifestyle, we have moved on to another iconic travel trailer, but the lessons learned in the T@B are still the main focus of our camping outings. This has all been a bit bitter-sweet ----- until NOW!
Thursday I sat out on an adventure to Tennessee. The plan was to meet sister Johanna for an all-girl’s rally hosted by Misty River Campground (www.mistyriverrv.com) in Walland, TN. After a lazy 9 hour drive, I pulled into the campground at 4:00 pm, and saw . . . . a silver T@B with orange trim, and a slight, blond-haired woman busy setting up the awning! My old T@B camper, and the new proud owner Sheila Jones, were here at this rally! Even better – I was assigned the campsite right beside!
Sitting at my front table in the Airstream, here is the view looking through my window!
The whole story has come out and will go down as one of the great T@B acquisitions: Last October when I found the Silvermine Airstream at Chilhowie RV, I was camping at this very campground! I always had a suspicious feeling that the salesman at the dealership was anxious to not only sell me the Airstream, but also anxious to get his hands on that little tricked-out, orange-trimmed T@B trailer. Sheila’s story is that she had been looking for a small camper and had declined on one that was just a “cozy bed on wheels with a kitchen on the back;” she wanted a bit more room. As soon as I drove off with the Airstream, the dealer called Sheila and told her he had a little camper she just might be interested in taking a look at. Look, she did – and in a couple days it was hers! Like any good T@Bber, Sheila says that it was love at first sight, and she knew it was the right camper for her!
Having bought at the end of the 2011 camping season, both Sheila and I had to endure a long winter dreaming about camping in our new rigs. Imagine the double delight of showing up at this early Spring rally, being camped beside each other, and enjoying 3 perfect days putting together our stories!
So, here I am again, doing what I have done for the past 8 years – taking pictures of that little T@B camper! This time there is a new chair sitting out front, and a new owner posing beside, and even a new name! One of Sheila’s friends told her she looked like a little “Barbie” with her new little trailer. Now the name has stuck:
Now that she has been indoctrinated in the T@B lifestyle, Sheila is busy scheduling her 2012 camping season. I’ll be seeing her again in June at Elkmont in the Great Smoky Mts, and she is traveling to The Kentucky Horse Park in July to rally with my sister Johanna and the R-Pods!
I want this story to never end!
When cold weather moved in on Saturday morning, it didn’t spoil the rally at all; it just gave us a good reason to check out the little Denny’s Diner down the road.
With a good breakfast serving as fuel for the day, several of us set off on the famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Why is Kentucky the home of so many bourbon companies? It is the limestone rock that filters the water and lowers the PH -- just perfect for Bourbon! For more than 200 years Kentucky's legendary distilleries have crafted the world's finest Bourbons and Whiskey, using secret recipes passed down from generation to generation. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail features six signature distilleries nestled among the most beautiful scenery the Bluegrass has to offer: Four Roses, Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, Maker's Mark, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve. With time a consideration we chose Maker's Mark for a tour.
Of course, the highlight of any tour is when it is over, and you end up in the tasting room! Cheers!
Ken & Bonnie Pleat, former TAB owners, who now "work-camp" full time.
This weekend we drove back in time to the KOA South in Louisville, KY. In August of 2004 we had purchased our little teardrop shaped TAB trailer and within a few weeks we had met other TABbers on the internet in a big cross-country discussion about these wonderful little trailers. Within weeks of each other in the fall of 2004, the first-ever TAB rallies took place on the west coast in Oregon and in the east, Kentucky. We have been meeting people we don’t know on line and camping with them ever since!
This “un-rally” had a great excuse for a get-together: Ken and Bonnie Pleat have arrived at the KOA South to begin a new work-camp experience for the season! Even people that had never met and camped with Ken and Bonnie – wanted to come out for the event!
Because this was an informal get-together, there was no real schedule of events and we simply made our agenda as we went along.
We arrived Thursday night at dark and were greeted by Ken and Alan McDowell; others would be trickling in on Friday afternoon. Friday was sunny and warm and Tom and I headed out for Churchill Downs. The horses weren’t running yet, and the track wasn’t really open – but, track staff was out in full force getting ready for a big event on Saturday. We were able to walk around, all the way down to the track, and watch some horses working out. We decided we needed to come back some day when the track is open to see some races and everything there is to see in more detail. For now we settled for a trip to the gift shop with an ulterior motive in mind. . . HATS!
This was our first gathering with The Airstreamer’s Club (TAC)! They are totally dedicated to gathering to have fun camping experiences with people loving Airstreams! Even though we had just joined this group, Lauren needed a buddy to help her co-host the event, so I offered my limited services. TAC is all about having fun, and nobody has to do more than just organize the event and invite Airstreamers to come; they take over from there!
The rally site was in Wooster, Ohio at the Wayne County Fairgrounds – smack dab in the middle of Ohio Amishland.
The nice thing about county fairgrounds is the $15 price for water and electric hook-up and heated meeting building, bathhouse and showers! We arrived at 6:30 Thursday night. The evening weather proved to be a prelude for the whole weekend – cloudless and cool, a full moon to light the fairground and plenty of sunshine during the days.
Our mission was to tour the Amish hot spots, and Lauren had provided us each with a list of must-see sights and directions for touring. On Friday morning we set out for Millersburg, just 20 minutes from Wooster. The countryside was beautiful with tidy Amish farms and occasional buggies on the roadways.
First Stop: 61 Surplus: Profits from the 61 Surplus are directed to humanitarian efforts in third-world countries. Most items are return items from Amazon.com and sell for 50% off or less.
Yes – we bought a Kelty Hula camping shelter – just like the one we already had - -but only 1/3 the price!
The store was in the middle of downtown Millersburg, calling for a quick trip through the county courthouse!
Zink’s is the largest fabric and textile retailer in Ohio and a family owned textile distribution company. Their no-fill display of fabrics is in a pole barn and most items are under $3.00/yard. They also had a clothing store with some rather cute t-shirts. One T-shirt called for a picture!
Top on our list was Lehamn’s, a store that has been serving the local Amish community with non-electric items since 1955. Hand tools, oil lamps, wood stoves, laundry supplies, kitchen ware – all authentic Amish items.
There was a lot more touring and shopping and sight-seeing that could have been done, but we also wanted some time back at the rally headquarters to spend with our TAC friends and Silver Family, and to tour those Airstream beauties:
If you have been following my blog since the beginning, you will remember that our little 16' Airstream was originally the Little Debbie Million Smiles Mission ambassador, and traveled the USA distributing smiles and those famous snack cakes. I wrote the company and they graciously sent me boxes of their products to share at the rally. Here we all are displaying our favorite Little Debbie Cakes, which provided snacks all weekend as well as breakfast!
Members of the Silver Family had to pose for a separate picture with our new Silver Family embroidered shirts.
A special thanks to Loren (and Michael) for being the motivating force behind this rally. Loren is a fantastic organizer, posting all the rally information on the websites and welcoming everyone to attend. She is proof that all a good Airstreamer needs is a reason to go camping and a little bit of organization and lots of free-time to pursue their interests.
Lauren did tip me off that the SAME rally is being planned for the SAME weekend next year -- the FIRST WEEKEND IN APRIL, 2013!
Although we’ve camped already in 2012, this was our official “Spring break-out” camping trip. In a few weeks we will have back-to-back camping outings, and this trip was necessary just to make sure everything in the Silvermine was in working order!
I called around early in the week to see what State Parks would be open. I assumed that, although April 1st (Sunday) was the official opening date, surely the parks would open for the whole weekend. As I called the various campground offices I was informed that they would NOT open on Friday and Saturday night – and I was also aware that they were tired of getting phone-calls about it! But, then I called Grand Lake St. Mary’s State Park and they said they had opened bath house #6 and had the electricity on and the dump station open. Only 26 miles from us, this was a convenient location and also one of our favorite campgrounds for a quick weekend get-away.
After 4 weeks of 60’s and 70’s record-breaking sunny days, the weather suddenly decided to become more seasonal. Friday was predicted to have very strong thunderstorms with dangerous winds and large hail! We made it to the campground by 5:00 with the threat of storms sill anticipated, and the sky certainly confirmed that we might spend the whole evening inside the Silvermine! However, we got set up and walked the dogs, and a few sprinkles came up – but nothing to even keep us from cooking our hamburgers outside on the grill. Out of concession for the dropping temperatures, we did eat inside!
On Saturday Caleb came down in the afternoon to join us for a break-out camping dinner: steak and lobster! We picked up some live lobster and T-bones at the local Kroger, and I brought along twice-baked potatoes and fresh pears to go with and Tom brought the outdoor turkey fryer to “do” the lobster!
After stuffing ourselves with Lobster, evening entertainment was the Buckeye final four game against Kansas. Tom and Caleb settled down on the big bed to watch the game, and Ella could see all she needed from the front dinette bed! It was close and ended in a 1 point loss for the Bucks!
Sunday morning was 39 degrees and we saw no reason to hang around: coffee and an apple Danish, a long dog walk, wake Caleb up and send him on his way, and hook up the Silvermine – we were home by 9:30!
Back home again the day warmed up, and the Silvermine got a bath. We have 4 days to clean, restock and pack for the TAC Amish Rally in Wooster, OH at the Wayne County Fairgrounds! Check back next week for a report!
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