Late September and it should be coolish weather, but this past camping weekend had plenty of hot temperatures during the day and barely a hint of changing leaves to signal the shifting of the seasons. This Caesar Creek campout was a merger of good ole camping buddies and new and offered some interesting events for us to focus on.
As customary , Alan arrived first, without Carie. She would show up to visit on Thursday night (arriving in style on the Spider/Can Am!) and then come back on Friday to spend the weekend.
Tom and I arrived Thursday early afternoon and were happy to find that we had a nice shade tree at our campsite -- many of the Caesar Creek campsites are in open sun!
Steve and Cindy pulled in Thursday late afternoon on a mission to conduct a virgin run with their new truck tent. The Vista Cruiser was along as base camp and for extended family members (Steve's sister and BIL) to sleep in.
Dinner and a campfire finished off the first night with me heading in early to finish the book that had me hanging -- The Stranger Beside Me, by Ann Rule.
One of our favorite little towns for junk/antique shops is just 15 minutes away from Caesar Creek -- Waynesville. Steve, Cindy, Alan, Tom and I headed out with the intent of walking the streets and being gone over the lunch hour!
Early afternoon found us back at the campground for a drive-by of an egg-shaped camper gathering -- mostly Casita and Scamp, with a few other lesser-known brands thrown in. There were probably over 30 eggs, but they were spread out all over the loop.
The afternoon nap-session took place under the shade tree . . . with a little help from the heavy-duty air-blowers.
Friday evening brought in the last of our weekend peeps -- Steve's sister Lynn and her husband Rick. Meanwhile, Cindy headed off to go care for the grands overnight in nearby Troy, Ohio, and Carie arrived on the Spider Can-Am. Nobody was keeping score, but I think by bedtime we all ended up in the right place at the right time!
Cindy returned with her three grands in the car, and her daughter and S-I-L (Erin and Anthony) following in their car. The stage was set for a full day of activity. Carie had missed our little town trip yesterday, so she, Alan, Tom and I headed back for Waynesville. The other faction headed for the Medievel Festival right down the road.
The views downtown were the same as yesterday, with different stores, merchandise and lunch options. We ate at the Hammel House Inn, offering bed and board in Waynsville since 1799. This structure, where we ate on the open front porch, was built in 1817 and has been remodeled several times over the years.
I didn't take as many pictures today, but I couldn't resist this one of a troop of little ventriloquist dummies -- is it politically correct to call them dummies?
The afternoon sit-around session offered another chance for me to practice close-up portraits with my new camera. Why is it that children are so much more interesting that adult subjects -- Cindy's grands had enjoyed the Medievel Festival and enjoyed playing around the campground with their wooden knives, swords and shields souvenirs!
I got a few pictures of the adults, too, but they aren't nearly as cute as those kids!
That about did it for the evening . . . and the campout. We did have a pitch-in dinner, a birthday cake for Carie, and a campfire . . . but everything began winding down. In the morning we were slower to take off for home than usual, and we indulged in a waffle-house breakfast -- a new tradition that we are developing every Sunday morning on our way home from weekend get-aways!
This is my favorite time of year to camp, and our camping schedule bears that out with back-to-back-to-back weekends visiting our Ohio State Parks. This past weekend was at East Fork with a get-together that fluctuated significantly in the weeks before the gathering and ended up being a nice small assortment of two Airstreams, one Argosy, and a T@B. Perfect!
We left on Thursday and issued an invitation to Micah to join us for a Cornish Hen cookout at suppertime; the campground is just 10 miles from his house in Amelia. Alan and Carie were the only other ones there for dinner, but Lou and Larry were on the way. Aaron, Stephanie and baby Maddy didn’t arrive until Friday morning. When we all got there and set up, here is what we had:
I am still trying out my new camera, and I found the cutest subject to practice close-ups on -- little Maddy! It just doesn't get any cuter than the many faces of . . . MADDY!
On the agenda for Friday was the kick-off for the Cincinnati German Octoberfest Festival . . . . with the annual running of the Weiner Dogs. Micah has been 6 years in a row, and said he would convoy with us to the races. It just happened that Carie was working at the downtown Macy’s corporate office for the morning and Alan went with us to meet up with her for lunch. But, first . . . the races!
Micah was nicely positioned to get a video of the final run!
The races were over just as Carie was able to join us, and we all hiked back up the hill to find a nice little brewery for lunch. Later, she would join us for the rest of the weekend.
Friday dinner was threatened by passing thunderstorms, and it was a fairly quick consensus to head for a restaurant -- Red Robin.
Saturday was a do-as-you-want morning and an afternoon trip to a local theater to see "SULLY" -- the movie about the miraculous landing of a passenger plane on the Hudson River . . . I was effected very emotionally about the movie, and came right back and ordered the book!
Saturday afternoon was a good lazy session in lawn chairs, ending in a shared meal around the picnic table.
Sunday we were up early and off -- Ashley's beat us out of the shoot by 15 minutes; Alan and Carie were in no hurry, having just a 30 minute drive to get home. Next weekend will find us back in the general area at Caesar Creek State Park with a slightly different make-up of camping friends.
One of our favorite summer pleasure trips is a weekend on South Bass Island – especially during the annual Historic celebration of Admiral Perry’s victory over the British in the war of 1812. This year a group of 6 trailers planned a weekend at East Harbor State Park with a full day excursion to Put-In-Bay.
During the week the weather did not look promising, but we stuck with the plan, knowing that predictions do not always pan out. If you read all of this blog, you will know how that worked out for us! Leaving at 1:00, Tom and I followed Steve and Cindy for 2 ½ hours, ending up at the end of loop Port Clinton, Ohio, East Harbor State Park, Loop “C”, site #88. By late afternoon we were all there. (Dan and Dawn, in their 2005 31' Classic were not there yet as I took pictures.)
Steve and Cindy had to borrow a truck to attend the weekend. You can see that Cindy's father used to be in . . . politics!
Within a short time we had a variety of awnings and screen rooms set up as the center of operations for the weekend.
Thursday evening was a late bring-your-own-food dinner-gathering and a campfire. Charlie Button enjoyed camping again, and recognized all the other Nova dogs that came: TJ, Sam, and Oliver.
Friday morning started with breakfast -- it is starting to become a tradition at these gatherings. Suzi was the mastermind for this affair with her grandmother's homemade buttermilk pancakes and John headed up the bacon and sausage, while Tom cooked eggs to order.
Plans were a bit hit 'n miss for the morning, with some needing to work from a lawn chair, and different groups heading out for local attractions. We went to the Cheesehaven outlet and picked up needed supplies of cheeses and cheese spreads.
Steve had a flashback of coming up to the mainland as a young boy to go night-fishing with his dad. He described his memories of the fishing pier and Tom said: "I know where that is, in Lakeside." Lakeside is a little private, restricted Methodist community where Tom attended summer band camp. Off we went for a walk down memory lane!
The main city street was just 3 blocks away, and we marched uptown for lunch in a little sports bar. No TVs, no alcohol; the only thing making it a "sports bar" was the name of the items on the menu: The Grand Slam, The Touchdown . . .
Our next stop was at the Mon Ami Winery for a little wine tasting. A group of women beat us to the tasting bar, and they looked like they were going to be staying awhile. We did not wait them out, and we did not buy any wine.
We returned to the campground to link up with the rest of the delegation, to compare morning and early afternoon mainland outings, and to prepare for the open grill/pitch-in dinner. What no pictures? I’m slipping!
A ranger came around on his golf cart to give notice of a large storm with rain and high winds that was coming our way around midnight. That motivated the tear-down of the awnings and screen room and the retraction of the Airstream awnings, and a general clean-up and put-away of all the outside frills.
Saturday we woke to a brief period of overnight rain -- but no high winds. The payoff would be that, when we returned from a long day on the island, all of our outdoor stuff was already put away. The prediction was still for some periods of rain, but we were trusting that they would be brief showers that didn't compete with our touring schedule. We headed out in a caravan of trucks for the Miller's Ferry boat dock just 10 miles away.
Here is a picture of the group that caught the 10:00 ferry to the Island. Back row: Cindy, Rick, Tom. Front row: Steve, Ella, Dan, Dawn, John, Suzie. Later, Bruce and Melinda would join us on the island!
The ferry ride was 45 minutes, and it was sunny and warm and nicely breezy on the top deck. On the other side, at the Kiln boat dock, we offed the ferry and climbed the big hill and walked the short distance to pick up our golf carts. The golf carts are the premier transportation around the island, especially this weekend when the threat of rain storms and wind keep the bicyclists in low numbers.
During the first hour of our trip we did have some brief, hard, rain, but it didn't last long, and we were mostly in the cover of the down-town shops to wait it out. Later, we had one more brief rain shower while we were on the carts -- but it lasted only 5 minutes and we did not get wet. Most of the day was a mixture of sun and clouds and nice weather for touring all over in our carts!
Our first stop of the island was at the relatively new Visitor's Center, for a short documentary updating our knowledge on the circumstances of the war of 1812, and Perry's defeat of the British. Then, a walk out and around the smallish-sized tent city set up by the 1812 re-enactors.
By now, the rain storm had passed, our last couple had joined us, and we selected an outdoor-patio restaurant for lunch. I can vouch for the beer-battered Walleye, and Tom can assure that the cracker-crumbed perch was worthy. Many in our group chose the same lunch fish options with a side order from the beer menu!
After lunch, with a 3-golf-cart-caravan (a 6-seater, a 4-seater, and a 2-seater) our group of 11 headed out for a round-about of the island.
This is a well-worn story, but I have to give an abbreviated version because of this next picture! On our honeymoon, on our first night on the island (in my little Coleman pop-up camper) I was stung inside the mouth by a yellow-jacket. The swelling was immediate and dramatic and, following an emergency drive to the island's police station, we ended up at this little garage/clinic of an 88-year-old doctor. I received emergency treatment and spent the rest of our honeymoon with a grossly swollen upper lip! It is now just a garage, but it is as pretty as the day I first saw it . . . 38 years ago through the haze of my allergic reaction!
Activities cranked up Friday morning as we settled into 3 more days of track-side routine with a full schedule of practice sessions, qualifications and races. The weather couldn’t be better, and the seating for all events was open seating – wander around and plant wherever you want! I’m pretty happy with all the action from my front terrace!
Tom and Micah started their engines early this morning, as soon as they heard the Ferrari boys take the track. They headed to “the 90” seats – a long way away from where we are camped because you have to leave the inside of the track through the tunnel and make your way all around the outside of the track. But, when I walked along the front-stretch grandstands I could spot them (the only ones in the stands!) and could see them waving at me! So close . . . . but so far to walk to join them! Later . . . boys!
I satisfied myself walking around our general area and getting the lay of the land . . . and almost ran right into Simon Pagenaud just a few MoHo’s down from us. I know those drivers don’t always like having cameras shoved in their face, so I hid behind a truck and used my telephoto to zoom in on him!
Tom and Micah made a pit-stop back at the our pitts for fuel -- BBQ pork sandwiches -- and then geared up for their afternoon session. Tom’s hip was sour, but there is a great network of shuttling golf carts standing by for free transportation, and that cut down tremendously on the walking.
They were back at 6:00 and ready to go out to eat in downtown Watkins Glen– Micah treated Tom and I to a 38th anniversary dinner at a local BBQ/Brewery café.
By 8:30 Saturday morning the boys headed out for seats in the 90’s Grandstand. I waited for awhile and then followed, on foot. I got less than half the distance when a golf cart stopped and picked me up and bounced me the rest of the way through the tunnel and out and around the track. I found Tom and Micah on the top row of the Senaca Grandstand. The purpose of my trip was to learn my way around the track, and to grab some cash from Tom’s wallet. I stayed 10 minutes, helped myself to Tom's billfold, and took off. Micah pointed out a road that would take me down the front-stretch, where there was a bridge over the track back to my home turf. Several carts stopped to offer a ride, but I needed the long walk to justify the lazy afternoon I was planning! Here are some pictures from the Senaca Grandstand -- this is where Tom and Micah will watch the race.
The Indy Lights race completed and there was a celebration of sorts at the Victory Lane platform – the announcer had a great, strong voice, but there were few people in attendance to watch the presentations to the racers.
Qualifications for tomorrow’s Indy car race were in the afternoon and only took 1 ½ hours. The boys returned to our garage for --- BBQ ribs, sweet potatoes, and broccoli. Micah took a late-night run out and around the track, and ran into Hinchcliff out reconnoitering with his crew. Tom and I went to bed.
Tom and Micah suited up early race-day morning and drove the truck over to “The 90” and the Seneca Grandstand – climbed to the top row, and anchored down their seats for the race. They were back at 7:30, and I got a picture!
We were out walking around the garage area as the drivers arrived at their driver meeting. We watched as they went in, and hung around to watch as they came out 30 minutes later! Then we continued taking in the sights and sounds of the neighborhood. The race was scheduled to start at 2:37!
I enjoyed watching the driver introductions as they took place on a large dias in the middle of the track. This year's USA Little League team World Champs were lined up on the stage to high five/low five the drivers across the stage. Unfortunately, the pictures of the drivers were taken through the safety fence. It was fun to watch as Helio Castroneves gave James Henchcliff some pointers on his upcoming "Dancing With the Stars" gig.
Finally, the announcer called for people to clear the track, and the drivers reported to those beautiful cars.
From my vantage point at the start/finish line, I was able to zoom directly across the track and shoot a picture of the Silvermine. I also walked to the end of my grandstand to view the Senica stands where Tom and Micah were seated on the top row. Then I hustled back to the center point for the final pre-race ceremonies -- the Star Spangled Banner, a prayer, and a sky-diving appearance.
Now there was only one thing left to do -- start the engines and start the race. I had a to readjust my usual race understanding as the cars raced the wrong way -- clockwise -- around the track. Tom and Micah saw the cars come right towards them on the first lap and snapped this picture.
I now faced with my biggest challenge with my new Sony a6000 camera. I set it for shutter speed priority at 1/4000 of a second, and set it for 3 continuous shoots at a touch . . . it was to be a real test of the ability of the camera to stop this cars as they crossed in front of me going over 200 mph. The down side of that was that I quickly shot a hundred pictures in the first 3 laps and figured that I didn't want to have to preview and send all the extra pictures to the garbage! Enough to say, the camera worked well for stopping action in it's track -- from the top row of the grandstand.
My next camera test was to walk down the steps, closer to the track, to see if the camera could stop those cars at close range. A+!!!
At that point I figured I could keep up with the race very nicely from my lounge chair under my awning, so I made my way back to the Silvermine. What a wonderful place to be engulfed by the sounds of the race over the loudspeaker, and to listen as Scott Dixon drove to a victory.
Tom and Micah came back, and we had a hamburger grill-out to celebrate our last night at the track. We ate with a front-row seat of the garage area as it was completely dismantled, leaving the parking beside us vacant. The drivers were on their way to Sonoma, California -- and Monday morning we would be on our way home! For me, this was a completely eye-opening experience of Indy racing! Will we go again next year . . . . YES!
Wednesday morning (before Labor Day weekend) Tom, Micah and I left Van Wert and drove over 500 miles to the Watkins Glen KOA, an early launching stage for our move to the Watkins Glen Raceway.
A funny thing happened on the way to Watkin’s Glen, New York! We stopped for lunch in Medina, Ohio at a Chipolte’s. Two hours later I saw a message from Loren with a picture of our rig -- taken at 11:48 with the query “Are you guys in Medina?” Talk about a coincidence! Loren is an Airstream buddy that lives in LaGrange, just 20 minutes away from our lunch stop and she was shopping at an outlet store when she spotted our instantly recognizable rig!
This trip is a different venue for us – a return to the Watkins Glen Raceway in the Finger-lake region of New York – but this time for a Watgins Glen Indy car Grand Prix race. (Last time was for a wine festival!) It is also a new race venue for the Indy cars, and we were one of the first to sign up for camping for the Labor Day Weekend!
Thursday morning we set up in campsite #7, neatly sandwiched in between the driver garages on one side, the pit-row stands and the start/finish line on the other side, and Victory Lane on another side. All within easy view of my lawn chair! There are not many campers here yet, but it just so happens we are camped 12 spots down from MY DRIVER –Tony Kanan and his entourage of 3 motor-homes. Tom won’t let me go down and stalk for pictures!
Shortly after setting up, we drove into Watkins Glen to see walk the incredible glen trail. This was Micah’s first time in his clear recollection – he was probably five the last time he was here. We walked the steep Glen walkway, thankful that it was only 72 degrees, and not the 90+ of last week. Near the top, Tom and I walked back down to get the van, and Micah finished the climb; we drove to the top and picked Micah up.
The parking lot had added a few more customers, but was by no means full. We enjoyed a leisurely afternoon with the boys heading off to explore the interior of the speedway. Tom returned to tell me that Tony K was sitting outside of his motor-home . . . and we went for a very casual walk-around . . . . I got the MoHos, but not TK!
Right next to our trailer is the Victory Lane platform -- Tom stepped up for a picture!
Activities rev up tomorrow as we settle into 3 more days of track-side routine with a full arrangement of practice sessions, qualifications and races. The weather couldn’t be better and the seating for all events is open seating – wander around and plant wherever you want! Tom and Micah will try out every grandstand in the speedway, but I’m pretty happy with all the action from my front terrace!
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