Sunday, October 28
This would be our last day in Knoxville at Yarberry Peninsula Campground before moving up to the Great Smoky Mountains and Elkmont. The weather took a dramatic change for the positive – sunsine and warming temperatures. In the morning we went to the nearby town of Lenoir City and the Ugly Mugg Coffee Café to partake of breakfast . . . and the Internet! I worked on my blog and got the first five days of this trip published – a relief as we would be heading to the realm of no phone or wifi hook-ups for the next week.
We also made a visit to Maryville to Tom’s favorite Little River hiking supply outfitter – it was time for new boots! He walked in, explained what he wanted, tried on one pair, and walked out wearing new boots!
The afternoon at the campground was everything we had wanted yesterday . . . sunshine and temperatures in the low 70’s enjoying our beautiful view of the lake. I took time to shake the rugs from the camper and do a bit of clean-up chores - - - including a good brush-out of the doggies! Housekeeping is sooooooo easy when it is limited to 25 feet of living!
Dinner was grilled bratwurst with green peppers/onions, blueberries, and coleslaw. We are both excited to be moving up to Elkmont Campground where we will meet up with other Airstream friends and spend a week boondocking (without electricity or hookups!)
Monday, Oct 29
Tom took the shortest route to Elkmont, even thought it involved narrow and winding roads along the Laurel River Road . . . always a bit dicey with a wide-body Airstream. Tom did a great job threading that needle!
We arrived at 10:00 (and a day early!) and set up in site A17 in plenty of time to fix grilled hamburgers for lunch. Temperatures hit the high 60’s for a brief period of time, and the sun was delicious. Sue & Terry were the first to join us in mid-afternoon, and we four immediately sat down to the business of . . . camping-with-friends! This involved a dinner of lobster ravioli, fresh corn off the cob, and a splendid salad – consumed in the warmth of the Silver Burrito (Sue & Terry’s Airstream) followed by a nice campfire.
The temperature dipped down to 38 degrees, but we never felt the need to run the furnace. Under our layers of quilts, stuffed in long-john PJ’s, we were warm as toast – except when we had to get up in the middle of the night for the three steps down the hall to the bathroom.
Tuesday, Oct 30
By 9:00 the four of us were off for the Coleman and Lodge outlet stores in Pigeon Forge, and the Knife Works in Sevierville – the largest knife store in the world -- KNIFE MECCA! Shopping in such tempting environments, I concluded that I already had everything I needed -- but I did pick up a bag/mix of Beer-Cheese-Bacon bread to prepare in the Dutch Oven.
Georgia and Rick arrived in the afternoon, and settled into the campsite line-up right between our two Airstreams. In no time we hatched a plan for dinner – chili Sue cooked on her new Coleman stove, beer bread cooked in my small Dutch Oven, and an assortment of chili toppings. Georgia ruined us all by combining a rich cheese spread with strawberry jam on buttery crackers . . . a new addiction!
As we sat around a fire in the total dark at 7:15 talk revolved around a plan to drive 4 miles down the road to the Laurel Falls trailhead for a morning hike. If you don’t reach the limited trailhead parking lot by 10:00 it is full for the rest of the day!
Wednesday, Oct 31
An early crew of 5 (Tom, Sue, Terry, Georgia & Rick) left the campground at 8:00 for Laurel Falls -- as planned last night. Beating most of the crowds on the trail, they enjoyed beautiful temperatures and fall colors on the mostly paved 1.5-mile walkway back to the falls. A small group like this gets to spread out along the trail so each can enjoy the hike at their own pace. After posing for the traditional group picture at the falls, they headed back to find the trail much more crowded on the return trip. . . thus the bonus of their early morning effort.
Such a beautiful afternoon to laze around and enjoy the campsite . . . but, I grabbed Sue for a quick trip into GBurg, and we left Tom and Terry lounging and napping in the warm sun! We had a wonderful time shopping in the pricy outdoor supply store, checking our e-mail in their outdoor rocking chairs, and stopping by the Sugarland visitor center on the way home. Rick and Georgia were doing what good outdoor-folk ought to be doing . . . hiking!
Late afternoon saw the arrival of our last Airstream peeps – John, Suzie, and Tim. It took awhile to get them settled in, completing our row of four “silver quarters” for the next few days. The dinner plan was for more outdoor cooking – in pie irons. Crispy, toasty, buttery, slices of bread, with WHATEVER put in the middle, followed by another campfire.
Thursday, Nov 1
We all slept a little later this morning, and then rushed to the Pancake Pantry in downtown GBurg for breakfast. The restaurant is so beautiful with tall glass windows and light wood paneling. Pancakes, eggs, grits, and decadent fruit-filled crepes were delivered to the boy-table, and the girl-table! As we walked back outside, the sun was shining and the day was warming, and we decided to do a stroll down and around the many intriguing shops.
We pulled out the map, identified the start of the Roaring Forks one-way, scenic, motor trail, and took off. When we were off the main road, we re-arranged for a red-neck style ride – lawn chairs in the back of the truck. That lasted only 2 miles – as the touring road was CLOSED – due to high winds that MIGHT bring down trees! Another day!
As promised, rain moved in during the afternoon and the temperature dropped dramatically, leaving us huddled under the PahaQue awning! By dinner-time we’d had enough, and piled back in the trucks for a drive into Bennett’s B-B-Q for a lengthy sit-down, out-to-eat-treat. Afterwards, we wandered over to the outdoor supply store – Suzie, John, and Rick hadn’t seen it yet. I walked out with new Colombia legging-style pants . . . guaranteed for a lifetime! I also made the decision to not buy that pricey chair I’d had my eye on (at this time,) and John said “no” to a combination of hammock accessories.
Back at the campsite by 9:00, John pulled out his propane fire-pit for the 3 die-hards that wanted to sit out a bit longer.
Friday, Nov 2
We heard rain on the roof overnight; not an upsetting thing while you’re tucked snugly in bed in the Silvermine. As we got up in the morning, the campground was soggy, but the temperature was not that cold, and we were hoping for a somewhat clear day for some kind of outing . . . time will tell.
The first excursion for the day was a hike walking from our campsites to the back of the campground and up to old Daisy Town -- a potpourri of nicely derelict cabins. It is a fascinating peek into the glory years of the park history and the pre-existing Appalachian Club. An effort has been (and is being) made into restoring and preserving the cabins, but there is never enough money and inclination for a full-out restoration effort.
By 12:30 we were all back at the campground with an agreed-on plan for lunch in Pigeon Forge and a drive to the Knife Works in Sevierville. . . for those that did not go on Tuesday. There is always enough stuff to look at in the Knife Works for a re-do trip, and Georgia and Suzie had some serious shopping to conduct.
John piled in with Tom and me for the return trip to the campground and Suzie and Tim headed out for a bit more shopping. Rick and Georgia saw that there were traffic tie-ups in Sevierville and Pigeon Forge, and they opted for a little known road trip through Wears Valley and a short-cut road up over the mountain that dumped them just down the road from Elkmont.
We were all back at the campground for supper, but the temperature was dropping and it was a bit drizzly, and there was a bone-chilling cold. We retreated to our Airstreams for dinner cooked inside . . . and didn’t come back out!
Saturday, Nov 3
This morning we all divided up and went our own ways. Tom and I opted for a run to the Gatlinburg Visitor’s Center – just another excuse to drive through downtown Gatlinburg! At 10:00, traffic was starting to pick up, but we made it through in reasonable time. While I shopped the GVC gift shop, Tom checked e-mails. As we headed back through Gatlinburg, the traffic was in full roar and we took a leisurely 40-minute cruise through the main drag! But, the traffic didn’t end there – it was backed up all the way to Sugarland’s visitor center – another 3 miles!
Georgia and Rick and Terry and Sue had driven separately to Clingman’s Dome, where the temperature was 27 degrees and snow had fallen overnight to create a slippery and hazardous paved trail to the Dome. Suzie and Tim had taken off for Sevierville and were caught up in horrendous traffic there – Tim said he was “all trafficked out” by the time they got back.
Nonetheless – knowing the awful traffic congestion – some of us headed out for Cades Cove, hoping for a warm and sunny drive through the cove. After getting a mile past the “Y” a light-up sign warned of “2-3 hour drives” around the cove. We were still 7 miles away, and the traffic was bumper/bumper and at a standstill. Drivers Tom and Suzie did the unexpected and pulled a “U” turn right in the middle of the traffic, across that narrow road – and we headed back to Elkmont!
The evening was the best – a roaring fire and snacking around the campfire. Suzie made spice cookies with a pumpkin dipping sauce, and John initiated his new 10” Dutch oven with a peach cobbler.
Everyone cooperated in my efforts to take some “Flip the Bird” pictures to Cancer . . . for our friend Lou. Lou is our founding-mother-NOVA/Airstream-best-friend, and she would have (SHOULD HAVE) been on this trip with us . . . if it had not been for scheduled appointments with Round 2, Cancer.
Lou: these flips are for you!
Sue and Terry, Rick and Georgia, headed for bed a bit earlier as they would be pulling out in the morning. The rest of us enjoyed more campfire.
Sunday, Nov 4
Darn TIME CHANGE – always confuses everything! Still, by 9:00 a.m. (daylight savings or regular time – we’ll never tell) we were loaded up in two trucks and ready to go: John, Suzie and Tim and their pups, and Tom and me and our pups.
All week long the Smoky Mts. had thrown everything at us it had to prevent us from driving the Cades Clove Loop Road: Fog, closed roads, rain & cold, time change, 7-mile-long traffic back-ups. But today, on our last day in the mountains, we managed the drive. The trip was postponed by a couple of hours due to the closed road for a marathon, but by 11:00 we were on the seven mile road back to the cove. The traffic was thick and slow for the first two miles, and then revved up to normal driving speeds.
Of course, our goal was to replicate the “redneck-style” trip around the cove – all piled in one truck with some sitting in lawn chairs in the back. As we reached the cove it was already a respectable 50 degrees and getting warmer by the minutes. We were not surprised at all to see our friends Ken and Bonnie (volunteer rangers) working the front entry post to the cove, and we stopped to talk to them a bit. Then, with Suzie, Tim, me, and 3 dogs, in the truck bed and Tom and John in the front cab – we started off on the 11-mile, one-way loop road.
It was not nearly as stop-and-go as it usually is – probably because of the absence of any bears and resulting “bear-jams” . . . and very few deer. The sun was delicious, the sky was blue, and it was fun for us (on our hundredth-something trip through the cove) to share the beauty with first-timers.
We stopped at the half-way point to tour the grist mill, the little store, and the assorted buildings, and to walk the dogs. When we loaded back into the truck it was with a different arrangement (boys in the back – me and Suzie in the cab) and all with a packed lunch in hand.
After finishing the loop road we did a drive-thru of the Cades Cove campground and stopped at the campground store for . . . t-shirts, little Smoky memorabilia items and ice-cream!
On the way out of the cove we made a quick trip into Townsend to a local carver – Suzie was looking for a bear to sit outside at home. The carvings were all fun, many humorous, and a bit on the expensive side. Suzie chose a nice little bear about the size of a basketball – on all four legs, with a big butt.
It took less than an hour to get back to Elkmont Campground – and the arrival was really the signal that this camping trip was over! It was time to straighten the inside of the trailer, pack the equipment in the truck, cook dinner, and settle down for the last night. Darn time change . . . it was dark at 6:00 under the tree canopy!
The time change showed it's good side Monday morning when we were up early and able to see at 6:30 to hook up. . . and leave for home. This annual fall trip to Elkmont and the GSMNP set a new benchmark for a great fall campout!
Tuesday, Oct 23
In preparation for this next trip, I made the kids new matching blanket PJ’s. I have to start with this picture of Jasper and Charlie Button sportin’ their new duds . . . Jasper is still getting used to the idea that he has to play dress-up!
For the past few years we have celebrated fall colors with a trip to our favorite Elkmont Campground in the Great Smoky Mts. National Park. . . . sometimes with friends and sometimes by ourselves. As we started planning this year others jumped on the wagon, and we ended up with a total of 5 Airstreams on board -- all arriving on a different schedule!
For us, good trips seem to always start with an overnight to East Fork State Park to see Micah, and that’s how this trip – our last big trip of the season – began.
Tuesday morning we didn’t leave Van Wert without a hitch. . . the trailer brakes did not register as working! Tom fiddled, twiddled, and wiggled all the connections and got a few intermittent responses, but not enough to feel comfortable driving with a 7,000 pound Airstream rolling behind. Problem solved when he turned off/on and rebooted the whole system. We were on our way by 10:00, with one eye on the truck brake-read-out.
We arrived at East Fork to find that there were very few sites (out of over 450) left on this – a Tuesday night. Most of the sites were paid for and “reserved” for the whole week although they wouldn’t be occupied until the end of the week -- the big Halloween extravaganza. We did find a nice spot and by 2:00 we were set up and taking the dogs on a long walk. By 3:30 we were sitting in the bright sun -- which felt wonderful in the 55 degree temperature.
At 5:00 we left to pick up Micah for his birthday dinner at the Hofbauhaus Restaurant downtown Newport, KY, on the river. Always our first-choice place to celebrate, we love the food, the atmosphere, the live entertainment, and the beer.
This time of year the campground gets dark quickly, and once the sun disappears the chill really sets in. The full moon was great to light the way for a last walk for the dogs, but it did nothing to generate warmth. Tom set the heat pump for 63 degrees, and it worked well as we settled into evening entertainment . . . and all night long.
Wednesday, Oct 24
Up at 8:30 – off at 9:00: we worked our way across the Kentucky border, and then left I-75 to angle West to General Burnside Island State Park –the only Island State Park in Kentucky! A beautiful (and mostly empty) campground, 18-hole golf course, and a marina that is currently non-functioning -- it was peaceful and just right for a 55-degree sunny day. Our afternoon was much like yesterday – dog walks and time enjoying books in the sun. A steak dinner, campfire, and showers rounded out the evening.
Thursday, Oct 25
Awake at 7:00 it was still dark and we had to kill time to wait for sufficient light to hook up. We only had 90 miles to travel down I-75, across the border into Tennessee, and on to Norris Dam State Park. The road leading back to the campground was narrow, winding, and (luckily) not eventful. The campground sites were well worn, but the bath house had been recently updated. We quickly settled into a site and had some lunch. Later we found that the tag signaling that the site was taken was missing . . . and we had to change sites!
We headed out to explore the area, only to find that there wasn’t a whole lot to explore. The Dam is notable as one that you can drive over. Other than that, the Dam Visitor Center and the State Park Visitor Center were all but shut down, and the town of Norris seemed to be only a meat market, a restaurant, a gas station, and a public school! The sun was not shining today meaning that the 54 degree temperature was not at all tempting to sit outside for an afternoon book session. Supper was frozen left-overs that we had brought with us – easy! As Tom put together a fire, it sprinkled lightly, and that was all it took to chase us inside for the evening.
Friday, Oct 26
These have not been big mileage days for us – today only 60 miles! We arrived at Yarberry Penninsula Campground on Lake Loudon (near Knoxville, TN) by 11:00 and set up at a spacious campsite backed right up to the lake. Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating, and the drizzly, damp, day didn’t make much of an appeal for an afternoon outside and lakeside! Instead, we drove through the nearby Tellico Village for a look-see of this beautiful lake-side community. Then, we went on a quest for pine needles suitable for my pine-needle-basketry-craft. The two local craft stores did not stock them, but the parking lot landscaping was full of prime 12” pine-needle mulch! Tom “liberated” two big handfulls of them, and we returned to the campsite where we sorted and bundled the needles into bunches to be processed for crafting!
Really – was that all we accomplished for the day??? Still rainy, drizzly, and wet (no full-out rain showers) we fixed a supper of fajitas, took showers in the local bath house, and retreated to the Silvermine; I watched the John Wayne movie “The Searchers” and Tom worked on mapping next summer’s vacation!
Saturday, Oct 27
The big event today was a camp-side visit by sisters, Johanna and Beccie, and brother, Richard., and a 5:30 reservation at Calhoun’s on the Lake for dinner. These years it doesn’t happen very often where the four of us manage to get together. When I set up this gathering, I pictured us sitting out lakeside in 68 degree sunshine – what we got was 52 degrees, dark sky, wind and occasional dribbles. I did the only smart thing I could think to do – call and tell everyone not to come until 4:00 . . . forget enjoying the campground amenities and head straight for the restaurant! That plan worked out well enough, and by 5:30 we were sitting for dinner and ordering drinks and eats, and enjoying catching up. By 7:30 we were back at the Silvermine . . . where it was still cold and damp!
For those of us that own an Airstream, the factory is often referred to as the “Mothership.” In thinking of when and where I wanted to host a fall rally, this popped in my mind . . . and I began the plans for the “Bring It On Home To Mama” rally.
My contact person for mapping this rally was Tim Maxwell – Regional Director of Sales for Airstream. He agreed to set aside campsites in the Terraport for us and to help arrange some very special events. As rally-time rolled around, I had confirmation of 9 Airstreams -- 18 people hoping to attend!
On Wednesday morning, Oct. 3, Tom and I arrived at the Terraport at 10:00. Tuesday had been a busy day/night for Airstream, and every Terraport spot had been taken. We were glad to see it cleared out by Wednesday late morning, and we hustled around “C” loop staking our claim to a circle of consecutive sites for the rally.
Several others arrived on Wednesday, each with a short list of fixes to be “worked in” at the factory, if able. The fix-it crew (better knows as Factory Service Department) is scheduled solid until January, but having a few quick-fix items to do on a short-term notice seems to fit their work plan. In years of working with Airstream I have never heard of them not bending over backwards to accommodate an owner’s needs. This fact was to be proven time and time again at this rally!
Wednesday evening we gathered outside in circle-groups that grew, and shrank, and rearranged, as people and topics of conversation cycled. Joe, WBCCI historian, headed-up a discussion of round-the-world-trailers. Joe is restoring one, and our NOVA member Dan is also working on one. There were some outdoor theater presentations to test the system and make sure it was in working order. It was an animated group; next door to us was one of the new Atlas Airstreams, and owners Wayne and Jean had no choice but to come over and join in! That’s how Airstreamers make friends wherever they go!
Thursday, Oct 4
I woke to Tom stepping in the trailer at 7:20 and announcing: “They’re coming to get our Airstream for service in 10 minutes.” Quickly we vacated and headed to the near-by “Heidout” restaurant for breakfast. When we texted the group what we were doing . . . 5 more showed up! The Heidout is next-door to the factory, and is frequented by Airstream workers, Airstreamers in for service . . . and the local farmers!
The big rally event for the day was a factory tour by Tim Maxwell. I have always heard that Tim pulls off an exceptional tour – touching on many places that none of us have ever been at the Factory! He lived up to his reputation, and everyone ended up feeling very connected with our Airstream Factory!
Thursday night we caravanned the 7 miles down the road to the Inn Between Tavern. Even at 5:30 the restaurant was crowded, and we opted to eat outside on the patio . . . at the picnic tables . . . with the feral cats! Not a very pretty place, the Tavern seems to host to large groups, and we found the quite of the outside patio a pleasant option to the packed and dark interior.
The evening movie was provided by Larry – “Night of the Grizzly.” It was a documentary-telling of a night in 1967 at Glacier National Park when two grizzly bear attacks occurred within hours of each other in different locations of the park. Aside from being a good examination of the two separate incidents, it also had some very good history about Glacier Park, and it’s lack of bear policy in the 60’s.
As we watched the wind picked up and the temperature dropped . . . but everyone sat out the showing, wrapped in hoodies and blankets and coveralls! Tom also had a fire going in the above-ground fire pit, and several chose to hang at the back of the theater for the warmth of the fire.
Friday morning (after another Hideout breakfast) we drove down the road about a mile from the factory to see the WBCCI headquarters. A small facility, it is comprised of a few office spaces, a work area, and a nice reception area/lobby. The lobby had many nice wall-groupings of Airstream-generated and WBCCI-related pictures and artifacts. While there, several of our members “re-upped” their membership for 2019, and several bought WBCCI swag!
In the early afternoon we had a presentation from Brad Herring, the head of Airstream’s service department. Meeting in the training room where he updates his Airstream dealers in all procedures, he threw out a few topics to get us going – which morphed into a steady stream of questions by the group . . . and answers by Brad. We all left with the absolute certainty that Brad and his crew were dedicated to the Airstream as a product . . . and to us as customers.
Friday night was pizza and a movie. John had obliged by bringing his outdoor pizza oven, and we had a regular buffet line beginning with individual pizza shells and followed by all kinds of toppings. (Sorry I forgot to set the bacon out, everyone.) John played pizza chef while everyone made . . 1, 2, or 3 pizzas!
The pizza fest brought out two high-tech gadgets – thermometer guns for the pizza oven and electronic fly swatters for the flies!
Pizza over and cleaned up we gathered in our outdoor theater for the classic RV movie: The Long, Long, Trailer. Everyone enjoyed the wacky comedy of 1950’s couple (Lucy and Desi) starting married life in a 40+ foot trailer. They go through lots of the newbie issues and the learning curve that we all remember from our early Airstream days. The weather was a bit warmer and without the wind, making an nice little outdoor gathering. Once again, Tom had a fire going in our outdoor fire pit.
Saturday began with a planned power outage at the Terraport. Airstream is in the middle of a big building expansion and updating of their current facility. The good news is that our breakfast extravaganzas don’t require any electricity . . . John fired up his griddle, and he and Tom played chef. On the menu: egg omelets with all the left-over pizza toppings from the night before (onions, sweet peppers, mushrooms, cheese, sausage crumbles) and bacon and sausage links, and french toast! LOTS of bacon and sausage links!
The little German town of Minster was in full-swing October Fest mode during the weekend, and a delegation of five headed over to check out the beer tents. The rest of us sat out the power outage in lawn chairs under the tall trees in the grassy corner across from our campsites -- very warm, but a nice breeze! By 4:30, the power was back on, the October Festers were back, and John had set up a super theater for Buckeye Football. The day had been off and on clouds, but towards evening it looked more and more like rain!
We had one more event before shutting down this rally -- a pot luck/fish fry. Tom heated up the oil pit and cooked beer-battered and breaded fish. Everyone contributed fishy sides -- coleslaw, buns for sandwiches, mac 'n cheese, green beans. As the drizzle began the food line was moved under our Airstream awning, and Tom stood his ground cooking his fish. During all this, the Ohio State game continued under John's Airstream awning. With clean-up everyone disappeared for awhile . . . but returned with fruit pizza, homemade ice-cream, and brownies with fudge sauce.
Tom and I were home by noon on Sunday, and according to our calendar we'll be home for the next few weeks! I am counting on something to pop up that requires us to head out for a few days -- the Airstream has been unpacked, cleaned, repacked . . . and is ready to go!
Last year in October we discovered the small State Park Campground of Guilford Lake State Park. We just spent one night and I have always wanted to go back to camp in a site right on the lake. That is where Loren and Mike scheduled their 8th Anniversary rally this year! And here we are, all set at 1:30 in the afternoon, Wednesday, September 26 in a prime lake-front spot – waiting for others to join us. We were on a nice arm of the lake, and across the water from us were some picturesque, private, cottages. Around us were tall trees, lots of grass, and a good view of most of the campground.
As we set up on site #17, a 30’ Silver Classic rolled past and pulled in down the road from us. Other arrivals popped up during the afternoon, and by dinner-time we had a nice selection of trailers . . . and people . . . all within our view.
Before this gathering Suzie and I had had concocted an idea to set up a make-shift playpen for our puppies – so they could play free of those tangling leashes! We used 10 tall shepherd’s hooks, a big roll of orange plastic fencing, and lots of zip-ties and set up a rough circle and secured it – success!
This time of year, darkness moves in early – even with a full moon. By 8:00 we were gathered around a fire, enjoying a couple hours of campground comradeship before bedtime.
Thursday, Sept 27
Today saw more arrivals trickle in, including Loren & Mike and the kids . . . our rally hosts. There was some nice meet and greets, crafting time around the picnic table (pine-needle basket-making, crocheting and button-flower vases) and general mixing and mingling. There was also some sidewalk chalk-art going on! For Tom, Charlie, and Jasper and John, Penelope, and Rupert there was a long walk around the lake front.
Enjoy these pictures of Lou and her grandkids -- El & Conner. It was fun to have little ones around the campsite.
Dinner was at Mark’s Landing, just 3 miles around and on the other side of the lake. Since 1946 the restaurant has been where the locals gather to enjoy a varied menu --heavy on the seafood offerings. There was indoor dining and beautiful outdoor dining, and we had a private room overlooking Guilford Lake. Great choice, Loren! We returned just as a light (and unexpected) drizzle popped up, and that squelched any ideas for an evening campfire! It was an early night in the Silvermine – just my thing!
Friday, Sept 28
By 3:00 a.m. the rain was over and from the very start the day was shaping up to be perfect. By 8:00 Larry, Tom and John had the grills fired up and ready for breakfast. We all had been invited to bring our food over to cook on the griddle, and a slow convoy of eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, hash browns and other breakfast foods began to appear. . . and disappear as the campers woke up!
This breakfast gathering was repeated on Saturday morning . . . nothing makes a great social gathering like a big breakfast jamboree. Here are some casual pictures from both mornings that prove it!
Georgia and Rick had left for an early morning paddle in their inflatable kayak, and made it back just as the griddle was shutting down!
A small group made a quick run into town for bait and fishing licenses. Tom had his dad’s 1941 fly fishing rod, and this was his first good opportunity to try it out since he had refurbished it. The setting was perfect for fishing as we all had private docks behind our campsites up and down the lake!
At 1:00 a pontoon boat pulled up to a dock behind or campers and 15 of us loaded on for Captain Larry’s lake tour along the shoreline of Guilford Lake. After an hour the boat put in for a potty break, to shuffle passengers, and to head back out for another cruise. By this time the temperature was almost 70, the sky was blue, and the wind was very light – perfect weather both on the shore and on the lake. You can tell by these pictures that the pontoon boat was a great success!
Several more Airstreams arrived in the afternoon, making a weekend total of: 12 Airstreams, A Coleman Camper, a JayFlight . . . 29 adults, 6 kids (toddler to teenage), and 12 fur-babies. The evening was the traditional beans & wieners gathering, with a whole lot of side dishes. As the dark moved there was a large circle around a campfire!.
Saturday, Sept 29
Early morning fires popped up as those cooking chili outside got busy on the chili cook-off challenge. At the same time the threesome of Larry, Tom and John were back on for breakfast. Chili turn-in deadline was 11:30, followed by chili judging . . . there were over 12 entries! Loren runs the chili tasting/voting efficiently and quickly, and passes the trophy off to the year’s winner. Next was lunch -- can you guess what was for lunch??
Loren set out her annual raffle frenzy, sold tickets, and dispersed the items ticket by winning ticket. I have come to learn that some of those items will end up back in the drawing pile next year . . . but not my prize-winning , glass, flamingo cutting board! Mike and Loren do an excellent job with the raffle, using the revenues to pay for rally costs (pontoon boat!), and then issuing the left-over money back as the final prizes! Win-Win for everyone, and NO RALLY FEE!
The final event was the potluck dinner – always a smorgasbord of everyone’s favorite camping foods.
John had a little surprise for the football fanatics – he set up an outdoor theater complete with satellite and big TV, beside an outdoor fire ring! I can tell you where Tom sat from 4:00 until midnight – first the Michigan game, and then the Buckeyes. Thank goodness the Buckeyes were able to pull off a win at the last minute . . . and Tom didn’t have to come to bed UGLY!
This was a such a enjoyable rally – Loren and Mike have the plan, schedule, and execution down to a science, and 8 years of practice helps in pulling off a smooth event. Loren says she is looking for location recommendations for next year!
Tom and I again have a three-day turnaround as we prepare for hosting the “Bring It On Home To Mama” rally at the Mothership in Jackson Center later this week!
Where would you have a big mile-stone birthday party? Morgan’s Campground and Canoe Livery, of course. This was the scene where Carie hosted her 50th birthday party. There was a final total of 6 Airstreams and one T@B -- 13 camping people for the weekend, and Carie’s work friends, other friends, and family on Saturday.
Our silver quarters lined up along-side the Little Miami River in the first three campsites - where we were able to share 3 sites . . . and 110 electricity! A little silver TAB joined at the end of the line beside their own private gazebo!
As usual, we had plenty of 4-legged friends along for the ride . . . 6 dogs, and one special kitty, Shamus.
The weather turned hot and humid Wednesday thru Friday, and we waited patiently for a front to move through and bring cooler weather. Meanwhile, we went out to eat a few times and watched movies outdoors in the cooler evening temperatures. Finally on Friday it turned cold and rained moved into the area. Not to worry because the party took place Saturday in the large shelter-house where we were high and dry.
Suzie baked cakes at home and assembled, frosted, and decorated them in her Airstream . . . . extremely thankful for the weather cool-down so the cake wouldn’t melt! Did any Airstreamer EVER have such a great birthday camping cake?
Tom and I made beans for 40: 13 pounds pork/beans, 4 pounds of bacon, 3 pounds pineapple, 1 cup chili sauce, ½ cup mustard -- slow-cooked outside all morning. Carie provided the decorations and most of the rest of the food: hamburgers, hot dogs and a BIG variety of go-withs.
These pictures are just a sampling of the festivities. Needless to say it was a fun weekend at Morgan’s and a great celebration of Carie’s big Five-OH! Three days home, and then we're heading out for an Anniversary yearly observance!
Well – not quite our own backyard . . . . but very close! Our favorite Ohio State Park, Harrison Lake, is only 57 miles from us. With tall trees, lots of shade, and plenty of grass, it was a perfect setting for a little mid-week get-away! And, after 5 days of steady rain and cool temperatures – we were ready to do something to celebrate the next few days of sunshine and warmth.
We were in no rush Tuesday morning, and our only goal was to show up at the campground and set up in time for lunch. Although there were lots of empty campsites during the week-day, we still had to make sure that our chosen spot would not be occupied until Friday. Our favorite spot -- #118 – was available and we were all settled in and eating grilled sandwiches by 12:00!
Here are some shots of our campsite.
We took the dogs for a walk, and then hit the reclining chairs . . . with books! The reading led to a bit of napping, and the napping recharged us for a longer walk. That was the entire agenda for afternoon.
Here are a few pictures from our walks throughout the day.
Here are some pictures of our Jasper and Charlie enjoying the campground with us.
And the most important picture of all . . . relaxing in my "0-G" chair.
Wednesday was more of the same. Ditto for Thursday. I took pictures of the cabin and the Yurts, and a campground host gave us a tour of each. We took special notice of their accessibility for a future spring campout with Caleb and Halie – never too early to start planning for 2019!
Thursday, Aug 30
This vacation had a bit of abrupt ending as today we decided to head for home.
Yesterday Tom did the Ruby Falls Cavern tour on his own – I wasn’t ready to venture underground again. He says it was the most beautiful cavern he has ever been in . . . and he took a few pictures to prove it.
I stayed put at the camper and did a few housecleaning chores and rested. It had been 8 days since my cave accident/injury, and I was beginning to feel that I was not coping physically as well as I should. The biggest problem was muscle spasms making it hard to relax or sleep at night, and lasting into the late morning.
This morning we made the decision to head for home (easy, 9-hour drive), and I called and made an appointment for tomorrow with my doctor. I am assuming that some physical therapy will help speed up the healing – I am convinced that nothing is seriously hurt or broken.
This decision means that we will be home for Labor Day Weekend, and for the first Ohio State Buckeye game. We’ve already made plans with Caleb and Halie to come over for a game-day huddle, which adds a very positive note to going home early!
We have plenty of fall camping left to enjoy, and I want to get in good shape for every minute of it!
Tuesday, Aug 28
You see the signs way before you ever enter Tennessee . . . SEE ROCK CITY! Although I grew up in Tennessee . . . I have never been!
Near Chattanooga atop Lookout Mountain sits a geological and botanical wonder. There are monumental rock formations, over 400 species of plants, trees, and shrubs and from the high cliff look-outs you can see “See 7 States.” Tom and I were both unprepared for this magnificent walking tour . . . the ¾ mile Enchanted Trail.
It is hard to believe that this trail was first conceived by Frieda Gardner in the 1930’s and was marked with a ball of string winding around giant rock formations and ending at an outcropping known as Lover’s Leap. This is the location from which you can “See 7 States.”
There are many other points of interest along the trail: The Grand Corridor, Needle's Eye, Gnome Valley, Mushroom Rock, Wild Bird Observation Deck, Swing-A-Long Bridge, Sky Bridge, Fat Man's Squeeze, 1000 Ton Balanced Rock . . . . Here is a peek at what we saw.
The temperature was in the 90’s and parts of the trail down in the canyons were much cooler. Charlie and Jasper enjoyed the walk (except for the swinging bridge), and there were very frequent water-breaks for them. I think on a cooler day we would have lingered a little longer – but the whole thing was so spectacular we might come again some day!
In the evening we went down to check out a River Boat ride down the Tennessee river, but were not very impressed with what we saw. We drove back to the river-front area looking for a nice dinner. Our first choice (the Squeaky Squirrel) was a total bust. The menu was so strangely written that Tom asked if it was the Vegetarian Menu. “NO”. . . .but the waitress offered to get us one! We left! Just down the street was the same little Terminal Brewhouse that we had eaten at the night before. We knew the food was good, the atmosphere was pleasant, and this time Tom knew what beer to order!
Monday, Aug 27
This morning we decided to fuel up with a Waffle House breakfast, and after that headed for the Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park – the oldest National Military Park established in 1890. We watched the movie and Tom talked to the Ranger and picked up a touring map of the Battlefield. We retrieved the pups so they could enjoy the long driving tour around the Battlefield.
The seven-mile auto tour is accessed through a phone# on your cell phone, along with the map of the stopping points and the battlefield. It is very nicely done and very reminiscent of the Gettysburg experience. Our only compliant was that it was 93 degrees and too hot to get out and do much exploring – or even to drive with the windows down.
We spent a couple hours in the Silvermine, waiting for it to cool off, and then headed out for the downtown area of Chattanooga – The Chattanooga Choo Choo! It is the location of the old train station, but much of the structure has been turned into a hotel – with accommodations in old railroad cars. The architecture itself is beautiful, but it does not seem to be a very happening place, and was almost deserted.
We walked to the nearby Terminal Brewhouse restaurant for supper. Housed in an old warehouse, the food was great, but Tom struck out both times on beer choices.
Back at the Silvermine we reviewed our options for tomorrow -- there is an awful lot to see and do in Chattanooga. Maybe Rock City?
Wednesday, Aug 22 – Saturday, Aug 25
It’s been 5 days since my accident, and I have taken a little time off from blogging while I am healing. For the sake of our records, I am going to recap those five days. . . NO PICTURES!
On the day after the accident, I had the whole day to laze around at the campground.
Thursday was spent in the car as we relocated from Meramec Caverns to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Riding in the car was not much of a problem, as my best position is reclining on my back – with the heated seats fired up to high! That night I was good enough to go to El Mazatlan Grill, a great Mexican restaurant close to the campground.
Friday we toured the Visitor Center of Mammoth Cave National Park and Tom took a 2-hour tour. In the afternoon we went to see the new movie MEG . . . I just love a good shark movie!
Saturday, I was up for a visit to the Corvette Museum. That was interesting – especially the exhibit that showed the cars that were victims of the sink-hole cave-in a few years ago.
That brings us up to today – Sunday. We left Mammoth Cave and headed to Chattanooga – an easy 5-hour drive and a move back to Eastern Standard Time. We are staying at the Holiday Travel Park just minutes from Ruby Falls, Rock City, Lookout Mountain, and the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park – a ton of stuff to see and do.
After settling in we drove to the top of Lookout Mountain to view a projection-mapped, digital battle presentation of Chattanooga’s Civil War and the “Battle Above the Clouds.” The Chattanooga battles (coming right at the time of Gettysburg) changed the outcome of the Civil War; from here General Sherman staged his “March to the Sea.” We walked around Point Park and were amazed at the beautiful views of the City of Chattanooga open in the valley before us.
I got a few pictures from Lookout Mountain and Point Park, and with that, I think I am back to continuing my blog in more detail!
Tomorrow we have more planned in Chattanooga.
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