Monday we were on our way by 9:00 to our river-front camping spot at our favorite Elkmont Campground in the Smoky Mts. National Park. On our way through my hometown of Maryville, we stopped at the Blount Memorial Hospital to pay a visit to the laboratory celebrating the life-long work of my father. It had been years since we had stopped for a look, and we found it just as impressive and modern as when it opened in 2008.
The lab has a showcase window with memorabilia of daddy, including National awards received (The Billings Silver Award for scientific study and discovery) and declarations from the State of Tennessee, and "inventions" (the first "drunkometer" to measure alcohol in the blood and a slide-rules to calculate blood gas balances.
The walls of the laboratory are a showcase of pictures showing Dr. Kintner in family and work scenes -- below is Mama and Daddy!
There is a story behind this next picture. In 1980 when I was pregnant, daddy tried to get a blood sample from me at his house -- using his ancient equipment and very dull needles. Finally he admitted that he hadn't drawn blood in over 20 years -- he had "girls" to do that for me at the lab! Off we went to the lab, and somebody got this picture of one of "his girls" drawing the blood.
From there it was a well-known path straight east towards the mountains, and an hour’s drive back to Elkmont Campground. Last year there were plenty of sites available – but none along this river. This year we made reservations and nailed a prime spot in ”C” loop that was right beside the Little River. A slice of heaven for the next six days!
With a high of 53 for the day, an early afternoon campfire took the chill off, and we were able to cook our dinner of Cornish hens and roasted potatoes over the fire. As temperatures dipped, we snuggled under a couple extra layers of blankets and were toasty warm in the low-40 overnight – except for the midnight trips down the hall to that rear bathroom!
Tuesday, our first day of sightseeing took us briefly into Gatlinburg (7miles) to grab some Subways for lunch. Then, on up into the high mountains of Newfound Gap and Clingman’s Dome. The dome’s tower was closed for repairs, so we enjoyed the view from the parking lot and, with a stiff wind at 42 degrees, ate lunch in the truck, where the bright sun coming through the window felt wonderful. At this elevation, all of the leaves were off the deciduous trees and some light snow and ice were showing from a cold front a few days before.
On a quest to see some rutting Elk, we drove back down to Newfound Gap again, and over the mountain to the “other” end of the park – Oconaluftee and Cherokee Indian Territory. One lone elk was in the field outside the visitor center and there wasn’t any rut going on – although signs warning the tourists and some very torn-up fields showed evidence that it was the season! We were also back at elevations where the trees were in full color. Having been disappointed with the town of Cherokee the last few times we visited – we turned away from it and headed back to Elkmont.
Back at Elkmont I enjoyed a couple hours of reading by a fire, and Tom headed off with Charlie on a walk to cross the river and follow a trail back up to our camp location. In awhile I heard him whistle to me and watched as he took pictures of our campsite from across the river.
Supper was left-over meatloaf sandwiches and cheesy potato soup. Then, things picked up a bit as 3 Airstreams moved in right around us – two 22’ Sport models and a 25’ Eddie Bauer. Within the hour we met all three. Oh how much fun to form new Airstream bonds! (Later in the week several more Airstream vans and coaches moved in and out – one with a mother/schoolteacher and her 9-year-old son who were playing hooky the whole school year to tour the entire USA!
Wednesday morning we headed out for Sugarlands Visitor Center, with the intent of asking questions about the Synchronous Firefly appearance in June – we are hoping to plan a rally around the event. The ranger confirmed that reservations for Elmont Campground must be made 6 months (to the day) ahead of time, and that the sites go extremely quickly. To be able to gather a group in one area of the campground is especially difficult. During the two weeks that the fireflies put on their show, the only cars allowed back to Elkmont are in the morning until mid-afternoon. . . no evening access to view the fireflies! Only people who win in a lottery are able to ride a trolly back for an evening. I have a list of a dozen couples that are interested in making a firefly rally a reality. You can learn about the firefly event here:
Funny thing at Sugarlands – the electricity was out - a transformer had gone out. We got back in the truck and as we reached the edge of Gatlinburg (3 miles away) the electricity still seemed to be out. So, we reversed our trip and blew through Gatlinburg out the other end to Pigeon Forge for a little prime outlet shopping. At the Coleman Outlet we picked up a single propane burner to use outside with a skillet. We also marched through the Lodge cast iron outlet without a purchase. We made a quick stop at “The Island” (Margaretville) where I bought a pair of Alegra Shoes – the most comfortable shoes in the world!
Then back through Gatlinburg for lunch at the famous Pancake Pantry where there was no line! Usually the line wraps down the sidewalk and through the little “Village.” We splurged with peach crepes. Our last stop was a large mountain supply store Nantahala Outdoor Center, and while we are always tempted by their high-priced swag – we resisted and came away empty-handed.
Back at the Silvermine we fired up the generator, turned on the hot water, and pealed down for showers in the camper. Our evening plan was to drive to Cades Cove for a just-before-dark drive around the cove when the wildlife is usually out – and then a return to the camper for a late supper.
Our timing was about 45 minutes early for a true-dusk trip around the cover. But, it was a beautiful drive and we saw 5 deer, several turkeys, a field of ponies . . . and two black bears! One poor bear was trying to cross the road, and had created a long “bear jam” of cars. People were out of their cars and heading into the woods and the bear was a bit riled with his hackles up. Eventually he disappeared into the woods. The second bear was grubbing under a walnut tree up by the road – last chance to fatten up for the winter.
Thursday morning Tom tried out the new propane burner that we bought at the Coleman Outlet Store. He cooked eggs and bacon for breakfast and declared the stove very efficient.
This fueled us for a walk through to the end of the campground and up into the old cabins of Daisy Town. Left over from the turn of the century, before the park was a park, these cabins are just withering away and melting into the surroundings of the deep woods. It is strange that $$ have been spent to pave the road and add parking spots, and hiking trails that give access to the cabins, but they are all posted with “do not enter” signs.
Another excursion for the day was the roaring fork motor road that leaves through Gatlinburg and meanders up and over the mountains (with frequent pull-off for trail-heads) – a one-way road barely big enough for a truck. It is mountain beauty at it’s very best.
I have not talked yet about the leaves; of course, the whole idea of a fall trip to the Smokies is about the leaf-peeping. It is hard to decide if it is “peak week”, but I can say that the leaves that are still on the trees (about 60%) are all in various colors from bright green to yellow to orange and rust and red. Combined with the bright sunshine and the blue sky – it is all “peak” in my mind.
In the early afternoon we took time to just enjoy the campsite. Backed right up to the river we sat our chair in a slightly sunny area and enjoyed books and light napping – all to the sounds of the moving water. The temperature rose to 74 degrees, making for a wonderful 2-hour session.
I then had a hankering to go into Gatlinburg (only 7 miles away) to my two favorite shops – the sock shop (new socks for those new shoes I got yesterday) and Paws and Claws (a new Ohio State hoodie for Charlie!) We walked the streets and did a few more shops, and then headed back to enjoy more of our campsite. In the 70-degree weather. In November. By the river. Watching this blue heron! Heaven.
Thursday night it rained lightly; but nothing that left a lasting impression at the campsite in the morning. We ended back up at Sugarlands for a few loose ends that had to be tied up from our last visit when the lights were out. While watching the movie about the GSM my phone rang – brother Richard had just been wanting to see what we were up to – he DID NOT know that we were close-by in the mountains! We immediately made plans to drive into Maryville for a dinner date that evening.
Then, back to the campsite to enjoy reading by the river (Ella), hiking a trail through the campground (Tom & Charlie), and a bit of early packing up before heading for Maryville to meet Richard and Paula. By 8:00 we were back at the campsite and enjoying our last evening at Elkmont. Saturday we were up early, off by 7:00, stopped by Micah's house to drop off/pick up "stuff", and home in time for the Buckeye ball game!
There will definitely be a repeat of this trip next fall!
This is nothing new! It is a third repeat for this year! BUT . . . it was one GREAT weekend at Morgan’s Canoe Livery!
The whole thing was cooked up at the last minute, but a few were able to congregate for the weekend of October 12-15. Tom & Ella, Alan & Carie, Rick & Georgia and John. John was going solo for the weekend (without Suzie who had commandeered the truck for the weekend.) John was in a tent!’
As always at Morgan’s – the river dominated! Who would have thought that mid-October would find temperatures in the low 70’s and conditions good for a ride down the Little Miami in Kayaks. After the group went the first three miles, some continued another 3 miles -- and the die-hards put in yet another 3 miles!
With Halloween approaching, we all got in the spirit for pumpkin carving! We ended up with a whole row of pumpkins that delighted everyone in the campground.
We won't be camping this next weekend, but on October 30th we make up for it by heading to The Smoky Mountains for a full week.
We left early enough Wednesday morning (Oct 4th) to not feel rushed facing a 450+ mile trip to Jonesborough, Tennessee. The event was the 45th National Storytelling Festival, and for us it would revolve around the 14th "International Event Airstream Rally" at the local Appalachian Fairgrounds. Jonesborough is the oldest town in Tennessee and is just a few miles from where my mother, Ethel Nevada Pritchett Kintner, was born. This added an extra dimension to the trip.
We traveled the well-known route down I75 until just before the Kentucky/Tennessee border, where we veered off on highway 25 East to wander through a lesser-known portion of Eastern Tennessee back roads – arriving at Jonesborough at 5:30
We were welcomed to the local Fairgrounds by husband/wife Bill/Susan and a long line of silver trailers that had arrived earlier in the day. Eventually, there was a total of 24 Airstreams. It took awhile to set up, tend to Charlie and Annie, meet the folks on either side of us, eat dinner, and settle in for the next 3 days. By dark (8:30!) we had it all under control.
Thursday, while not the official first day of the festival, was the day that we could report to the downtown Visitor’s Center to pick up our tickets and the Program of Events and walk the little town of Jonesborough to get the lay of the land. The whole downtown area was closed to traffic and 8 large tents were set up for the storytelling venues, along with Food Courts, a Marketplace, a Swappin’ Ground, and numerous Story Spots – where you can mount a little podium and tell your own story!
Aside from that, Jonesborough was a proud little town with the very best of shopping, food, and local artisans.
Thursday evening was an assembly of the Airstream folk for a get-together with an appetizer buffet that ended up a whole meal. Although this was an Airstream International Event Rally, this would be the only time that we would all be together. Late evening was a gathering of the new friends on either side of us, planning a line of attack for the first day .
Our plan Friday morning was to be on the Festival grounds by 8:30, ready for the 10:00 kick-off. The day’s arrangement was well thought-out, as each tent had an hour-long “sampler” session of two story-tellers followed by a 30-minute break. Staying in the same seats all day gave us the opportunity for 5 sessions/10 story-tellers/7 hours/4 breaks! And very sore behinds.
You can check out the following website to see all the details about the story-telling festival, including performers and a live-stream of performances: www.storytellingcenter.net/festival/
Some of the story-tellers, we discovered, are much like stand-up comedians, with a story that transitions through a series of funny anecdotes . . . and manages to remain refreshingly family-friendly. Others tell humorous stories that take a sudden somber turn and end up with a thoughtful, bittersweet lesson. Several ethnicities and personalities were represented – a Jewish lady, a world-famous liar, a Japanese woman with WWII stories . . . and a redneck, hillbilly gentleman with great stories about his pap-paw. One strategy they all seem to favor is starting with a story subject and then gradually veering off topic, before returning to the theme for a final wrap-up.
Tom got pictures of our large tent (holding 1,500 listeners!) and a few (contraband) pictures of our favorite storytellers (photos and recordings were not allowed!)
Saturday was a more in-depth repeat of Friday, with each story-teller taking up an entire hour. The idea was to move from tent to tent to link up with your favorite – but it turned out all of our favorites were in the same tent. Thus, at the end of the first sitting we jumped up and re-shuffled to coveted aisle seating, where it was easy in and out for the rest of the day.
While in the area, over the course of Friday and Saturday, we went on a little personal historical jaunt. My mother had been born in Johnson City (6 miles away) in 1913 in a little cabin known as the “old Sherfey place.” On her 80th birthday our whole family did a little memory-walk to relive mama’s early life and actually toured the cabin-home which was the residence of the John Humphrey family – a very distant cousin willing to host a home tour!
Tom and I set out to find the home with clues supplied by sister Tink through a series of text messages. We found a little museum (not open) and homestead cabin of the Sherfeys, but it was not the homestead we toured in 1993. This resulted in more texts to Tink, who found the tour book written by my father that had more specific details.
The next day we were able to find the little cabin on narrow, mile-long Landis Street – the only house on the narrow, gravel road. We stopped for pictures after knocking on the door to explain why were in the front yard. The woman had only lived there for 16 years and did not recognize any of the names I threw at her – Reuel Bowman Pritchett – Ethel Nevada Pritchett Kintner . . . Ella Brown???? Mission accomplished, I figured this would be my last visit to the little cabin where my mama had grown up!
Friday night was the last gathering with our weekend friends, and we sat out a little later than usual exchanging . . . our own stories! Before going to bed and anticipating morning rain, we packed up all the outdoor tackle to help with a quick morning get-away. It turned out to be a hasty take-off when Tom jumped out of bed at 6:30 and began hooking up in the dark in a very light rain. I reluctantly joined him, and by 7:00 we were on our way. Driving all day in steady rain. Our route home took us past the entry to the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. So we stopped to walk the dogs, take a quick look around the visitor's center, and promise ourselves we would be back for a more extended visit someday. We were home by 4:00.
This weekend (Sept 28-Oct 1) was the 7th Annual Anniversary Rally, hosted by Loren and Mike St. Peter (and 2-year-old EL, and new baby CJ) at West Branch State Park near Ravenna, Ohio. There was a long history of past successful gatherings that put the pressure on!
To explain the title: One of our ambitions is to visit every Ohio State Park. To track our advancement I made a wall-hanging labeling all the parks, and as we visit we sew a button on. (OK - TOM does most of the button-sewing!) Here is a picture of our progress so far.
Our motivation, for leaving Wednesday (September 27th) rather than Thursday, was to tag another Ohio State Park – Guilford Lake. Near Lisbon, Ohio – our 1st button of the weekend. It is a quiet fishing lake with a small campground of 41 sites located in what is an old pine plantation! The lake was at one time a natural glacial/kettle lake, that reverted to a very swampy low-lands and then was used as farmland. It was then dammed back up in 1932 to return to lake status. Whatever the progression, today it is a very serene little campground with tall pine trees and grassy sites – many of which are lake-side.
It was 87 degrees when we arrived, but cooled down by the minute. After supper we sat outside until after dark; I am listening to a new audio book about “the radium girls” who painted luminous paint on watch and aircraft faces during WWI. The paint was made with newly discovered, and greatly misunderstood, radium! I don’t think this is going to end up well for the girls! At bedtime, we left all the windows wide open, and by 10:00 it was getting deliciously cool in the Silvermine – and stayed like that all night.
Morning, with only an hour’s drive to West Branch State Park, was leisurely coffee and donuts, followed by a shower at the bathhouse, before launching at 9:30. West Branch is a large state park (5,379 acres) on a large lake (2,650 acres) with just under 200 campsites and beautiful new shower houses (the kind with individual shower rooms). The campsites are giant size with hardwood forest separating, making for nice privacy. Fall was in the area promising cooler days and crisp nights -- and leaves were covering the ground. As we pulled in we saw several Airstreams already in residence – people we knew, and “newbie’s” to the group.
Hosts Loren and Mike had a large corner site, across from the bathhouse – excellent location to establish the center of operations for the next three days. With Lou and Larry across the street, everything was ready for round-the-clock gatherings: breakfast on the griddle, circle-time-suppers/pot-lucks, chili cooking/tasting/judging/cook-off, raffle for prizes, pumpkin carving/trailer decoration contest, evening camp-fires and a continuous stream of back and forth friendly exchange and impromptu walks and excursions.
Here is a mash-up of pictures of the many people, 'streams, and events of the weekend.
When the recipe is good – don’t change it! Loren has kept the same popular mix of activities for her annual anniversary rally for the past 7 years, changing locations to add a drop of new to the stew. It works, and hopefully she’ll be cooking it up again next year.
We enjoyed it all and Sunday morning, after good good-byes, kicked off a late (for us) departure to add two more buttons on our State Park tally. Close by, and directly on our way home were two State Parks we had never visited – and with plenty of time to get home . . . we stopped and added two more buttons on our map!
Quail Hollow, recently transferred to Start County Parks system, is a 701-acre day-park landscape of meadows, marshes, and woods . . . . surrounding a 40-room manor! The manor was closed on Sunday, but we enjoyed the little trail that roamed the superb gardens.
Portage Lakes is a park of many waters, with some of them reaching Lake Erie and some the Ohio River. It offers boating, fishing, swimming and wetlands wildlife-watching, and a small camping area,
At this point we turned homeward -- beginning to think about our schedule this week: home on Sunday, unpack and repack, and head Wednesday for the Tennessee Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough. Oops, there goes Tom to the basement to get needle, thread, and buttons to update out State Parks map.
What do you do after the very best wedding experience of the decade? You go camping to relive the memories, of course!
Our son, Caleb, and beautiful Halie tied a very tight knot in an outdoor setting, celebrated with family and friends, on Saturday, September 16 at 3:30 in the afternoon. The pronouncement was made at 4:10 (according to the world clock) and the gala began afterwards in a big ballroom – hors d'oeuvre, dining, toasting, dancing, and just general all-around festivity. Here are some ceremony pictures and reception shots taken by my sister, Tink, who relieved me from having to tote the camera around! We will try to be patient while waiting for the professional pictures to come back!
Tom and I had a secret plan to disappear into the wilds of Ohio after it was all over, and on Monday we set out for a park we had never visited – Burr Oak State Park. south and east of Columbus; it is one of the big resort parks with a lodge and lots of hiking trails.
Along with us on this trip, was Annie; she accompanied us for the week so her mommy could focus on some health-care issues that arose. Annie’s presence reminds us frequently to keep her mommy in our thoughts and prayers! Here are Charlie (left) and Annie (right) -- good camping buddies!
The Burr Oak campground is an older campground, and could use a little updating. The electric sites are high on a hill, mostly out in the sun, and the shaded sites are down below in a small ravine. Our site did have grass and large walnut trees -- that kept dropping walnut bombs, 2-3 at a time.
After a dinner of ribs, we bedded the pups down in the trailer and drove to check out the lodge. It was getting dark as we arrived (8:30!) and I wasn’t able to get outdoor pictures of the lodge – but we grabbed a few photos of the lodge entry lit up from the inside, and the various sitting areas inside the lodge. The lodge, like the campground, was mostly empty on a Monday evening in late September!
Tuesday morning began with a cup of coffee sitting outside, watching the walnuts crash down, and a beautiful pair of cardinals flit around.
What do 78, 376, 792,676 and 555 all have in common? They’re all some of the most beautiful scenic back-county roads we have ever driven in Ohio. . . . I know Tom was wishing to be driving the MG instead of the Truck! Our loop trip around Morgan county took us past covered bridges, bucolic farms, the Muskingum River wetlands, small picturesque towns, and even a battlefield. At times the road disappeared from view as we climbed a hill, or turned a sharp corner – or both! We wondered why someone hadn’t mapped out this loop trip as a scenic drive or even a motorcycle road trip.
Wednesday we headed south 40 miles on back-roads until we hit the Ohio River Scenic By-Way – Route 7, at Pomeroy. Although we have traveled the river road from Cincinnati to Ironton previously, this was our first voyage on this eastern portion of the bi-way , and we passed the southern-most point of Ohio -- called South Point! Eventually the road became Route 57, but was still the same route following the Ohio River.
Along the way we passed a sign marking the tragedy of the Silver Bridge, and stopped for some pictures.
We drove 120 miles and veered off at Portsmouth to find the Shawnee State Park/Forest. Here, there were just a handful of campers, and we were told to drive around and choose whatever campsite appealed to us! By 2:30 we were set up and enjoying the usual, lazy camp routine, and here we stayed put for the afternoon and evening.
Thursday continued our rural trip through southern Ohio, but veering away from the Ohio River on a northern track. Along the way we notched another State Park – Adam’s State Park. It appeared to be a day park with no camping, and we enjoyed a walk along the paved hiking path along the lake.
Down the road was Serpent Mound, the world’s largest surviving ancient animal effigy mound. Winding 1,348 feet over the ground in the shape of an undulating serpent with an open mouth and coiled tail, it was thought to be excavated as far back as 1650 AD. The exact creation is unknown because no artifacts were left that would help identify which Indian culture constructed it. In 1900 an observation tower was construct4ed when the Ohio Historical Society took over the preservation of the mound. From here, Tom had a good picture of the layout of the serpent.
Thursday night we stopped at another State Park that we have never visited – John Bryan State Park. Located east of Dayton, it is billed as “the most scenic state park in western Ohio.” It contains a remarkable limestone gorge cut by the Little Miami River and reminiscent of our favorite Hocking Hills State Park. Aside from hiking and biking trails, it also has several locations for rock climbing and rappelling. The campground was small, had only pit toilets and no shower house, and only 10 campsites had electric hookups. It was too hot and humid to spend much time on the trails, but this little scouting expedition guaranteed we would be back for a more detailed excursion. It would be perfect for an early Spring or Fall rally site.
Friday morning found us an easy 2 hour drive home. We're now in the process of getting re-geared for the 7th Anniversary Rally at West Branch State Park this weekend.
Race day drizzled in – cold, damp, soggy, and wet! Nonetheless, the alarm went off according to “the plan” at 5:30 a.m. The boys shot out of bed, hastily dressed, and headed off (in the truck) to the other side of the track and their far-away favorite stadium. The plan called for a quick hike to the top to drop off their backpacks on the top row to secure their seating. The plan also called for them to leave the truck close to their seats in the parking lot and walk back – but the ongoing dribble made it too tempting to drive the truck back to the Silvermine. They were back by 6:30 and crawled in bed and got a few more hours of shut-eye! I was vaguely aware of the going and comings.
Still convinced that they might miss something, they headed back to their seats at 9:00 – still mizzling! Micah was armored with a full rain suit, but Tom had forgotten to pack his, and suited up in a cheap, $1. Poncho – and five layers of including a hoodie! The menu for the day started with the 9 AM Indy Car Warm-up and the Indy LIGHTS race. At 1:00 the Verizon Indy Cars hit the grid, and after some pre-race festivities, the drivers were introduced and the green flag was dropped at 1:47 for the IndyCar Grand Prix at the Glen. The following pictures show the wet track during the Indy LIGHTS race -- and the view that Tom and Micah had of the cars coming down the track from the start/finish line towards them . . . clockwise!
Before I hiked to my choice spot for the start of the race, I walked to the end of our camping area and spotted Tom and Micah high up in their stands. I had to text them and tell them where to look to see me waving at them! That's them in the top/left row!
I was miscalculated the time it would take me to walk from the Paddock to the location where I could cross the track via the bridge, and then backtrack on the other side to the main grandstands – all to end up directly across from where we were parked in the Paddock!
I missed the first few drivers as they were introduced, but had a good view standing at the top walk-way of the stands of the pre-race doings – not so good for pictures as everything was through the tall, curved, shielding fence. I stayed until the cars took off and then worked my way slowly back to the warmest and driest seat in the Speedway – the TV in the Silvermine!
The boys were back quickly after the race, and we all walked the 50 paces to the Victory Circle aftermath where Alexander Rossi, Scott Dixon, and Ryan Hunter Ray received 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place trophies provided by the Corning Glass company. Micah got a picture of Tom and me with the drivers in the background.
Dinner was on Micah again, as he had brought some of his famous Ribs – tenderly cared for in his new pressure cooker InstaPot. Tender! I put some baked sweet potatoes and fresh blueberries and steamed broccoli with the ribs. Around us, people were packing up and moving out, but our plans included spending one more night with an early launch in the morning.
Time will tell if this event is offered again next year – attendance was very low. It might just be time to move on and explore some other possibilities for Labor Day Weekend.
And, this will be our last campout for a few weeks, as we have details to attend to for . . . . . CALEB'S WEDDING! If I'm not back in a few weeks --- that means I didn't survive!
Friday morning the boys disappeared to the track all morning for practice and qualifying runs. Charlie and I enjoyed the sights, sounds, and smells all from the comfort under the awning at the Silvermine.
After lunch, we headed off with Tom and Micah for the Autograph session. Charlie was all togged out in her race duds, and before leaving the paddock she posed on Helio's door mat!
The autograph session took place at the Indy Car Fan Village – the line was already long when we got there, and there was an interview of Josef Newgarden, James Hinchcliffe, and Graham Rahal going on. Hinch demonstrated some of his dance moves (from his appearance on Dancing With The Stars) with a very embarrassed white-haired woman from the crowd! While standing in line, we were able to get some good pictures of the drivers.
And that was just a warm-up! As we walked down the autograph line, Charlie did her little “dead dog” trick for each driver! I had to think of a little something different to say for each driver to get Charlie to keel over. At first Simon Pagenaud didn’t understand my instructions to “make a gun with your fingers and say bang” – but then he caught on. Charlie performed for Hinchliffe when I said “Charlie, what did you think of Hinch’s dance moves on DWS?” For Charlie Kimball, I said: “Charlie, he has the same name as you.” The favorite was when I said: “Charlie look – it’s Helio!” It took us awhile to make it through the line as drivers called us back for round #2!
I have never been able to figure out how or why Charlie responds in a dead faint at the right moment – regardless of what I say -- but she always does! If you haven't seen the trick live, Charlie bends at the waist when I am holding her and make a statement, and hangs upside down with her head swinging!
Micah stood by taking pictures of the whole thing!
I returned to my spot in the Paddock, and the boys returned to whatever-it-is-that-they-do when they disappear for hours at a time! I took a shower and visited with different people up and down the row, and finished an audio book.
Happy hour found us all gathered back at the Silvermine for grilled steaks and deep-fat-fried (well -- oven baked) macaroni and cheese bites. What a wonderful day!
Sometimes I think it would just be easier to just add new pictures under the old blog posts! For instance, we made this trip exactly one year ago – same journey, same days, same destination, and same race-weekend venue! Before even getting started on this blog, you might say it is going to be the same old thing . . . but I bet the finer details are a lot different!
Micah came home Tuesday night, Aug 29th, to join us for our Labor Day road trip to Watkin’s Glen Speedway for the Indy Grand Prix road race. Wednesday morning we trekked 500 miles, landing overnight at the KOA that was just 5 miles from the Speedway. After turning off the interstate we followed Tony Kanan’s set-up rig for 20 miles through the New York Country-side . . . we knew we were heading in the right direction!
Thursday morning we dashed to the track and were all set by 9:30. The only rain shower that was on the horizon passed through quickly, leaving us with very little chance of rain for the next 3 days. The stage was set for a great Labor Day Weekend!
As we entered the Speedway, we had to stop to have our tickets scanned, and for the trailer to be searched -- for unticketed passengers. This is an open-seating venue all weekend, and once you are in you must scan tickets every time you leave and return!
Our campsite is the same as last year -- #7 in the paddock area. We arrived to find Helio’s motorhome-away-from-home all set up 6 sites down from us, the track right beside us, and Victory Lane ceremony stands across from us. You could say we are right in the middle of it all.
The rain had quit but it was still a little gloomy as we headed to downtown Watkin’s Glen for lunch . . . a pizzeria followed by a quick stroll of some of our favorite stores. I dropped Tom and Micah off at the bottom of the Glen Canyon Gorge trail with the intent to pick them up at the top. A bit of confusion broke out as I ended up at the wrong pick-up area, had a bit of trouble reaching them by phone in the deep canyon, then finally arranged a new pick-up point. Tom took some pictures in the canyon.
Back at the Paddock I sat in the sun (at 61 degrees it felt so good) while the boys walked the enormous track infield. Simon Pagenaud had moved in next to Helio, and Charlie had a little encounter with the Jack Russell terrier, Norman, that was with his entourage and running around loose. I was on the phone when Simon walked by and asked me if the gate behind us was open . . . with mouth wide open and phone to my ear, I nodded and pointed limply! (Yes Simon, and If I wasn’t on the phone I could tell you all about it . . . )
At 5:30 we headed out to dinner downtown -- Micah was treating us to an early (by 2 days!) 39th anniversary celebration. Our favorite restaurant in the Glen is Nickel's Pit BBQ, a 100% local establishments with delish signature brewed and bottled BBQ sauces. To top it all off, we brought home a bottle of my favorite Carolina BBQ sauce!
And that wasn't the end of the evening, either! We came back to the Silvermine for the opening Buckeye game of the season against Indiana. Not knowing we would have cable hook-up in the paddock, we neglected to pack a cable cord. Not to worry -- Tom found one laying right beside the post! That took care of the entertainment for the rest of the evening, and the #2 ranked Buckeyes started the year out with a great win.
Track activities start for real tomorrow morning, with practice sessions, qualifying, and driver autograph sessions. I'll leave you with a little video I took of the little rolling robot from the new Star Wars movie -- he paid a visit to the Silvermine! We're all OK!
I forgot to write up our first campout after we were home from Alaska, so I will post it with our second campout!
Now that the great Alaska Adventure is over, it was time to . . . go camping! I have decided that there is a definite difference in traveling (vacationing) and just camping. I was ready for some of the “just camping,” and with this in mind we headed to Grand Lake St. Mary’s for the August 17-20 weekend. Last minute plans added Alan and Carrie and Steve and Cindy to the mix, and we were all set up for a leisurely weekend.
My goal for the weekend was to not let my fitbit log over 2,000 steps on any given day – get the picture? As wonderful as vacation was, and as much as I loved the traveling that went with it, I was ready to sit in a lawn chair in a campsite and do absolutely nothing! That was the tone for the whole weekend!
I did make it over to the new splash pad to check out a sign Tom had told me about. I had to see it in person! What misguided Ohio State Park employee thought this sign would be appropriate?
The weekend was all I had anticipated; the only time I left the campground was for an ice-cream run. Otherwise it was wonderful weather, great company, good food, and a very, very relaxing weekend!
After getting home, I still wasn’t a ball of fire, and I didn’t get to the business of working on my blog. Thus, the St. Mary’s weekend blended into the next weekend (August 25-27) at Morgan’s Riverside Campground and Canoe Livery in Cincinnati. Months ago, when we had all agreed on this weekend, we were wondering if the weather might be HOT in August. It turned out just perfect – highs in the mid 70’s and beautiful sunny days. This time around (our second time at Morgan’s this season) the campground owner had installed 110v electric in the first three campsites. . . we like to think he did this to accommodate our little Airstream camping group!
We had a final total of 5 couples on 3 large campsites and the headquarters for the weekend was quickly established. Here are some head-shots of our group as we gathered around a campfire circle off and on the whole weekend.
During the course of the weekend we had a great out-to-eat dinner at a local BBQ place, an epic pitch-in breakfast cooked by everyone, and an amazing open grill dinner (the hit was Steve's jalapeño poppers filled with cornbread!) I guess you could say the weekend revolved around food!
Between the eating, there was time for a trip down the Little Miami River -- after all, we were camped at Morgan's Canoe Livery! We walked from our campsites to the campsite office, rented the canoes/kayaks, boarded the bus, drove 4 miles up-river to the drop-off spot . . . and paddled (mostly floated!) back to our campsites . . . 3 miles and about 1 hour! Carrie and John were up for more, and they went back for round #2 -- 9 more miles.
Morgan's is fast becoming a favorite gathering place, and while we were there we made it known that we would be back in early April to help open the campground in the Spring!
Meanwhile, Tom and I are home for 3 days, Micah is joining us on Tuesday, and on Wednesday we are heading for take 2 at Watkin's Glen!.
I’m wondering if I should spare my readers all the gruesome details of the last day's drive? But, if Tom drove it, Charlie and I rode it – you can read it!
I’ll keep it short:
Sunday morning we left our last real touring spot, the Nez Perce Battlefield. For two days (15 hours) we were riveted to the audio story of the Nez Perce as told by Elliot West in The Last Indian Wars. That helped the miles to pass quickly -- 445 Sunday and 512 on Monday.
Monday we passed through the geographical center of North America (Rugby, ND) and stopped for a photo op. It seemed appropriate!
Monday night we stopped close to the headwaters of the Mississippi River . . . and decided to wake up and head for home with no more detours!
Tuesday we were off by 7:30, knowing that the time-change would be working against us, and knowing that we faced Chicago traffic for the most direct route home. 801 miles and 15 hours later we pulled in the driveway at 11:00 p.m.
Here are few statistics to wrap up the story:
We were gone 62 days
We drove a total of 11,451 miles (including touring without the Airstream)
We put 9,666 miles on the Airstream
We were in 8 US states and 3 Canadian Provinces
We had two chips in the truck windshield and 3 small scratches on the Airstream
We never wore those mosquito head nets we bought!
We had "0" flat tires"
We never had to use the generator!
We had "0" fights, arguments, disagreements
Our biggest trailer issue was the loss of the low-point drain valve on the fresh water tank.
It is good to be home -- but we would go back in a heartbeat!
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