Don't know what a "walking taco" is? Wait for it -- at the end of the post!
Goodie bags contained all kinds of neat things -- maps and pamphlets about local attractions, camping-chair-dining plates, wine glasses from the local winery, name buttons, key chains, campsite signs . . . .! A real Swag-Bag!
During the morning I photo-recorded our backdrop for the next 4 days! A setting just doesn't get much nicer than this.
Richard came back up and the four sibs slipped on some sib shirts contributed by Tink: Beccie: I'm the oldest, I make the rules, Richard and TInk: I'm the middle, I'm the reason we had rules, Ella, I'm the youngest, the rules don't apply to me.
All day long, as we settled in, I photo'd the rally arrivals.
After driving in and setting up camp some spent time decorating their campsite. We had a contest going with a west coast rally of Podders at Deception Pass in California, and the challenge was to light up the campground with decorations.
Some people had more unpacking to do than other people. Here is Tink's picnic table, waiting to be unloaded . . . she was under a deadline to have it cleared by walking taco time!
So what is a walking taco -- and how is it made??? Basically it is the same as a regular taco, all made up in a fritos bag! Start with an individual sized bag of fritos.
Add your favorite taco trappings: meat sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions, salsa, olives, and cheese. Add to the bag with the chips and stir and mix . . . then add a little more!
The last step is the most important -- walk around the campsite and eat and greet your walking taco peeps!
There was still a few hours of daylight -- just enough for our first drive in the mountains. Out of the campground we drove to the "Y" and took the right fork for a 7-mile trip back to Cades Cove. On the way we ran into a bear jam -- lots of cars stopped and pulled over and people out and shooting . . . uhh, photoing. Cindy jumped out of our van with my camera and got these pictures of a mother bear and her year-old cub.
We started the cove loop road, but with daylight growing short, we took the short route cutting through the middle via Sparks Lane. Tom was the firemaster, and we got back just at the right time for him to light the first campfire. Give me a couple days and then be sure to come back to see the next edition of the Spring Fling '15.
Last April sister Tink and I had a "Spring Fling" rally on a slice of the Ohio River in Cincinnati. This year our rally was in Townsend, Tennessee, just one short mile from the Great Smoky Mountain's National Park! The welcome signs we posted at each campsite tell the plan!
Many of those attending were accustomed to seeing our little Silvermine tag along with the TInk 'R Pod. They are even becoming familiar with Steve and Cindy in their Vista Cruiser Gulf Stream, who trekked down with us from Ohio!
We left Van Wert at 6:30 a.m. April 21st to a clear sky and 41 degrees. Tree buds in Van Wert were just starting to pop and every mile and minute we drove south, we saw more of that pretty, new, spring green. Just north of Cincinnati we saw our first flowering redbud . . . and two hours later in Lexington were ornamental pears and dogwood. As we crossed into Tennessee the blooming was all done but still a bright bottle green.
We landed at Tremont Hills at 2:30 to be met by sisters Tink (Johanna) and Beccie. Brother Richard joined us for a sibling reunion, just 11 days short of the National Sibling day on April 10th! We ate dinner down the road at the Trailhead Steak & Trout Restaurant for nice fraternal visit.
I got some quick pictures of our three sister- rigs, Airstream, Alto, and Rpod -- each a different sort of smallish-style camper. Lined up along Little River, with decks overlooking the stream, the stage was set for 5 days of communing. Tomorrow the rally peeps would start arriving as the Spring Fling '15 . . . sprung!
All good things must come to an end . . . and so it was with the TAC Amish Rally. But, this end was pretty special, and very Amish!
Our GPS routed us out of the little town of Walnut Creek on some key back-roads. Who would be out on these isolated thoroughfares early on a Sunday morning? Amish going to church, of course! We encountered droves of Amish walking, biking, and buggying to church. It was hard to tell who was more amused -- us slowly making our way down the road and gawping at the Amish -- or the Amish goggling at our van and little Airstream! Knowing that some Amish don't like to have their picture taken, I was very stealthy with my photoing.
The pictures, not great quality, were taken through the dirty van window while driving on a bumpy road, but I hope you can get the impression of a solemn Amish procession on a quiet Sunday morning.
This was the end of the Amish rally, but before signing off this blog entry I want to record one incident for the archives. As we were hooking up in the morning and I was backing the van under the hitch Tom shouted for me to "back forward -- back forward!" I am still trying to figure out what direction that is!
From reading my previous posts about the TAC Amish rally, you might think that a rally is all about the Airstreams . . . or the shopping . . . or the eating. However, for most of us, it is all about the people -- oh, and the eating! Saturday night this rally culminated (and crested) with a pot-luck dinner followed by fun and games. I made an effort to get as many people pictures as I could!
The potluck was the usual event of just the right mixture of main dishes, meats, salads, vegetables, pasta, fruits, and deserts.
After the last bite was eaten the tables were tidied up and preparations were made to begin the revelries. Loren pulls off a nice alternative for a rally fee to pay for the extras; she conducts a silent auction/raffle with items she has hustled and from contributions from the rally attendees. It's a win-win affair as everyone enjoys having their number pulled to gain a prize.
After that is the amusing white elephant gift exchange, which always ends in good-natured madness as prizes are stolen 1, 2 and 3 times! Last year Tom had his Airstream monogrammed blanket stolen -- this year he won another one and managed to hang onto it! Here are some pictures from the evening doings.
That's a good review of why it is the PEOPLE that make a rally so great. The conclusion of the white elephant gift exchange marked the last big bang of the rally -- except for the brave souls that surrounded the campfire in the 40ish degree temps. Tom and I went to bed regretting an early wake-up and take-off for home. BUT, there is still more to this story -- check back for the exiting ending!
Saturday we were off early to Keim Lumber Company which closed at noon. It is a favorite touring stop and is located in a little settlement appropriately named Charm. Keim covers everything from traditional lumber and hardware stuff to knickknacks for the home . . . . and an exotic wood shop! I didn't take pictures of the usual paraphernalia, but I did spend some time photoing the exotics!
Another significant stop was Zink's Fabric Warehouse where the Amish shop for their cloth. Around the edges of the big depository were stacks and stacks of a variety of shades and hues . . . of black, grey, and blue! There were some standard bright fabrics in the mix, and the prices were very good! Shopping in Charm was all very interesting even if it was our 4th time around in 4 years!
There was other tempting shopping in other small settlements along our drive, and we saw that the Amish have a bit of a sense of humor. I really wanted to go in for a closer look at this store and the bicycle ice cream cart - but it was closed. Read the sign, below.
During all this shopping we took time out to return to the campground, gather with others and head off for Gerber's Poultry Inc. where we bought chicken lunches and ate outside in the parking lot! It was better than KFC!
Mid afternoon was devoted to getting ready for the pot luck dinner and evening games. The sun was out brightly, the temperature edged to the upper 50's, and we found ourselves enjoying the camping weather and sitting outside.
All that was left was the evening festivities and I will pack all of that into another episode -- later!
After 5 years they ceased production, and for several years T@B owners were forsaken. And then the premier builder of teardrop trailers, Little Guy, took over the production of T@Bs and they were back on the market. Little Guy fitted their T@Bs with a lot of new amenities (built-in toilet, shower, holding tanks, hot water heater, larger fresh-water tank!) and at the same time managed to reduce the overall weight! We knew they had moved into a new factory in January and we were anxious to check it out. We showed up, unannounced, and they graciously offered us a tour of the T@B line! Following are pictures of that tour!
Ten years ago when we visited the T@B production line at the Dutchman factory in Elkhart, Indiana, they were producing 5 T@Bs a week. Today the Little Guy factory is ripping out 5 a day, and an additional number of the smaller version T@Gs as well as 20 of their original Silver Shadow teardrops and other Little Guy teardrop models.
The Little Guy T@B screams quality craftsmanship and they have been willing to work with owners of the original Dutchman T@B trailers for repair and upgrades. We were glad that this rally found us in the area where we were able to take this walk in the past of our camping memories.
The temperature was dropping in the mid-afternoon as we returned to Kandel's and the comfort of the indoor rally room. Other Airstreams had arrived during the day and our numbers were pretty generous for an evening meal of hotdogs, beans, deli salads, mac 'n cheese, and other additions.
Come back to visit tomorrow for more details of our Amishing experience in Holmes County..
Back-to-Back rally weekends signal that we are in full-swing camping mode! The TAC (The Airstream Club) Amish Rally is a true signal that spring is here. This rally is a chance to circumnavigate the largest Amish community in the USA -- Holmes County, Ohio -- and do some serious Amishing.
We left the driveway at 9:30 a.m. and stopped for lunch in Loudonville at The Tavern.Getting back in the van we were ambushed by a cute little, short, round, man appearing to be an Amish-imitator who needed a lift. He literally was in our van before we could say "NO." Once in, he talked a mile a minute for one block ("I'm a people person, you know,") and then suddenly decided he needed to to get out and head north on Route 61. He hollered out his address 3 times so we could look him up sometime. An interesting encounter, but I am still not quite sure how it all happened!
Our entrance to Holmes County was a serious back-country drive on Route 39 out of Mansfield to the little community of Walnut Creek. Along the way, farm after farm of Amish charm!
We didn't care that the campground was new and didn't have developed shade trees yet -- we needed all the sun when we could get! The layout was perfect for lining up our silver ladies side by side, and the campsite comforts of electric poles, water, and sewer hook-up were all brand new along with new shower houses! Airstreams landed all day long Friday and Saturday. The total final count of 'Streams was eleven.
The first night Tom and I had a new menu on tap -- but the rain meant we needed to cook in the trailer instead of outside on the grill. I had made "onion bombs" -- little meatloaves corralled by onion halves. To keep the onion halves together I added an aluminum foil girdle around each bomb. I added little potatoes and carrots, poured some beef broth on top, covered with aluminum foil, and poached them gently for 30 minutes on the stove top. Next time I have vowed that I will add BACON GIRDLES instead of aluminum foil. Here was the end result.
That ended the first day and the prediction was for great improvement in the weather. Check back to see our nextt full day of Amishing.
I begin with this picture of the Silvermine, taken three days before our first camp-out of the 2015 season. A late season snow tempest pushed into Ohio dashing our hopes for a warm breakout camp-out with spring temperatures.
March 24, packing day, began with a low of 17 degrees and hopes that the sun would come out and melt the 3" of snow in the driveway - Tom had serviced the snow blower and stored it away last weekend!
We had made this trip in the Silvermine last year mid-March, and we enjoyed beautiful spring weather. That was our motivation for rounding up others to enjoy this spring experience this year. It turns out that the days we chose this year were destined to be winter's last revenge on camping folk!
Not only was it cold on Thursday, but it was also raining . . . and spitting snow. Imagine our surprise when we pulled into the campground and found a big Argosy parked right beside the bathhouse where we were supposed to gather. We just couldn't figure who this brave soul was that was joining the rally!
It turns out that George, from Georgia, was here for a work assignment with the natural gas pipeline/energy company he works for. He had seen this Argosy for sale and bought it as his home away from home when on a job location -- as an alternative to a hotel. He had been living at the state park for 3 weeks and loved his new bachelor pad! We instantly made him an honorary member of the rally!
After setting up, we drove to the little town of Circleville for a something-to-do-trip and found some interesting shopping and places to investigate. Unfortunately for Tom who likes to explore courthouses, the Pickaway County Courthouse closed just as we got there.
Supper was hamburgers hastily cooked outside on the grill and taken into the Silvermine to eat. We bedded down early for an evening with books and movies. The little electric space heater worked heroically but with the temperature dipping down to 19 degrees, it just wasn't able to keep up with the night's chill. The temperature in the Silvermine was in the 40's, and although we were warm in our beds, nobody wanted to get out in the morning to turn the furnace on!
The good news Friday morning was that the sun was shining brightly, and it gave the appearance of being much warmer than the 19 degrees it was. We turned out of the trailer at 10:00 and headed out for a day in the little town of Washington Courthouse.
Shopping was again a hit as we ran across this store and the one beside it -- Two Old Broads & A Geezer. But an even bigger surprise was the one waiting in the Fayette County Courthouse.
During the days before the rally, committed campers Jason and Beth with children Allie and Nathan and doggie Hutch, communicated their intention to attend the rally. Even when we e-mailed them on Friday telling them of the cold temperatures, they responded they would arrive at 6:00. And so they did in their 29', 1969 Airstream. Customized for the four of them, this Airstream was a winner. Before the sun went down we had time to introduce ourselves, sit around a big campfire, and then head to the 'streams for another cold night.
Saturday morning, at 29 degrees and sunny, Jason, Beth and family headed out to explore the area, and we drove into the town of Chillicothe (the 1st and 3rd capital of Ohio!) From our trip last year we knew we wanted to lunch at Carl's Townhouse -- a diner with a very busy history!
We tracked down an ancient Indian burial mound, that was tucked conveniently in a little neighborhood right in town! Story Mound is a classic burial mound of the Adena culture that lived in Southern Ohio in 800 BC. The Adena were the ancestors of the Hopewell Culture. The mound is about 20' high and 100' in diameter at the base and was partially excavated in 1897. It was surrounded by a fence.
Mid-afternoon we were back at the campground where we joined the Pratt family for a "pitch-in" dinner. Beth brought a wonderfully warming chicken 'n dumplings -- so perfect for the chilly weather. Tom had planned to deep-fat-fry a turkey, but it was too cold for the propane! Instead, we made small sandwiches from a spiral ham and deli rolls. They were wrapped in aluminum foil and heated through in the crock pot. George came home from work just in time to share some dinner with us.
There was a brief window of time in the afternoon and after supper to enjoy a campfire. As the sun went down and the temperature dropped below freezing, Beth and I headed for the indoors, and left the boys to hold down the campfire.
Sunday morning we were all up and leaving the campground by 9:00 a.m. Except George. George was going to be in residence for the next couple weeks at the state park.
That is the story of the Mothball Rally. Next year we will move the date to the middle of April . . . or the location to Florida.
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