Imagine having to leave your hometown and drive 80 minutes away just to visit with your . . . hometown buds! This is fast becoming a habit as we have our second VW camp get-away at Harrison Lake. The first get-away was last fall and we all decided that this needed to be a frequent event!
Tom and I were so anxious to get away to the get-away that we were packed and ready to leave Wednesday morning -a day early! One of our excuses for jumping the gun was that Wednesday’s weather was supposed to be 75 and sunny and we were still trying to thaw out from that last Amish Rally campout in the blizzard!
A short hour drive north landed us at Harrison Lake State Park near Bryan, Ohio, where we set up our two awnings as command headquarters. I sent a tease picture to everyone that would be coming on Thursday and Friday and told them to hurry . . . hurry! Then both Tom and I sat in the sun and enjoyed the most perfect weather of blue sky, bright sun, 68 degrees and a light breeze.
I came to the conclusion that you wouldn't know PERFECT sitting-out weather if the breeze and sun didn't work together; just as the sun would get a little too hot the breeze would pick up and gently cool. And as the breeze got too chilly it would die back down and let the sun take over. We napped in the chairs, walked the dogs, read, listened to music and generally enjoyed the perfect sitting-out weather. Who would have thought we could be such do-nothing campers!
Supper was beef on the grill, and I roasted potatoes and peppers and onions in the convection option of the microwave/convection oven. I was specifically wondering how much it would heat up the camper – not much – and it worked just like an oven; great indoor option for camp cooking! During dinner, which we ate outside, the temperature quickly cooled down. Wanting to save the firewood for the group campfires, we opted to sit outside and read until chased inside by the cold. For me that was promptly at 8:00! Tom wasn’t too far behind!
Yes, it rained Wednesday night, but it was a nice, light rain and the temperature only got down to 55. Thursday morning we headed into Bryan to see the William’s County courthouse. It is undergoing a remodel project, but nothing that compromised our being able to tour the inside. It is another Courthouse that has lots of pink and white and grey marble, and much of the inside trim was a pale pink to match! We went all the way to the fourth floor which is just miscellaneous and small county offices. There were no stairs that we saw leading upward, but from the outside view we know that there is a very tall and substantial tower above that fourth floor where a lot of the renovation is going on.
With light rain, we ducked into the local puppy shop to hold puppies and smell some puppy breath . . . cleaning time for the large pythons about convinced me I didn’t need to linger over the puppies. Next door at the antique store I found a beautiful and very sturdy vintage, wooden, ironing board. My plans – make it into a folding outdoor side table for under the awning beside the Silvermine. Tom’s encouragement made it hard for me to pass it buy . . . but I did . . . for now!
It was still lightly drizzly back at the campground for lunch, so I tried the grill/microwave combination for grilled sandwiches inside the Silvermine. Wonderful results and another great option for indoor cooking! I used to always brag that “we do all our cooking outside” when camping . . . I am quickly rethinking that boast!
Steve and Cindy arrived at 3:00 and took up residence in the campsite right beside us. Bill and Deb arrived in another hour and set up across the street. That was the extent of new arrivals for the day. We enjoyed a break in the drizzle and brought our meals to the awning-covered tables but with the impending rain we didn’t even try for a campfire. We got cleaned up and put away just as the rain started and most of us made it to our campers for the night, except Steve and Cindy. They didn’t move quick enough (Cindy had a seriously sprained ankle and Steve was tending a bad knee!) and they got stuck under the awning as the light rain suddenly turned heavy.
Friday morning Tom was up at 7:00, walked the dogs, and started a fire. I ventured out after all the work was done and enjoyed a lazy cup of coffee. One by one, the others appeared, made the trek to the bathroom, and landed in front of the fire for a morning jam session. I finally decided I had to have that antique ironing board and Tom agreed to drive me in to Bryan to pick it up – Cindy went along for the ride, and we all took a tour around Walmart for necessities!
Mike and Lynda arrived in with their 5th wheeler in the late morning and added to the row. Rain was in the area over the noon hour, and we collected under their big awning to wait it out. Late afternoon the rain fizzled out, leaving us with a clear forecast for the rest of the weekend. Alan and Carrie arrived, followed by Gail and Dave and Bob and Susan. All in all we numbered 7 campers – 14 people – 4 dogs.
Supper was an open grill on shared tables under awning central. A campfire materialized and we drifted from the picnic tables to the fire ring, with the circle getting smaller and tighter as the temperature dropped. I, as always, was the first to the trailer, and then the others broke up 45 minutes later. There was a lot of exchanging of movies back and forth before everyone burrowed in for the night.
Saturday was cold, but clear and sunny, and we popped out of our campers ready to enjoy the day. Which began with breakfast! A big breakfast! Deb and Bill’s yard girls contributed 4 dozen eggs – good job girls! These were cooked to order by our grillboy Tom and sandwiched onto warmed English muffins . . .with bacon. Go-withs were Cindy and Steve’s homemade breakfast brisket, Mike and Lynda’s fresh, trailer-baked coffee cake, Bob and Susan’s cinnamon pancakes (served with peanut butter or Deb’s homespun fruit preserves) Gail and Dave’s fresh strawberries, melon medley, blackberries, bananas, and grapes . . . well, you get the idea! When it was all over, we gave ourselves quite a pat on the back for having laid the best breakfast this side of Bob Evan’s!
Activities aren’t scripted for these camping get-togethers – they are motivated by different inspirations. Gail, seeing my ironing board, was inspired to go and get the other one that I saw in the Antique store in Bryan. Six of us girls loaded in the truck for a quick road trip to Bryan.
The nearby lake inspired Dave to break out his new portable kayak and a group marched down to watch him unfold, set-up, launch, and paddle around! Tom was on hand to document the whole story!
Bob and Susan were inspired (and instructed) by Carie and Alan to give the Segways a go . . . and seeing Bob and Susan inspired several others to try it out. Carie and Alan are always so generous with sharing the Segway experience.
Afternoon temperatures finally reached the point that several sun-napped in “0” degree lawn chairs while others divided into different splinter groups to chat and enjoy the beautiful afternoon. By 4:30 snacks started appearing on the picnic table, and brought us back together for a busy hour of eating . . . before starting dinner! No-one was quite hungry, but we all agreed to go ahead with the planned fish-fry dinner. Out came the cooks with another great assortment of food, and Tom tended the deep-fat-fryer pulling out beer-battered cod and breaded ocean perch.
Clean-up from dinner led back to the campfire. It chilled down quickly and there was a good couple hours of personal accounts, yarns, legends, narratives, fairy-tales and . . . rumors. Enough to last until our next planned campout September 22-25. Mark that on your calendar. Right NOW!
Sunday morning, in the midst of a campfire and coffee and reluctant packing, Carie and Alan surprised everyone with breakfast-burrito-makings delivered to the campfire – warm flour tortillas, scrambled eggs, ham, sausage, bacon, salsa . . . This jamboree will forever be defined by the amazing food!
Tom and I were home by noon and mostly unpacked and cleaned up by 2:00. Our next rally is in just four days, and we are excited to make the switch from State Park to an urban get-together at Haydocy RV in Columbus for the NOVA “Share the Dream” rally! Check back in a week for details!
This rally was a mixture of old and new – the TAC (The Airstream Club) Rally is our (old) traditional spring gathering in Amish country, and this year we were in our new trailer. Our hostess, Loren, has the planning and execution of this rally down to a science, and the only thing she was not in charge of . . . was the weather! Out of about 20 camping units planning to attend, 10 braved the weather . . . and lived to tell the tale!
We left Thursday morning at 8:45 and 45 degrees. ETA, according to the Garmen, was 11:45, but we knew there would be stops so we adjusted that time to 1:00. Rain didn't dampen our spirits as we headed east to join our Silver Friends at Kandel's Campground in Walnut Creek, Ohio, in the middle of Holmes County Amish country. Off the main roads, Highway 60 took us through Loudonville to our favorite lunch-stop at the Mohican Tavern. Ample burgers were half price – and there was a cute sign in the bathroom!
When we arrived at Kandle's Campground at 1:00 Loren and her entourage were settled in the (heated) club house to greet and give us our goody bag/tour guide of the area. As we set up the Silvermine more arrived. We hung around for an hour and then headed with our TAB friend Alan for the closest little Amish towns of Berlin and Walnut Creek -- craft mall, antique store, bakery, and Heini's Cheese shop. A good deal of Amish produce followed us back to the campground: hard cheese, soft cheese, sharp cheese, cheese dips, cheese spreads, baked goods and . . . Ice cream for Tom and Alan!
The club house was the central gathering place for an evening pitch-in meal of chili, cornbread and lots of other go-with foods, and casual after-dinner conversation. Outside at 8:30, the temperature was falling into the 30's, and it was misting rain and windy. I walked the dogs and came to the Silvermine to get ready for bed -- Tom hung with the boys in the club house until 10 O'clock.
Tom was up at 6:00 to make sure coffee was perking. At the club house plans were kicking off for the first part of the day: Terry, Sue, Alan and Tom & I went to Keim Lumber store in nearby Charm. Family owned since 1911 this is always a favorite stop with exotic lumber and all the hardware needed to fashion it into something for your home.
Sue and I left the boys to do a thorough search of Keim's and snuck out in the truck for a visit of two side by side quilt/fabric stores a mile away.
Rejoining with the guys at noonish we piled in the truck and drove back towards the Campground -- stopping for lunch at well-known favorite Der Dutchman restaurant, which specializes in comfort food -- real mashed potatoes, noodles, broasted chicken, and a wonderful salad bar.
Most had been out and about the countryside during the day, but by mid afternoon they trickled back to the campsite, gathering in the club house to share excursion stories. A beans and hot dog supper turned into a feast complete with a good variety of sides and salads. All eyes kept checking the weather where contradictory reports teased us with reports of several inches of snow overnight.
7:00 in the morning told the story, as Tom took the dogs for their first walk: several inches of snow and wind gusts blowing up drifts, and periods of sideways snow squalls. The walk to the club house for coffee was under blizzard conditions, and as people arrived they stomped their feet and peeled off gloves, hats, and several layers of outerwear! I pointed Tom right back outdoors to get pictures!
The weather didn't change our plans very much -- Tom and Terry headed off to fill a propane tank, I waded to the bathhouse for a shower. Rich and and Georgia took off for bird observation, and many of us were planning a trip to our favorite Amish store - Lehmans. The roads were wet with some slushy ice on the berms, but everyone was out and about on the Saturday morning -- even the Amish!
Lehmans is a mixture of old-time general store, Amish supply house, and all-around good junk store. Our group of Terry, Sue, Alan, Tom and I wandered around for almost two hours, splitting ways and meeting up again, as we slowly strolled the aisles. I resisted buying and still walked out with some must-have items. My favorite -- a little stainless steel stack of nesting, fitted, containers that all clamp together for carrying food!
Finished at Lehman's we drove down to Gerber Chicken and got carry out to take back to our club house -- Gerber only has an outdoor dining spot, and temps in the 30's didn't motivate us to try it. Out rally schedule had indicated a trip to Gerbers on either Friday or Saturday. The word didn't reach Georgia and Rick that it would be on Saturday, and they showed up on Friday, got their chicken, wondered where everyone was -- and sat in the outdoor picnic area in 30 degrees and ate their chicken. Alone! Georgia recorded their “picnic” with a few pointed comments!
We took our chicken back to the warmth of the club house and spent the afternoon preparing for our last evening of the rally with the pot-luck dinner, the raffle, and the gift exchange. Here are a slew of pictures from the evening!
The fun ended by 9:30 as people trickled off to their trailers to get packed up to leave in the morning.
That's it for the TAC rally. Really . . . unless someone steps forward to host it for next year! If you are interested in taking over this rally contact Loren -- she has a wealth of information she will share with you and most of the work is already done!
Our next outing is with our Van Wert camping peeps at Harrison Lake State Park!
First it was a rally – then it kind of folded – then is was a rally again! The weather prediction (drastically dropping temperatures with rain, storms and maybe snow) was enough to reduce the “yes–no-maybe” response list from “maybe” to “no.” But Tom and I with a brand new trailer to break in knew just the right couple to contact for a little company -- our old T@B buds Alan and Carie! And as the weekend progressed we collected some great new Airstream friends!
Tom had mapped out a different way to get to Deer Creek, through country roads and little towns that we have not traveled/visited before. We know the destination of Deer Creek State Park (south and west of Columbus) quite well, and it is one of the state parks that is open, with bathhouse, all winter. It also has a lodge, and I had an ulterior plot afoot to eat our evening dinner in the dining room.
The drive was a mixture of same and different, as planned, and 3 ½ hours teased us with signs of spring: daffodils, some early-blooming trees, yellow forsythia, and some spotty areas of bright green tree buds.
By 4:00 we were set up, and by 4:15 it was sprinkling. By 4:30 it was clear again, and Tom put down the awning and sat in his lawn chair for a beer at 68 degrees! Who cares if it is to drop down to freezing tonight! Don't you think Tom looks happy sitting in front of a 23-footer?
There were no Airstreams around at that time, but there was the next best thing -- a couple of Roadtrekkers! Roadtrek friends look and act like Airstreamers in almost every way (or is it that Airstreamers look and act like Trekkers?) We were happy to meet Leanne and Randy from Michigan who are only a year into their traveling journeys. We're hoping we helped them to make a successful link-up with our Van Wert Trekkers who are planning a fall Rolling Rally along the Lincoln Highway. We had an enjoyable hour getting to know these folk around a shared campfire.
As plotted – I mean planned – we drove to the lodge for dinner. There were a respectable number of cars parked out front and the dining room was open for eats. Tom had the Reuben (so-so) and I had the eggplant parmesan with fettuccini – a total cop out on my carb counting, even if you don’t include the two dinner rolls I ate before the entre arrived! Tom enjoyed a sit-out with Scout when we got back to the Silvermine II, and I enjoyed preparing for bed . . . .which DID NOT include making the front dinette into a bed. Love the queen-size walk-around bed that is always made!
Lots of rain moved through overnight and the temperature dropped to 35. Breakfast began at 8:00 with coffee, donuts, and Good Morning America on the TV – while we relaxed at the large u-shaped dinette and waited for Alan to arrive! That might be the last time this season the TV gets turned on, and we did want to know that it worked! Alan and Carie have a blue, ocean-themed TAB that has been camping them without issues for almost 10 years! A quick 20 minutes had him in a site and set up.
We all went to the lodge – Alan for lunch, and me for pictures for my blog. The lodge is not a very beautiful piece of architecture from the front, but the inside is appropriately rustic with furniture made from logs, large fireplaces, overhead balconies, and views of the many verandas overlooking the lake.
Another Airstream showed up while we were at the lodge . . . Rick and Georgia, our newest NOVA members! Fresh off a successful birding stroll they joined us at the campfire for a meet and greet session. Within an hour we landed some common ground that will make for a strong new Airstream bond! How coincidental could it be that Georgia had actually taught in the Van Wert Crestview School system years ago? Here is their 2004 25' Classic -- as seen through my dining window . . . and outside reflected in another window!
The plot thickened during the evening as two more Airstreams showed up – seemingly independently – and set up in other areas of the campground. It is not too often that we see other Airstreams at a campground, and it was tantalizing thinking about who they might be. So Georgia and I jumped in the truck and rounded the campground and knocked on the door of the first one we saw. Poor girl had gone to bed early because she didn’t feel good – but Georgia and I had at least done our Airstream-welcoming duty!
Saturday morning we formed a two-truck caravan and drove into Chillicothe to re-greet some of our favorite places. First we stopped at the Hopewell Cultural National Historical Park. . . . and enjoyed the history of the largest earthen mounds in the world, built by basket-fulls of dirt by ancient peoples.
The 23 mounds in this collection were a ceremonial center for the Hopewell Culture 2,000 years ago. . . it was not a residential area! People came here for feasting, trading, presenting gifts, marriages, competitions, and mourning ceremonies. By about 1,500 years ago, the Hopewell way of life had ended and only the great mounds and earthworks remained.
A short distance away, in a residential neighborhood in Chillicothe, was Story Mound. It is a burial mound of the Adena culture -- ancestors of the Hopewell peoples, living from 800 BCE - 100 CE.
Chillicothe was the first and third capital of Ohio! With all that history we spent an hour in The History Store – a store specializing in miniature diorama soldiers representing almost every war in history. What an interesting place with these little figurines meticulously painted in people-specific persona.
Our last stop was Carl’s Townhouse Diner, which I have recounted in our previous trips to Chillicothe. It has quite an interesting history, having originated at the 1939 NYC World’s Fair, being purchased and torn apart and reassembled in Chillicothe. We arrived at high noon – peak lunch hour – but were seated and cycled through the process fairly quickly. Good lunch!
This ended our tour stops of Chillicothe, and I was anxious to get back to the campground to assume the position in the rapidly warming afternoon . . . . .
Arriving back at the campground we were jolted to attention seeing that a new Pendleton Airstream (only 100 made by Airstream this year!) was set up in the campsite next to us! Nobody home, but I vowed to keep an eye on it until the owners identified themselves! Not long to wait until Brian and Brenda showed up from their bicycle ride and gave us their whole story. New owners of less than 2 weeks, purchased from Haydocy in Cincinnati, trading up from a 2014 25’ Flying Cloud – they saw one of these extreme 100-of-a-kind, 27' Pendleton special edition Airstreams celebrating 100 years of the National Park services – and had to have it! And evidently the dealer had to do a little slight-of-hand work to get one off the line for them -- good job, Eric! This was their second camping trip out with it, and we were so glad they stumbled onto where we were set up for the weekend.
Another afternoon treat was in store for Tom and me. Alan and Carie, always generous with the toys, taught us how to cruise the Segways! For some reason I had it in my mind that I would not have the balance or coordination necessary to navigate the campground while standing on one of these floating footboards. But, after a 5-minute lesson, we both caught on quickly and had a wonderful time seeing the loop roads from an upright, smooth, and effortless, vantage point.
Dinner was a conglomeration of contributed foods – fresh salad greens with feta cheese and strawberries, shrimp cocktail, roasted Cornish Hens, melons, hash browns . . . followed by a campfire.
Sunday morning was a slow pack-up for our new Airstream friends, and a chance for some final pictures of the Silver show.
By early afternoon, as Carie also had to return home, we were back down to just Alan, Tom and me! What to do . . . . absolutely nothing but hold down the lawn chairs and enjoy the 75 degree weather. It is nice to know that we will see some of the new Silver Friends in just 2 weeks at the TAC Amish Rally!
We don’t go camping any more . . . we go ‘streamin’ ! The “SIlvermine and His” is our 2018 25' Airstream Serenity with Salsa interior and front twin beds., 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