Saturday can only be described as pre-race frenzy: start your engine at 6:00 am and keep going till you run out of gas!
First up: Johanna, Micah and Caleb all had bronze badge passes that allowed them a 7:00 early entrance to the track. Destination? They high-tailed it to the location of the driver autograph hoping to be first in line for the front row. Only seven people beat them to the pole, so they were in good shape after a fast start. Tom and Ella joined in after the public gate opened at 8:00. Starting at 9:00, there was a one-hour time limit to obtain as many autographs as possible!
We didn't do it all, skipping the Roger Penske Q&A session and the three afternoon race veterans autograph sittings. Our afternoon agenda included a rest in our air-conditioned campers, and a trip out for a nice meal.
Back at the parking lot we conducted our annual trivia quiz; this year's test was prepared by Ella with a tie finish of 20 correct out of 25 questions for Tom and Caleb.
As the evening cooled off, the parking lot party heated up. Our contribution was the launching of a sky lantern!
Micah, Johanna and I spent the whole week after time trials in Indianapolis. Monday thru Wednesday we head-quartered at Lake Haven, and were thankful for the showers, trees, the customary campground setting and the short 20-minute commute back and forth to track activities.
The track closed at 6:00 and we raced back to Lake Haven Retreat to pack up our campers and hook up for an early take-off in the morning. Our camping/parking lot opened for business at 7:00 Thursday morning, and to get our choice of prime sites, we needed to arrive early.
Camping in the parking lot is pretty cushy these days -- electricity (for an extra fee) allows for all the comforts the Airstream has to offer and vendors take care of the rest, delivering ice, water tank fill-ups and black and grey water relief via the "honey-dipper" truck. There is even an "RV Doctor" that patrols the parking lot to provide assistance as needed. The big bonus is that we can walk across 16th street . . . and right up to our seats!
I was so delighted with our camping set-up that I sent this picture to Tom via my iPhone. He immediately wrote back wanting to know where I picked up the little Alien passenger on the back of the Airstream! I had no idea what he was talking about . . . until I revisited the picture! Soon the little Alien was the talk of the parking lot as camping folk came to check him out! Some people could see him . . . and some could NOT!
Thursday and Friday were both track days, with all-day events; some we went to, and some we didn't. Temperatures and wind gusts picked up foreshadowing conditions for race day. Tom and Caleb arrived Friday night to join Micah, Johanna and Ella. Everything was on track for a great racing weekend!
Who has the fastest seat in the house? Johanna (Tink), of course.
She has always wanted to ride in an Indy car on the Speedway track, and this winter she stumbled onto a "groupon" deal for 50% off the price in a two-seater car! She wasted no time in calling Indy Racing Experience for information and then signing up for a ride during the week of the Indianapolis 500! After all, she would be spending 11 days in the area . . . and the price was . . . right?
Three cars were on the track and one was piloted by Mario Andretti, who, for a $250 fee, a rider could guarantee as their driver. Tink chose to take her chances, and ended up with Davey Hamilton as her chauffeur.
And, here is a picture . . . of the official picture!
Our race week is not even half over. Who can say what comes next!
Lake Haven Retreat is the new staging ground for our Indianapolis 500 spectacular. Located south of Indianapolis, right off the 465 loop, it provides headquarters for all our comings and goings for time trials and is only 13 miles from the track if you take the Interstate – or 8 miles if you go cross-country!
Lake Haven Offers:
· 22 Acres Lake Haven Retreat
· 5 Acre Stocked Lake 1951 W. Edgewood Ave
· Fishing (Catch & Release) Indianapolis, IN 46217
· Laundry Facility ww.lakehavenretreat.com
· Restrooms & Showers
· 110 Full Hook-ups 30/50 Amp
· Pull-Thru Sites
· Primitive Tent Camping
· Event Hall
· Outside Storage
· Complimentary Cable
· Complimentary Wireless & High Speed Internet
And here is the line-up for our time-trial weekend:
Johanna earned the pole position, arriving at Lake Haven Thursday afternoon and setting up her R-Pod. She received a caution for setting up in the wrong pit/camp site, but was not penalized by having to move!
Micah arrived Friday before noon in his big black truck, just minutes before Ella’s appearance . . . one of the closest arrivals ever . . . earning second spot in the field.
Tom and Caleb arrived at 6:30 Friday evening, bringing with them the rookie Laura Shiffer (Caleb’s GF!) , and they all lined up in the second row! Our field was now set!
Micah and Johanna headed to the track for Fast Friday to pick up Johanna's Bronze Badge, sneaking in a few practice laps on Friday afternoon. They logged in 5 extra hours figuring out who was on it, who was struggling, and who should be watched as the drivers prepared to race for the Pole on Saturday.
They cheered as Marco Andretti blitzed the field, hitting 227.540mph with the assistance of the additional turbo-boost that all the drivers got to use for the first time. Ryan Briscoe was at 226.835mph, and was just faster than his Penske team mate Helio Castroneves at 226.716mph. Pole day was all set!
Saturday morning saw the die-hard race devotees (that is everyone but me!) leave the campground at 6:30 with the pole-day plan of being in shaded seats by 8:00 as the track opened for practice. . . deadline met with 10 minutes to spare! Following was non-stop coverage of every car and every driver taking to the track during the day. They were introduced, discussed, timed, encouraged, hooted, applauded, and enjoyed -- for the next 10 hours! Everyone quickly figured out that, although a novice, Laura knew every number-related statistic; and that is what time trials is all about – the numbers!
Time Trials is not my cup of tea, although I did put in a brief cameo appearance at the track at 11:00! It took me 2 hours to drive the 13 miles to the track, find a place to park, and stumble up to the stands to join the group! By a stroke of luck I was able to park infield, straight across the tracks from their seats in turn 1, and Caleb snapped pictures of me getting out of the van! (There are no private moments any more!) In another 30 minutes I was gone – leaving them to comment that it was a very expensive visit.
At the end of the day, it was all about Team Penske, and driver Ryan Briscoe!
Sunday was another type of experience all-together. Officially it was "bump day", where cars not in the race could bump out the slowest cars in the field. However, there were 33 cars and drivers and 33 slots, so bumping was not the nail-biting, last-minute event that it could sometimes be. As an alternative to sitting in the stands, there was lots to do around the track. Team Penske had an autograph session with a chance for a brief chat with the drivers and congrats to Briscoe.
A story post without pictures? That is what happens when you plan a relaxing, close-to-home, weekend campout and don’t bother to get the camera out! It was a most enjoyable camp-out from the standpoint of weather, food, activities and company, but just wasn’t documented by photos!
Our destination was just 50 miles away to Lake Loramie State park. On the road by 4:30 Friday, we were followed by Steve and Cindy Thomas and were set up in our adjoining campsites by 6:30. Supper was ruben sandwiches in pie irons, just as the sun was going down and the fire was getting bigger. Perfect weather and a perfect evening.
On Saturday Steve served an egg-bake casserole around the campfire. Later Tom and Steve made a drive into close-by Wapakoneta to view a gathering of hundreds of Corvettes that were on show. Nice to dream and nice to look – but no big urge to make a purchase!
Saturday afternoon we were joined by Caleb and Steve and Cindy by daughter Erin and family and son Craig and girlfriend. This pleasant gathering called for steaks, corn on the cob, baked beans, fresh pineapple and chocolate cake! With the presence of 3-year-old Landen, we walked to the lake and enjoyed a twilight sky lantern launch before bedtime. Again – perfect weather and a perfect evening.
Sunday morning was time to go home, but not before a special mother’s day breakfast was cooked up by the guys . . . egg sandwiches and hash browns. Home by noon, and no pictures to have to look at, edit, post and share!
I'll start this post telling how Tom joined me at the Blue Ridge Rally; remember that Johanna and I drove over from the Tennessee girl's rally on Tuesday, May 1st. Tom was back in Ohio teaching, and Wednesday after school he drove to Maineville, Ohio to join up with Alan and Carie McDowell. All three left early Wednesday morning and drove 11 hours to join me at Raccoon Holler.
For me the Blue Ridge Rally was now in full gear!
The Blue Ridge rally centered around . . . . FOOOD! I was so busy eating that i didn't always have the camera out to take pictures of the meals!
Wednesday night to celebrate the first official rally opening day, there was an outdoor "finger lickin" snack smorgasbord around the campfire.
Friday morning there was a 2/buck breakfast in the clubhouse where hostess Becky served up homemade biscuits and sausage with jams, jelly, juice, and java!
Saturday morning many of us traveled to Shatley Springs Restaurant where breakfast was served at the table family style . . . we kept eatin' , and the waitress kept servin'!
Finally I did break out the camera for some pictures at the Saturday night pot-luck dinner. This dinner was highlighted with many wearing their hillbilly best attire. Also during the evening we watched the Kentucky Derby, and had a crazy gift exchange.
Raccoon Holler Campground is just 1/4 mile off the Blue Ridge Parkway between mileposts 257and 258 near Glenwood Springs, North Carolina. Family operated, it is the perfect place to escape for a rally.
Centrally located and outlined by numerous strands of lights, was a large woodsy gathering space. This area was the scene of all sorts of activities by day and by night! Just about any time there was a corn hole game going on.
By no means is this all there is to share about the rally. I'll add more events and pictures tomorrow!
Johanna and I got off to a good start Thursday morning, leaving Misty River Campground by 8:30 AM. After that, we managed to cram a 3 hr 50 minute trip into 5 hours and 20 minutes! Neither of us can remember when we have taken so many different winding back roads, or seen such beautiful countryside!
I don’t know what your perfect image of a campground is, but how about spacious shaded sites, tall, tall, trees, and lots of thick rhododendron? Add to that the fact that I am camped with over 40 TAB and TADA camping trailers (with a few R-Pods) and the fact that hostesses Sharon Sigmon and Becky Martin always excel at creating a an unforgettable camping moment!
Tink and I safely set up at the Raccoon Holler campground where we will spend the next 5 days at the Blue Ridge Rally!
Click on the video below to see and hear Sharon Sigmon welcome us to her Blue Ridge Rally!
Here are pictures of those wonderful little T@Bs and T@DAs, in all their delicious colors!
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