I began the getaway with a quick trip to the Airstream factory for an upgrade to our electric jack system; then off to Lou’s house in LaGrange, Ohio. Lou and Larry are well-known for their Airstream courtesy-parking hospitality, and I have been anxious to join the ranks of those that have camped in their driveway. Aside from sharing Airstream interest with Lou, she is a master craftsman with a specialty in stamping, and I was eager to view her workshop. The stamping studio was extensive with over 2,000 stamps neatly organized in giant blue-print drawers, file cabinets of patterns and ideas, notebooks of completed samples, drawers of embellishments, inks, papers – all organized around a large work table. Another trip would easily lead to a wide-ranging blog entry all about the art of stamping!
Thursday morning I followed Loren, pulling her family heirloom Argosy camper, on the 20 minute drive to Findley State Park. As the hostess of the event, Loren wanted to inspect the camping assignments one more time before the Airstreams started to arrive.
Weekend predictions were a bit less than desirable with cold and wet expected. This rally was proof that weather need not interfere with camping fun: Larry and Lou had a completely enclosed over-sized tent room. It was a beast to set up, but well worth the trouble when finished. With 4 picnic tables down the center, camping chairs down each side, a thick layer of hay covering the floor, and an industrial- sized propane furnace, it was a perfect cozy meeting place.
Here I am with the "Silvermine and His" tucked into a beautiful spot
at the end of the loop waiting to be surrounded by other Airstreams.
Thursday and Friday the campsites filled up with the Silver Family!
Here are some captioned pictures of activities at the rally:
In addition to the impromptu crochet lessons, Sue had planned to teach paper piecing -- a technique of piecing small fabric designs using a paper pattern. She came prepared with sewing machine, fabric scraps, patterns and directions, and the tent room was turned into a full-blown crafting studio!
Six Airstreamers competed in the venison chili cook-off sponsored by Findley State Park. The park provided us each with 2 pounds of venison and instructions to show up for judging at the shelter house with our chili brew at 12:30 Saturday. Categories included stove-top, crock-pot, and open fire, and each division could be declared hot or mild. The weather put a damper on the event, and there were only about 40 entries -- much down from last year. After 45 minutes with judges sealed off in the tasting room, the winners were declared, and the crowd was turned loose to compare and consume the rest.
I had originally planned to enter the open fire chili category with my Dutch oven; Tom bought a new tripod to suspend the DO above a wood fire so it could cook long and slow. But with the all-day rain I found it much easier to use the open flame of my stove-top inside the comfort of my Airstream. My recipe was a mild and savory concoction of venison, steak, bacon, hot and sweet peppers, garlic, canned tomatoes, beef, chicken, and vegetable broths, and various seasonings. It was not exactly what the judges were looking for!
While the judging was taking place, our Airstream crowd posed for a group picture under the pavilion.
Thus ends our first full season of Airstreaming and our first year with NOVA and the Silver Family. We put a lot of miles on The Silvermine and I have kept detailed records of every night; it might be time for a one-year wrap-up with all the stats!
I'll leave you with a picture of Drew, Dan and Dawn's prize-winning pumpkins.!
Throughout the year there are some iconic camping weekends, with campers scrambling to obtain a reservation in a State Park before all the campsites are spoken for.
We camped with Cindy, Steve, and Eric, with plans to have other members from both families join us for a Saturday potluck, but Friday night it was just the five of us, and the weather was close to perfect. I had made a large batch of "Puppy Breath Chili," and all we had to do was heat and eat and gather closer 'round the roaring campfire as the temperature dropped into the 40’s.
Saturday morning began with one of Steve’s legendary breakfasts; he is always prepared with whatever you might want off the outdoor griddle, and he doesn’t hesitate to cook and serve breakfast to order. I settled for sausage patties, toast, two eggs over easy, hash-brown potatoes . . . we were offered pancakes on top of that, but nobody had the room!
There was nothing to do after a breakfast like that but walk it off! We crossed the lake spillway from the South Campground to the North campground and did a tour of all the loops to view enthusiastic Halloween decorations. These campsites are large and grassy and provide beautiful settings for large and detailed displays.
Look carefully and you will see Charlie Button hiding in this beautiful fall display!
Back at the campground we took pumpkins and knives in hand to carve our own masterpieces for the parade of trick-or-treaters scheduled to tramp the camp at 4:00.
Finally, as predicted for the weekend, rain moved in for the afternoon changing our plans for a big pot-luck dinner. Cindy's Mom and Dad had already called to say they could not come because of illness, and Micah, Caleb, and Grandma arrived just as the sprinkles started. We had set up the Paha-Que awning, and there was room for us all to squeeze under, but the damp cold didn't make for a very pleasant time for our guests. Instead, Tom took Grandma for a drive around to see the campground decorations, and then we released the three to head back to Van Wert, to fix their own supper and watch the 8:00 Ohio State Buckeye game.
With plenty of room for our original five, we sat down to eat at 5:00: Steaks and Barbeque Chicken, corn cake, baked beans, croissants, three-layer pumpkin cake cooked in the Dutch Oven and homemade ice-cream! Serious rain moved in by 6:30 and we retreated to the camper to listen to the Ohio State Buckeyes play Indiana University. It was supposed to be an easy win for the Bucks, but the game lasted almost 4 hours and was an up and down roller-coaster with lots of exciting scoring.
Sunday morning we headed for home early having had a great weekend. One piece of unfinished business was that our carved pumpkins were never lit! At home we set them on the wood-burner and lit them Sunday night; I'll leave you with pictures of our masterpieces.
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