The word “special” is undoubtedly overused, but it applies to this last camp-out of the season so appropriately . . . so pardon me if I say this rally was special!
A firmly established annual event, the Airbiscuit Anniversary Rally and Chili Cookoff is a solid 4-year tradition introduced by the original 2010 Honeymoon Rally of Loren and Michael St. Peter and followed by 3 successive anniversary celebrations. It also synchronizes with the Findley State Park Chili Cook-off on Halloween weekend – leading to all kinds of crazy end-of-the-season camping happenings.
Loren and Mike camp in an Argosy (Airstream) camper that was previously owned by Loren's mother, Lou, and before that -- purchased new by Lou's mother! There are pictures of baby Loren having a bath in the sink of the Argosy. What a 3-generation family treasure!
My story started Wenesday morning when I made the 2½ hour solo trip to Findley State Park arriving by noon. The roads leading into the park office were decked out in Halloween prettifications as was the camp office.
My site was at the very end of park road #12 where most of our 36 registered campers were to assemble on Thursday and Friday. Without too much problem I navigated into the deep and narrow #188 site, where I was bounded by woods on two sides and hanging pretty much by myself on the cul-de-sac . . . on a dark Wednesday night!
I set up my last camping site on my last camping trip of the 2013 season and hustled off to meet with the rally hosts to drop off my goodie-bag goodies, and help stuff the bags. After a quick trip to WalMart, I landed in my Airstream for an early, cozy night with my current book.
Thursday the rally began for real as Loren and her back-up team arrived and began setting up headquarters. Ready to accommodate whatever the weather had to offer a large tent, complete with heaters and long tables, was set up. I also set up our big orange PahaQue for a bit of open-air shelter by the eternal fire pit and outdoor cooking command post.
Friday I hosted an afternoon sewing session for ladies wanting to make a glamping pillowcase. I had prepared by ordering and putting together fabric kits for purchase, and sending out advance notice of the project so that crafters could purchase and bring their own fabric. Most of my fabric combinations were designer "glamping" fabrics by Mary Jane Butters.
Our big tent was turned into a craft room complete with sewing kits, pillowcase samples, sewing machine, cutting table, and ironing board.
I gave a brief demonstration and passed out printed directions for making the pillowcases. Game on -- 14 pillowcases made!
Loren and Mike combine their Anniversary Rally with the Findley State Park's chili cook-off, making for great campground-wide activity. Findley provides ground venison for each contestant who can enter in hot or mild divisions made on stove-top, open fire, or crock-pot! Entries must use the venison, but after that anything can be added and nothing is barred!
This year Tom entered the contest with his open fire/Dutch Oven entry. I know that he had quite a concoction of canned tomatoes, plus his own addition of onion and peppers and spices, and shredded beef and bacon . . . no wonder he ended up with a 2nd place in the Airstream division!
After the winners are announced and prizes are awarded all of the chili is opened up for sampling by the campers.
After the chili fest the Airstream chili cook-off winners posed for a pic!
Saturday morning, while Tom worked on his chili, Steve, Cindy and I make a quick trip to a local Elk Farm. I bought some elk bratwurst, ground meat, and stew meat while Cindy and Steve posed under the
elk antler arch.
There was so much more happening at this rally and Tom and I savored every minute of it knowing we were in for a long camping dry-spell in the next few months. I'll leave you with a group picture -- one that I will be looking at frequently with fine memories of a very special rally.
Camping season may be over, but this weekend I am off with Caleb to Canada for his first tournament of the season playing on the Ohio All-Star team. When one door closes . . . . .
I have been having a frantic feeling of trying to cram as much as possible into these last few weekends of the camping season. Helping me get the most out of this past weekend was an absolutely perfect get-away with fall colors, crisp mornings, cloudless sky, temps in the low 70's, and a Halloween weekend at Lake Loramie State . . . just 44 miles away. Such a perfect camping spree will certainly help to tide me over with good memories during the non-camping months of November – February.
When we reserved these sites 6 months ago Cindy and I were a bit skeptical -- we scored the last two available sites in the campground for the Halloween fest and we presumed there was something wrong with them! We happily arrived Thursday afternoon to find there was absolutely nothing wrong with our sites . . . across from the Miami/Erie canal spanned by a picturesque bridge, privately situated at the end of a circle loop, and covered by lots of grass, shade and tall trees! Making it even better Steve, pulled head first into his site so that we could enjoy setting up camp door to door. The perfect weekend began.
On the Lake Loramie weekend agenda was the traditional campsite decorating and evening trick or treating as well as a Saturday lunch chili pot luck, pumpkin painting, costumes judging, a hayride, after-dark movie, and campfire with warm cider.
One of the first things I remembered to do was pay a social call to Steve and Cindy’s new camper for pictures of the inside. Here are two of Cindy posing in her new Vista Cruiser by Gulf Stream. Check out the lovely cabinetry!
Friday was a busy day for everyone except me -- Tom was teaching and Steve and Cindy headed south for a family visit. Steve ended up back at the campground by noon with 5-year-old grandson Landen for some afternoon big-boy-bonding -- playing at the giant sandbox and playground, and riding bikes round the campground. He was primed to spend the night at the campground with grandma and grandpa! Cindy stayed with daughter Erin for the afternoon, returning with family in tow for dinner. Tom enjoyed one of his best fall rides ever in the MG, cruising through the Ohio country back-roads.
Here are a few more more pictures of the weekend.
I'll sign off with two pictures of Tom's masterpiece pumpkin Frank. We showed him at the campground with green glow sticks for a scary glow, and at home with a traditional candle.
It's two weeks until our last scheduled event: The 3rd Annual Airbiscuit Anniversary Rally and Chili Cook-Off!
Yes, In Ohio – Halloween lasts a full month! The State Parks each select several weekends in October to promote fall camping and celebrate Halloween, and thus we get to do it over and over again throughout the month of October! This weekend was our first fall fling at our favorite Harrison Lake State Park – complete with pumpkin carving contests, campsite decorating competition and trick-or-treating.
We make frequent visits to Harrison Lake State Park because we like the large and nicely shaded campsites, and the evidence of a hard-working ground crew. Each time we choose a different section of the campground to try out, and this time we were not disappointed by our location along the perimeter, backed up to a large grassy area and sheltered under tall trees.
Steve, Cindy, and son Eric joined us for the weekend. They have a brand new 19’ Vista Cruiser by Gulf Stream, and they are anxious to get some camping in at the end of this camping season. It has beautiful interior cabinetry, a large bathroom with corner shower, and a walk-around queen-size bed. What a way to start out retirement! Wish I had taken some pictures of the inside!
We had a lot of drizzle, pop-up storms, steady showers, and downright downpours during the weekend. These good-for-fungus climatic conditions brought out a generous cropping of mushrooms! I need to spend some time studying mushrooms as they are one of my favorite foods – but I took no chances and only photographed them!
The rain wasn’t really a problem – the purpose of the weekend was relaxation and that could be done in a lawn chair under the Paha Que awning – or burrowed in the Airstream watching the Buckeyes! And, it didn’t rain the whole time – there were ample dry intervals allowing for cooking and eating and campfires! Eric had the right attitude -- don't let a little rain ruin your perfect campfire.
Cindy and I have an easy way of planning meals when we camp together, and the results are usually notable. Friday night we had french fries and Perch fillets (chef Tom) out of the outdoor deep-fat-frier, with Ashley's (Caleb's GF) recipe of Kentucky Friend Chicken Coleslaw! OH MY . . . what a FISH FRY!
We also had frequent rain-free moments to walk around the campground to enjoy the Halloween decorations and revels.
At the Halloween Headquarters chili was keeping warm in a BIG cauldron over an open fire and hot dogs and hamburgers were being cooked. Easy lunch!
Also at Halloween Headquarters was a display of carved pumpkins waiting to be judged.
Our next Halloween camping trip is this weekend at Lake Loramie State Park! The weather is supposed to be beautiful!
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