Every year I wrap up my blog with reflections of the past camping season. This year, I ended up with a great "reflections" picture (taken at Badlands National Monument) and some pretty good reflection totals:
At the end of October the weather can sometimes be cold and wet, but this year the leaves were bright, the sun was out, the temperatures were mild, and the weekend was a perfect setting for our last camping gathering.
Findley State Park was "sold out" of electric sites, and was ready to welcome us with Halloween decorations. This also was the weekend of their annual venison chili cook-off which creates a lot of interest . . . . and entries! The State Park gives 1 pound of venison to each registered participant and after the judging chili tasting is open to everyone in the park.
Thursday morning the rally started for serious as Loren,Mike, Lou and Larry arrived with their Airstream and Argosy, followed by the set-up of the "big tent" and base camp . All day long the Airstreams rolled in, set up camp, and filled in the campsites up and down the row.
Last year I underwrote a craft project for the rally -- making pillow cases. This year, I created sewing kits with everything included to make either a National Parks or an Ohio State Parks wall hanging. The finished project calls for buttons to be sewn on as a record of parks visited. To help things along I pre-cut many of the pieces, and I pre-ironed the maps onto the fabric. All that was required was straight-line sewing and some pressing. We sewed in the comfort of the heated and lighted big tent and were done in 3 hours! I showed up with 7 Ohio State Park maps and 5 National Parks maps -- and went home with 1 map left over!
Since Tom and I joined up again on Sunday afternoon, the camper has been emptied, winterized, and backed into its permanent parking spot behind the garage. I suppose it is ready to rest there for the winter -- unless we come up with any last-minute plans to pull it out of hibernation!
It is an iconic state park in this area -- located in Indiana less than 1 1/2 hours away from our house! We haven't visited in over 25 years! Being one of the State's original parks, Pokagon features the unique work of the Civilian Conservation Corps, whose members lived and worked in the park from 1934 to 1942. The "boys of the CCC" built the beautiful stone and log structures that dot the park. Why on earth have we not camped in this beautiful Indiana State Park for so long?
The plan for this camp out was hatched several months ago and included camping pals Steve, Cindy, and Eric in their VISTA, Dave, Gayle, and Norma in their Bullet, and Tom and me in the SILVERMINE! The camp out was only two nights, but an absolute bull's-eye on the color calendar for leaf-peeping in Northern Indiana!
We met in Fort Wayne and convoyed the 50 miles to Pocagon. By 2:00 we were all set up in a nice little circle formation.
The plan for the afternoon? Sitting around a campfire -- and all that comes with that strategy. Then, dinner and more . . . sitting around the campfire!
For me, there is nothing quite as cozy as the Silvermine at bedtime -- homemade quilts and lots of pillows -- Ipads, Kindles and TV . . .
Saturday we split up -- some to the Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg Auto Museum in Auburn, and some to the outlet mall 2 miles away! Those shopping found good bargains at the kitchen supply, clothing stores and shoe stores. Those drooling over cars found their dream ride! We all met back at the campground to temperatures barely reaching 50 degrees, and a perfect pre-made plan to go out to eat! We located Mulligans, a nearby golf-course restaurant, with good food and perfect atmosphere.
Sunday morning we were up early, as usual, and heading for home. This is a carry-over from the days that Tom needed to get home to get ready for school on Monday . . . some habits don't retire easily! Before leaving the sate park, however, Tom took me on a quick tour of the Pottawatomie Inn.
An early wake-up and take-off made for a 2:00 arrival in Cades Cove Campground. We were surprised to find the campground mostly full on a Monday night -- a tribute to the leaf-peeping season. The only problem was that the leaves were not in prime color yet! We had a steak dinner and then decided on a twilight drive through the Cove on the 11-mile loop road. Twilight is a good time to see deer out grazing in the fields, but dusk quickly turned to dark, and we ended the last two miles with the headlights on.
Wednesday we fueled up with one of Tom's egg-sandwich breakfasts, before taking off for the far parts of the park.
There wasn't much happening in Cherokee -- the shops we went into were much more schlocky than 15 years ago, and there were not a lot of tourists --the shopping district was dead. When it came time for lunch, we could not find a restaurant downtown, and had to venture out towards . . . Harrah's Casino! That seems to be where all the people were -- the parking lots were full and the Casino was hoppin'! We passed on by, still looking for a restaurant, and found Granny's Kitchen, a nice buffet-only eatery. So much for Cherokee, NC -- one picture of a line of junk stores!
We got back to our campsite in time for a brief rest before heading to Maryville for a dinner at Calhoon's with siblings.
Thursday, our last day, we decided on a trip on the 11-mile loop road around the Cove in the daylight! I remembered the camera and got a few shots of the famous Cades Cove views and buildings.
A horse and buggy crossing the road indicated that we were at the end of the drive. It also signaled that we were at the end of our Tennessee trip, and it was time to head to the campsite and pack up all of our outdoor extras for the trip home on Friday.
After eating Tom and Caleb enjoyed the street sights, while I dashed into the Sephora store to pick up my favorite brand of make-up. . . so up-scale!
For several hours we continued down 5th Avenue and Broadway, scoping out the theater district and seeing the Ed Sullivan Theater, David Letterman location, Radio City Music Hall, ABC, NBC and FOX studies, and finally the August Wilson Theater where we held tickets for the 2:00 matinee of Jersey Boys!
From the 1st Floor Art Deco Lobby to the 86th Floor Observatory (in under one minute!) the ESB is a great experience, and a great way to review all the sights and sounds of NYC -- 1,050 feet below! Aside from the 360-degree open-air deck, the Observatory also has indoor galleries to enjoy the views. Caleb was a bit surprised that he was so cautious about the overlook -- it took him awhile to work into a comfort zone and to inch close enough to the edge for a look-see!
We were tired and hungry and doubtful that we would be able to put together a quick subway trip back to the ferry landing -- and it was getting dark down in the concrete canyon and threatening rain. Cabbies are notorious for skipping past and not wanting to bother with a wheelchair, so we were delighted with a gallant driver pulled over. Caleb's chair does not fold, but the wheels do pop off and the whole thing can fit in a mid-size trunk. Our driver was a hero as he aggressively jumped into the traffic and pushed every advantage in our 45-minute ride. At only $25. it really was not a bad deal and offered another fun way to see some more of the city -- taxi-style.
With the threatening rain we decided dinner could wait until we were on the other side of the Hudson, where a Tilted Kilt Restaurant was a block away from our camper. Dinner gave us time to form a plan for the next day and the 100% prediction of rain all day! The radar showed that we could drive out of the rain somewhere in Pennsylvania, and we have always wanted to see the Pocono Race Track . . . so for now NYC would remain a two-day trip. One thing is for sure -- we will be back. We know where to camp, we know how to get around, and we have lots more we want to see!
I do want to write a blog entry about the trip home, but it is not going to be in the next few days. Weebly, my blog host, has launched a new version of their service, and there are quite a few bugs that have made it a 3-day chore just to get through this simple post. Tomorrow we leave for 5 days in Tennessee, and when we get back, I will try to remember to start up again with the trip home from New York City.
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