This is nothing new! It is a third repeat for this year! BUT . . . it was one GREAT weekend at Morgan’s Canoe Livery!
The whole thing was cooked up at the last minute, but a few were able to congregate for the weekend of October 12-15. Tom & Ella, Alan & Carie, Rick & Georgia and John. John was going solo for the weekend (without Suzie who had commandeered the truck for the weekend.) John was in a tent!’
As always at Morgan’s – the river dominated! Who would have thought that mid-October would find temperatures in the low 70’s and conditions good for a ride down the Little Miami in Kayaks. After the group went the first three miles, some continued another 3 miles -- and the die-hards put in yet another 3 miles!
With Halloween approaching, we all got in the spirit for pumpkin carving! We ended up with a whole row of pumpkins that delighted everyone in the campground.
We won't be camping this next weekend, but on October 30th we make up for it by heading to The Smoky Mountains for a full week.
We left early enough Wednesday morning (Oct 4th) to not feel rushed facing a 450+ mile trip to Jonesborough, Tennessee. The event was the 45th National Storytelling Festival, and for us it would revolve around the 14th "International Event Airstream Rally" at the local Appalachian Fairgrounds. Jonesborough is the oldest town in Tennessee and is just a few miles from where my mother, Ethel Nevada Pritchett Kintner, was born. This added an extra dimension to the trip.
We traveled the well-known route down I75 until just before the Kentucky/Tennessee border, where we veered off on highway 25 East to wander through a lesser-known portion of Eastern Tennessee back roads – arriving at Jonesborough at 5:30
We were welcomed to the local Fairgrounds by husband/wife Bill/Susan and a long line of silver trailers that had arrived earlier in the day. Eventually, there was a total of 24 Airstreams. It took awhile to set up, tend to Charlie and Annie, meet the folks on either side of us, eat dinner, and settle in for the next 3 days. By dark (8:30!) we had it all under control.
Thursday, while not the official first day of the festival, was the day that we could report to the downtown Visitor’s Center to pick up our tickets and the Program of Events and walk the little town of Jonesborough to get the lay of the land. The whole downtown area was closed to traffic and 8 large tents were set up for the storytelling venues, along with Food Courts, a Marketplace, a Swappin’ Ground, and numerous Story Spots – where you can mount a little podium and tell your own story!
Aside from that, Jonesborough was a proud little town with the very best of shopping, food, and local artisans.
Thursday evening was an assembly of the Airstream folk for a get-together with an appetizer buffet that ended up a whole meal. Although this was an Airstream International Event Rally, this would be the only time that we would all be together. Late evening was a gathering of the new friends on either side of us, planning a line of attack for the first day .
Our plan Friday morning was to be on the Festival grounds by 8:30, ready for the 10:00 kick-off. The day’s arrangement was well thought-out, as each tent had an hour-long “sampler” session of two story-tellers followed by a 30-minute break. Staying in the same seats all day gave us the opportunity for 5 sessions/10 story-tellers/7 hours/4 breaks! And very sore behinds.
You can check out the following website to see all the details about the story-telling festival, including performers and a live-stream of performances: www.storytellingcenter.net/festival/
Some of the story-tellers, we discovered, are much like stand-up comedians, with a story that transitions through a series of funny anecdotes . . . and manages to remain refreshingly family-friendly. Others tell humorous stories that take a sudden somber turn and end up with a thoughtful, bittersweet lesson. Several ethnicities and personalities were represented – a Jewish lady, a world-famous liar, a Japanese woman with WWII stories . . . and a redneck, hillbilly gentleman with great stories about his pap-paw. One strategy they all seem to favor is starting with a story subject and then gradually veering off topic, before returning to the theme for a final wrap-up.
Tom got pictures of our large tent (holding 1,500 listeners!) and a few (contraband) pictures of our favorite storytellers (photos and recordings were not allowed!)
Saturday was a more in-depth repeat of Friday, with each story-teller taking up an entire hour. The idea was to move from tent to tent to link up with your favorite – but it turned out all of our favorites were in the same tent. Thus, at the end of the first sitting we jumped up and re-shuffled to coveted aisle seating, where it was easy in and out for the rest of the day.
While in the area, over the course of Friday and Saturday, we went on a little personal historical jaunt. My mother had been born in Johnson City (6 miles away) in 1913 in a little cabin known as the “old Sherfey place.” On her 80th birthday our whole family did a little memory-walk to relive mama’s early life and actually toured the cabin-home which was the residence of the John Humphrey family – a very distant cousin willing to host a home tour!
Tom and I set out to find the home with clues supplied by sister Tink through a series of text messages. We found a little museum (not open) and homestead cabin of the Sherfeys, but it was not the homestead we toured in 1993. This resulted in more texts to Tink, who found the tour book written by my father that had more specific details.
The next day we were able to find the little cabin on narrow, mile-long Landis Street – the only house on the narrow, gravel road. We stopped for pictures after knocking on the door to explain why were in the front yard. The woman had only lived there for 16 years and did not recognize any of the names I threw at her – Reuel Bowman Pritchett – Ethel Nevada Pritchett Kintner . . . Ella Brown???? Mission accomplished, I figured this would be my last visit to the little cabin where my mama had grown up!
Friday night was the last gathering with our weekend friends, and we sat out a little later than usual exchanging . . . our own stories! Before going to bed and anticipating morning rain, we packed up all the outdoor tackle to help with a quick morning get-away. It turned out to be a hasty take-off when Tom jumped out of bed at 6:30 and began hooking up in the dark in a very light rain. I reluctantly joined him, and by 7:00 we were on our way. Driving all day in steady rain. Our route home took us past the entry to the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. So we stopped to walk the dogs, take a quick look around the visitor's center, and promise ourselves we would be back for a more extended visit someday. We were home by 4:00.
This weekend (Sept 28-Oct 1) was the 7th Annual Anniversary Rally, hosted by Loren and Mike St. Peter (and 2-year-old EL, and new baby CJ) at West Branch State Park near Ravenna, Ohio. There was a long history of past successful gatherings that put the pressure on!
To explain the title: One of our ambitions is to visit every Ohio State Park. To track our advancement I made a wall-hanging labeling all the parks, and as we visit we sew a button on. (OK - TOM does most of the button-sewing!) Here is a picture of our progress so far.
Our motivation, for leaving Wednesday (September 27th) rather than Thursday, was to tag another Ohio State Park – Guilford Lake. Near Lisbon, Ohio – our 1st button of the weekend. It is a quiet fishing lake with a small campground of 41 sites located in what is an old pine plantation! The lake was at one time a natural glacial/kettle lake, that reverted to a very swampy low-lands and then was used as farmland. It was then dammed back up in 1932 to return to lake status. Whatever the progression, today it is a very serene little campground with tall pine trees and grassy sites – many of which are lake-side.
It was 87 degrees when we arrived, but cooled down by the minute. After supper we sat outside until after dark; I am listening to a new audio book about “the radium girls” who painted luminous paint on watch and aircraft faces during WWI. The paint was made with newly discovered, and greatly misunderstood, radium! I don’t think this is going to end up well for the girls! At bedtime, we left all the windows wide open, and by 10:00 it was getting deliciously cool in the Silvermine – and stayed like that all night.
Morning, with only an hour’s drive to West Branch State Park, was leisurely coffee and donuts, followed by a shower at the bathhouse, before launching at 9:30. West Branch is a large state park (5,379 acres) on a large lake (2,650 acres) with just under 200 campsites and beautiful new shower houses (the kind with individual shower rooms). The campsites are giant size with hardwood forest separating, making for nice privacy. Fall was in the area promising cooler days and crisp nights -- and leaves were covering the ground. As we pulled in we saw several Airstreams already in residence – people we knew, and “newbie’s” to the group.
Hosts Loren and Mike had a large corner site, across from the bathhouse – excellent location to establish the center of operations for the next three days. With Lou and Larry across the street, everything was ready for round-the-clock gatherings: breakfast on the griddle, circle-time-suppers/pot-lucks, chili cooking/tasting/judging/cook-off, raffle for prizes, pumpkin carving/trailer decoration contest, evening camp-fires and a continuous stream of back and forth friendly exchange and impromptu walks and excursions.
Here is a mash-up of pictures of the many people, 'streams, and events of the weekend.
When the recipe is good – don’t change it! Loren has kept the same popular mix of activities for her annual anniversary rally for the past 7 years, changing locations to add a drop of new to the stew. It works, and hopefully she’ll be cooking it up again next year.
We enjoyed it all and Sunday morning, after good good-byes, kicked off a late (for us) departure to add two more buttons on our State Park tally. Close by, and directly on our way home were two State Parks we had never visited – and with plenty of time to get home . . . we stopped and added two more buttons on our map!
Quail Hollow, recently transferred to Start County Parks system, is a 701-acre day-park landscape of meadows, marshes, and woods . . . . surrounding a 40-room manor! The manor was closed on Sunday, but we enjoyed the little trail that roamed the superb gardens.
Portage Lakes is a park of many waters, with some of them reaching Lake Erie and some the Ohio River. It offers boating, fishing, swimming and wetlands wildlife-watching, and a small camping area,
At this point we turned homeward -- beginning to think about our schedule this week: home on Sunday, unpack and repack, and head Wednesday for the Tennessee Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough. Oops, there goes Tom to the basement to get needle, thread, and buttons to update out State Parks map.
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