Tuesday, Oct 23
In preparation for this next trip, I made the kids new matching blanket PJ’s. I have to start with this picture of Jasper and Charlie Button sportin’ their new duds . . . Jasper is still getting used to the idea that he has to play dress-up!
For the past few years we have celebrated fall colors with a trip to our favorite Elkmont Campground in the Great Smoky Mts. National Park. . . . sometimes with friends and sometimes by ourselves. As we started planning this year others jumped on the wagon, and we ended up with a total of 5 Airstreams on board -- all arriving on a different schedule!
For us, good trips seem to always start with an overnight to East Fork State Park to see Micah, and that’s how this trip – our last big trip of the season – began.
Tuesday morning we didn’t leave Van Wert without a hitch. . . the trailer brakes did not register as working! Tom fiddled, twiddled, and wiggled all the connections and got a few intermittent responses, but not enough to feel comfortable driving with a 7,000 pound Airstream rolling behind. Problem solved when he turned off/on and rebooted the whole system. We were on our way by 10:00, with one eye on the truck brake-read-out.
We arrived at East Fork to find that there were very few sites (out of over 450) left on this – a Tuesday night. Most of the sites were paid for and “reserved” for the whole week although they wouldn’t be occupied until the end of the week -- the big Halloween extravaganza. We did find a nice spot and by 2:00 we were set up and taking the dogs on a long walk. By 3:30 we were sitting in the bright sun -- which felt wonderful in the 55 degree temperature.
At 5:00 we left to pick up Micah for his birthday dinner at the Hofbauhaus Restaurant downtown Newport, KY, on the river. Always our first-choice place to celebrate, we love the food, the atmosphere, the live entertainment, and the beer.
This time of year the campground gets dark quickly, and once the sun disappears the chill really sets in. The full moon was great to light the way for a last walk for the dogs, but it did nothing to generate warmth. Tom set the heat pump for 63 degrees, and it worked well as we settled into evening entertainment . . . and all night long.
Wednesday, Oct 24
Up at 8:30 – off at 9:00: we worked our way across the Kentucky border, and then left I-75 to angle West to General Burnside Island State Park –the only Island State Park in Kentucky! A beautiful (and mostly empty) campground, 18-hole golf course, and a marina that is currently non-functioning -- it was peaceful and just right for a 55-degree sunny day. Our afternoon was much like yesterday – dog walks and time enjoying books in the sun. A steak dinner, campfire, and showers rounded out the evening.
Thursday, Oct 25
Awake at 7:00 it was still dark and we had to kill time to wait for sufficient light to hook up. We only had 90 miles to travel down I-75, across the border into Tennessee, and on to Norris Dam State Park. The road leading back to the campground was narrow, winding, and (luckily) not eventful. The campground sites were well worn, but the bath house had been recently updated. We quickly settled into a site and had some lunch. Later we found that the tag signaling that the site was taken was missing . . . and we had to change sites!
We headed out to explore the area, only to find that there wasn’t a whole lot to explore. The Dam is notable as one that you can drive over. Other than that, the Dam Visitor Center and the State Park Visitor Center were all but shut down, and the town of Norris seemed to be only a meat market, a restaurant, a gas station, and a public school! The sun was not shining today meaning that the 54 degree temperature was not at all tempting to sit outside for an afternoon book session. Supper was frozen left-overs that we had brought with us – easy! As Tom put together a fire, it sprinkled lightly, and that was all it took to chase us inside for the evening.
Friday, Oct 26
These have not been big mileage days for us – today only 60 miles! We arrived at Yarberry Penninsula Campground on Lake Loudon (near Knoxville, TN) by 11:00 and set up at a spacious campsite backed right up to the lake. Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating, and the drizzly, damp, day didn’t make much of an appeal for an afternoon outside and lakeside! Instead, we drove through the nearby Tellico Village for a look-see of this beautiful lake-side community. Then, we went on a quest for pine needles suitable for my pine-needle-basketry-craft. The two local craft stores did not stock them, but the parking lot landscaping was full of prime 12” pine-needle mulch! Tom “liberated” two big handfulls of them, and we returned to the campsite where we sorted and bundled the needles into bunches to be processed for crafting!
Really – was that all we accomplished for the day??? Still rainy, drizzly, and wet (no full-out rain showers) we fixed a supper of fajitas, took showers in the local bath house, and retreated to the Silvermine; I watched the John Wayne movie “The Searchers” and Tom worked on mapping next summer’s vacation!
Saturday, Oct 27
The big event today was a camp-side visit by sisters, Johanna and Beccie, and brother, Richard., and a 5:30 reservation at Calhoun’s on the Lake for dinner. These years it doesn’t happen very often where the four of us manage to get together. When I set up this gathering, I pictured us sitting out lakeside in 68 degree sunshine – what we got was 52 degrees, dark sky, wind and occasional dribbles. I did the only smart thing I could think to do – call and tell everyone not to come until 4:00 . . . forget enjoying the campground amenities and head straight for the restaurant! That plan worked out well enough, and by 5:30 we were sitting for dinner and ordering drinks and eats, and enjoying catching up. By 7:30 we were back at the Silvermine . . . where it was still cold and damp!
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