Saturday, April 26, 2014

Post Revolutionary Hi Jinks

It is nearly impossible to capture the spirit of  a crowd of Airstreamers in a beautiful setting with genial hosts and lots and lots of good cooks.  Pictures will have to suffice, and, for these I have freely (with his kind permission) pilfered the files of Dennis Ober "The Airstream Hobo".

The site of the "Kickoff Rally" sponsored by the Washington DC unit (WDCU) was the Compton Bassett  Plantation first settled in 1699 and now listed on the National Register.  Doubtless this land has seen its share of frivolity, but this group of Airstreamers may have pegged a new high on the  Fun-o-meter. 

Several great photographers contributed to the photo contest.  Dennis would be far too modest to mention that he took home a couple awards ....

    ....this one in the Airstream category...

...And this one in the People Category...

..probably in the
He-can't-take-her-ANYWHERE  subcategory 

This was our Parking Evaluation Committee at work
..while this was the lovely outdoor dining area, where the Dutch Ovens simmered and our genial hosts served up breakfasts, sumptuous Happy Hours and a whole "No Cook Day" of heavenly delights. 

There was even a little profitable labor as a rare original slave cabin was rescued from the underbrush and made ready for restoration.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Age Old Question of Spring Camping

Whether is is better to attend to the weather and hie thee thither or stay and weather the winter and perhaps wither in the gale...


 Our last night in Cades Cove the winds descended and touched 40mph in gusts.  A nearby family awoke to find their staked down 3/4 man tent "play tent" in the trees.  (They slept soundly in their trailer.)  Other flies and awnings were rent asunder...


We had five days to join Anthony for a snow shortened Spring Break in New Jersey.  (Really? Spring Break in Jersey??)  So we were going to have to get tactical about threading our way through yet more "unprecedented"  Winter Weather. Of immediate concern was a band of severe weather from the Gulf to Nova Scotia and the attendant typhoon of dire predictions from the weather media.


We chose to pull out Sunday morning, weave through the hideous clutter that Sevierville has become and hit the Interstate,  Really? the Interstate?  We did that, and while dodging a winter season's worth of trashed tire debris, tried to pick an intermediate stop.  What?  Most of the Shenandoah sites were closed. Many others scheduled for a 1 May opening.  Others don't answer phones on weekends.  


We settled on Robertson Lake just 17 beautiful winding country miles from Historic Lexington Virginia.

 It seemed prudent to layover through two days of "Heavy rains, severe thunderstorms with chances of winds in excess of 45 mph in gusts, nickle size hail and temperatures falling to 26 degrees".  The weather mavens even shouted the "S" word for places just up slope of us.  Had any of that been true, this would be an inspired choice.  We sited ourselves on a hill overlooking a lovely lake, near healthy trees, but not beneath them, with water, electricity, only two other hardy campers and, surprisingly, Verizon coverage which to us means free WiFi.  We settled in and even considered a bike ride before the afternoon storms. 

Instead we hiked around the lake in the overcast, Patty toting  binoculars and sighting Osprey, perhaps an Eagle, a very industrious Woodpecker and, of course, the Black Vultures which circled above us waiting to pick our storm ravaged bones. 


She sat a long time looking up at the East slope of the Alleghenies wondering if an Osprey would eat a fish from her hand...


  Our little retreat might  have proven ideal. Scenic roads invite biking in the foothills of the Alleghenies.  Lexington is an intriguing city with cultural, historical and gastronomical delights aplenty.  It even has a Drive In Movie with lush green grass, rated one of the Ten Best Places to Cuddle. We learned this while studying the very well presented tourist literature WHILE IT DID LITTLE MORE THAN DRIZZLE for two days.  Our trepidation kept us indoors and we finished our books and caught up on the blog.   Sure, it's getting's April and "unprecedented" has not yet run its course. Tomorrow we venture closer to Jersey in weather sure to nip the Dogwood buds.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Criminal Element in GSMNP


I am just a little hesitant to admit this (let alone PUBLISH incriminating photos). 

 Perhaps if you could read this  passage first ...aloud.... hand over your heart please...

I am not now nor ever have been a member of law enforcement, nor do I represent any federal or state wildlife agency or carry an Audubon card, nor am I in the habit of reporting violations of  any current regulations (excepting damage to my personal vehicle) to lawful authority... 

Truth be told, I have recently discovered that my faithful friend and companion these fifty married years (and quite a spell before), the mother of our fine, morally upright children IS A SCOFFLAW , a violator of federal regulations and totally, gleefully UNREPENTANT.

It began innocently enough, lounging beside the Airstream in beautiful Cades Cove Campground in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Bare toes, wrinkled from long confinement in wading boots, were drying in the sun. Suddenly, a pair of unusually raucous Tufted Titmice announced their arrival and swooped for the exposed digits.  They perched, cocked their heads side to side and, singly and in tandem, bespoke their displeasure.  At first, Patty shrunk back and tucked the tortured toes away.
They're hungry, piped up our visiting neighbor.  We've been feeding them sunflower seeds right out of our hands. 
Now it was Patty who was unusually animated.  Touch a bird?  I've never touched a live bird!!
Out came the jar of birdseed we have carried since Florida (where human/wildlife interactions are less vigilantly  scrutinized).  These birds were quite confident and landed to hand. They were selecting only black sunflower seeds and Patty was sorting and replacing seeds while carrying on a dialogue....

The birds tired before Patty did, just a little after it was clear all the black seeds were gone. It would be stating the obvious to report she was excited.  This is, you will remember, the same person who spent six hours of our eight hours at Sea World hanging over a stone wall trying to touch a Dolphin.

Seriously People, I'm not seeing any black Sunflower seeds here...

I'll explain this to the Authorities when they come for her. I hope they will go easy on her...

Friday, April 11, 2014

Same story New Stories

We do this every year.  Alabama Dogwoods by our dooryard bloom and Azaleas flourish everywhere. It is glorious! So WE think it would be great to travel up the Smokies where it is several weeks from glorious, grumpy bears are wandering around with bedhead and trout seem happy to sulk around on the bottom in super cooled water. 

Truth be told there is really no bad day in the Smokies, but some are better than others. Even in this latent period before everything springs to life, the sunsets paint the bare hardwoods and the winter deadned grasses.

Cades Cove GSMNP April Sunset
This being the first good weather in a while, the open portion of the campground is Packed.  We unhitched, met our terrific new neighbors and took a late afternoon spin around the loop road.  Ahhh, home again.

The night was near 36, but warmed quickly under a bright sun.  We fished  near the Abrams Falls trail head each day with marginal success.  Patty did score another one for the team catching a good one in front of a mixed crowd watching from the bridge. Husbands were elbowed, high fives were exchanged and a rousing cheer went up as fishless spouse looked on admiringly.

One day we just pulled out camp chairs at the head of a meadow overlook and watched for the bear with FOUR cubs.  No luck, but a pleasant way to pass an afternoon.

Another morning I showed Patty a hole where an old timer once told me he'd caught the largest trout ever seen in the cove. We weren't "suited up" for fishing, but she pulled her vest over jeans and gave it a try.  She missed the strike and I missed getting the fish in the picture, but her expression tells the story. 

But once again it is the stories. By happy chance, two of our camping neighbors were members of historic  Cove families.  They spun out details of lives they remembered and places they visited as children, told tales on ancestors and siblings alike and kept us enthralled.  We excused ourselves far earlier than we would have wished so as not to intrude any longer on their family visit, but you can bet we will pull up a chair again anytime we are invited.


Friday, April 4, 2014


For those who haven't heard, ALUMALINA is a "Carolina Airstream Gathering",  this year featuring nearly a quarter mile of Aluminum goodness, 55 rigs from 9 states and nearly 150 wonderful, smiling 'Streamers (many of whom can really cook!)
 Right now the Airforums Thread is alive with pictures and plans for the next one.  Hurry, space is limited.

But now we are back home (for two weeks).  

  • The Airstream has had her Birthday Wash. (Lotti has been with us since 1 April 2010.) 
  • The Flyover has been accomplished (as is customary here in Montgomery whenever an Airstream returns to base).
  • Thank you notes have been dispatched. (I kid, but that is another Montgomery custom.)
  • Our tow vehicle "The Ginormous Mechanical Conveyance" (GMC) has been serviced, washed and is entering therapy for vague feelings of inadequacy after meeting Barry's "Silverleaf", the most tricked out tow vehicle known to man...

We often say that it is the People that make this wandering lifestyle so rich.  That's True, but really it is the STORIES...

On this weekend I learned why it is never a good idea to let an Alabama boy into a nuclear facility... and how to coax North Carolina Trout from rocky ledges...about love affairs, early in life and later, on the sea and in the air...of fortuitous Airstream finds and glorious restorations...stories of incredible generosity and generosity richly paid forward...

Of Course, there were stories of places visited and campgrounds recommended, adventures completed and adventures planned, but there were also stories of Blue Bell addiction (and regretful recovery)...or catastrophic accidents and near miraculous recovery... of beer brewed with Oysters.  Really?  and a girl of five who chose her instrument, honed her skills for ten years to the delight of all...

Many remembered our lost friend Doug and their stories consoled and enriched even those of us who only shared an "electronic" friendship. 

Thanks to everyone who shared their stories and who listened patiently to (far too many of) mine. I will be back next time for more. 

In the meantime reflect on the mugs we received as door prizes