Miles 2289 – 2894

Three chapters of the international Tearjerkers group formed the Mighty Southern 3X gathering on November 2-5, 2017 at Georgia’s Skidaway Island State Park.

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We headed south a day early, on Wednesday, and arrived after dark. It was late enough that the park office was closed. Stopping by a host camper’s site in the campground, we met Greg who graciously welcomed us and gave information about the layout, facilities, and how to finish check-in in the morning.

Looping around in the darkness to select a site, I glimpsed a campfire on the next road with a group of people waving their arms at us. Soon flashlights were moving through the trees toward us. Several people quickly looked over a few sites. With group consensus, they guided us through trees like an airplane into a terminal and parked us at a pull through campsite for the night.

And so, we quickly met Lois, Richard, Bonnie and Terry. I believe there were more friendly faces whose names I am missing. It was a blur of chatty laughter with a quick Q&A session. Our welcoming committee dispersed back to the warmth of their campfire as we unhitched.

We wanted to grab a quick meal and return before the campground’s gate was closed at 10 pm. Fortunately, there was a shopping center nearby with a Publix grocery store and a sports bar & grill still open. Bellies satisfied and tucked in for the night, we remained curious about what the campground would look like in the morning light.

For the next four days of the Tearjerker’s gathering we had perfect weather, a large campsite and a lovely clean campground for relaxation.

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There were one to two optional get-togethers for loads of good food and company each day, some craft time and occasional music, and night time bonfire groups.

There were an estimated 20 Teardrop Trailers to tour, many of them lovingly homemade.

There was plenty of time during any mid-day to enjoy the campground trails, or the numerous nearby sights of Savannah, GA.

I once lived in Savannah’s suburbs and have visited many times over the years. Together, Earl and I previously enjoyed the Riverwalk area and a side trip to Tybee Island. This time, we opted for an Old Town Trolley tour of the city so Earl would get an overview of Savannah’s  history.

Following the suggestion of one of Earl’s co-workers, we also drove to nearby Pooler, GA to visit The National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force. Earl wanted more information about his father’s service as a pilot during WWII.

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I felt lazy the entire trip and initially had little interest in going due to having attended far too many air shows and museums during childhood. My aircraft mechanic father had a career as a civilian worker with the Air Force and we had lived by bases in three different states, including Hunter AFB in Savannah.

This Friday, Earl and I arrived 45 minutes prior to the museum closing and a volunteer immediately directed us to the second floor archives. As a retired librarian, I was happy with the turn of events since the exhibits were not our main focus this visit.

Earl had previously submitted a request through The National Archives and had been informed that his father’s service records were destroyed in a fire, so we did not expect to locate any specific information about him. His father’s discharge papers, a training class album and a few pieces of memorabilia are all the information that Earl has in-hand.

A very knowledgeable volunteer in the library unearthed further clues for Earl’s quest. He pointed out that as a transport pilot, Earl’s father had earned ribbons for three theaters. Earl and the volunteer discussed events and timelines as I did quick searches through two reference books provided.

The most comprehensive title was available from online booksellers, so Earl was able to purchase a copy when we returned home. There’s no index of personnel. We will go through the numerous photos labeled with names to see if we can come up with any connections.

This entire camping trip was simply wonderful and we look forward to returning to the unique Skidaway Island State Park.

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