New Year 2018

We washed and sheltered our Vistabule on a warm autumn Sunday, ahead of an unusually early cold snap that was forecast to blow into the Southeast. Supplies such as linens, batteries and pantry items, liquid or dry, were packed in the car to take home. Items left in storage were neatly stacked up off the floor. It all took less than an hour.

This preparation for our first winter season of separation created strange feelings, we felt reluctant to leave Lily and the fun camping trips behind even for a few months.

Days later Atlanta had an early dusting of snow. I took a snapshot of one of the courtyards in our apartment complex before the snow disappeared.

Courtyard Dusted With SnowLooking at the blog’s previous November 2017 post, I am surprised that it was written just six weeks back. We have been on several trips without the Vistabule during that time.

On a sunny weekend day between cold snaps, we returned to travel the length of the Cherohala Parkway from east to west, North Carolina into Tennessee.

Cherohala Skyway OverlookA couple of weeks later there was a flight out to the Seattle area to visit our children, grandkids and the furry grands. Two of the fur babies give Earl’s allergies a fit.

 

To give Earl’s dog allergy a break we normally stay overnight at a hotel or Airbnb. This time we had the fun of sleeping in the kids’ new travel trailer; driveway surfing.

Travel Trailer

The generations always mix family meals, crafts, and games with some outings. Our favorite meal of this trip was at Din Tai Fung, a restaurant known for great Dim Sum.

Dim Sum Restaurant

During our photo I think the kids and my grandson, Milo, were telling me that I’m not allowed to order one of everything on the menu.

Dining

Veteran’s Day while my daughter-in-law had her normal workday in her home office, I hung out with my granddaughter, Mabry, who was recovering from an illness. We read, measured and drew layouts for her bedroom. We talked crochet and baking.(Last year at age nine she started baking and decorating her own creations.) We even had a fun time together while emptying the dishwasher and putting clean dishes away. We also played a video game requiring problem solving skills: Unravel.

Here are photos posted by her parents of Mabry reading. It helps that she has long legs.

May Reading

While we stayed home, all of the guys headed out to Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture. This time it was its 20th Anniversary and the exhibits covered Jim Henson’s Muppets, along with Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds.

 

Another day the guys and I walked along Lake Washington and ended up at Ivar’s Seafood Bar for lunch. One of the joys of visiting the Northwest coast is stuffing ourselves with seafood, anywhere we can get it.

 

One evening Earl and son, Eachean, headed out to see the movie Blade Runner. It disappointed both of them. Meanwhile daughter-in-law, Stephanie, took the rest of us to Glazed Art at the Landing in Renton. I had never painted ceramics before. Both Stephanie and I struggled, while the grandkids quickly whipped out their creations.

Ceramics

Soon after our return, Earl had a business conference in Fort Lauderdale. I tagged along to assist him since his limited eyesight makes solo travel a bit challenging. For the first time, we did not have an ocean view room. It was a nice change to watch the boat traffic on the Intercostal.

Ft. Lauderdale Sunset

Naturally, we could overlook the beach while dining and still reach it easily from the hotel. Still, no touristy outings this time; we focused on relaxation mixed between Earl’s work meetings.

In the New Year ahead we expect to repeat business travel, along with flights to Las Vegas and Seattle to visit our children and grandchildren. While Earl continues to work, as expected, the Vistabule stretches our budget to add numerous additional outings into three and four day weekends and gives us more connection to the great outdoors.

Happy New Year’s! Our hopes of peace, health, happiness, and wonder filled travels go out to you.

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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Miles 1567 – 1653

Harrison Bay State Park Campsite

Harrison Bay State Park, TN
Pull Through Campsite C-22

We spent a long weekend, September 7-10, 2017, at Harrison Bay State Park, Tennessee where we joined group festivities with awesome people from several states at the Tennessee Volun’tears’ Follies in the Fall gathering.

Good people, good food, beautiful weather, and being able to see all types of small trailers added up to a wonderful time! A huge thank you to each of the organizers and participants for being so welcoming to us first timers!

Fall Follies Gathering

Tennessee Volun’tears’ Playing “Camping Feud”

Tennessee Volun’tears’ is a chapter of the international Tearjerkers group. The parent body is now in its twentieth year of bringing together Teardrop Trailer (or other small trailer and tent) owners who are Teardrop enthusiasts! It is free to join the international group and to locate your area chapter by registering at tearjerkers.net.

Earl asked permission to take photos of several attendees’ campsites in the gatherings’ “official” area of the A loop campground. Many were beautifully handmade. We also saw some interesting small trailers throughout other campgrounds at Harrison Bay State Park.

Here are just some of the photos of the cute and comfortable camping trailers we saw during this outing…