Miles 1744 – 1760

This morning we hitched up Lily to take her to a museum parking lot for a show and tell meet-up with a wonderful young couple.

This is our second time officially helping out Vistabule when potential customers from our area contact the company for a showing. I previously forgot to add the short distance involved to Lily’s trip record. So, the number of miles from her storage room to the museum and back are doubled in today’s title. That corrects the grand total Lily has traveled.

Afterwards, we had lunch overlooking a nearby lake in Red Top Mountain State Park. With our annual parking pass for Georgia State Parks there was no additional cost.

During trips to Lily’s storage room, we try to add little new-to-us adventures along the way. On the way home, we also explored two U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Day Use Areas that are along the Etowah River.

Image: Etowah River, Georgia

Etowah River, Georgia

These sites really surprised us. First, we visited the Riverside Day Use Area.

Image: Sign for Riverside Day Use Area, GA

U.S. Corps of Engineer’s Riverside Day Use Area, GA

The miles of narrow roads going in were paved but overhung with untouched forest, feeling a bit dark and sketchy.

Image: Forest

Roadside Georgia ACE Day Use Area, Etowah River

Suddenly, after passing a gatehouse at each Day Use site, the settings opened into well maintained picnic areas – some with views of the river. There were mowed game fields, nice playground equipment, large pavilions being used for family reunions, hiking trails, plenty of paved parking, and modern restrooms.

Image: Sign for Cooper's Furance Day Use Area, GA

Cooper’s Furnace Day Use Area, Georgia (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Day Use Area)

Cooper’s Furnace Day Use Area even had an interesting historic structure. All for a five dollar day use fee, a bargain.

Image: Cooper's Iron Works and Historical Marker, GA

Cooper’s Iron Works and Historic Marker, GA

 

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Miles 1654 – 1743

Our September 7-10, 2017 campsite at Harrison Bay State Park in Tennessee was a pull-through. It was shown as the last available site on the online reservations page when we checked. However, there were actually a number of empty campsites during the entire time we were there – even some choice lakeside sites.

Here’s our experience and review of the C campground.

Our site was a bit different than expected, based upon the size stated and photo provided on the park’s reservation page. (The photo was actually from the opposite direction than I thought, so my planning was totally kaput.) Seems the campsite had been renovated and website information was not yet updated.

The entire site was covered in rough gravel; expected since it was an RV site. Though, erecting a tent is still allowed, so a section with a bed of smoother pea gravel would have been a nice touch. We brought a mat as padding to go under the floor of our little changing room tent, but will add a second layer next visit.

The picnic table was affixed to a cement slab. The table area and the fire ring seemed fairly new.

Image Vistabule in Campground

Vistabule in C Campground at Harrison Bay State Park, TN

We were in the center of a road loop, with a few trees on the site toward the lakeside and no tree coverage for privacy facing into the main campground. To each side of the center pull through section there were additional strips of rough gravel.

As we arrived, another site’s visitor was parking in one side. On another day, they politely asked permission before parking a different visitor. Obviously, locals enjoyed the campground, yet their gatherings were respectful of noise levels, etc. Several chatted with us during their walks around the campground and seemed to enjoy welcoming “outsiders”.

Image Campsite

Campsite C-22 at Harrison Bay State Park, TN

We stayed pretty basic and did not test putting up our new screen tent due to space restrictions. It ended up being a bug free outing, so the netting was not needed anyway.

Though this one site seemed a fishbowl, it is a beautiful camp (plus this State Park has other campgrounds) with generally nice sites of varied sizes. People in lakeside sites were able to fish, boat and paddle board right from their camp.

We enjoyed ourselves and do have a reservation three weeks ahead for a return trip to the same campground in a smaller campsite with a wooded setting.

The bath house had four large individual rooms, all designed for universal access. (Though it was a bit steep uphill hike to reach the bath house, which is a negative impact for accessibility.) Nothing fancy inside, though they were kept fairly clean throughout our stay and had plenty of hot water. One bathroom did have a broken shower head.

There were, consistently, two data bars for internet and phone access. Never a problem with checking news stories or watching YouTube clips. The campground was about three quarters full, and quiet times were well respected. Park staff were visible making regular rounds.

Beyond going to Tennessee Volun’tears’ Tearjerkers’ gatherings in the evenings, we spent our time relaxing during the days. I was leery of straining my body after the rib cage damage, and Earl needed detox after several weeks of hard work. Just chilling was perfectly fine with us.

Though, keeping watch on developing news and checking in with friends or relatives about Hurricanes Irma, Jose and Katina created an undercurrent of unease for everyone.

Image lake view of marina

Lake view towards the marina at Harrison Bay State Park, TN

Watching the boats, fishermen and birds on the lake, or moving our camp chairs as the shade shifted, were our major camp activities.

Image Grazing deer

Deer grazing in Harrison Bay State Park, TN

Plus, deer sightings during the drives between campgrounds or other areas of the park were delightful.

There were several couples and individuals who dropped by for a tour of Lily. Otherwise, we relaxed inside at night playing Rummy before preparing for bed.

There will be other visits to Harrison Bay in the future to explore hiking trails and nearby towns.

 

Sunday morning’s peaceful view from a roadside overlook on the State road along Harrison Bay was hard to leave.

Heading out, we started preparing for Hurricane Irma’s winds and rain to reach Atlanta as a Tropical Storm on Monday. We kept our car gas topped off and bought groceries along the way, because there were already reported shortages in metro Atlanta.

We ended up giving two more tours of Lily in a grocery parking lot.

Image: Stored Vistabule

Vistabule Backed Into Storage Room

Arriving at Lily’s storage room, we unhitched and cleaned the refrigerator/freezer. This time we kept the portable toilet, fire box and wood pellets in the car as backup supplies in case our electricity went out at home when the storm passed through. We locked the Vistabule into her storage room, hoping for the best and planning to check back next weekend.

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…

 

Dawdle: Ditched Plans

In spite of hopes and bravado, my rib cage is healing normally instead of as quickly as willed. I am probably not yet in condition to manage hours of driving and several days of camping. So, we have ditched our trip to experience totality during the total solar eclipse in Tennessee.

Fortunately, we were able to switch our reservation dates without penalty to a different campsite in the same campground. Thank you to the State Parks System of Tennessee!

The second silver lining is that someone else will be able to have a last minute chance to grab a great campsite near totality. A sweet find.

Here at home during the solar eclipse, we will just “travel” up to our apartment building’s rooftop parking area which is normally empty.

We frequently go there to see the skyline and stars at night, or look over the progress of current construction projects around us during daylight.

It is also a fabulous place to take in our city’s Fourth of July fireworks display, which are shot from the grounds of an office complex that is across the street.

I am not expecting anyone else to be on the roof for the solar eclipse. Our metro area is having weekend festivals to celebrate the solar eclipse, but otherwise business as normal.

So, we now expect be enjoying our time together with some tunes and snacks while experiencing 97% totality on Monday, August 21, 2017.

Dawdle: Total Eclipse Plans

While lazing around to recover from my fall, there has been plenty of time to think about our upcoming camping trip and major event: The Total Solar Eclipse on Monday, August 21, 2017.

The weather forecast shows a chance of rain in our greater southeast region for the weekend. Current projections are 50%-60% scattered rain with light winds for the campground Friday through Sunday, while Monday’s odds improve to partly cloudy and 20% rain.

It will be our first camp out in such damp conditions. Running the air conditioner will help control humidity when inside of Lily, our Vistabule Teardrop Trailer. Back up will be a DampRid Hanging Moisture Absorber found at a local Home Depot.

As a future precaution, when Lily is in storage, we plan to buy DampRid’s Disposable Moisture Absorber with Activated Charcoal for RVs because it is refillable. Click here to go to the DampRid website to view their products.

I have also been thinking a lot about how to set up the campsite to keep us relatively dry. We are still camping novices, figuring out what to do as we go along.

Image: Empty Campsite

The Empty Campsite
(Photo courtesy of reserveamerica.com)

For this trip we have a huge curved pull-thru site. The parking area is 52′ long and 13′ wide. It adjoins the “living area” which is 40′ long and 11′ wide. Both areas are gravel. There does not appear to be any problem with staking shelters in the combined 40′ x 24′ space. The electric and water posts are at center along the outside of the parking area. The fire ring is centered towards the opposite side, halfway into the living area. The picnic table is movable, though we don’t expect to use it.

Image: Model of a camp setup

Modeling a camp set-up

I made a rough scale model to work out different camp set-ups. Then, saved photos of the best configurations to my iPad. The models are laid out as if the pull-thru is straight, though it is actually curved. That should not make much difference in this case. We shall see.

I was considering a number of situations.
1. If the sliver of lake view is not blocked by large RVs, angle Lily to take advantage of that view between the other campsites.
2. To avoid tripping hazards along our walk areas, watch placement of staked lines for the shelters.
3. Also, keep the electrical cord and water hose under the Vistabule, out of walk areas.
4. Remember to work around the stationary fire ring.
5. Allow space for walking areas on both sides of the Vistabule when shelter side walls are used
6. When not using the side walls, think about best views.
7. For muggy hot weather, control the sound level of the outside fan so that its noise does not disturb other campers.
8. Think about how to secure our campsite items when away.

A major consideration is also being worked out for an Autumn outing, when we return to the same campsite. There will be a group gathering in another area of the campground. Visiting back and forth with the rest of the Teardroppers means we want to take advantage of our large site by keeping space clear for visitor parking.

Naturally, we will not know how plans from the model will work out until we get to the campsite. Between rain drops, we may be spending some time entertaining ourselves by moving shelters around.

For August 21st, all thoughts go to the Total Solar Eclipse!

Image: Total Solar Eclipse Path Over SE Tennessee

Total Solar Eclipse Path Over SE Tennessee: 8/21/2017
(Photo courtesy of US taxpayer money at eclipse2017nasa.gov)

Our campsite is along the outer edge of the eclipse, north northeast of Chattanooga, TN with 99.94% of totality.

However, sadly, I have read that even 99.9% is not the true experience of totality. Plus, a scientist warned that on maps the southern boundary of the path of the eclipse’s totality are wrong (even NASA’s), from a football length to a mile off. Much of the width of the band for seeing the Total Solar Eclipse is closer to 69 miles wide than 70.

Many schools in the region will be closed. It is expected that most of the population of Tennessee, plus hoards of visitors (like us) from out of state, with be making their way to festivals and viewing sites. So, I studied online maps in an effort to find potential quiet spots. Our plan is to enjoy a festival in the morning before heading out to a less crowded afternoon viewing spot.

We will have a couple of days to look around the surrounding area before the big event happens. Could simply decide that the .06% gain is not enough to get us up and out of the campground into traffic, but that is doubtful.

Dawdle – Laid Out

This is a Thursday. Last Monday night I stubbed my toes and tilted off balance. My rib cage slammed against a hard floor. In spite of all the padding my body carries around, just had to aim for skin and bones.

Have not seen any surface bruising or swelling, but the deep pain makes itself well known. It feels similar to slamming your finger in the car door; just over a much larger area, with sharp stabbing edges and general pain that takes much longer to subside.

Google accounts repeatedly state that it will take four weeks to recover from bruised ribs, meaning that is the time it takes to be able not to fear sharp pain from sneezing or laughing. Do have to remember to take some daily deep breaths (pain or no pain) to keep all the pipes clear.

Thankfully, I have a fairly high pain threshold and have always healed quickly from previous injuries. Even in old age, my expectation is to get through this in record time. We definitely want to to be ready and able to head out for our upcoming 2017 Total Solar Eclipse camping trip, the third week of August.

Instead of feeling foolish for falling, there is recognition of my failing an important responsibility. My husband, Earl, has impaired eyesight and is legally blind, so the State (wisely) no longer gives him a driver’s license. Driving is one of the things I handle for us. Earl, in turn, takes care of many of my shortfalls. This time, very literally.

My fall “drives” home all of the reasons we escaped the suburbs and downsized to an urban apartment in our late fifties, well before normal retirement age.

We now live smack in the midst of shopping and healthcare facilities; within two blocks to a transit station. A bus stops at the doorstep of our apartment, and the light rail train takes Earl into the city to his workplace or we can continue across the city to the airport. Either of us can obtain necessities by delivery, walking, commercial drivers, bus or train. Our car often sits in the parking garage for a couple of weeks at a time.

Conversely, the fall also emphasized my “drive” to purchase our Vistabule Teardrop Trailer for more pleasure trips.

Earl lost his 20/20 vision by his early twenties. We met in our mid-fifties. Before we met, I was able to travel a good deal more than Earl. Yet, he is a person that is very open to new experiences, enjoys learning (especially about tech, science and nature) and he sees the good in people. Before I reach the age that I “can not drive”, my most heartfelt aim is to take Earl traveling to meet as many new sights, experiences, and people as possible.

For now, it is my responsibility to get healthy and ready to drive again!

Learning Curves: Selecting Campgrounds

The criteria for making campground choices is unique to our travel style and desired activities, but the need to locate campgrounds is universal.

Due to the extreme heat of the summer, we are sticking to weekend day trips to get a drive through view of some of our nearby campgrounds.

I am retired and have the benefit of free time to throughly research and screen numerous campgrounds. In his free time, Earl also spot checks areas online and brings up locations that I overlooked.

That means searching a 200 mile radius from Lily’s storage facility in north Georgia, roughly an easy half day drive. That area includes slices of four neighboring states: Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina, along with the upper half of our home state Georgia.

Image: Target Base Camp Area

Target Base Camp Area: Continental United States view adapted from a free map provided at 50States.com

Before heading out on a day trip “inspection” we have selected locations from campground icons on Google Maps, mentions in camper’s blogs, Facebook group pages, camping apps, TripAdvisor comments and online reviews from various sources.

We also look over campsite photos and amenities, compare campground maps to Google earth views, check routes on Mapquest and route elevation apps, plus look over campground rules and regulations for even more information.

We want to select a few campgrounds to use over and over for short weekend camping trips, and as possible base camps for the first and last nights of any of our long trips. Through this research process a lot of area campgrounds have been screened and disregarded.

An upcoming post will feature a review of our first researched campground selection. We are looking forward to using our appealing basecamp during a trip that will include viewing the Total Solar Eclipse on August 21, 2017.