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



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

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

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!

Miles 1544 to 1566

The Teardrop enlivens even mundane tasks, taking us down roads we would have never tried, past sights we would have not seen otherwise and into new experiences.

This week we took Lily out of her storage unit to get overdue initial maintenance done: her bearings greased and brakes adjusted.

On the way to a neighboring small town RV sales and service business, we raced a line of identical camouflaged military vehicles loaded on a freight train.

Train on Bridge Image

Train on Bridge Passes a Stop Sign.

The train and its repetitive load stretched beyond our line of sight. We never saw the total length.

Military Vehicles on Train Image

Stretch of Train Loaded With Military Vehicles

We had to leave the Teardrop at the RV garage Thursday and Friday night, to allow flexibility for fitting our maintenance requests into their workload. The shop workers got their tours of the interior, and told us that the Vistabule Teardrop Trailer would be an attraction in their lot. They even decided to secure her inside of the garage at night.

Before we got out the door, a couple of customers asked to have a close look at Lily. So, we also gave them the complete tour before leaving.

We returned to the garage Saturday and the work was completed as planned. The buzz was that eight very interested people had noticed the Vistabule; four of them offered to buy her on the spot. (No telling if that was exaggerated, or not.) We did see that the mechanic resorted to hiding the Teardrop between two large RVs so that he could get some work done.

On the way back to Lily’s storage unit, we stopped to clean her exterior at a self-serve wash. We take our car to an automated car wash or for a rare hand detailing session, so a DIY wash was a first for us.

Washing the Teardrop Trailer Image

Washing the Vistabule Teardrop Trailer

I made the dial selections and ducked spray as Earl did the actual work. Washing Lily was as close to cleaning a cute baby elephant as I’ll ever get.

Rinsing Lily Image

Rinsing Lily

We barely needed to dry off the Teardrop. The outdoor temperature was 93 or 97 degrees, according to if you believe our car thermometer or the bank’s sign. It is not summer yet! On the way home, we cooled down with ice cream from a Dairy Queen.

Can’t wait to take the Teardrop out to get her dirty again!

Camp Sign

Due to Teardrop Trailers having a retro vibe from an interesting history, the Glamping trend and the fact that Teardrop Trailers are just so darn cute, one of the things a new owner may fret about is creating a nice looking campsite. If you need a nudge to find it important, there are plenty of great images on Pinterest showcasing decoration themes, color schemes and customized projects used to create special camp settings.

On the way to gaining our functional items, we ended up with an eclectic mix of whatever colors the manufacturers were offering this year. There were choices of greens and grays, browns and cream colors that none quite matched or coordinated with each other. So, I have several projects to complete in the future to up our decorating game.

Earl purchased a wire garden signpost on Amazon to get things started. This weekend I made a camp sign to coordinate with our Vistabule galley’s olive green batwings and the cabin’s window shades.

As a base for the sign, we picked a cheap pink plastic placemat from Target because the size was right to fit the signpost and it was a sturdy thickness, heavy enough to hang straight down on its own.

The placemat was given two layers of silver gray acrylic paint as a primer coat. Then I freehand sketched a Vistabule image to size. I also stained a small pair of clogs that we may hang from the corner of the signpost.

The second step was to come up with some wording and determine the size of lettering needed for the sign. So, I made a mockup to run pass Earl for his input.

Mockup of Camp Sign

Mockup of Camp Sign

Next it was time to paint the Vistabule image onto the placemat, using the primer as the base color of the Teardrop Trailer. Adding the Olive colored background was the step that gave me a sense of what the completed sign would look like.

Vistabule and Olive Background

Vistabule and Olive Background

Then, there was a final decision made on which font to use.

Final Font Choice

Final Font Choice: Georgia

After resizing and arranging the lettering on Photoshop, I printed words out and transferred them using the old fashioned method of burnishing carbon paper to mark them only to the surface of the sign. Then, paint or markers were used to fill in and outline each letter.

Camp Sign

Camp Sign

Champagne gold is the color of our tow car, so I used it for the title. Our names were added to the clogs, but I did not like the result. So, the clogs may be redone someday.

Sign and Clogs

Sign and Clogs

All that is left is to give the camp sign a protective clear coat and punch holes to be able to hang it.