Mountain Rally, Bigger Truck and Challenging Gulf Shores Trip

Cherokee Rally at Happy Holiday RV Park
It's a struggle to get started writing when it's a month or more between posts.  Thought I would just put a synopsis in the title...to keep me on track!

What should I say about the Cherokee Rally?  It is a lovely setting that's on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains in western North Carolina.  The changing of the leaves makes it even more special.

We had our Texas friends right next to us and our Oliver friends on the other side of the pond.  Most of my time was spent shuttling between the two campsites....when I was not struggling with the campground personnel.  

Background:  In 2014 I was the rally host ( hostess?) and learned that I did not have the right set of genes to tolerate administrative duties.  (Think I already knew this!)  After a few upsets with the campground not keeping their agreements, I said "never again".  

Decided to set up a rally date for 2015, hoping someone else would take over as the host.  But no clear leader emerged and, again, the stress of coordinating with the campground kept me upset.  Correction! Take responsibility!  I allowed myself to become upset.  
It took two years to learn the lesson...now I know not to do it again. 

Maybe someone else will take over or maybe there will not be a rally.  Either way, next year we will be somewhere else.   

On the positive side,  everyone else seems to have such a lovely time.  The open house is a great success.  We enjoy lots of visitors, showing the Escape for 4 hours! 
The weather is perfect with lots of blue sky and sunshine!  This is our 6th rally here.  We have been here every year since 2010.

David and the Oliver gang

Terri giving the crowd instructions.  She is great!

After making three trips into the mountains, pulling the Escape with the 2002 Tacoma, we decide that it's time to get a more powerful truck.  Our Taco is great on the flat and hills but it is struggling in the mountains.

Many friends are happy with their Tundras.  They report an average towing mpg similar to what we are getting with our Tacoma...13 to 14 mpg.  
We buy the first and only Tundra we see!  (It was being traded-in just as we arrived at the dealership.)  We will eventually see if we were hasty and foolish.
It is big and beautiful!  Looks new but it is 8 years old.  Pulls like a dream and it was the right color!

We buy the Tundra a few days after the Cherokee rally.  Nine days after buying the truck we are on our way to Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  Our reservations have been made months ago. The weather was frigid in November last year so the plan is to cancel if the weather did not cooperate.  Beautiful warm weather is  forecast! 

We had also bought what I call a "baby Clam".  After spending many pleasant nights in a friend's Clam, we decided to get the very small, 6 foot by 6 foot tent.

You can't see them in the photo but there are two large fire ant hills on either side of the Clam. Unfortunately, I step into the front one while attaching the screen panel! In an instant my ankle has fifteen large bites resulting in burning, pain, swelling and itching!

And that is Day 1. 

By Day 2 I could tell this trip is not going well.  The heat and humidity has put the hubby in bed, feeling lifeless, wet dishrag style.  The AC is on by mid morning. The sun is relentless.  My leg is still hurting.

A trip to the campground office reveals that we can cancel....(maybe because I show her my red, swollen ankle) and get a refund. So we will leave Thursday instead of Sunday.  After the decision to leave is made, no time is wasted as the clouds roll in, David revives, and we head to the beach.

The sad part of leaving is saying good-bye to some wonderful friends who are camped down the road.  But the great thing about the fiberglass community, we will see them again at the spring rally.  Or Quartzsite, AZ!

Our trip home is uneventful except for a few showers. The truck, still intimidating because of its size, pulls smoothly.

The following Sunday it is pouring rain and we are thankful to be home!

Sylvester says he is ready to go!

The plan is to head southwest in 6 weeks.  Desert here we come!


Land between the Lakes Rally

Wow!  Another month has flown by!   And we are packing to head out this pm for a rally in North Carolina!

bridge over TN River

Realized I better write something fast before we leave....the Land Between the Lakes Rally will soon be a distant memory.  This park is federal lands...the space between the Cumberland River and the Tennessee River just northwest of Nashville, TN.
This rally has been a Scamp Camp in the past.  Now you will see a bit of everything.
And many of our favorite people are here.

Not entirely sure what makes this rally so special but believe that it is the energy coming from the host, Dennis.  Upon arriving, each rally-goer receives a page full of events...often something every hour starting on Thursday evening!

The hubby's birthday is in the middle of the week.  After finding a buffet at Paris Landing State Park, David celebrates his 78th year with 30+ friends.

The weather goes from hot to cold...just like it did last year.  We were not prepared for the bitterness...it is suddenly winter!  Friend, Holly, saves the day with a warm hoodie for the birthday boy.

I take a few photos...trying to get back into photography....attempting to edit with Google photos.  The lake is huge.

Sylvester takes it all in stride.  He is definitely enjoying the larger bed and not being squished by sleeping humans!

(Note for camping cat lovers....I was ready to say goodbye to my baby due to kitty litter in the sheets and everywhere else.  Another camper told me about the Tidy Cat Breeze system and it is working for us!)

One of Sylvester's friends....Sally!!

More of our friends!

We spend quality time with a great bunch of friends!

But one week later, I am just beginning to feel normal again.  As much as I love being with those I love, the non stop visiting and excitement completely wear me out!  After getting home, all I want to do is sit and stare at the wall.  
Well, maybe I can blame the extremely cold weather on some of my exhaustion.  Cold wind is tiring!

Now we are both excited and getting ready to do it again!!!  A shorter stay, abundant sunshine and exposure to the Smoky Mountains will help me stay balanced...I hope!


Changing Gears

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Our life of selling, discarding, moving and remodeling is coming to a close. Yes, there’s lot still to be done but nothing that can’t wait until later.  Definitely time to take a long slow breath and relax.
And time to focus on something else….like our new to us Escape!
Mid-August finds us heading north to Tennessee RV in Knoxville where Andersen Weight Distribution Hitches are installed.  Our little 2002 Tacoma needs all the help she can get.  It is worth the 3 week wait for an appointment and we are out the door in a few hours.
Friends meet us on the side of the freeway and escort us to Panther Creek State Park where we take the above photo of Cherokee Lake.
From there we head to our favorite summer camp, Mt Pisgah on the Blue Ridge Parkway (just below Asheville, NC.)   I worry about pulling the trailer straight up the mountain from Waynesville.   The last 4 miles are all hairpins curves but the truck does ok after shifting to second gear.
We have our hiking gear with us but it goes untouched.  We spend 4 days of doing nothing but enjoying the views and the cool air.
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DSC_0018Looking Glass Rock

Mt Pisgah
We are still getting acquainted with our new trailer.  We put everything away in May before the onslaught of moving chores.  Now we can’t remember where any thing lives!  Constantly searching!   But this is our first real camping trip…not counting the two days in June…and we will eventually find a routine.
Sylvester is not bothered by all the fuss.

Notice how the truck is dwarfed by the trailer.
Our time in the mountains goes fast.  Soon we are back home and learning how to live at a less demanding pace.  We see our first movie of the year, take our first bike ride in 6 months.  I hike with my Tuesday group, another first for the year!
Adjusting to the unknowns of a new home and a new trailer is not enough stress for me.  A visit to Best Buy during our August tax free weekend results in a new tiny HP laptop.  Now I am trying to learn how to transition from my 2008 Windows Vista to Windows 10.  Windows 10 is ok, so far, except for my inability to download Live Writer.  Still have much to figure out.  Also did not realize the photos would look so poor on the small screen.
Speaking of inabilities….I am unable, so far, to get the Casita language off the blog as it is distributed.  I may need to create another URL.  If anyone can help, sure would appreciate it!!  I am so technically challenged, it is a miracle that the blog exists!
Also been playing around with the new Google photos app..thanks to videos from Geeks On Tour.  Still learning, but hope to get all my photos uploaded.  Lots of fun so far!
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A short hike on Signal MTN results in a few phone photos.  Left, David at Mabbit Spring; right, turkey tail lichen.
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Looking north from Falling Water Falls overlook.
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David on the Chattanooga River Walk and Sylvester trying to be good.
Results of playing around with the app, PicsArt. ( which disappeared when I was playing with Google Photos.)
Looking forward to beau coup good times this fall in our yet unnamed Escape.  Heading east in 5 days back to the mountains of North Carolina.  Then west to the Land between the Lakes Rally.  October will find us at the rally in Cherokee, NC. 
Looking forward to seeing many of you out there!