11/15/14

Casita in the Desert, Casita in the Mtns: Surviving at the Shore

Casita in the Desert, Casita in the Mtns: Surviving at the Shore

Surviving at the Shore


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It is 72 degrees and a bright sunny day as we arrive at our campsite in Gulf State Park.  Our bodies, already accustom to cold weather, are hot.  The sun is relentless and we are scrambling to get out the awning.
But the forecast is ominous!  A deep freeze is coming and we will not be able to escape.  Tomorrow will be our best chance to get out in the kayaks….we have a rule…if we carry a toy with us, it must be used!  And I have no intention to paddle  in 40 degree wind chills!        
There are 3 lakes at Gulf State Park separated by canals.  We decide to start in one of the canals.
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After a couple of hours we are ready to quit….and, with the sun setting at 4:55 PM, dinner must be grilled while there is still daylight.
The next morning I get up and take a shower! (not my normal routine while camping)… Preparing for a special day! This is the day we will meet up with Carla and Jerry,  blogging friends that I have never met in person!
While walking from the bathhouse a big truck passes, I look in the window and there they are…..recognizing her face from the two years of reading the blog!
We immediately start talking and can’t quit!  They offer to show us around town and we head for the beach.
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After a tasty lunch and a quick trip to see their lovely fifth-wheel home, we say good bye….knowing we will meet again somewhere down the road.  Maybe we will get in another visit before we head north!
The promised rain arrives the next morning.  We make plans to eat lunch with our egg group.  There are now two other Casitas, one Escape and an Egg Camper just a few sites away.  This is not an accident but the sharing of plans at a rally last month.  Two couples had reservations at Gulf Shores in November.  The rest of us just thought it an excellent idea!
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Boardwalk to gulf….just across from park.
The survival part of the trip starts right after the rain!  We are not winter campers!  Except for lower Florida and Arizona! 
There is full bright sun which makes the cold a bit more bearable but the wind is merciless.   We decide to check out Fort Morgan, not realizing that the breezes are gale-force out on the point.
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Nothing is very pretty….don’t enjoy taking photos of ugly…but anything historical is educational.  Fort Morgan guarded the entrance to Mobile Bay during the Civil War.  This is where Admiral Farragut made the famous quote “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”  (At that time, a mine was called a torpedo.)
The Gulf is blustery and cold.
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Today is another cold day with plentiful sunshine!  We may ride our bikes…many, many bike trails lead out of the park.  Tomorrow it will be warm again but rain and cold are heading back soon.  Thinking it will be time to leave before another round of survival-type weather.
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10/22/14

Food and Friends in the Mountains: The Cherokee Rally


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It is raining hard with sheets of water pouring over us as we start our 150 mile journey to Cherokee, North Carolina.  This is our fifth trip to the rally at Happy Holiday RV Park.  And this time I am “in charge”!  (What was I thinking!!)
We had just spent the previous night waking to the weather radio sounding alarms.  Now we are driving back into the storm and more tornado watches.  Thought about stopping and trying to find a safe place to camp.  But didn’t…..just kept on plowing through the bad weather.
We set up in the pouring rain, a miserable experience!  But a warm meal, cable TV and the electric heater get us through the first night.
Wednesday and Thursday provide more rain….everyone is waiting patiently for the promised beautiful weekend weather.  And it finally arrives!
Thursday night we attend the Meet and Sweet.  Too busy to take any photos……hubby says he has never eaten so many deserts!
Friday we participate in the Dutch Oven demo….my new camera got a workout!  More on the camera later….
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Donna outlines  Dutch oven basics.
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Chocolate and cherries!
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Samples going fast!
Saturday morning it is time to get out of the campground!  Socco Falls is on the way to the Parkway and the new camera needs some use!  (Last week after trying a Nikkor 18 to 200 lens, just could not handle spending that much money!  Decided to buy the Nikon 3200 two lens bundle.)
Now I have two cameras with two different lens….which presents a learning curve.
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This is the same waterfall…..should have had the wide angle with me instead of the telephoto.  Oh well….guess that’s part of learning.
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There is lots of color the first mile or so going up the Blue Ridge Parkway but soon all the trees are bare! 
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My spirits restored by the solitude, it is time to rejoin the rally….egg parade in progress!
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The maroon and white trailer repeats the color scheme inside.
The below trailer is a home built…this couple had brought their 16’ Casita all the previous years.
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Inside shot of the home built!  Very creative couple!
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Some of our buddies chose a quiet spot on the back creek.  And we got a primo site on the front creek…unfortunately our expensive neighborhood was full of mud!
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Like all rallies, it is over way too soon.  We join our friends on Florida row to enjoy one last campfire.
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Rallies are just a good time!  Lots of love, lots of laughter and after meeting the same people over and over…..a real feeling of family.  Love the diversity in the fiberglass community! 
My experience as a rally host is mostly positive….but turning it over to someone else next year.  Dates are set and reservations have been made…more good times in the future!
What now?  Planning on Arizona after Christmas and maybe a short trip to the Gulf next month….want to see Gulf Shores and eat seafood!

10/10/14

Land Between the Lakes Rally (TN)

 

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One week ago we are in the middle of the LBL rally.  We are first timers to this gathering but it does not feel new as many long time friends are already there.

The Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area was created by the federal government in the 60’s.  It’s the area between the Tennessee  and Cumberland Rivers before the rivers flow into the Ohio.  There are 170,000 acres, 300 miles of shoreline and 500 miles of trails between the rivers.  This link gives a 15 minute video of the area.

Piney Campground, located near Dover, TN is a 5 plus hour drive for us, mostly on I-24 W.  Our only problem is Nashville traffic which is worse since our last trek through town. 

It’s a huge campground!  We back in and see no water hookup…after another tour of the loop, we settle in with a full tank.

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Soon after arriving I discover my Nikon camera is not functioning!! The Sigma lens is not telescoping.  Resorting to the Canon point and shoot, I find it’s not cooperating… telling me to charge an already full battery.  Frustrated, I do the best I can with photos.

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View from our friends’ campsite.

This rally has a variety of trailers attending…one even pulled by a model T!  The group has many activities to attend including a raffle and Dutch oven demonstration.

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Notice the jackets!  We went from running the A/C to running the heater in just 24 hours!

Took a drive up the Trace to see the buffalo.  This herd is on the main road close to the Homeplace, a 1850’s farm.

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It’s raining off and on during our visit to the old farm.  Enjoyed seeing the old buildings.

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Loved seeing this old farm.  It’s the only attraction we managed to squeeze in….lots to do in the campground!

Next week we will be journeying to the Cherokee, NC rally.  This is our fifth year to attend and my first year as a rally host. 

Will see how it goes….this may be my first and last encounter with rally leadership!!!  Meanwhile I must go find a new camera lens!