Thanks and Kayaking

I believe that the shortest route to happiness is to conjure up feelings of gratitude.  But, at times, I just can't seem to do it, especially on gloomy winter days.  Today I am focusing on being thankful.

Most people start with the big items, family, friends, health and I am thankful for these things, but it's the minutia that makes life work. Sharing just a slice of mine....

Picking up the Casita this morning from the refrigeration man.  Thankful that we are not paying more than we have, thankful that he says the refrigerator is working fine.  I've got questions about this but choosing to stay with gratitude.
And thankful for the Casita which has brought us a whole new dimension of living, freedom and friends over the past few years.

Thankful that I live in the South where we have not encountered our first hard freeze of the year, just a little frost a few mornings.  My unkept red roses are still blooming beautifully in the front and back yard.

Thankful for the closeness of water, woods and mountains that provide a space to reconnect with myself.  Thankful when I can realize the need to do so.

Thankful for the warmth of the 30 year old gas heating system in our home.  If I keep sending it positive energy, maybe it will keep working!

OK.  Don't want to get boring, it's time to quit.  But must mention gratitude for the cats who make us laugh at their jealousy and ability to play ball.

Do I feel happy yet?  Gratitude wins!

We got in our kayaks last week, a first in a very long time!  When we go to the trouble of loading the boats and finally get out on the water, I wonder why we don't do it more often.  

We chose to put in at Raccoon Mountain, a TVA hydroelectric plant, that lies within the TN river gorge, downstream from Chattanooga and surrounded by wilderness.  The plant is an engineering marvel with a constructed lake sitting on top of the Cumberland Plateau that holds water drawn up from the Tennessee River.  When electric demand is high, the water is drained back into the river making more electricity than any of the TVA's nuclear reactors.  That is when things are working correctly. A trip to the visitor's center revealed that 3 of the 4 turbines are currently offline.

I also want to mention that the Tennessee River gorge is 26 miles in length and the fourth largest river canyon found in the east.  The Prentice Cooper State Forest is across the river from the pumping station making this put-in attractive for viewing wildlife.

We did not paddle far, just wanted to get out on the water and be away from civilization for a short time.  A few large boats and a barge came by providing us with huge rollers.  We traded our 63 and 75 year old selves for childhood while turning the boats into the waves and riding them out.

A fun day, probably one of our last 70 degree days until we get to Florida.

This is the TN River from Edwards Point (Chatt-town in background)

Our boats could not wait to get into the water!

View from the put in parking lot 

TVA barge taking a malfunctioning turbine up the river

View from the Visitor's Center at Raccoon Mtn


Life Between Trips and Harrison Bay State Park

We have been back from the Cherokee rally for over a month, a month without a camping trip!  Life, including bad weather and sickness, has conspired to keep us home.

It's strange how I switch gears after a few weeks in the house.  All the things that never seem to get accomplished, now they haunt me. So a few things have been done.  Started cleaning out the office and it was so bad.  Stacks of paper were on every surface and on the floor, boxes of more paper.

It's the shredding process that slows things down.  Why does our name need to be on every single piece of paper?  I want to throw it all in the garbage.  I think of living in the Casita, what would I save?

When we are off traveling in the Casita, I cannot imagine being home.  Home disappears from my mind, ceases to exist unless someone calls with a rude reminder of responsibilities.

Now, after a month at home, I can't fathom giving up the house that has the morning sun shining into the kitchen and reddish gold leaves falling in the backyard.  
That being said, I am still ready to head south as soon as the holidays are over.

We have been doing a little work on the Casita....got another good coat of polish on it and we have installed a new propane regulator for the gas tanks.  Our fridge has not been working on propane and someone mentioned that maybe we should replace the regulator as it was over 10 years old. We are not the handy dandy types but we did manage to get it installed. 

There's a small difference in the stove flame but the fridge is still broke on propane.  The next step is to take it to the local rv refrigeration guy.  Sure hope it can be fixed as new fridges are $$$.

The weather here has been gorgeous for the past two days.  I took advantage of it yesterday and visited Harrison Bay State Park....wanted to see if the campground had been updated.

Harrison Bay is the oldest state park in Tennessee turning 75 years old this year.  Unfortunately it is overdo for a makeover.  The old bathhouses are kind of grimy and the only open loop in winter was hilly with few level sites.  But the park sits on Chickamauga Lake and has miles of shoreline.  Great for fishermen and boaters!

The marina.

                   This is loop C which is closed in the winter.

                                Some winter residents.

                           View from one of the trails.

A little more info: sites are not reservable, only first come.  Winter rate is $16 which includes water and electric.  Mileage from Chattanooga is about 16 miles.

We camped there in our 13' a few years ago but did not manage to get a waterfront site. I think we'll try again in the spring. 


Reminiscing Joshua Tree

RV Sue, http://rvsueandcrew.com, one of my favorite bloggers, yanked my memory chain recently when she mentioned Joshua Tree National Park.  I closed my eyes and went back to that winter desert scene, our little Casita enclosed by huge boulders isolated from the world.

I could not remember posting about it but I did.  Four pictures that did not do the park justice.  But to be fair to me, posting anything last winter was a major undertaking due to my inexperience and lack of internet connection.  I remember sitting in the McDonald's at Twenty Nine Palms trying to compose while across the room a man in a white cowboy hat raved on and on about the fascists.  I did not understand his message but remember wanting to do him harm.

We spent 5 days at Indian Cove campground in the Joshua Tree N. P.  The park staff tried to steer me toward another site with a dump but it was at a higher elevation and I had already been cold enough.  Indian Cove felt isolated but Twenty Nine Palms, with restaurants, grocery and laundry, was 10 minutes from camp. 

One of my friends questioned me, after we returned home, trying to understand what was so special about the desert.  Words never came to me that described our experience.  Only being there will explain the vastness, the isolation, the incredible energy that springs from the rocks.  
The same friend, a writer, also wanted to know what we did each day.  When did we get up and what was our routine?  The sun ruled our day.  As the sun came up, we went outside to enjoy our coffee with the sunrise.  Then it was breakfast and more feasting our eyes on the nature around us, then hiking or exploring the area.

Now I wonder about our next trip to the southwest.  Will it be as magical as the first?  

 One of our excursions at Joshua Tree was to Skull Rock.  Do you see it?

It was a three mile hike to Forty Nine Palms.  We found these trees nestled in a lush canyon.

This is the hiking trail to 49 Palms and below is one of the views.

I have enjoyed sharing last winter's memories; must get back to present time.  A warm day with Casita polishing awaits me.