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!