Hi, and welcome back.
If you’re reading this, I survived! That’s one for me!
I was writing this week’s blog as the weekend at Watsadler Campground in Hartwell, GA, progressed, but the bears have very little use for Wi-Fi, so I had to wait til I got home safely to post.
I made it! Whoo Hoo!
Actually, the weekend far exceeded my wildest dreams. Nosty’s Nook performed beyond my expectations and, with the exception of two very frigid nights, the weekend was a dream.
Picture if you will: A four-cylinder Toyota pick-up with this sizable, heavy load of oak wood in the back, a cooler filled with sodas, food and a weekend supply of malty beverages, (loaded to the lid with ice), not to mention a box full of dry supplies, tool box and floor jack with an approximately 950 pound TTT hitched on the back. A fool’s errand, you say? Hardly. Das Nook pulled like a dream. The only time I knew she was back there was when we were coming off of a stop light or, thankfully, when I checked the side-view mirror and saw the right side door swinging in the breeze coming out of the supermarket parking lot, (in the pouring rain!). I was in such a rush to get on the road Friday morning that I didn’t close the door tightly. Better close to home, before I hit the highway, than at 60mph. The bunk was made and my clothes were back there. I was laughing at the thought of a pair of my drawers plastered to someone’s windshield as I pulled over to secure the door. None of the firewood made it back home. As a matter of fact, the folks in the site next to mine gave me an additional few logs last night as I sat out there with my feet up, well into the wee hours, relaxing and enjoying the solitude, (and amusing my nutty friends on Facebook via my phone).
It has been a very long time since I did any camping. As a matter of fact, at about the time my first book, The Tenderfoot’s Guide to Family Camping, came out, circumstances made it such that camping just wasn’t possible. The first thing I noticed after all these years is that camping people are still, without question, the nicest, friendliest and most generous people you’ll ever meet. From the greeter’s at the check-in gate, (campers who volunteer to keep an eye on the park at most places), to everyone else you’re going to meet whenever you enter a campground, you’re guaranteed lively conversation and a helping hand if you need one. This weekend alone I was offered some starter kindling when I was fighting to get the fire started in the pouring rain Friday night, additional firewood Saturday night when it was obvious that my pile was running low, a pumpkin pie and an offer to watch the Clemson game with the great folks from Spartanburg, SC in the site beside mine. On top of that, it is very apparent that TTT’s are not overly common here in SC/GA. I gave more tours, (*chest swelling with pride*), and answered more questions than you could imagine, and loved every minute of it.
I had to get a shot of the bunk made up Friday morning before I left because I knew that this was the last time this weekend it would look tidy. *laughing* I have sectioned the interior off so, if you’ll look toward the foot of the bed, you’ll see the living room/office. I sat there and worked a little on this blog after trying to see the laptop screen outside became an exercise in futility. No, there’s not a lot of room, but sleeping inside, warm and cozy, was almost as nice as sleeping in my bed at home. The added insulation was definitely worth the added work. The heater barely ran throughout the below 30º nights and kept the inside at a nice 68º, where I had it set. That’s also a pretty good indicator that I’ll have similar results from the AC unit when the hotter days come back to roost. Considering that the camper was rocking from the intense winds blowing off the lake, both nights, I’d say I got the desired result.
As I mentioned in previous blogs, this weekend was what we used to call in the Navy, a “Shakedown Cruise.” Obviously, choosing a near-winter weekend to go camping would not be everyone’s cup of tea, (although I always loved winter camping), but I wanted to go through all the motions with Das Nook to see what I was lacking and what might need to be changed before the spring camping season hits. I had a pad and pen in my pocket at all times, keeping a list of things I needed to do or wanted to do, additional gear I might need, etc. Thankfully, there were no major issues, although I wished continuously that I’d gotten the galley completed to the point where the sink was installed and functioning. The bath house was quite a hike from my site and I was going through waterless hand cleaner, hand sanitizer and disinfecting hand cloths like crazy. Mr. Clean and camping don’t always play well together.
There’s no better outside meal, in my opinion, than steak and a baked potato cooked over a wood fire. As part of the many deals and promises I made with myself throughout the build, to keep my motivation flowing, I promised myself that when I finally got Das Nook out into the woods, I’d eat steak at every meal that weekend, with dark lager to accompany the feast. I learned a long time ago to never break a promise to yourself, so I followed through and ate like royalty this weekend. It was a celebration and there was lots to celebrate, so I did it up in style. I think God looked down upon the earth one day and said, “Hm? The middle-class are bearing all the burden down there. I think I’ll give them rib-eye steak to grill over an open fire to make their weekends that much more enjoyable.” For this and oh so many other blessings, I thank Him regularly.
A few shots from the weekend.
Well, the fun and R&R are over for a while. Next weekend it’s back to work on Das Nook. I’ve got to fashion an awning for the front window to keep the rocks and road debris from flying up and breaking the glass while we’re on the road, and as a sunscreen on those days when the camper’s parked into the sun.
Then it’s on to the galley. That’s the part I’ve been looking forward to. The cabinetry in the main cabin was a testing ground for the ones that will, eventually, adorn the galley. I’ll need to get the doors built for those, too, but I plan on doing all the doors at once when the galley cabinet faces are installed. I’ve been measuring my coffee pot, dutch oven, etc, to insure I customize the galley to accommodate various mainstays that will be permanent requirements for all camping trips. These are the projects that I truly enjoy. I’ve got a new toy in my toolbox for inserting pocket holes in cabinetry to make good strong joints with no hardware showing. I used it on the main cabin cabinets and I was amazed at how well it worked.
This weekend’s trip was the first for a lot of things for me. It was, with the exception of the door coming open at the supermarket, an catastrophically uneventful weekend which, if you’d ever camped with me before, you’d know that the odds of some catastrophe befalling me are very real. I can still see the looks on my kids’s faces when they were little, and hear their cute little conversations: “Shelby, ten to one odds dad cuts something off this weekend!” “Naw, Danny, this weekend he’s going to blow something up. I just feel it.” And they weren’t wrong. Our trips went the gambit from my severing a finger when the tongue on the camper came down on it while I was hitching up in a rainstorm to leave, to my daughter chasing after a rabid squirrel to “pet him cause he’s cute.” This was the same camper, our first, a pop-up, that I bought when these old bones were starting to rebel against sleeping in a sleeping bag on the cold ground. I was young and naive where campers were concerned and believed the guy when he told me the thing was a “real gem” and “a steal” at the ridiculous price I paid for it. We no sooner got it up when we realized that the previous owners had dogs. Both my wife and my son were terribly allergic to dog fur. As they were taking their Benedryl , I was trying to plug the myriad of leaks that sprung up everywhere in the camper. Everything inside was soaked. In desperation, I put the family in the van and started hitching up to leave. I slipped in the mud hole that was to be our site while hitching up, my finger went under the tongue and, wham, I drew back a nub. My van was a three-on-the-tree which my ex couldn’t drive so, finger in a cup of ice, I drove us to the hospital where we spent the next 11 hours waiting to get out of there.
And then there was the weekend where we were infested with fire ants that came in through the electric cable hatch, or the weekend my mother-in-law fell in the parking lot and had to have stitches in her head and we had to head home at 3AM. And then there was the weekend……………well, you get the idea. It’s amazing, but for all the catastrophes, I will always love camping and, amid the hundreds of trips we took when the kids were little, and throughout my life, we always managed a lot of laughter and fun on all of them. Even the catastrophes are a laughing memory now, years later. The real beauty of camping is that this weekend I had a house at the lake. Next time out, I may have a house on a mountain peak or seaside; something I’d never be able to afford otherwise. The possibility for adventure for a camping enthusiast is as close as the keys to the car.
Well my friends, I’ve got some unpacking left to do. It has been a wonderful weekend and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about it as much as I enjoyed experiencing it.
And if you get a chance, don’t forget to check out some of the work of some true craftspeople on the teardrop and tiny travel trailer forums. It’s well worth the visit.
Until next week, may the wind always be at your back and your fortune be good fortune.
And, if you’re looking for a great read for the cold weekends ahead, order a copy of my latest book, Born Bent Over: Flashing the Vertical Smile at Middle Age. I guarantee a chuckle in every chapter. You can find it at barnesandnoble.com, amazon.com, or through my website, bgreenleaf.com where you can also read some of my short stories or hear the, quickly becoming famous, Born Bent Over Theme Song.