And Lulu makes three....

Hello my friends.  Welcome autumn and welcome back!  It’s great to be back and to have you stop back for a visit.

Believe it or not, all this started a little over a year ago.  It seems like only yesterday that I was contemplating the build and pondering the chances of turning that old frame into a viable camper.  I’ve made a great many new friends through this blog and the TTT group over this last year which made this one of the best years in my recent memory.

It has been a very long, hot summer which was definitely not conducive to camping or working outside; hence the lack of a blog over the last few weeks.  But tis fall again and we’re back and starting the season off with a bang.  As always, we’re living life one beer at a time.

If you remember from the last blog, last weekend, (Sept. 16-18), was the first opportunity I’ve had to make one of the Tear Jerker’s camping trips.  I’d made reservations for an earlier trip to Boone, NC back in the spring but frame issues with Nosty’s Nook made that trek into the mountains impossible.  Last weekend, frame sufficiently refurbished, I finally made it to the End of Summer Fling at the Lake.  A great time was had by all.   (Double click on the pictures to see a larger version).

Don't let the innocent face fool you.

I’ve had a new addition to the family since the last blog.  I am, once again, ecstatically, the proud papa of a bouncing, beer swilling, poop-at-will, camping fool mini dachshund, heretofore referred to as Geno.  I’m passing out “It’s a boy!” kibble krispies.  Later in the blog you’ll learn how he earned his nickname Geno the Wino over the weekend.  Geno was, thankfully, rescued from a rather dismal existence and, thankfully, fate saw fit to bring us together.  To say he’s spoiled would be like saying beer is good, but if there was ever a more deserving little bundle of pleasure, I’ve never met one.

Minor tragedy also befell my otherwise happy household over the summer.  I had to bury The Big Top.  It appears that the SC sun is just a little too much for the likes of the Harbor Freight Portable Garages; regardless of their overzealous claims of longevity.  After the second tarp in two years succumbed to the elements, and Nosty’s Nook was left to the whims of nature, I decided that it was time to issue the last rights to The Big Top and find a more permanent solution to my need for an outdoor man cave in which to create sawdust and piles of empty beer bottles.  Friday, they delivered and installed my new 18′ X 24′ X 8′ metal garage which will be, God willing, the birthplace of my latest project; a lightweight, 12′ x 7′ Standee, (translates into can be stood up in), camper with a commode and shower within.  Hey, it keeps me out of the bars.  Given it’s 12×7 size, it still qualifies as a tiny travel trailer and, therefore, keeps me eligible as a Teardrop and Tiny Travel Trailer member; but with the added luxury of the ability to stand, shower and answer nature’s call in the privacy of my own camper.

Back to the weekend!

Accompanied by Geno and the lovely Emma, we put lil truck through the paces through the, albeit minor compared to further up into the Smokies, SC foothills on our trip to Devil’s Fork State Park in Salem, SC.  It took a bit of downshifting on some of the steeper hills, but lil truck was up to the task and pulled through with flying colors.  Given that she was pulling two adults, a five pound puppy, a substantial supply of fire wood, gear, loaded coolers and had Nosty’s Nook taking up the rear, she was a true tribute to Toyota and four cylinder pick-up’s ability to meet a challenge.

I’m told Devil’s Fork State Park is located on Lake Jocassee, one of the Duke Power/Corps of Engineers lakes in southwest SC, but our site wasn’t anywhere near it, nor did we see it other than the occasional glimpse of a silver shimmer coming through the trees.  To make matters even more trying, our site, or the spot where the camper needed to sit, (a site in name only), was on a massive hill with the power and water hook-ups on the wrong side.  I had nightmares of waking in an ambulance after being wrapped around a tree following a midnight, high speed, cruise down the steep slope with no one at the helm.  Thankfully the wheel chocks held firm, but it wasn’t my idea of an ideal campsite.  When the rangers passed our site, making their rounds, I mentioned my concerns about the poorly designed, ill conceived and ill fated site.  Their only reply was that they hear that all the time.  Throw in the dirty restrooms which were in dire need of some repair, as well as a breeding ground for some of the most monstrous Daddy Longleg’s spiders I’ve ever seen, and coupled with the fact that the site rental was more than most of the other Corps of Engineer’s campgrounds in the area and it’s a good bet that, unless the Tear Jerker’s choose to have another outing there, I won’t be going back.  (Update:  I just learned that the Tear Jerker’s plan on having next years’ end of summer fling at the same place.  Maybe the new camper will be done by then.  I sure hope so.)

Yes, he pulls it with his motorcycle.

Aside from the many amazing  teardrops I saw this weekend, and the many new ideas I got while we were traveling from site to site, visiting with some great people and tire kicking, I saw the epitome of “tiny” travel trailers. No, this is no novelty.  After some coaxing, the owner climbed inside to show us that he can, indeed, sleep stretched out in this little marvel.  With the advent of more lightweight building materials these days, anything is possible.

Kids, don't try this at home!

My photography leaves a little to be desired but, yes, there’s really a full grown man in there with room for one more if you know them really, really well.  I wouldn’t recommend this after a night of drinking beer when sudden, urgent, trips to a nearby tree might be a reality, for the claustrophobic or for those nutritionally enhanced, such as myself, but as a place to get a good night’s rest after a long day of cruising on your bike, or as a refuge should the sky open up while you’re on a deserted stretch of highway, you can’t beat it.  Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like your own TTT.

Saturday night pot luck gathering

As you can see, the event was well attended.  Initially, the Tear Jerker group had the entire campground booked but, due to the threat of impending bad weather, many chose to cancel.  It was a little nippy, and the sun was a stranger all weekend, but the much needed rain we in SC have been praying for never materialized.  Friday night consisted of a rib cook-off and “tea” social. Saturday night was a pot luck and “tea” social with a great many dishes created right there at the campsite.  A lot of dutch oven delicacies; an art I’m going to try my hand at with my six-quart cast iron Lodge dutch oven on my next trip, were eagerly consumed.  In as much as I’m a crockpot-one pot/easy peazy fanatic, I never before realized the versatility of a dutch oven.  Everything from stuffed peppers to cobblers to chicken pot pie can be made in these wonders with some strategically placed briquettes and a little parchment paper.  Stay tuned for film at 11.  I’ll either be writing a dutch oven cookbook, or a first aid manual for the more klutzy dutch oven chefs such as myself.

I'm trying to get it "off" of his snout!

Never set your beer glass down when there’s a dachshund around. I got up for one minute to offload any earlier consumed malty beverages and make room for more.  When I returned, I found I needed a refill.  Thankfully there was only a few sips left in the bottom!   For the remainder of the evening, every time I filled my cup, I had a pair of the most pleading, pathetic brown eyes you’ve ever seen, beseeching me to share.  And this was after Geno’s ten or fifteen failed attempts throughout the evening to mount a rather standoffish lady dachshund named Abby.  A chip off the old block, that Geno…….and with very similar end results.

Das Hangar

My new pride and joy was installed on Friday.  Considering that the guys who installed it were walking on the roof and installed four-four foot long auger anchors, (one on each corner), that brought back memories of the massive ice augers we used to use while ice fishing back in the day to secure the frame, I don’t think the new “hangar” will fall victim to the elements for a long time to come.  At least I’m hoping not.  I’d prefer to concentrate my efforts on the new camper.  This is something I’ve wanted for a very long time.  Now I have it.  Life is good.   The big screen TV, pool table and kegerator should be here next Tuesday. *wink*  Party at Brian’s!  Whoo Hoo!!

I’m considering another trip in two weeks, (Oct. 8th), to try out another campground I’ve heard about it Hartwell, Georgia.  The cooler weather has brought back my hankering to get away and spend my weekends in the woods with a vengeance.  I know Geno’s up for another weekend away.  His crate fits perfectly between the foot of the bed and the back wall in the walk-through so he sleeps snug as a bug in his own crate and safe from wandering critters.  Don’t let his size fool you.  He’s got the heart of a lion, but I don’t think he’d be much of a match for a bear.  As a matter of fact, he’s about the same size as some of the bear scat we saw while walking in the woods. *gulp*

Inasmuch as I want to keep a regularity to the blog, since the crux of the construction was completed I find I don’t have a whole lot to report every week.  On the weekends when I’m out in the woods, the stories flow like a river and when the new build starts, I’ll be full of things to share, but in this “limbo” period, I think I’ll plan on a once a month blog with “Extra’s” when something of interest to anyone other than myself comes about.  I’m hoping to blow the dust off my electrical bag and get some power and lights installed in the hangar next weekend which, while a milestone to me, wouldn’t make very interesting print.  I just want to express my heartfelt thanks to those of you who have kept the emails coming during the downtime.  I love hearing from you and swapping stories.  As always, feel free to contact me any time at doc@bgreenleaf.com

Until next time, live life to the fullest, never miss an opportunity to grab for the gusto, never sit at the computer without a puppy in your lap and always let the little things just roll off your back.  Life is, truly, grand.

Ciao for now,

Brian & Geno

You can read some of my short stories and get information on my books on my website:  www.bgreenleaf.com

All new for 2011!

And, should you be so inclined, The Tenderfoot’s Guide to Family Camping has been completely revised for 2011 and is now available as an ebook!  Every ebook dealer from Sony’s iPhone store to Amazon and Barnes and Noble are carrying it.  However, through December 31st, 2011, we’re offering a 25% discount for all the loyal readers of Brian’s blog through Smashwords.com.  Just add the coupon code NN96W at checkout and you’ll receive the discount.  Picture this:  Wilderness 2011.  You just bought a new tent and figured it’d be a cinch to set up.  You got out of work late and arrived at the campground after dark.  Ominous dark clouds are looming over your campsite.  You unpack your tent only to realize that you haven’t got a clue about how it goes together and the directions are all in Mandarin Chinese.  What do you do?  Well, if you had a copy of this informative book on your phone or ereading device, you could simply thumb through a few chapters and be roasting marshmallows within the hour.  Don’t have a copy?  Well, there’s a lot to be said for sleeping in the car.  Oh, you have bucket seats?   The kids are loudly voicing their displeasure over sleeping in the back seat…..all night long?   Save yourself the headache.  Order your copy today.

2 Comments

  1. Many Thanks for posting No, I didnt drop off the face of the earth.

    . Brian Greenleaf’s Blog, I just actually had been searching for something related and was thrilled to obtain the info through this specific post.

    1. Well I’m glad you stopped by and glad you got the information you were looking for, Sherman. It’s nice to know someone found something of merit in my writings. We’ll be back to full steam and blogging again very soon. Please stop by often. It was nice hearing from you. Have a very Merry Christmas.
      Brian

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