Tag Archives: Airstream

On The Road Again with Bambi

We weren’t going to do it. We had a big year last year, were away for roughly six months total, and figured we had a lot to accomplish at home. But then the Great Deep Freeze happened over the holidays and that was that. Let’s go find someplace warm.

We targeted January 29 – 30 for our departure, but Mother Nature struck again. Looking at the developing weather patterns, it became clear that if we didn’t get out by the 28th we weren’t going to get out until spring. So we had a mad panic of packing and organizing, hit the road early in the morning on the 28th, and enjoyed a warm, damp, trouble-free ride out of New England, across New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania, then down I-81 along the Blue Ridge Mountains, just ahead of a dandy winter storm.

Our first destination was the Great Smoky Mountains in Eastern Tennessee. Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Knoxville and the Smoky Mountains National Park are excellent fun and we always enjoy our little Campground, Riveredge, right on the Little Pigeon River at the base of the Parkway.

For those who have never been to Pigeon Forge, it can be a jaw-dropping experience. The first time we went there we were expecting a small Tennessee town at the base of a National Park, which to us meant a certain amount of civilization associated with the natural beauty of the nearby mountain wilderness.

IMG_6675How wrong we were. Pigeon Forge, it seems, is a whole-hearted rejection of all things remote, rugged and natural, driven by the desperation of parents with kids starved by their woodland adventures in the National Park for modern conveniences and crazy diversions.  img_6679-1There were buildings built to resemble mansions tipped upside down. A full-sized Titanic plowed into a fake iceberg along the side of an eight-lane traffic nightmare. IMG_6680King Kong swinging from a skyscraper. And that was just the start. Dollyville, of course. And endless blocks of mini-golf, amusement rides, shopping strip malls, every chain food restaurant imagineable, and 6000-room resorts all built to look like log cabins. Oh my.

Our little campground was an oasis in the midst of all this, and thanks to the time of year, we were one of just three campers there overnight. It was very pleasant and the pups enjoyed sniffing about among the empty campsites.

IMG_6711One of our objectives each visit to the area is to join the Thursday Lunch Barhounds at Calhouns on the River in Knoxville.
On our first trip through Tennessee we ended up there by accident, looking for some good BBQ, and stumbled on this very friendly bunch of natives and their trusty bartender Jennifer.  IMG_6714Unfortunately the weather derailed our schedule this year so we showed up on a Tuesday, but we were not to be disappointed.  IMG_6715Mike was there waiting for us even on the wrong day!  New friend Jim and pals joined the crowd (by next year Bruce will have mastered the cork finger puzzle), and bartender Derek, who was in for the flu-struck Jennifer, took excellent care of us all.  We had such fun we’re going to try to do it again on the way home.

The rest of our visit included poking around Gatlinburg, a small mountain town at the entrance to the Smoky Mountains National Park which probably started out as the last town park visitors stocked up in before hiking up into the wilderness, but is now a crazy destination of its own, a cross between alpine village, Pigeon Forge, Vegas and Tennessee Moonshine.  Almost as head-turning as Pigeon Forge.  We like walking the streets and have found a few decent restaurants among the chain-restaurants and ubiquitous pancake houses.  I guess if you visit the mountains in Tennessee, you have to eat stacks of pancakes every day, all three meals.  Who knew?

img_6727Normally we like to end our visit by driving straight across the Smoky Mountains via Newfound Gap Road.  Sometimes during the winter the road is closed due to snow and ice, and alas, so it was this year.  img_6734-1We decided to go west-around the mountains via the Foothills Parkway road, which was actually quite lovely and I don’t think we saw more than three other vehicles the entire time.  It was a delightful ride.

Next stop: Florida.

The Waiting Game

IMG_1959We arrived in LaConner, WA on March 13 to see our new boat for the first time.  She is scheduled to be launched at the end of the month.  This time frame gives us great opportunity to see the final build process on the boat, and also to explore the the Pacific Northwest, which we have never visited before. Continue reading The Waiting Game

The PCH: Best of the Trip (So Far)

After a really fun six-day stay in Napa, playing with friends, eating exceptionally well and–of course–drinking rather too much wine, it was time to hit the road again.

We left our pleasant little campground at Skyline Wilderness Park east of Napa and headed west through the rolling hills towards the coast on routes 12 and 116 until we ran into Route 1 and and the Pacific Ocean. Continue reading The PCH: Best of the Trip (So Far)

Big Bend National Park

Whenever we asked people what we should see and do as we crossed Texas, the universal answer was “Big Bend!”  They were right.

86c82915-b999-477a-a3ef-52d5d36c114aWe drove west to Big Bend National Park from Seminole Canyon State Park.  It was a fascinating trip, as we have never experienced the dessert and these roads took us through so many different iterations of desert features.  It was a stunning drive. Continue reading Big Bend National Park

Fort DeSoto Is a Fave

Fort DeSoto has been one of our favorite campgrounds since we first tent-camped there in 2010.  It’s lovely and well-maintained, the sites are private, many have wonderful views right on the water, and we’ve found great watering holes in the surrounding communities.  We always look forward to our stays.

fb04a938-044e-48a8-83f8-44fb48f6e8a6The best camp sites at fort DeSoto are the waterfront tent sites.  This is where we first bonded with the park, and this video from out first camping there tells it all.

Continue reading Fort DeSoto Is a Fave

The Mother Ship

Some of you may have heard that we had to make a trip to “The Mother Ship”, aka the birthplace of our Airstream in Jackson Center, OH.  We never fully came clean on the reason why, or told the tale of our trip, so hear’s the story.

On arriving home from our last outing with our Bambi to our favorite fall campground in Maine (Recompense Shore Campground at Wolfe’s Neck Farm in South Freeport), we were working on backing into our driveway to deposit the unit in her normal spot alongside our meadow.  This is no easy feat, and is without a doubt the most unpleasant part of each of our Airstream camping adventures.  It’s mostly my fault, since I like a narrow curvy driveway well-planted with lovely lush vegetation, which is apparently a Very Bad Thing when you are trying to back an Airstream and tow vehicle into a small spot.  Fast forward to the point where nothing was lining up properly, wits are frayed, and the “just get it over with” mentality kicks in.  That’s when you haul the unit forward without paying enough attention, and try to take down a substantial tree limb in the process.


The photo above does not show the full extent of the damage, but it does demonstrate substantial panel damage that requires complete replacement, and this is not for the faint of heart.  Bruce does most everything in the way of repairs to our toys; but not this. Continue reading The Mother Ship