Summering on Grand Lake in Oklahoma!
On a gorgeous, clear, warm morning in July, I look out over the Tennessee River from the Mississippi side and have to wonder: If you catch a fish from a boat on the Mississippi side of the river and you pull it across to the Tennessee side of the river – which state fishing license is required? I struggle with these thoughts for a bit before pushing it off for another day to decide.
And so goes another day out on the road!
Iuka, Mississippi has a fabulous state park that we call home for a day. Then we spend 15 minutes getting ready, (stow chairs and bamboo mat, roll up the awning and bring in the slides, lock the cabinets, put in our custom plexiglass panels in the fridge and pantry, and secure all loose items, back up the truck to the fifth wheel and lock it in, and finally disconnect and stow the power and water) to meander country back roads for an hour or three to the next park, winery, farm or wherever it is we might be going.
Between the ski slopes of Red River, New Mexico and Hobe Sound, Florida where we helped a friend remodel a 58’ Hatteras motor yacht we enjoyed a trip back through New Mexico (cool dinosaur tracks), Oklahoma (5 hours stuck in the mud), wineries in Oklahoma and Nashville with former world class musician owners, and parks flooded by spring rains where we the only campers. Awesome.
Passed through Asheville, NC to spend some time with the in-law, and Beaufort SC with the Cuz, over to Valdosta, Ga to see the boys and then on through Florida to walk the warm sunny beaches less than a month after being on the slopes teaching Texas kids how to ski! Amazing.
We both enjoyed the work on the boat. We have some previous experience on boats (ha!) so felt comfortable tearing out and modernizing a whole galley (kitchen) including floors, counters and appliances; as well as all new varnish, floors throughout and Shelly’s magical canvas work. Plus we got to walk the beaches as often as we liked.
South Florida in April has very strong thunderstorms and we came back to the RV one afternoon to find a 70 mile squall had come through, tore the anchors for the 21 foot awning out of the ground, ripped the supports out of the RV exterior wall, and thrown the 21 foot x 3 inch aluminum boom and awning up on the roof. All is well, as we were able to find replacement parts for repairs and sew a custom marine canvas awning in a very nice forest green to replace the old awning. This took much less work, effort and emotional toll than the 70 mile squall in Crisfield MD July 4th weekend 2016 where we almost lost our sailing home Yume!
From the east coast of Florida over to just north of Tarpon Springs on the west coast to have some window work done and visit the old sponge fishing port was a great start to the current travels. Straight up I75 for an interstate run that we rarely make to Valdosta to help Ryan pack for his impending move back to the same area of Atlanta where he was raised on a horse farm!
The following afternoon caught us in that horrible Atlanta traffic starting as far south of Macon and not ending until we were able to get out of Atlanta 4 days later 60 miles NW out of Stone Mountain. Yuk.
It was however, nice to see old friends and family. The Williams were very kind to let us camp out in their rain forest 😉 with Kyle going the extra mile to ride on top of the RV to clear low branches down the driveway!
Momma got to help her youngest move into his first home, meet his new roommates and spend a little more time with her boys. (Not enough but is it ever enough?) A short but nice visit with family over in Stone Mountain while we camped for two days at Stone Mountain Park. (An interesting side note is that the park is privately owned so no matter what you read on social media or the news – the carving will always be there! And if you haven’t seen that ¼ mile high carving in the side of a mountain you are definitely missing out!)
Our last commitment this trip was three more days over Shelly’s birthday with her Mom in Marion, NC, then it was the beginning of this current meandering through the Great Smoky Mountains of NC especially Cherokee. We toured the Cherokee museum, attended the long running outdoor play “Unto These Hills” (the story of the Trail of Tears which has been playing since the 1950’s – go see it!) then the Cherokee living village the next morning. I had not known how strong the Nation still was and we were both intrigued by their clan system and way of life.
It started raining in Cherokee, and kept raining for the next three or four days. In the magnificent forests of the Smoky Mountains the rain and the thunder are majestic. When the thunder starts, it rolls though the mountain for the longest time. The scary part is huge old trees falling due to saturated soil and erosion. In one camp on the Ocoee River, we pulled into a site surrounded by the debris of a very old, very large tree that had just missed the previous occupant! That stuff can keep me awake at night!
A day spent at Chickamauga National Park in Chattanooga, TN was incredibly interesting – and sobering. knowledge about war and suffering I am not sure I needed – but we all do. If you do not what these names mean – look it up and educate yourself! Lessons forgot will be learned again.
Travelling no more 120 miles a day, usually less, we meander from Tennessee, back into Huntsville, Al, up through Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, and to the northeast corner of Oklahoma. Way back in December, our idea was to travel from Florida to Maine though the Mid – Atlantic States, then across the northern states and into Montana to look for a ski resort for next winter’s activities.
Our favorite parks are run by the Corps of Engineers and are usually on a dam, river or lake. They are well kept, on beautiful properties and only $11 a night with a senior pass! This trip that included staying on the Tennessee, Ocoee, White, Norfolk Rivers. All beautiful places. Every now and then we stumble onto some awesome state parks like Sharon Johnson in Huntsville and Village Creek on Crowley’s Ridge in Arkansas. And no – we have never stayed at a Walmart parking lot!
Somehow we stumbled onto a request for a couple in an RV to stay on a hill under the trees on Grand Lake in Grove, OK and make sure the 100 or so sailboats in their sailing club do not sink at the docks while the owners work during the week. Sounded like a good gig to us and I guess we were supposed to be there as it all worked out. Sure is funny how we seem to be around boats even while in our RV!
On the last day of this trip we wake up to an achingly beautiful sunrise filtering through the cold mist floating off the Missouri White River below the Beaver Dam in the Corps of Engineers campground. There are just a few others here midweek and we are the first and only ones up. There is a magnificent Great Blue Heron watching me toss a lure into the river hoping not one huge rainbow trout decides to like it.
Time to stop for a month or two and get some projects done that have been put off for way too long, fill up the cruising kitty, and enjoy summer at the lake. Somebody has to do it right?
Happy Birthday to Goose who turns 7!
So we continue to roam around the country and be absolutely amazed at the places and people we find. And we feel so very grateful!
Until next time…