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I hurt my car!

On Wed. Judy and I went around to see ten cottages that are on the tax sale list. The starting bid ranged from $1100 to $2600.  Some of them my GPS “Brunhilda” could not find, and some of them were really awful!  I found four that looked OK.  I love the cottages that have knotty pine paneling!  It took 11 hours of driving to get to them all, so we were bushed when we got back.

When I was backing out of a long driveway at one of the cottages, a big  mean tree stepped out behind me!  I crunched the tail light and scraped up the side for about 2′!   Oh me oh my, I feel so bad, and so stupid!!

Car

I see I can get a replacement tail light on Amazon for around $115, and most of the scrapes are very superficial.  Still…..!!!!!!

In the meantime I hit another dead end on getting that health insurance reimbursement from Ecuador.  A friend in Ecuador called the insurance company to see if they would do a wire transfer to my bank.  Welcome to Ecuador, they acted like they’d never heard of such a thing!  So I’m stuck with trying to get someone to cash the check.  My next step is to take the check back to my bank’s branch in Escanaba, the guy there said as a last resort they could take the check and do something-or-other that would take 4-6 weeks, and MAYBE get the money.  And then if that doesn’t work, I will find a Citibank on the way home in Oct. and see if I open an account there, if they’ll take the check as a deposit.  (It is written on Citibank but they told me on the phone they would not cash it).

I’m thinking I may never get that $2500, not without actually going to Ecuador, which would eat up half the money and require me renewing my passport, etc. I went ahead and gave up on the cottage in Harrison I’d put the offer on. And with that in mind, I think I will either not bid on any of those cottages, or maybe put in an extremely low-ball bid on the cheapest one.  There will be more cottages on next year’s tax sale, and maybe I’ll be in better shape financially, or at least I’ll know for sure by then what my financial situation is.  Maybe I’m not “meant” to get a cottage this year, if ever.

I’m heading back up to Little Bay de Noc to meet a friend on Aug. 5. I’m so glad it has cooled down, it’s been really hot even in the U.P.   But now we have the other extreme, the forecast lows are 48-50 degrees, brrrrrr!  It’s always something, isn’t it?!

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Plan Changes

I spent 5 days at the Little Bay de Noc campground & loved it there!  Then I moved to Hovey Lake,  a free national forest campground near Munising. There’s just 4 sites there and it looks like one of them has full-time squatters; there are 3 really old travel trailers that look like they haven’t been moved in a really long time, on one site.  It was nice, big sites with picnic table, fire pit, water (with a hand pump) and outhouses, and right on a good fishing lake.  I planned to stay there about a week.  The second day I was there, I went to Marquette to get dog food and shop at the food co-op and while I was gone I left the vent fan on.  That was no problem at the last campground….well I got home to a pretty run-down battery.  I tried to get into a campground that had electricity so I could charge the battery but it was Friday evening and they were all full. I stopped putting any load on the battery but it kept going lower and lower, finally by the time I went to bed it read 6.28.  Not good!  You’re not supposed to let them run down past 1/2 charge, which is 12.25!  At 1:45 a.m. the CO2 monitor started peeping loudly and I could not shut it off, I think that’s the Dead Battery signal.  I stuffed some toilet paper into where the noise comes out and used masking tape to tape it shut, then crammed a fleece throw against it so I could go back to sleep.  Roxie was really freaked out by the noise and I suspect she could still hear it, poor thing.

So the next day I decided to go back down to my friend Judy’s house on the river in Honor, in the lower peninsula.  When I went to hitch up, there was the little “key” to the trailer brake breakaway switch dangling; guess I forgot to unhook it before I pulled the car away.  I know it takes battery power to trigger the switch and I bet that was my mystery load on the battery…poor thing was trying to keep the trailer brakes on for 2 days!  At Judy’s I charged up the battery and then this morning unhooked the power for awhile, and it seemed to be holding the charge, so I think all is well!

There are big tax auction sales here in Mich. in early August and I found some little cabins that sound interesting, with starting bids of $1100-3500.  Judy and I are going to go check some of them out & see if there’s anything I want to bid on! It’d be so nice to get some little place on the cheap!

Today Judy & I went tubing down the river from her house to Lk. MIchigan in the morning, then spent the afternoon playing cards.  I LOVE playing games! Judy fixed dinner of whitefish, corn on the cob and twice-baked potatoes…she’s spoiling me!

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Paquette Luck Rides Again

Well, I am very sad today.  I can’t get the cottage after all.  It took me 5 months to get the $2450 reimbursement check for my eye surgery in Ecuador. I deposited the Ecuadorian check in my Wells Fargo account and all was fine until this morning, when I looked at my account and found out the check had been returned and my account was overdrawn by almost $1500!!!   So I drove 120 miles back to the Wells Fargo bank in Escanaba and a nice banker there made some calls, found out that WF doesn’t have banking relationships with any Ecuadorian banks.  So I had to cancel the Closing today and withdraw my offer for the cottage.  And lose my $500 deposit.   All is not lost though,  it is drawn on a Citibank, and if I can find one of those I probably can get the check cashed there. Unfortunately there aren’t any in Michigan or Wisconsin, I don’t know how far I’d have to drive to find one!   If I can get the money situation straightened out, I’ll make another purchase offer on the cottage. But for now, I am cottage-less.

And I already cancelled all my reservations for campsites too, so I don’t know where I’ll go from here.  I’m at Little Bay de Noc campground  near Escanaba for the next 2 nights, it costs $8.50 a night but I have a lakefront site and the wifi signal is strong!  I’ve got 3 weeks to kill until Jeanne shows up to start our U.P. tour.

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Sticks & Triangle Lake

Had a very buggy night; I wish I knew how the mosquitoes are getting into the camper!  I cover up so all that’s exposed is part of my face, then I keep hearing them buzzing around my ears.  Why is it, you just can’t help but slap yourself in the face when you hear that???!!  I did a lot of slapping last night.  And then was completely shocked to wake up at 11 a.m.  I never sleep that late!  And Roxie never lets me sleep that late!!  Maybe she had a bad night too.

We had torrential rains all day yesterday, off & on.  My Press N Seal “fix” is still working great though, no leaks at all!

I found an awesome campsite all on it’s own in the middle of nowhere….Triangle Lake #1!  It would involve backing in about 100′ but then you’d be within 15′ of a beautiful crystal clear lake with nice sandy bottom.  There’s a fire ring and pretty nice outhouse there, and the price is $4 a night with the Geezer Pass.

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TRIANGLE LAKE #1

Today I had to go to town to do laundry, it’s been more than 3 weeks!  Also I have to go to town every day to see if the realtor has sent me the amount I need to take to the Closing for the cottage.  I’ll need to drive to the Wells Fargo bank in Escanaba to get it wired to the title company as soon as I get it.  Anyway, I headed out and got almost 2 miles from camp when I ran over a stick and then heard something dragging under the car.  It was a BIG stick, about 1.5″ in diameter, and one end was stuck in the axle somehow and the other end pointed at the road.  So driving would force it farther and farther into where it was stuck. I tried and tried and could not pull it out of there, so then backed the car almost 2 miles back to camp so the neighbor men could help me! Boy, craning my neck backwards for that long was painful.  I got back to camp and got out of the car…and the damn stick was gone!  I don’t know where it fell off!!  Grrrrr

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Cookin’ at Cookson Lake

Phew, it’s been really really hot!  Highs of 85 and bright sun for 3 days straight…..which translates to mid-90’s inside the camper, even with the vent fan running!  I don’t do 90’s.

There are just 4 campsites here, it’s considered Dispersed Camping so is only $4 a night.  The sites are huge, and only one has shade….#2.  I’m in #1.  The lake is pretty and has a nice sand bottom so wading is easy, and it does help to cool off a bit.  My neighbors say there are a lot of snapping turtles in the lake, and they even saw a bunch of them come up and lay their eggs last week!  Then something came and dug up most of the nests and ate the eggs.  Raccoon?  They also say this is a popular spot for bear hunting in the fall (gulp!).  And last year there was a pack of wolves that were killing local dogs, and even grabbed one while it was running next to it’s owner who was on a bicycle!!  Yikes.  They trapped the alpha male and dispersed the pack, thank goodness.  It’s bad enough to have to worry about a hawk swooping down and grabbing Princess Roxie, let alone wolves coming out to snatch & grab!  Yes, a friend’s dog (twice as big as Roxie) was grabbed by a hawk, but she was too heavy so the hawk dropped her. I’m sure Roxie would not be too big, so she’s never outside without me being right with her.

Cookson Camp

Cookson Lake

The first day I was here, a couple came to the lake to kayak fish.  The lady came up to me and said she had an ALiner at home, then she said “Hey, I know you”! She’d been with our WACS camping group at Hunting Island 2 years ago, right before I moved to Ecuador!!  (Donna from Cincinnati, who was with Jeanie)  I ashamed to say I didn’t remember her, though she did look a little familiar.  But how weird is that, to be out in the middle of nowhere and find someone who knows me!

My only neighbors are two couples in big 5th wheel & a big travel trailer, complete with generators, ATVs, boats, etc.  The women invited me over to play cards the other night but have not invited me back.  Maybe I should not have won.

It’s pretty nice during the day, there are some deer flies and some giant biting flies. Do those suckers have real teeth, or what?  They SLASH and blood runs down from their bites!  Then at dusk, the mosquitoes come out and even though I’ve stuffed every teeny crack and crevice that I can find on the trailer, they still are able to get in and torment me.  It’s kind of creep to look up and see dozens of them buzzing around the vent fan, slavering at me.  Hey maybe I’ll lose some weight from blood loss?

Yesterday to escape the midday heat I went driving around the area.  It’s just a bunch of 1 1/2 lane wide sand forest roads, but there’s an amazing number of lakes & campsites all over the place!  I love this little roads where the trees meet overhead.

Road

The other day I was sitting at the point in Grand Marais and this gorgeous boat purred into the harbor.  Oh man!

Boat

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My Perfect Mate

Yesterday I went to the West Bay Diner in Grand Marais for some pie; they have GREAT pie. (The raspberry is best, but yesterday I had the triple berry) And also to use their free wi-fi, since I had temporarily lost my mobile hotspot.  There was a couple at the table next to me having lunch.  The woman ordered the daily special and the man ordered just an order of bacon and french fries.  Oh man, my perfect mate, and someone had already nabbed him!  Just my luck.  Oh well, I don’t wanna be around when he has his stroke; I’m not much of a nurse.

My Ecuadorian check got deposited successfully yesterday and the money’s in my account this morning!  Yayyyy!!!

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Hurricane River – Pictured Rocks

Yesterday I left my campsite at Lake Michigan and headed to the Brevoort Lake CG where there is a dump station.  I turned on the wrong road and ended up way the heck out in exactly nowhere.  I decided to just forget about dumping and just head up to Lake Superior.  Then I happened to look down and noticed the little Low Fuel light was on. I’m pretty sure my eyes bugged out of my head a couple of inches then, as the indicator was on the E!!!   And gas stations are few and far between up there.  I slowed down to 40 mph and and kept driving.  I didn’t know what to do; I know it’s really bad (and expensive) to let it run completely out of gas. So if you stop at the first little hiccup, is that OK, or that already too late???  I saw a man working in his yard and stopped to ask him for directions, and boy, somebody was watching out for me because there was a gas station less than a mile away!!  Crisis averted.  And the place where I came out on Hwy. 2 was also within a mile of Brevoort Lake campground, so I went to the dump station anyway, it just took me an extra hour to get there!

I went to Grand Marais to pick up a few groceries but the shelves were nearly bare; looks like the 4th of July crowd cleaned them out!  I found a nice campsite at Upper Hurricane River and as soon as I got out of the car, the mosquitoes attacked. LOTS of mosquitoes, though I’ve seen worse.  These guys are different though, they actually like my herbal insect repellent.  They think it’s some kind of tasty glaze on their dinner ham (me)!

It rained most of the night and got down into the low 40’s I think, as it was only 51 degrees inside when I woke up this morning.  I was glad that I didn’t have to move today, and had time to make sausage and blueberry sourdough pancakes for breakfast.

There are paper signs on the restroom doors that warn of recent bear activity in the area. Yikes, maybe I won’t cook any bacon.   I put my solar panel out this morning when it was really cloudy so I don’t know if I have it oriented to actually catch any sun.  It’s been nice & sunny so I hope so.  This morning it was quite windy so the bugs were not bothersome at all.

I’ve spent the whole day in Grand Marais today; didn’t mean to, it just happened. We walked on the beach looking for agates, and as soon as Roxie’s feet hit the sand she did her usual Beach Run-Like-Hell Dance; she’s so cute!  Here’s a photo of her this morning, hair a bit mussed up from sleeping under a fleece throw all night:

Roxie Camping

Lake Superior was beautiful today, though REALLY windy.  So many different shades of blue!  It looks inviting but of course it’s freezing cold.

Lk Sup

I am still struggling with trying to get the insurance reimbursement for my eye surgery. I finally got the check sent to NC from Ecuador and now my bank is not wanting to take it. I’ve been on the phone with Customer Service and also the local Hendersonville  branch, and friend Sharon is going to try and deposit it again this afternoon.  So I’m waiting in town here for her call.  There’s no cell service at the campground at all. No weather radio service either, or any kind of AM or FM radio station, even right in Grand Marais!

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Camping at Lake Michigan

This morning I moved up to a Hiawatha National Forest campground, Lake Michigan at St. Ignace.  The Mackinac Bridge crossing went fine; I stayed in the right hand lane which is paved the whole way, unlike the left lane which has open gridwork for part of it, and it makes the tires want to do squirrely things.  I was happy that a guy towing a big boat who cut me off to change lanes right before the tollbooth had been stopped by the police! Shame on me but hahaha,  justice was served.

I have site #9, right on the lake.  It’s a bit of a hike through deep sand, up and over a dune to get to the lake.  The lake level is very high right now so it laps at the bottom of the dune instead of having the usual 20′ of beach.  I was surprised to see the lake bottom was very rocky, I expected sand.  Lots of skeeters here, but they are manageable with my herbal skeeter spray.

Tomorrow we’ll be making a run for Hurricane River CG near Grand Marais, part of the Pictured Rocks National Seashore so it’s first-come-first-served.  If we can’t find a site there or at Twelvemile Beach, we’ll have to go to a nearby state forest CG.

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Exciting News

I am now “camped” in a friend’s driveway in Elk Rapids, MI.  I moved here from another friend’s house which is inside the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park (!), right on the Platte River.  We floated the river one day and it was serene and relaxing, and played marathon card games.  I have had a miserable cold the past 2 days but after sleeping for 15 hours, I am feeling much better today. Love that Nyquil!

I was looking for some cheap wooded land in northern Michigan where I could legally park my camper for summers, since it’s much cooler here than in NC or SC.  Instead, I am buying a cute little cottage for only $7900!  It is in a subdivision of cute little cottages in Harrison, MI (population 2250), with deeded lake access to Arnold Lake.  Have not yet seen the access site, but I hope that lake is good for fishing, especially perch.

Cottage2

It is just 350 sq. ft.   One bedroom, living room, kitchen and bath.  There’s an electric wall heater in the living room in case I ever do have to live there year-round, but let’s hope that does not happen.  I’m not a big fan of that white stuff that comes in winter.   It was built in 1950 and has already been gutted and has all new insulation and nearly all the new sheetrock done and painted.  There’s an electric range in there and a lot of building materials…..the rest of the sheetrock, kitchen cabinets, well pump & pressure tank, water heater, carpeting, etc.

So that changed all my summer plans.  Closing is on July 17 so I’ll be coming back down from the U.P. for that, and will immediately move to the cottage until Aug. 9, when my friend Jeanne joins me and we’ll go back to the U.P. and start more touring, and when that’s done I will go back to the cottage and stay til late October.  Hopefully I can get a lot of stuff done on the cottage, though I won’t be able to spend any money on it; I am really scrambling to find enough money to buy the place!    I was very relieved to find that I could get the electricity changed to my name without any deposit.

I think I can get a bunch of free furnishings & kitchen stuff for it, too!  A friend’s neighbor died and they are looking to get rid of a houseful of stuff, and we think they will be willing to give it away, since most of it is from the 60’s.  (Think ORANGE) I don’t care what color it is!  I am keeping my fingers crossed on that.

LivKit Kitchen LivingRoom Cottage1

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Au Sable River Camping

I’m back in “civilization” after 11 days of primitive camping at Dispersed Campsite #3 on the Au Sable River in the Huron National Forest (near Glennie, MI)  It was only $5 a night with the Federal “Geezer Pass”, reservations required.

AuSable1

http://www.recreation.gov/camping/ausable-river-camping/r/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=74157    No cell or wifi signal at all!  Somehow when I pictured myself doing this boondocking, it did not include being completely cut off from civilization!!  It was ¼ mile back off the paved road on a little rutted dirt track, but the campsite was right on the river in a pretty little clearing.  I set up my solar panel and then could not get it to work at all!  So I didn’t use the battery the whole time, except for a few 10-second bursts of the Fantastic Fan to clear out hot air after cooking.

There were hardly any mosquitoes there, just a few at dusk, but lots of (non-biting) flies. I’d sit in my lawn chair with flyswatter in hand and whap the ones that were brave enough to land on me.

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AuSable4

It did not get fully dark until nearly 10 pm, and after that I used a headlamp to read by. Ugh. Did I tell you that I had quite a herd of little moths in the camper? Well once I strapped the headlamp on, those harmless little moths become crazy kamikaze dive bombers, all aimed at my face!  I ended up having to just hold the light close to the Kindle. I was able to use my power inverter to charge the Kindle, laptop and cellphone while driving in the car, and found a little public library with a free wifi signal in the town of Glennie, about 8 miles away. Just a couple miles away was Alcona County Campground, and I was told I could use the dump station and drinking water for free!  I drove around the campground and never did find a place to dump my garbage though.  There’s a nice little grocery store in Glennie and an Ace hardware that sells propane, fishing licenses, etc. The grocery store has a $1 section where everything costs $1.25.  Hmmm.

One day I went as far as Gaylord looking at some properties for sale but all 7 on my list were already sold! What a disappointment.  Two realtors told me for some strange reason, wooded lots were selling like hotcakes this summer.  Figures.  On the way home I went to check out Pine River CG in the Huron National Forest, and it was also only $5 a night with the Geezer Pass but there were picnic tables, water, trash cans and nice outhouses!  No riverfront sites, but I think I’d have traded that for having the other goodies. http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/hmnf/recarea/?recid=18682

Every day I watched the mergansers come and play, diving for whatever they dive for…minnows?? And there was a bald eagle who went upriver every morning and downriver every night.  Of course it could have been MANY bald eagles using the river corridor, I don’t know for sure.

AuSable3

There were some pretty wildflowers, especially the wild roses, but LOTS of poison ivy also, so we did not do any tramping through the woods!  Flowers Au Sable
My friend Judy gave me a pretty apron that she made, with a Dammit Doll in the pocket! She’s much to cute to whap around though.

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I’m now camped in a friend’s driveway in Brighton.  There’s new house construction going on 3 doors down and those workmen arrive & start banging awfully early, around 7 a.m.!

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6th Annual US Marine Corps Mud Run

Lots of excitement at our campground this morning, starting around 6:30 a.m. with blaring music, drum cadences (I think!) and loud speak announcements.  Soon fire trucks and emergency vehicles and lots and lots of people starting pouring in.  The races started at 8 a.m. and our campsites were pretty close to the finish line.  Right before the finish line though, the racers had to go through about a 30′ long, chest-deep mud puddle while Marines along the side splashed them with mud & threw mudballs at them, yelling “Hurry Up! Get out of my mud puddle!”

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Along the way were lots of obstacles, ponds, hurdles, etc.  One place had a bunch of big bags with sand in the bottom, and racers had to run through the middle of the bags.

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And at the end of the race, the fire trucks provided water for these amazing showers!

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Looked like everyone had a great time.  We sure had fun watching it all.

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Jomeokee Campground Pinnacle, NC

We moved to the Jomeokee Campground in Pinnacle, NC on June 3. http://www.Jomeokee.net This campground is hard to rate….it’s really small, maybe 15 sites, and it only has 15 amp electrical service and no dump station, only about half the sites have elec. and some sites require a longer cord. I think the longest camper that would fit in here would be a 15-16′, and some sites are not completely level. But it’s in a wooded patch in the middle of old farmland and has million dollar views of Pilot Mountain!  The owner is a really nice guy who’s told us the history of the farm and the area.  We have the campground all to ourselves and it’s peaceful & quiet (except for the birds who wake up way too early). We are loving it here! The view from my camper window:

PilotMt

The farmland part of the campground also hosts events like concerts, weddings, etc. We’ve been watching them prepare for a US Marine Corps 5K Mud Run on Saturday.  It’s touted as a “fun and muddy, crazy and filthy obstacle course race”. They have to run through several  big mud holes, streams, over logs & hurdles, and right before the finish line is a huge mud wallow that’s chest-deep!  We can see the finish line from our campers so unless a bunch of spectators stand in front of it, we’ll have a good view. They are expecting 2800 participants!!

There’s a good little home-cooking restaurant called EJ’s Restaurant right at the exit off Hwy. 52.  Hand-patted burgers are $2.80, when’s the last time you saw prices like that? And they were really good, too.  Be sure to get the homemade chips….thin-sliced potatoes fried with crispy edges (but not hard and crispy all the way through)  Mmmmmm!!  They serve them with ranch dressing on the side if you like.

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Kayaking the Dan River

Today we kayaked the Dan River, through Hanging Rock State Park.  It was a 6.5 mile paddle, supposed to take 3 hours but somehow it took us 4 1/2 hrs.  Maybe because we kept getting hung up on rocks!  I think the river levels were low and there were really a lot of places where we had to really read the river to figure out how to get through the rocks. My old whitewater experience came in handy but we still all ended up stuck on rocks at times, and Marilyn even took an unscheduled swim!  It was supposed to be a nice calm, easy paddle but it was more technical than that, and even had some standing waves that came close to being Class 2!  It was a fun day anyway, and we are all pleasantly worn out.

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And now we are back for our last night at the campground, and there’s a lot of activity here!  We no longer have the campground all to ourselves; there are people everywhere, lots of ROTC kids tent-camping, fire trucks bringing water to flood more mud-pits for the race, people yelling & horns honking.  We have a bird-eye view of all the excitement but I hope the kids quiet down at some point tonight.  Well I think we are so tired out from our river adventures, it might not matter if it’s quiet or not!

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Virginia Creeper Trail

Sorry it’s taken so long to get this out; was waiting to get photos.  We biked on the Virginia Creeper Trail!  It is 17 miles long, all downhill, on an old railbed. It’s gravel & dirt, not paved.  A couple of us rented bikes for $28 and one just got their shuttle for her own bike, from The Bike Station in Damascus, VA http://www.thebikestation.net/  We camped at Creek Side RV Park right across the street, so that was convenient to just walk across the road in the morning.  My next door neighbor at the RV park is a trail volunteer so she went along with us to guide us for the first bit. We got dropped off at the trailhead at Whitetop Mountain; the trail runs within a block or so of the store so we were to drop the bikes off there when we were done.  I had read that it took 2 hours to do the trail, but our neighbor Marsha said it would take much longer because we’d want to stop often for photos and maybe eat at the cafe.  Hahaha, you might get through in 2 hours if you never touched the brakes!!  We rode at a sedate pace and stopped often to take photos or check out the views from the trestles, etc.  (Certainly not to rest our butts at all, of course not!)  Jeanne opted not to ride because her back has been bothering her, but she drove her car to some of the meeting points.

Janis, Marilyn & Dixie starting out on the trail

Creeper1

The trail goes through gorgeous woods, along streams and over many trestles.  There are several places to stop and rest & use the outhouse, etc. and we saw signs to watch out for bear and elk!   This “lodging” apparently didn’t make it….I don’t think I’d want to stay here!

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The first stopping point we came to was an old restored train station/museum which is really interesting but it was closed today.

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Here I am, coming in to the first meeting point. About half way through there’s the Creeper Trail Cafe and Marsha was right, we were starving when we got there!  And she was right about the timing also, it took us 3 hours to get there and that was only 1/2 way.  We had lunch (burgers are great!) and got a couple pieces of their famous 3-layer double chocolate cake to take home.

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Trail One of the many streams we crossed on trestles

Marilyn and Dixie decided not to continue on from there but I want you all to know that I really was game for going on, but not by myself.  I am still pretty shocked that I was willing to keep going. We called The Bike Station and they said to leave the bikes there and someone would pick them up., and we put Dixie’s bike on Jeanne’s bike rack and drove back to the campground….in the rain.  If we’d continued on, we would have gotten soaked! So while I really wanted to be able to say I did the whole trail,  I’m glad we decided to stop.

The trail is not QUITE all downhill, there are a few places where it’s level and you do have to pedal, including the last 3 miles or so.  The first 3 miles are the steepest, but they are not wildly steep, you can easily slow yourself down.  We all thought it was gorgeous and I’m really glad I did it.

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Day One

My first day on the road!  At first it was like I’d never pulled a trailer before, I was really nervous that I’d hooked it up wrong, or I’d do something really stupid and get in an accident, etc.  After an hour or so I relaxed and was just driving along when….something DID happen, just 8 miles from my destination! I had a blowout on one of the camper tires!

DSCN1115 I was able to pull off the road right away, into the start of a farm drive. The tire has a HUGE hole in it, but luckily it did not destroy the flimsy wheel well, which often happens.  I called for the Good Sam service and was told it’d be 90 minutes before he would arrive.

An old guy pulled up behind me and got out and asked if I needed help, so I told him I had help on the way but he didn’t leave!  Weird.  Finally I figured out that it was the farmer who owned that field, and my rig was blocking it. He was nice about it & said he didn’t really need to drive in.  Someone had broken the padlock off the gate and there was an abandoned yellow ATV at the edge of the woods in there, probably stolen.  He called the police and apparently that was the most exciting thing going on, because soon there were 4 police cars and 7 officers milling around.  Several of them asked if I needed help and seemed really glad that I didn’t.   Finally the guy came and had the spare tire on in a jiffy and I was on my way again.  What a way to start my epic new journey!

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Got to our little campground in Damascus, VA.  And I do mean little!  There are only 6 sites here! (Creek Side RV Park) It’s right across the road from the bike rental/shuttle place and on a really pretty river that runs through town.  So tomorrow we bike  the Virginia Creeper Trail…17 miles, all downhill!  I’m worried about the bike seat being uncomfortable so we’ll see how it goes.

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The Countdown Is On!

Only 4 more days til I leave here, and surprise surprise, I’m not ready!  I got a new Group 31 AGM battery that has more capacity than my old one, plus doesn’t need any maintenance or venting.  Jenni wired the quick-connect for the 100 watt solar panel and even installed a special little hatch through the wall for the cords, where the battery vent exhaust used to be!  I’ve ordered some memory foam to make the bed more comfortable and am in the process of making a new canopy and a little wire storage shelf for over the kitchen.

I dropped the camper off at the trailer place last week to get the wheel bearings repacked and two new tail lights installed.  (I thought I could do the lights but I couldn’t figure out how to access & remove the wiring on the old ones)  Then went back yesterday and waited while they wired the new car for the 7-way plug and mounted the brake controller.  Yay, brakes!  I haven’t been able to use the brakes in about 3 years because of some weird electrical problem.  Got all hooked up but when I got on the road, the brakes were not working. So I drove back and they found a wire broken at the magnet, and had to order a part.  I left it there again and hopefully the part will come in as planned, and I can pick it up on Friday.  That’s cutting it really close, it leaves me just 2 days to finish fitting the new canopy to the camper, cut the foam for the bed, and do the final packing, etc. I am pretty sure I still have too much stuff but I don’t quite know what to do about it.  I think it’ll fit, but the car will be crammed full, and I was hoping to avoid that with the larger vehicle.

I even have my cute scooter back now, and it’s looking VERY huge!  It’s an E-Zip 400, little battery-powered scooter that can go up to 15 mph for 8 miles on a charge.  When I moved to Ecuador I sold it to a friend, who sold it to another friend, and now I was able to buy it back.  It’ll come in handy since I am not able to walk very much.  This is just like mine except mine’s blue. It’s a really fun toy!

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On Monday I leave here and meet 3 other WACS (Women A-Frame Campers) at Creek Side RV Park in Damascus, VA for a biking adventure on the Virginia Creeper Trail, which is probably the ONLY bike trail I’ll ever do!  It is 17 miles, all downhill!  I think I can handle going downhill but I hope the rented bike has a good cushy seat.  After that we’re moving to Pinnacle, NC and will kayak the Dan River through Hanging Rock State Park and maybe do a calm stretch of the New River too.  Then on to Michigan!

It is Princess Roxie’s 8th birthday today; Happy Birthday Roxie!