Fun at Alumapalooza

CAMPGROUND: Airstream factory
LOCATION: Jackson Center, Ohio – between Columbus and Dayton
WEATHER: Overcast. High 72

Jackson Center and Airstream have a symbiotic relationship, due to the village’s small population and Airstream’s economic strength. Airstream arranged that we rally attendees can use the public swimming pool’s showers during the rally. So, George and I ventured forth to do that this morning. The pool has not opened for the season yet, so we had to climb over stored pool equipment, like ladders, to get to the showers. They were mediocre at best, but it felt good to get cleaned up.

Today was another educational day. This is a photo of one of the sessions on campfire cooking.

George particularly liked the session on setting up your trailer hitch. He is now convinced that we need to trade in our pick-up for a different kind of tow vehicle. 😦 We also attended a session with Airstream execs so we could communicate our recommendations for changes/enchancements with future trailers. Very interesting.

George attended a session on “riveting”, then decided he needed to do a bit of his own riveting.

Then, in the late afternon we had our daily meeting with lots of door prizes. I won an umbrella. Then, we watched “The Gong Show” – a fun fund-raising event. Some of the acts were quite good; others were a bit painful, like this woman dressed up in a flamingo costume telling bad jokes.

Flamingos are the emblem of Airstream owners. Lots of owners use flamingos in their decor – towels, pictures, stuffed animals, etc. I did my part – and bought a purse with flamingos…

DINNER: The Airstream management team BBQed hamburgers and hot dogs for us. I feel like I have been eating too many calories during this rally!

BOOK: I finished another Jacqueline Winspear novel. Very light – lady detective series that takes place in the early 1900s. 8 stars out of 10

Alumapalooza Fun

CAMPGROUND: Airstream factory
LOCATION: Jackson Center, Ohio – between Columbus and Dayton
WEATHER: Overcast. High 78

Thank goodness there were no more tornados during the night. Refreshed, I got up early and attended the yoga session at the Alumapalooza rally. Great to stretch!

Happy news….George was able to get the refrigerator working again. Yay!

The day was spent attending different educational sessions – topics such as national park camping, tire pressure monitoring, Airstream remodeling, and Dutch oven cooking. Happy hour with announcements and drawings – I won a cap with the Airtream logo.

I checked out some Airstreams that have been converted to little shops. There are different sections where the attendees are parked. This is the section with noisy generators.

Back to our field where we are parked… which one is ours?

DINNER: We drove about 5 miles to a local, popular restaurant with our friends from Retama Village. George and I shared a Philly steak sandwich and broccoli poppers.

After dinner, we chatted with other attendees and listened to a jam session.

A very expensive day…..

CAMPGROUND: In a big grassy lot at the Airstream factory
LOCATION: At the Alumapalooza Rally in Jackson Center, Ohio
WEATHER: Mostly cloudy. High 80

Since we were parked temporarily in one of the Airstream employees’ parking lots, we awoke early as the factory workers noisily arrived to start working at 6:00 AM. We quickly got ready and drove a few blocks to the Airstream service center to be first in line.

They started working on our Airstream at about 7:00. We had the accident repair work – the broken window and the front protector replacement – as well as the shower door – all lined up for them.

While the work was being done, we met up with our friends/neighbors from Retama Village (our tiny house community in Mission, TX). We took a walk around the nice, little town (1400 residents).

The Alumapalooza Rally lasts 5 days and is full of both educational as well as social activities. We attended an interesting session on full-timing.

In between sessions, we were on the phone with the pharmacy and insurance companies to deal with George’s prescription medicines (the ones that the Seneca Lake Park Ranger had thrown away). In a nutshell, insurance will not replace the cost of the meds, and the prescriptions without the co-pay will be $1600. Yikes! Nothing else we can do.

Then, we picked up the Airstream, all nicely repaired, after burning up the credit card with another $950 expense. (It would have been more, but the warranty paid for the new shower door).

Then, we zipped back to the field to park the Airstream. There are several grassy fields where the 500+ Alumapalooza attendees are parked. We are lucky, as some of the other fields have turned to swamps due to the amount of rain this area has had. Some Airtreams and tow vehicles are completely stuck and Airstream is pulling them out with their tractors.

Back to the main Alumapalooza tent for happy hour and a talk by the Airstream COO.

DINNER: We could have taken our food back to the main tent for a community cook-out, but we were pretty pooped. So, we stayed next to our Airstream and George grilled hot dogs. Early to bed.

PS – Tomorrow might be another big ticket day. The refrigerator seems to have quit working!


CAMPGROUND: We made it to the Airstream factory where we will be “camping” for the next week.

LOCATION: Airstream factory in Jackson Center, Ohio – in west central Ohio

WEATHER: Overcast. Some rain

But first…..last night was our last night in Seneca Lake Campground. Things got even worse. Since it had been raining, our loud neighbors’ firewood was wet so the kids started spraying lighter fluid all over. The awful smell permeated our trailer. Then, after we finally got to sleep, someone’s alarm started going off. It went on for about 30 minutes. So irritating.

Then, this morning, we faced the challenge of pulling out of the campsite. We were on a fairly steep slope and it was muddy. George was afraid that he couldn’t get enough traction to pull out the trailer. So, my job was to move the boards from under the tires at a certain point. He did it masterfully. Then, we had to dump our black and gray water. Normally, people are very considerate and carefully try to dump their “stuff” in the hole. The hillbillies in front of us just dumped their honey wagon in the general drain, not specifically the hole, and stuff went everywhere. Yuck!

We got out of there about 10:00 AM, and headed here. We drove through Columbus, but it wasn’t bad as it was Memorial Day. We had a nice picnic along the way, and arrived here in the early afternoon. As we entered the factory parking lot to figure out where to park, we told the volunteer that we had a special situation. She immediately said, “Oh you must be the Reids! Welcome to the Mothership. We will help you!” What a fantastic welcome. They instructed us where to park and assured us that the Service Department would be waiting for us at 7:00 AM tomorrow.. Fantastic customer service!!

We attended a BBQ and chatted with our Airstream friends Joe and Jinny, also from Retama Village (our tiny house location).

The evening was very pleasant. We went to bed about 10:00 with all the windows wide open, as we do not have electricity for A/C.

We awoke at 11:00 as rain was blowing in. As I started closing everything, I saw a man approach our trailer. It was one of the volunteers herding everyone into the factory as tornados were coming our way. So, we all huddled inside one of the Airstream buildings to wait out the storm. We found out later that some did touch down, just a few miles from here.

After an hour or so, the “all clear” was announced and we went back to bed.

Amish Country

CAMPGROUND: 3rd night at Seneca Lake Park and Campground. See previous comments.
LOCATION: Senecaville, Ohio, about 150 miles south of Cleveland
WEATHER: Some rain. High 80 Another noisy night. Our neighbors had a party and stayed up talking (right below our bedroom window) until the wee hours. Holiday weekends are the only time we don’t like camping.Our other neighbors are quite nice. In front of us are seasonal people, the folks that helped us get into our sight. I know this will sound unkind and rude, but they are a bit backward. He has a constant wad of chewing tobacco in his bottom lip (and spits all the time) and she is missing several teeth. They are nice, though, and rich (according to what he told us!). In back of us are a quiet Mennonite couple that seem to read all day. On another side are a group of 8 Amish young adults in tents. I was surprised to learn that they are Amish, but the Mennonites told us they are. They heard them speaking Pennsylvania Dutch and said that they are typical from this area. These Amish young people drive a pick-up truck, have a motorboat, smoke, and use cell phones, none of which I thought were allowed. One of the girls dresses like a “regular” girl, and the other 2 girls have on more traditional Amish dresses. The Mennonites told us that the Amish have this type of freedom at this age, then turn traditional once they marry. Interesting! Just as it was threatening rain, we jumped in the truck and took off for a day trip. We drove on the backroads around Amish country. The Amish farms are always the neatest. This one had a buggy in front. On other farms, I spotted young Amish girls with their bonnets on working in the barn.This is also gas and oil country. The dirt roads we were on are owned by the oil company. Then, our road ended and the oil trucks are not allowed farther.We drove about 35 miles south to Marietta, Ohio, a nice little college town. We found a laundry, dropped off the dirty clothes, and zipped into a brewpub. Lunch was a tasty, small pizza and beers.Marietta is on the Ohio River, and the old downtown, where the brewpub is, has been preserved nicely. Back to the laundry to move the clothes to the dryer, then a quick trip over the Ohio River to West Virginia, just to say we went there today. We are truly in Appalachia. Then, a stop at the grocery store to stock up for next week at the Airstream rally, where the town there has no grocery. We also stopped at a roadside vegetable market (our first on this trip) for some nice veg. DINNER: A great salad using the lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber from the vegetable market today. Main course was not too interesting – the leftover beef lentil dish jazzed up with rice and sauteed onions.

Stuck on an island!

CAMPGROUND: 2nd night at Seneca Lake Park and Campground. See yesterday’s comments
LOCATION: Senecaville, Ohio – south of Cleveland
WEATHER: Very nice. High 80. Partly cloudy with some rain storms.

The campground just keeps getting worse. Last night, new neighbors arrived at about midnight, lit a huge bonfire, and talked loudly for about 4 hours. At one point, George asked them to be careful about not letting the flames spark the awning. Due to the nice overnight temps, we had our windows open, and we couldn’t sleep due to their noise.

This morning dawned beautifully. We walked over to the marina and reserved a fishing boat for the afternoon.

Then, we went into the village of Senecaville to talk with the post office people to try to find George’s meds that were sent to the campground. They confirmed that they had been delivered. I learned something – the post office scans a package when it is delivered and even takes a picture of the location. So, we had proof. The delivery person even called the campground for us to tell them she remembered delivering it. So, back we went to the campground office to get to the bottom of this. We finally talked with the manager who tried to help. He called all his staff to ask whether they remembered it. He promised to get back with us later. The meds are important heart meds that George needs after his open-heart surgery. Also, they are quite expensive. Even with insurance, they are $350. The insurance will not give George another supply for that same price, so having to replace the meds will be $1000+.

We hopped into the little john-boat around noon. Boy, does it look smal! As soon as we took off, it started raining. Then, it began to pour. We anchored near a little island with some tree cover. While we were hunkered down, George fished a bit and we ate our picnic sandwiches.

When the rain finished, we realized that we were stuck in the mud. The motor had buried itself when the waves pushed us against the land. We pushed and pushed. No luck. I was beginning to get a little worried. Then, I decided to just get in the water and deal with it. I ended up being the hero as I finally got us out.

The afternoon was quite nice. George didn’t catch any fish, but we enjoyed our time on the lake.

When we arrived back at our campsite, a ranger greeted us. He told us that he was the one that had accepted the package of medicines and THREW THEM AWAY! We appreciate his honesty but WHY???? Since it is the weekend, there is nothing we can do today. He will call Mayo Clinic and see what can be done.

DINNER: George made a fire and we grilled the second half of the redfish that he had caught in the Gulf of Mexico last week. He cooked it skin down. When it was mostly cooked, we spread some panko on the top with two cubes of oregano-butter I had made in Texas. Covered with aluminum foil, we turned it over and finished cooking it. Superb! Sides were rice and chipotle corn. (I am glad to get that big fish filet out of the freezer!)

BOOK: I finished a book that had been recommended by one of my book club, “Crossing to Safety” by Wallace Stegner. The author does an excellent job of character development, telling the life story of a friendship of two couples. 8 out of 10 stars.

Made it to our first destination

CAMPGROUND: Seneca Lake Park and Campground. On Seneca Lake, although our site only has a distant view of the lake. Not a happy camper here. 1/2 star out of 5 (and I am being generous). Grassy, muddy site with serious downward slope. 30-amp only electricity. No water. Picnic table. No wifi. No cell service. No TV reception. Crowded. $36/night plus taxes and reservation fees (more comments later)
LOCATION: Senecaville, Ohio – in east central part of the state. 50 miles east of Columbus
WEATHER: We finally got out of the heat! Very pleasant. High 75. Some rain showersWe were able to open up and sleep without air conditioning.

We heard some rain drops during the night, then the birds woke us up with their chirping. So nice. We left our campground north of Lexington, Kentucky and headed toward Senecaville, Ohio. It was only 150 miles, but we chose to take the back roads, so it took all day to get here. We drove through a lot of little towns, some dressed up with flags for Memorial Day weekend. Some fairly wealthy looking; others quite poor and run-down. One town had a round-about in its center. I was driving at the time, and missed the round-about exit, so I had to drive around the circle twice. I’m sure we made a strange spectacle! We drove through parts of the Appalachia Mountains. I hadn’t realized that Ohio had mountains. High point (really low point) was when the “only a few miles left in the gas tank” light came on. We had to just keep going on. Town after town without gas stations. There wasn’t a shoulder on the road, so I worried about how we would pull off if we did run out of gas. Thankfully, about 10 miles from the campground, and with a below-empty gas gauge, we passed under an interstate, and voila’ – a heaven-sent gas station.

I had some bad premonitions about this campground, and unfortunately, they proved correct. I had booked this about 4 months ago for 4 nights, knowing that places would fill up early for Memorial Day weekend. We wanted to be close to the Airstream factory, where we have a rally next week. This was the only place where I found availability, and we are 150 miles away! Then, last week, George called the campground and asked if he could have his prescription package mailed here. They said yes, so we arranged for that. He tracked the package online, and when he saw that it arrived a few days ago, he called the campground to remind them that we were on our way. The person he spoke to rudely told him that they would not/could not accept any packages. If he weren’t here to collect it, it would be sent back. He pleaded with them, saying that they are life-saving (which they are – heart meds) and very expensive, but they essentially said “Tough!” So today when we arrived, they indeed did not have the package. They told us to check with the village post office.So, we got our site assignment (no map), and drove into the campground. It was solid back-to-back-RVs, all looking like they were permanent. We drove by about 400 of them (looking at the numbers of the sites). We could not find our site after driving around and around. So, back to the office we went (2 miles or so). They informed us that we were in a different campground around the lake – on the marina side. (Why didn’t they tell us this in the first place?). So, off we drove around the lake, about 5 miles. This section, too, looked like it was full with RVs set up permanently or on a seasonal basis. We could not find our site. After driving around (and taking out one guy’s flowers in the front yard), I got out of the truck and started walking around. It was too narrow to keep driving around with the Airstream – cars and boats parked along the narrow road. The numbers of the sites did not flow logically. Finally, I found a dirt area with chunks of concrete, 3 broken-down picnic tables, and a pole with our site number, tossed on the ground. Yep! This is our site! Clearly, it was not usable. It was too short, nowhere to park, and was being used as a dump area. So back 5 miles to the office to see what we could do. I had not noticed any empty sites, so what are we supposed to do on a late Friday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend!?The office staff (a bunch of teenagers without a clue) told us we could check on 2 other sites that they reserved for walk-ins. So, back 5 miles to the other campground we went.

We found a site that we thought could possibly work, and George started to try to park. We were very, very lopsided. Thankfully, a neighbor stopped by and told us which angle to use to park it. He was very helpful, got us some boards to put under the tires, and we finally got situated (even though I think we are dangerously perched on a too steep hill).That same neighbor drove around and brought us back a firepit we can use while we are here.George added more layers of tarp to the broken window frame, as rain is predicted this weekend.We relaxed outside the trailer. Perfect evening temperatures. We chatted with the nice neighbors. They are still working, and live here at the lake during the summer. She is an EMT, and told us a sad story about a car crashing into an Amish buggy last week near here.DINNER: The last of the meals I had made in Texas before we left. This was a lentil, beef, and veg stew. Side was a bunch of vegetables in a cheese sauce.

Bourbon country!

CAMPGROUND: Blue Lick Battlefield State Park. Electricity and water. Firepit. So-so bathrooms. $26/night. No TV. 4 stars out of 5
LOCATION: An hour north of Lexington, Kentucky
WEATHER: Hot – 88 and mostly sunny.

We drove almost the entire width of Kentucky today – from the southwest to northeast corners. We drove only about 280 miles, as we lost an hour due to Eastern Time Zone and with a nice lunch-time stop. We stayed mostly off the major highways, following scenic byways. Our off-the-beaten-path route took us by Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace, so we stopped. It is a national park, and very well-done. We watched a movie about Lincoln’s early days, then climbed the 56 steps (56 for his age at death) of the monument that houses a replica of the log cabin where he was born. Then, we had a nice picnic lunch in the parking lot!The countryside was beautiful, rolling hills with corn and hay. As we approached Lexington, we started seeing huge southern mansions with thoroughbreds romping in the fields. This campground was right off the highway, and we arrived here around 4:00, a perfect time to stop and call it a day.After we set up (nothing much to do as we are not unhooking), we saluted a successful day with a glass of Kentucky bourbon – of course!

DINNER: Pasta with a kale pesto cream sauce and chicken sausage.

Gliding Up the Natchez Trace Parkway

CAMPGROUND: Henry Horton State Park. Water and Electricity at each site. Picnic table and firepit. Nice bathrooms/showers. Woodsy. $32/night. 3 stars. On a river, but no view from campground.

LOCATION: Chapel Hill, Tennessee – a bit south of Nashville

WEATHER: Less humid. High 90. Nice in the evening

We are getting a pretty good routine – up early and on the road by 7:00. We drove about an hour to hectic Jackson, Mississippi, and gratefully got off the interstate to enter the Natchez Trace Parkway. What a change! The entire 450 miles is a national park. Trucks are not allowed and the speed limit is 50, so there is hardly any traffic. It was so peaceful and stressless that we drove about 300 miles on it northeast, and didn’t feel road-weary.

The history…..The Natchez Trace was a path that the fur sellers used back in the day. They would sail down the Mississsippi with their furs to sell to ships awaiting them in the Gulf of Mexico. Then, they walked back north with their purses full of coins, taking about 2 months to return to northern Tennessee. The parkway follows their path with historical markers along the way.

There are lovely picnic grounds and historic signage all along the parkway. We stopped for a picnic of gazpacho that I had made back in Texas. (A good way to use up vegetables – tomatoes, green peppers, jalapenos, cucumbers, onion, and garlic). Nice, cool, and refreshing lunch.

We left the parkway about 3:30 to look for a campground. We found this one on the map, and it did just fine. We drove a total of 440 miles today!

After getting set up (we are not unhooking on this rapid trip this week), we hiked one of the park’s trails. We are located on the Duck River, popular for canoeing and tubing. Very nice…

DINNER: One of the dishes I had prepared in Texas – a chicken/green bean combo in a tahini sauce. I served it over couscous. Side was cucumbers in Greek yogurt. All quite good….but unfortunately, we have leftovers and the freezer space is limited.

Yikes! Broken window!

CAMPGROUND: Percy Quin State Park. Unexpected gem! Full hook-ups, firepit, picnic table, stand-up grill, and gorgeous views of the lake. $16/night, but no one was there to take our money, so free! 5 stars out of 5
LOCATION: McComb, Mississippi, between New Orleans and Jackson, Mississippi
WEATHER: Muggy. High 92This was our route yesterday…We rocked and rolled in the Airstream at Galveston Island State Park all night long. Winds of 35 mph kept us awake most of the night. The air conditioner struggled to keep us cool with the high humidity. We were better off than the tenters all around us, whose tents fell apart and whose gear blew away.We got a nice, early start from Galveston Island. We crossed the bay on a free ferry. A really nice way to avoid the traffic of Galveston and HoustonWhen we disembarked from the ferry, we drove about 50 miles along the Bolivar Peninsula. It was high tide and the signs warning about water on the road were correct!We stopped for a bathroom break, and to my dismay, I found the shower door on the floor! How it didn’t break or gouge the floor is a miracle. And even worse……..George discovered that our side window was shattered and that the front window protector was half broken off. We think it must have happened when we ran over a piece of metal on the highway. It is strange, though, that it didn’t do anything to the aluminum side. We stopped at a hardware store, bought a tarp, removed all the glass shards, and lined the window frame with the tarp. Just hope we don’t run into rain. We callled the Airstream factory (where we are heading next week) to see if they can fit us in while we are there for the rally. Back on the road, we got on Interstate 10. How awful! Hundreds (seemingly thousands) of big semis barreling down the road. Lots of construction. Terrible bumpy conditions. We passed by lots of refineries. We had planned to avoid I-10 by going north, but changed our route as we needed to avoid the bad tornados and flooding in northern Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. So, we had to travel east first. We finally turned north in Baton Rouge. Much better!By this time, it was 4:30, and we had managed 350 miles for the day, even with our stops. We stumbled upon this beautiful state park right north of the Misssissippi/Louisiana state line. We found a site with a great view of the lake and settled in. Bliss!DINNER: I was planning another of my prepared dishes, but George was excited about the stand-up grill and the free charcoal that someone had left. So, we had grilled hamburgers and leftover potato salad. Very tasty!