Brandon's cousin suggested that we begin journaling our camping adventures since we finally bought our own recreational vehicle. I thought it was a great idea, but alas I have yet to buy one. I was incredibly busy last week stocking the camper and I simply ran out of time before it was time to leave. So I thought that I might begin by blogging about our camping adventures here :) …
I felt like NASA's command central last Friday as we were planning to head out after the girls finished their swimming for the week. We had a very small window of opportunity in which to leave and not present ourselves with too many headaches associated with arriving at a campground in the middle of the night. We were traveling almost 4 hours since other places that were closer were booked over the weekend, so in order to arrive before nightfall we needed to leave our home by 5 p.m. All was looking well for go at the correct time and we were texting each other back and forth with "T-minus 2 hours and counting" silliness. To say we were excited would be an understatement. We were simply giddy at finally taking our own camper this time. We held out for this particular camper, got the one we wanted and paid for it in full. I had everything packed up and ready to go and all Brandon needed to do was get home, throw some things that I had already set out for him into the camper, and wait for us to get home. BUT … he called me at 4:30 to tell me that the air went out in his truck!!! Egads!!! Not in this blazing heat!!! Shoot! There goes the window of opportunity! The air must be fixed before we can leave. As it turned out it was a VERY simple … well … I don't really know, I just know it was simple and Brandon was again on his way home. HOWEVER … our window of opportunity had since closed and now we were faced with leaving bright and early in the morning or arriving when the campground was pitch black dark. In our eagerness we chose to go ahead and leave Friday evening.
We finally arrived at the campground about 10 p.m. and it was DARK! We were faced with finding a site that would accommodate us without being able to see. I think we drove around the campground 4 times before settling on a site that we had scoped out with a flashlight! When we woke up the next morning it turned out to be a pretty good site with a great view of the forest that leads to the western rim of the canyon.
BUT guess what Brandon discovered when we arrived? One of the 2 bolts on the sway control/weight distribution hitch had broken!! Who knows how long we had been pulling the camper with only 1 bolt! Whew! Thank you, Lord, for keeping us safe! So the next morning we trekked into Hixson, TN (just north of Chattanooga) to Northgate RV - they were the only ones around to carry our brand of hitch. The people there were very kind and installed the bolts and adjusted the hitch for us at no charge.
Since we were out, we stopped by Walmart to buy some supplies (one of them being a TV that would fit in the living room space - you know how important TVs are to camping!!) and then travelled back down to Chattanooga for lunch. We decided to go to Mellow Mushroom and let me just say it was the worst Mellow Mushroom I have ever had. The pretzels were burnt, as was the pizza. And the service was terrible. And at 3:00 in the afternoon we still had to wait 20 minutes to eat! We salvaged the afternoon with a little Ben and Jerry's however :)
On Sunday we visited the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Battlefield Park. This is the site of the oldest and largest Civil War Park. It is huge. And it is sobering to stand in the many places where 36,000 people died in 1863. The girls each got a Junior Ranger Book to complete. And they worked very hard and both earned their badges for this Park. I discovered that I know very little about the Civil War. The Visitor's Center here is full of information. Easily we could have spent another entire day here and still not have been able to take it all in. It was fascinating. We wanted to visit Point Park also, but we stayed here until it closed at 5 p.m. and it was time to head back to our campsite.
Brandon & Grace trying on Soldiers' uniforms
Grace pretending to drink from a soldier's cup
Grace trying on Soldiers' shoes
Grace and Lydia's Junior Rangers Books
An officer's tent
The Fuller Gun Collection
Grace diligently working on her Junior Ranger Badge
I have no idea who this is!
… Battle lines …
Grace is so proud to have earned her Junior Ranger Badge here!
On Monday morning we wanted to go and buy a poo hauler (as we call them) to empty our gray water tanks (which seemed to be full, but we have since discovered they are clogged and the sensors need cleaning). So again we made the trip up to Northgate RV. On the way there I remembered that I forgot to put the chicken in the crockpot that I had planned for dinner! "No problem," says Brandon … we'll just butterfly it and grill it. More on that later …
The girls were asking to go to Ruby Falls since it was nearby. But it's such an expensive tourist trap! So we opted to visit the Creative Discovery Museum in downtown Chattanooga instead. And we were glad we did - it was a hit! We stayed until closing time and for only $9 it was a real bargain. What a fabulous place for children. If I lived in Chattanooga you can be sure I would have a family pass to that place.
But before we made it over there we ate lunch at Taziki's … yum!! Mediterranean food … mmmm … just thinking about it makes me want to eat there again RIGHT NOW! And then on our walk over we stopped at Chattanooga Cupcakes and made ourselves sick with too much sugar ;) And I am a cupcake snob and these were good cupcakes. If you visit there be sure to eat them right away and ask for room temperature cakes for the best cupcake experience :)
OK … so we enjoyed the museum very much. And at the end of a long day we made our way back and knew that we needed to empty the gray water tanks, like I said. So we did, er, um … Brandon did. And he proceeded to hitch it up and take it to the dump station to empty it. But on his way to the dump station it came off the hitch! It's quite the winding road to get from the campground to the dump station and the poo hauler just didn't stay put. Twice it came off and thankfully no one was comping the other way. The second time it ran off into the guard rail and bent the axle of our brand new poo hauler. Bring another hitch for the poo hauler next time … lesson learned - check! This makes me laugh just thinking about it. The visual of this run away poo hauler makes me giggle. Of course, I am not the one who had to deal with it. Thanks, Brandon! ♥
OK … back to the forgotten-chicken-we'll-just-grill-it … not only did I forget to put the chicken in the crockpot, but I also forgot that I had other food as well. We could have had spaghetti (I had made a fabulous sauce for it before we left) or at the very least hot dogs or ham sandwiches. But I completely forgot that I had that other food and so we thought our only option for eating that night was grilling this chicken. Somehow. On this state park charcoal grill. With very little charcoal. That wouldn't light. Even though it's called "Match Light" charcoal. Good thing we didn't have "just one match". At this point it was 9 o'clock … after the poo hauler incidents and not being able to light the charcoal. But Brandon was determined. So we … er, um … HE persevered. I was just tired. And feeling COMPLETELY stupid for a) forgetting about the crockpot and b) for forgetting we had other food. But the chicken just wasn't cooking on the grill, so we grabbed the frying pan and he fried it up on the Coleman Stove. Finally it was ready, along with the corn (that I cooked - it was so difficult you know!) … at 10:30 p.m.
Needless to say we all slept late this morning … none of us woke until 9:30. Ahhhhhhhh. And that is what I love about camping. Adventures … you NEVER know what the day might bring … and sleeping late ♥ … we'll go again in 4 weeks … who knows what that trip will bring? :)
Why do I ♥ this food tent so?
Our fire ring
My campsite flag ♥
Our view :)
On our campsite :)
Our camper :)
Our Moxie … with her bark collar on because she's so vicious ;)
Brandon putting up the awning lights
OK … I just ♥ my awning lights :)
… and him ♥ :)
citronella candles! A must in the summer … and yes, they work :)
Out the camper door :)
And our camper … ♥