Rolling Again!

Fwaaap! Thwack! BANG! This must be how you say ‘Welcome to Ohio’ at Kiser State Park. As we rolled into the campground to begin a six week trip around the coastal southeast, all we could hear were the bangbang sounds of black walnuts crunching beneath our tires. Already, Jezzy was not a happy camper. On a sultry day with late afternoon temps in the mid-90s, we had a choice of a campsite with electric service and no shade, or a shady site with no electric (meaning we couldn’t run our a/c). We debated, and chose the shade, so we could at least sit outside. Oh man, it was HOT! We were lucky to have one of the few sites shaded by towering maples, instead of black walnut trees.20170924_161705 We could hear the walnuts bouncing off cars and RVs all over the campground. We escaped that, and were fortunate that the temps dropped into the comfortable 60s for the night. We’re back on the road! It’s been a long summer, spent mostly in our own back yard

Our plan for this trip is to wander south toward Atlanta (Jimmy Carter Presidential Museum!), then over to Savannah. From there, we’ll hug the coast as we wander north, getting as far as Norfolk before turning west and heading home. Since we made our plans, Hurricane Irma slammed into the coast, closing Huntington Island State Park (SC) until the end of the year. We’re hoping Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Phillipe, etc. leave us (and everyone else) alone.

After just one night at Kiser, we headed to the Wayne National Forest and the Iron Ridge Campground. What a gorgeous campground. Large campsites, thoughtfully laid out with flush toilets and showers. wp-image-247140785The downside? How would you feel about being invaded by about 5000 stinkbugs? It was disgusting! They got inside, outside, on everything we owned. An endless invasion. We’d roll up our shades, and five would drop out onto the bed. They collected inside our ceiling fan, clattering around when we turned the fan on for circulation. Eventually, we couldn’t stand being outside anymore, and simply holed up for the evening. Fortunately, they must be late sleepers, as we didn’t have any issues as we quickly pulled up stakes and hustled out of town after just one night. Good luck with this, Ohio. We’ve got some in Michigan, but this was beyond my worst nightmares.

So, we’re not exactly off to a rip-roaring start.

What else has happened since my last post in May? Not much, really. We spent most of the summer trying to rehab our lawn, which suffered from neglect all spring due to our late homecoming. Perhaps a better plan is needed if we want to be gone for so long every winter. We did add two new bikes to our backyard sculpture park (or bicycle garden), including this little polka-dot King of the Mountain bike which makes me smile every time I see it. 20170917_185453Thanks to my cousins Mary and Laurie for the supercute plaque. Gardening this year was a huge flop – yeah, the kale grew, but bugs got most of my herbs, and my four tomato plants produced a grand total of six cherry tomatoes.  Needless to say, I’ve gone in like Sherman into Georgia and hacked everything down. Need to rethink my gardening options for 2018

I bought a new bike! Yay!! But, then I hardly rode it. Boo. Except for a four-day camping trip with a friends from our bike club Rapid Wheelmen. They tried to kill me, making me ride up the scenic drive at Sleep Bear National Lakeshore. Worth every pedal stroke.20170721_121541-1August was our best month, headlined by the 5th Annual Night Shift (the epic 100 mile nighttime gravel road ride for which John and I provide crew services). New route this year found us camping for the first time at Yankee Springs State Park. Omg, what a nightmare. Just don’t go there. Never have we been cheek to jowl with so many campers, each site with an RV, a tent or two, two cars, bikes, wagons, kids, and flashing lights, TVs, and whatnot.20170813_082634 But, the ride was a hoot! Our T@DA pals Jen and Chuck came up from North Carolina to participate, and spent two days camped in our driveway while we explored Grand Rapids.20170809_173714 A little BBQ, a brewery or two, and a stroll around Meijer Gardens made this week the highlight of our summer. Here’s Chuck doing his best Life Imitates Art impression. 20170809_143825John has been an amateur astronomer for years, and has seen two total eclipses. We made plans to see his third in Kentucky with John’s brother and friends. Wow!! I have no photos – why bother? Every person with decent equipment and knowledge posted incredible photos of this stunning event. We spent our time in a small boat in the middle of Lake Barkley, near Hopkinsville, watching the shadows creep across the sun, until we could finally remove our paper glasses and just stare, open-mouthed at the amazing total eclipse. The surrounding air turned a dusky twilight color – like being surrounded by sunset at noon. It was eerie and amazing.20170821_132429I can’t wait until 2024 to see it again.

But, the funniest thing happened as we motored our way back to the dock in the small speedboat (fishing boat?) we were in. As we meandered back toward shore, an Asian Carp suddenly leaped out of the water and hit John right in the back of his head! It then slapped his shoulder, and dropped behind him, nearly landing in brother Don’s lap. Needless to say, pandemonium ensued. There was a mad scramble to grab this two-foot long fish and fling it overboard. I was standing in the front of the boat trying to get a photo, and laughing so hard I nearly fell overboard myself. If you live in Michigan, you probably are aware of the Asian Carp menace. If not, click on the link above and see what we’re talking about. There is genuine concern that they will decimate the salmon population in the Great Lakes if they get established here. Although I don’t have any action photos, and what I did take are cockeyed and crazy, I do have a photo of the fish imprint on John’s shirt. 20170821_140114Our only other adventure this summer was riding the Big Bear Butt Bicycle Tour. We once again camped in our favorite Michigan Campground at Lake Michigan Recreation Area. We cycled on a perfect day for about 65 miles in northern Michigan on pristine roads through woods and small towns. A piece of the ride went along the Lake Michigan shoreline near Arcadia. My Michigan pride wells up here – will happily match our shoreline against the best scenic views anywhere.20170827_122821So, that’s my summer. We’re happy to be on the road again, and will post up as time and access permits. In the meantime, we’re dusting off our hiking boots for a six-mile jaunt tomorrow into the beautiful Jefferson National Forest.

14 thoughts on “Rolling Again!

  1. I’m a little behind in reading some of my email. I just read this blog of yours. Hundreds of stink bugs at a campground! I can’t imagine it. Must have been mating season.

    Sylvia

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  2. Hey Judy,

    Yoly and I finally fulfilled a 30 year plan to visit my homeland this spring. We did over 8,500 miles from Georgia to northern British Columbia and back (mid May to July). I’m up to Day 19 out of 44 on my editing and uploads to our channel. We stopped at Glacier NP on the way, did all the required (for novices like Yoly) touristy places like Banff and Jasper and stopped at Yellowstone on the way home. We had a spectacular time. Here’s a peek ……

    Now to business :-) We live about 50 miles north of Atlanta at the top of Lake Lanier. At the right time of day, you can be in downtown Atlanta in less than an hour. Our house is within an hour of dozens of campgrounds and waterfalls throughout the north Georgia mountains. We just got back today from a week trip to 2 of the local National Forest and State Park campgrounds. We have extensive knowledge of the area. We also have a large open area in front of our house (level asphalt) with water and 20 amp available if you’d care to stop and rest a spell (as they say). We’d be glad to have you stay. We are about 30 minutes from the tallest waterfall east of the continental divide.
    If you approach from the coast, I would assume you plan on a visit to historically significant Savannah. I’d recommend Skidway Island State Park as a base for exploring the coastal forts and area. It’s a beautiful park filled with tall oaks draped in Spanish moss.
    I’m not sure how we can get our specifics for contacting each other ? Do you have my email address I used to connect to your blog ? In any case, let us know if this might be something you could fit into your plans.

    Best,
    Neil & Yoly

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    • Hi Neil. Thanks for your note. I’ve looked at several of your Canadian trip videos – it’s such a beautiful area. I’ve been from Banff to Jasper via bicycle, but we have yet to get up there with the Campsh@ck. Your videos make me feel like we need to get that trip on our camping calendar.

      We have reservations laid down for the Atlanta area at Stone Mountain. It looked like a good location for exploring the area. We know we’ll have to deal with monster traffic issues, but we’re hoping that cycling/public transportation options will work out for the time we want to spend in the city. I’d love to hear about some of the waterfalls, and other spots we might miss otherwise.

      We do have reservations in Savannah at Skidaway for four nights. Really looking forward to that visit.

      I’ve got an email address for you (I think). Will send you a separate note. It would be fun to connect up with you and Yoly for a lunch. We’ll be at Stone Mountain Oct 10-12, heading to Savannah on the 13th.

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  3. I’m looking forward to see the places that you find on your southern tour, hopefully no more stink bugs, walnuts, or crowded campgrounds.

    I wish that I had the time to spend some time up north like you did, although I avoid most of the places that you go, too many people.

    Congratulations on the new bike, I hope that you get more chances to ride it while your down south.

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    • Hi Jerry. The stinkbugs were a nightmare – don’t think we will ever camp in southern Ohio this time of year again. Not sure what the pattern of infestation is, but I hope we’ve seen the last of them. In the past few weeks at home, we have seen them everywhere around our yard as well, but nothing like this. Hope it’s not a preview of things to come.

      We try to find quiet campgrounds. Yankee Springs was the HQ for our bike ride, so another spot wasn’t an option. We’ve not camped there before, and weren’t prepared for how crammed and noisy it was. Now it’s just another Michigan State Park on our Do Not Camp list.

      We’re excited about venturing into new territory. Neither of us has ever spent any time along the southern Atlantic coast, so it will be fresh scenery for both of us.

      Thanks for checking in.

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    • Thanks, Mary. We are still laughing about that damn fish (me especially). Thanks for hanging in there with us, while I finally got around to writing another post. Hoping to keep a better schedule going forward.

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    • Love that photo of Chuck. It feels so good to be out if Michigan and on the road. What we are most looking forward to is all the new campgrounds we’ll be visiting. There aren’t any that we’ve been to before. See you very soon .

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