Jackie and I were just itching to get out on our first adventure of 2017, so we finished up the de-winterization of the motorhome and packed for a trip to the Georgia Blue Ridge mountains before Spring Break hit the area schools. Plus, we wanted to introduce Kodi to our camping adventures and be sure we had the camper truly ready for the season.
Getting the van all set for camping meant adding water and bleach to the main water tank, running it through the lines and letting it sit overnight, then flushing and filling again for a final rinse. Our leveling jack is repaired and a double-check of everything showed we were ready to roll. What we love is how easy it is to pack the fridge, stock the pantry, load the bedroom closets and drawers with clothes and fill the bathroom with essentials and BAM! we are set to go.
Since we were headed for Helen, Georgia, specifically Unicoi State Park, we opted not to hitch the car but have Jackie drive it with Kodi as passenger. Not his first trip in the car, but first time with a seat harness. He has a nervous stomach, so he and Merlin had to go without breakfast (oh… the pain and agony of the starving cat!), but the little puppy still was drooling for much of the trip. We are taking to calling this his “flip and spit’ behavior – and if you were in the car with him you would understand. Poor guy, but we all arrived safely at camp ready for adventure.
We chose a full-hookup site that was an easy back-in and connection to electric, water and sewer. Our initial frustration was the lack of any information on the Unicoi State Park website about the available campsites, options, fees or even the choice of registering online. A couple of unanswered phone calls later and I finally reached someone to book a site, but it was first-pick of what was available once you got to the campground. That’s not too unusual for some state parks and Corps of Engineers campgrounds, but the lack of information online was disappointing.
Set camp and walked Kodi around to get his bearings, check out the lake, camp store and some of the trails. A dinner of grilled salmon was a nice finish to the day. Boom! Crack! and we had a good ol’ thunderstorm on our hands overnight. We were plenty high and dry and everything was out of harm’s way, but if you have camped in the rain, you know how noisy the raindrops can be – like lots of snare drums tapping. Not a peep out of Kodi, however. Oh, except a waaaaay early morning call of nature, once the storm had passed.
I hate plumbing . . .
Did I tell you how much I hate plumbing… toilets… water lines… all that? Oh, I manage to handle it just fine eventually, but water is such a pain when things go wrong. I mention this now because as I am having my coffee in the camper I hear Jackie remark that there is water on the bathroom floor. Not good. Something in the supply line for the toilet is dripping and of course the only option is to shut off the water. Hmm, maybe if I tighten the cap underneath? Nope, made it worse. Well, shut off the water and tackle it later, maybe. “Let’s go wander around Helen,” Jackie suggested, so I was all in.
It was a short drive into ‘Alpine Helen’ as it bills itself. and we went to take in the atmosphere of a German alpine community. Eh, maybe not so much, but it was kind of pre-season, so that may be why about half the shops and restaurants were closed. If you have been to Gatlinburg, TN, you just have to scale it back a little, add some German names and gingerbread to the buildings instead of logs and cabins and … well, you get the idea. But we had some bratwurst, kraut, corned beef and craft beer along the Chattahoochee River on a nice sunny day, so it all worked out just fine. Picked up some hearty bread and Danish at a local bakery and we headed back to camp.
The afternoon hike around Unicoi Lake was an easy trek for Kodi, but Doug didn’t find many blooming flowers or local wildlife to capture with camera, to his disappointment, but we did see the newest section of zip lines that were almost ready to use. Some pretty long runs across the lake. The course that was already in use looked challenging enough, so we decided we would try it tomorrow. Oh, and all that hiking let Kodi sleep through until 8:30! Yay, that’s a lot better than his usual 6:15 am.
Hmm… water problem was still not fixed. I turned off water, took the cap off, decided it must be a worn “O” ring and off I went in search of the nearest Wal-Mart (Cleveland, not too far really). No “O” rings, but Teflon thread tape and special rubber leak-stop tape might work. Nope, in fact even more dripping. So the solution was to put a pan under the leak and only pressurize with the water pump as we needed water, then letting off the pressure. Staying hooked up to the city water was just too much pressure (oh, yeah, wasn’t that the whole idea of full hookups though?). This fix will have to wait until we are back home.
Our last full day was a beautiful, sunny and warm day, perfect for a hike up to Anna Ruby Falls. The senior pass came in handy once again, as we didn’t have to pay parking/admission. What a great easy hike up along the creek to the double falls. Wildflowers were blooming and kept Doug busy snapping pictures, while Kodi met lots of kids along the trail with no fear.
We grabbed a quick lunch back at camp, then signed up for our zip line adventure. The course was 11 zips and 7 cable bridges and as we suited up in our harnesses, we were reminded of our favorite TV show “The Amazing Race.” With Jackie in the lead, off we went with our two guides. Just the four of us, so it was a very personalized tour. What fun! Here is a short video of Jackie on the zip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OR5Eobzro-s&feature=youtu.be
Climbing up and across and zipping along the cables at treetop level was very cool. Our only other zip line experience was through a jungle in Guatemala, but that involved a lot more hiking up the mountain. Ahhh, back to camp for an adult beverage and a couple of strip steaks on the grill. Gosh, camping is tough work.
Kodi made it through his first camping trip just fine, adapting to the motorhome, the camping routine, up and down the steps and leash-walking around camp to meet kids and other dogs. He’s going to be a great adventure companion (we really think Benji is giving him some advice).
Back home I tackled the toilet water supply problem. Took the supply diverter off the toilet, unhooked the hoses and will run to Camping World for a replacement. That should do it for now. (Did I tell you how much I hate plumbing?)
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Here are some quick stats on how our blog has been received:
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Reading this on a 34 degree a.m.on the farm; stormy wth sleet. NO wildflowers up here yet, needless to say. Loads of woodcock, for many weeks. When are you coming to New England? We have parking for you….