Yep, it’s summer and we are staying local, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t busy. This summer in particular is one where EVERYONE hit the road to go SOMEWHERE – but we are trying to avoid those crowds and just enjoy some time with the family. So what did these two busy retirees do, exactly?
Well, we took our grandsons to the Georgia Aquarium for some underwater adventures. That was an amazing day and we just wowed the boys, sitting in front of the huge tank of fish, with the whale sharks and rays sailing past. They loved the beluga and the sharks and couldn’t stop pointing out all the fish in the underwater tunnel as we were transported along the moving walkway. “More big fish, Pop pop, come on” was heard more than a few times. Crazy moment in the main hall when someone called out to me to stop … turns out it was our former assistant principal Dr. Davis who is now President and CEO of the aquarium (and who also encouraged me to get certified to teach the engineering and technology classes). Well, that led to a behind-the-scenes tour of the big tank and some private viewing moments. What a nice surprise!
I was back to baking bread, with some camping coming up we needed burger and hotdog rolls and a Pullman loaf for PB&J sandwiches. Had to keep feeding the sourdough, too.
We also camped along the shores of our local Lake Allatoona, something we thought would be a good opportunity for the grandsons to learn what the motorhome and camping are all about. Even though we were in a cycle of daily pop-up thunderstorms, it was a very fun few days at the lake. Our campsite was next to the swimming area, so when the boys, Karina and Jason joined us it was easy to walk back and forth. The boys loved it and Wyatt took to the kayak like a pro. Paddleboards and floats made it fun to splash, paddle and bob in the water, even when the rain came down. Owen and Wyatt stayed the night with us, ate all our snacks plus a hearty pancake breakfast and we all splashed around in the lake the next day.
A few days later we drove to Chattanooga to visit with Alex and Bethany and most importantly to go off-road Jeeping with them and some friends. It was important to Alex that we properly break in the Jeep with mud splashes and off-road bumps and bounces – and the long and winding Big Frog Road through the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest certainly did that. It was good to learn how to put it in 4-wheel drive, disconnect the sway bar and generally get the feel of off-roading, since we have our fall trip to the canyons of Utah coming up. Kodi seems to enjoy the back seat of the Jeep, at least we heard no complaints.
We added a trip to the Tennessee Aquarium the next day and had fish tacos at Big River Grill (was that wrong?).
We also had the grandsons over for another night at home, since Karina was busy setting up her classroom for students this school year. This time we pulled out the trusty inflatable pool and our “redneck trampoline” to entertain them (the old RV mattress is awaiting a bulk pickup). We were also dog-sitting Allie, so there was much noise and movement around the house at feeding time.
And we are getting everything ready for another big adventure to the Southwest. That meant getting 4 new tires for the motorhome, a check of the brakes, propane fill and new springs on one of the hydraulic leveling jacks (it still retracts very slowly). Replaced a tiny spring in the screen door latch and pulled out and replaced the diverter in the shower faucet. I also replaced the very fogged up and yellowed headlight assemblies, replaced the amber clearance lights on the front with new LED ones and switched to LED bulbs on the red ones in the rear. Even though we rarely drive at night, it just updates the motorhome and certainly improves the look up front.
A few extra accessories for the Jeep (storage nets, overnight cover, decent cooler and storage sleeve for the soft-sided windows), a GoPro mount attached to the front bumper and I think it is ready for off-roading. And for Labor Day weekend I got to try it out in the Prentice Cooper WMA in Chattanooga. Alex invited us up to join Bethany’s parents on a trail ride just a few miles from their house and as you can see, it was a bit muddy, bumpy and dusty. We had lunch at an overlook of the Tennessee River with Chattanooga in the distance. Unfortunately the ride was cut short by a front driveshaft breakdown on Jim’s Jeep, which meant we had to go have a beer at Heaven & Ale in Chatt. Not so bad. And yes, I washed off the mud from Tennessee, both trips.
I’ve got my various cameras ready for photos and ran through night-sky and sunset photo settings. We’ve gone through our hiking boots, neoprene booties, trekking poles, backpacks and essentials to be sure we are ready. Watched some great videos of hikes and drives in the areas we are heading (we particularly like “Adventures of A + K”) and feel like we know what to do in Canyonlands, Moab, Great Sand Dunes, Black Canyon of the Gunnison and … well, you will just have to wait for the pictures and stories. Our highlight Jeep drive will be the Shafer Trail from Dead Horse Point State Park to Moab. (I am trying a new app for hikes called AllTrails, which looks VERY helpful).
So, off we go in mid-September for another adventure. Kodi and Merlin will be our back-seat critics, Jackie will navigate and of course we’ll have stories to share. As our good friend Rich said “you always manage to find some cool brewery.” What we won’t find much of is good internet, cell signal and WiFi, so it may be some slow postings on the blog. But I will do my best to share our adventure. (Bit disappointed that Roadtrippers app is now very limited in their free version).
Oh, and in case you were just a bit confounded by our 4-wheeling adventure through the sand, pictured as the white Jeep at the top of this post, maybe this will help put it in context for you (look closely):
Just having a little fun, there. Thanks for coming along on the journey as we explore Utah, northern New Mexico and the Gunnison River Valley with our Jeep (the big one) in tow!