Sunday, June 29, 2014

6/28-6/29/14 A Flower Blooms

(Damascus, VA)

The forest is in bloom!  These buds have been set for quite awhile and they are finally opening.  These bushes are everywhere in the campground.  Every site has them, the roadways are lined with them and the flowers seem to last quite awhile once they fully open.

They don’t seem to have any fragrance but they are lovely to look at en masse.

Bob and I were talking once again about what its like living in the shade.  We have decided that we are definitely desert people.  So now we can say, “We don’t do cold.  We don’t do snow.  And we don’t do shade!”  You just don’t realize how much you take something like sunshine for granted.

Todd and Amanda, the new camp hosts, came over to visit.  They don’t have TV so they borrowed some movies.  They will call for Directv tomorrow.  We gave them our account number so they will get $10.00 off their bill and so will we for the next months.  I’ve got three of these deals going now, maybe soon I too will be called a Referral Queen.

When our campers leave most of them fill out a short survey about their experience in the campground. It seems some people just have to have something to complain about.  Recently we received a survey that had a written complaint that the urinals are too high on the wall for young boys.  Excuse me???  For me, that wouldn’t even be an option available to my son if he was that young that he couldn’t reach it.  I’m going to have to make it a point to go into one of the men’s room during the week when there is no one here so I can see just how high they are.


Friday, June 27, 2014

6/27/14 Goodbye. Hello. Goodbye????

(Damascus, VA)

JT & Myra were on the road a little after seven this morning.  Destination….Florida.  They have a home they are selling and they have to clean it out and sell a few things before their next adventure.  They’ll be heading to Texas to become oil field gate attendants for a couple of months.

A workamper can make up to $7500 a month doing this job.  We would consider doing this for no more than 60-90 days if we were going to Alaska again.  It’s a 24/7 job and you may be in a remote area for a part of that time, but darn, the money is good.

We’ve got a busy weekend coming up.  Summer is in full swing now and lots of people are camping on weekends.  We get a lot of campers due to our location being so near the Virginia Creeper Trail.

When I arrived at the gatehouse at ten, Edie already had a line and these weren’t the first campers to arrive.

After she brought the paperwork up to date and had her money straight we had a chance to chat.

I was, but wasn’t really, a bit surprised to hear that newcomers, Al and Diane, are leaving on Sunday.

At the party last night the conversation had turned to mice and snakes and I don’t think Diane could handle the thought of any of those things.  She is definitely a city girl.  (Now don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not into snakes and mice either, I’m much more afraid of spiders.  And we don’t have mice,,,,knock on wood and other than the little snake Bob found in the woodpile, they aren’t a problem either.)  In fact, Bob and I made bets on the way home as to how long they would stay.  I gave them two weeks so that is where my surprise came from that in fact they are only here a week.  She did in one conversation say that they wanted to build a home.  Not everyone is cut out for this lifestyle.

Poor Edie had just finished the monumental task of making up a whole new schedule with Myra off of it, Diane on and adding Amanda who arrives on the 1st.  Everyone’s days off had changed and now it all has to be re-done.

I hope Amanda sticks around when she gets here!


Thursday, June 26, 2014

6/25-6/26/2014 A Goodbye & Hello Party

(Damascus, VA)

The time has come to say so long to our co-hosts, Myra and JT.  The signed on for a two month stint and now their time is up.


We were to have a going away BBQ on Wednesday but it rained.  Imagine that.  It was changed to Thursday which had a better forecast.

Not only was this a goodbye, farewell party it was also a Hello, glad to meet you, party as new camp hosts have just arrived.  Al & Diane came in on Saturday and hadn’t had a chance to meet everyone yet.

As with every get together we had way too much food.

Bob was the grill master for this dinner.


Ken & Edie, our park managers and hosts for this party.

With all the food we had, and there was a lot of it for the fifteen people that were there, Myra was most looking forward to the cake.

Now Ken was looking forward to the brownies.  Ken loves brownies.  Assistant park manager, Melissa, makes him brownies all the time and I have to say, she makes very good ones.   Much to Ken’s chagrin I brought the pan of brownies out to be cut.  I think Ken was thinking out of sight, out of mind.  Ahhh, Ken, silly, silly Ken.  High up on my list of favorites is brownies also.  I knew it was just killin’ him when I brought them out.  I had no choice but to add salt to his wound.  I sat right in front of him and ate one.

Now in this picture it may seem as if he isn’t paying any attention to me but I can assure he is aware of every bite I take of that brownie.  I thought he was going to keel over when I went for a second one.  He even went as far as threatening me.  Oh yeah, I really hit a nerve here.  He doesn’t play fair though.  He threatened to gather all the spiders he could find and bring them to my house.

I’m really going to miss Myra.  In the last two months we have developed a nice friendship.  She’s talking about her and JT coming to Arizona next winter and Quail Run in particular.  I hope so.

Bob also developed an intense friendship, in a much shorter time I might add.

Missy wouldn’t leave his side after he gave her a leftover hamburger.

So it was farewell, safe travels to JT and Myra and Hello, welcome to Al and Diane.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

6/24/2014 A Car from Years Ago.

(Damascus, VA)

Both Myra and I were both in the gatehouse when we heard this strange sound.  It was a sound that I wasn’t familiar with at all, one I’m sure I had never heard before.

I was counting my money, clearing my shift and Myra came in the office and said, “Grab your camera!”  Now you all know it was, of course, within an arms reach.

I did as I was told and headed for the door, not sure what I was going to photograph but that it sounded strange whatever it was.

Much to my surprise it was a Stanley Steamer automobile!

It needed water and found its way to the campground.  Wouldn’t it be nice to run a car on water today????

When I think of early cars, not that I do that often, I think of Ford’s Model T and when I hear Stanley Steamer I think of carpet cleaning.

Naturally I had to do a little research on this most unusual and very old vehicle.

We have twins Francis E Stanley (1849-1918) and Freelan O Stanley(1849-1940) to thank for the steam car.  They produced their first car in 1897 after selling their photographic dry plate business to Eastman Kodak.
In 1898 and 1899 they sold more automobiles and than any other US manufacturer. 

In 1899m Freelan and his wife drove one of steam cars to the highest peak in New Hampshire.  Not only was this the highest peak in that state, it was the highest peak in the whole northeastern United States.  The seven and a half mile drive up Mount Washington Carriage Road took more than two hours.  I’m sure the trip down was much faster and probably wore out a set of brakes.

Steam engines capable of propelling themselves along either roadways or rails, developed around one hundred years earlier than internal combustion engine automobiles.

The light steam car was developed at the same time as cars powered by internal combustion engines.  As the steam car could use the ast experience of steam engines already developed with steam locomotives, it initially had the advantage.  In 1900 the steam car was broadly superior  and even held land speed records. 

By 1920 in the internal combustion engine had progressed to a degree of refinement that the steam car obsolete.

Thankfully, there are still of these early cars still on the road today.

Monday, June 23, 2014

6/23/2014 Weekends Go To Fast

(Damascus, VA)

You know, I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter if you are still in the workforce or workamping as a camp host in retirement, which is really not all that difficult, weekends go too fast!

Today was a day of haircuts, a trip to the nail salon and a small grocery shopping.

It rained.  Again.

That’s all I have to say about this day.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

6/22/2014 Bob’s Bear Sighting

(Damascus, VA)

Bob saw a bear today.  They are coming down the mountain now in search of food and we’re getting more frequent reports of sightings.

Myra, a camp host, walked out of her 5th wheel a few nights ago and the bushes across from, about 10 feet away all moved by what was surely a bear behind them.  She said the bushes moved from left to right as if in a “baseball game wave pattern.  Needless to say she ran back inside.

Let’s talk about….mice.  It seems everyone, with the exception of one other couple,  in the campground, we’re talkin’ camp hosts here, is having a problem with mice.  Our next door neighbors have caught 38 in traps so far.  Myra and JT have caught 37.  Some in broad daylight.  We haven’t had any yet….knock on wood.  Of course has taken every precaution he could.  He has slathered all of our cords and hoses with Vaseline and it seems to be keeping them at bay.

Did I tell you that the other day we had a hummingbird in the truck?  It kept trying to fly through the front window and we were so afraid it was going to hurt itself.

We tried everything we could to get it out.  It finally tired itself out and I was able to get my hands around it. 

What a strange sensation it is to have a tiny little hummingbird in your hands and to feel those wings beating what seems like a million miles a minute.

Plans for a our family reunion next month are coming along.  So far we’ve got family coming in
from Tennessee, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and even Texas.  Everyone is getting excited about seeing each other again. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

6/21/2014 Aftermath of the Storm

(Damascus, VA)

While I was in the gatehouse today I kept hearing about the trees on the road from the campground loops down to the gatehouse.  Bob and I hadn’t noticed anything on the way down so I just couldn’t understand what everyone was talking about.

Sure enough, Bob picked me up after my shift and the first he said was, “Wait till you see the trees.”  He had seen them on the way back up to the campground loop.

It seems the hail we had yesterday during that storm did quite a number on the trees.  Stripped the bark right off of several.


A better look.

There was another tree that looked like it just exploded as if struck by lightning.

This afternoon we sat outside and watched the hummingbirds.  For some reason we have more than ever.




It rained all evening (what’s new?) so the campers weren’t knocking on our door to buy firewood.  That’s a good thing but all this rain is getting old.

Friday, June 20, 2014

6/18-6/20/2014 Oh What a Storm!

(Damascus, VA)

On the way down to the gatehouse on Wednesday morning we came across a deer that just stood there and looked at us.

They usually run into forest as soon as they see us but this wasn’t budging until we practically got on top of him.

It was a pretty slow day today for both of us.  This campground is definitely a weekend getaway type of place.

I snapped this picture in the afternoon of our streetWoodsy, pretty isn’t it?

Thursday, after work, we went into a Damascus for a beer and Pepsi run.  We take notice of this one particular house every time we pass it.  Its old, we like the style of it and we are just amazed that it doesn’t seem to have ever had even one brush full of paint on it.
Well, this week as we went by we noticed right away all the scaffolding around it.
It seems that this house is going to get some work done to it.  It will be fun to watch the transformation from bare wood to a painted surface.  At least we hope its going to be painted.

Look at this furry looking moth that landed on an outside vase we have.


On Thursday afternoon we had one heck of a storm!  (Again) Of course it started the minute I walked out of the gatehouse with my purse, camera, laptop bag, laundry detergent and a laundry bag full of clean clothes.  By the time I went back for our hanging clothes, which I had hoped to hang out to dry, it was pouring.

We got halfway up the mountain to our loop and hail started.  It came down so hard and so fast.

We pulled over into the oncoming traffic land to get under the trees for protection.

We are so sick of rain.  We have now figured out that we don’t do cold and we don’t do rain!  We are definitely desert people now.

Friday morning Edit said, “Get your camera!  Come get a picture of this!”  I quickly grabbed it and headed out the front door.  She pointed to the ground and I hurried to get the picture before it was gone.  She said, “You don’t have to rush, its dead already.”  What a shame, so pretty too.

The weekend is here, wonder what it will bring….besides more rain.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

6/17/2014 The Rest of the Story

(Damascus, VA)

What a great morning!  Myra picked me up at our site at ten and we spent the next hours playing Mexican Train with Edie and Melissa.  Sitting outside in the fresh mountain air, laughing with friends as we play, what could be better?  Count me as a happy camper.

Bob worked his hours on our loop and in the afternoon washed the rest of the rig so its now all clean and shiny.  I know you must be asking yourselves if this man ever relaxes.  I’ll answer that with a two letter word….NO!  I don’t know what he would do if ever had to go on complete bed rest.  He’d go stark raving mad!

After our game was over I took my place in the gate house for my afternoon shift.  Since we had a whole 3 campers on the mountain I didn’t have a whole lot to do.  I made good use of this time on the Internet.

First up was reading my mail.  I tell you this for a reason.  Do you remember back in the beginning of June when I told you about David, the fellow who lost his ring in the lake and it was found by the divers and that I wish I knew all details behind the story?  Well, I heard from David.  When I asked him if I could take his picture I explained why I wanted to and what I would do with it.  I gave him the blog address in case he wanted to read what I wrote.  He filled in the details for me.  Here’s what he wrote.

This is Dave commenting back to you about the story you put on your blog about my wedding ring. To clear up a few of the loose ends I was fishing from the covered pier in Bear Tree Lake. I use a wheelchair and since I have to roll a long way in this park to get to the fishing pier I was wearing a pair of padded fingerless biker gloves which protect my hands from injury and gives me good breaking force because wheelchairs are difficult to stop if there are steep hills like the ones in Bear Tree Park. I got to the pier and was setting up my tackle etc. to fish and took off my gloves to be more able to tie my hooks and lures onto my fishing poles. I did not know it but my wedding ring had pulled off my finger due to a loss of weight I have had recently. Its funny but I think I have gained back that weight in all the wrong places and not in my hands. To my surprise my wedding ring fell out of the glove and rolled into Bear Tree Lake. I felt like such a fool to let that happen because I knew my ring was very loose and this could happen because a similar thing happened to my dad. He was lucky also because one of his best friends found his ring after a dishonest person found it on the ground tried to pawn it to him.

I thought the water was no more than three feet deep in front of the pier. But the next day my wife Carol and I went to check to see if she could reach the ring and she could not reach bottom at the front of the pier and it was then we learned that it was more like six or seven feet deep there. That's when I realized it would require the services of a scuba diver to find my ring. That is when I contacted Adventure Diving after looking them up on the web.  Alan Linkous is the owner of the company and when I asked him what he could do for me he confidently replied, "I will get your ring back". I had no doubt that Alan would do everything he had to do to find my ring. We met at Bear Tree Lake like you said and Alan went right to work and after a short time of surveying the area.  He started lifting up silt and letting it sift away a little at a time until he found my ring. I was so relieved because my wife Carol had bought it for me on our fifth anniversary. It is very valuable and it means so much to me to have it back. I was glad I found Adventure Diving because they are professional and honest. Any one could have put that ring in their pocket and sold it at the gold exchange. I highly recommend them if you ever need to find something under water.
And that is what Paul Harvey would call the rest of the story.  Dave, thank you much for writing in and letting me know all the background about this.  It is much appreciated.

Monday, June 16, 2014

6/16/2014 Not the Day We Planned

(Damascus, VA)

I don’t how it turns out this way, but we make tentative plans for Monday on Friday and come Monday everything changes.

We were supposed to go to the lake today.  It was a beautiful day to be on the water and on the beach.  Bob was going to put our new boat in water to get a feel for it, perhaps do some fishing and I was going to record it all in digital images from the beach.  I even planned on taking my super duper long lens so I could get every facial expression as he plied the waters of Beartree Lake.

Well guess what we didn’t do.  I never even saw the lake!  The boat never touched lake water.  What did we do instead?  Bob did a much needed cleaning of the roof.

I am ever so thankful that he takes maintenance of our rig and truck and our home in Arizona so seriously but why today?  I am in some serious need of something to do and he needs something fun to do.  How it changed, why it changed, I have no answers. 

I know he dreads cleaning the roof, especially this time.  Sitting under all these trees I can only imagine what it looks like.

I helped him get all the cleaning supplies and brushes and hoses and the power washer up there and I was there for turning the water off and on as needed.

And he washed.  And he scrubbed.  And he power washed.



……and after.   (partially cleaned)

Back section all clean and white again.

Myra, our co-host, stopped in after dinner and told me that there was a Mexican Train game happening Tuesday morning and asked if I wanted to play.  Oh, I jumped on that!  She’ll pick me up in the morning.  I’m looking forward to some fun!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

6/15/2014 A Birthday Celebration Times Two

(Damascus, VA)

Before I do anything else I need to send a shout out and a Happy Birthday to our sister-in-law Linda.

A day off for us but we didn’t do anything other than run into Damascus to pick up some things we had run out of at the store.  Of course neither one of us thought to take our phones with us as we left on the spur of the moment.  We get so little phone time and chances to check our messages and texts so we were both kickin’ ourselves.

Bob has been keepin busy doing maintenance type things to the 5th wheel and the truck.

I tried to sit out in the sun this afternoon after the campers left.  I lasted all of five minutes because the flies were so bad.  I just can’t seem to get a break here.

After dinner we headed down to the park managers place to celebrate two birthdays.  Ken, our park manager and Butch, a co-host are both celebrating their birthday this week.

Edie, Ken’s wife, put out quite a spread with a cake and ice cream with all the trimmin’s.


Butch, in the center was celebrating a birthday.
Ken and Butch each had a candle to blow out.

Edie getting Ken’s candle ready.
Time to eat!

This is Taffy.  She belongs to Butch and Kathy.  Every time we all get together they bring her her very own chair to sit in.  This is one spoiled pooch!

In this picture she sure does look like our furkid that we had for so many years.

I’m glad that we have these get togther’s.  it helps pass the time on the mountain and gives us a chance to get to know our fellow workampers.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

6/14/2014 All Kinds of Wildlife Abound

(Damascus, VA)

On the way down to the gatehouse today we saw a first.  This is a sizable snapping turtle.  We  aren’t positive but we think it (she?) was laying eggs.

The workday wasn’t all that busy for either of us.  When I go to the gatehouse at two on a Saturday afternoon the majority of the campers are already here and at most I’ll see a lot of day use visitors leaving and dropping off their tags.  Bob doesn’t have a whole lot to do because the campers, for the most part, are still in their sites. 

When we got back to the campsite after Bob picked me up the first thing Bob pointed out as we were walking towards the door was this.

Oh yuck!  As if this wasn’t enough Bob saved two more creepy crawly things to show me.

Yep, another newt and a snake he found in he woodpile when a camper wanted to buy a bundle of wood.  I really didn’t see the need to “save” these for me, it must be a man thing.

Did I tell you we bought a boat?  Well a boat of sorts.  It can take an electric motor so its more than a raft.

I can see a lot of Corps of Engineer parks in our future so that we make sure we get our money’s worth from this.  it has seats but they haven’t been put in as yet.  It’s really much bigger than what this picture portrays.

Bob is looking forward to getting it on the lake here.  I’m also anxious for that because that means I’ll get some beach time and we all know I need that!

Friday, June 13, 2014

6/13/2014 A Great Dinner Out!

(Damascus, VA)

After work today we teamed up with Myra and JT and went to the the Heartwood.  Heartwood is hard to explain.  It’s a restaurant. It’s a concert hall.  It’s a store that sells local artisan’s creations.  It’s a meeting place.  And probably more things that I don’t know about.

Myra had gotten a hold of a flyer about Heartwood and what all is there and listed was the seafood buffet they held twice a month.  We called to get more info and liked what we heard.  Reservations were made.

We took off at five for Abingdon which is about 17 miles from the mountain.  There weren’t many cars when we first got there so we were seated right away and we could begin filling our plates, again and again.  At twenty dollars per person this was definitely forty bucks well spent.

We started with the salad bar, hush puppies that were to die for (!) and peel and eat jumbo shrimp.  That plate done we went for the main courses.  Of course we went all back for more of the hush puppies.

There were several kinds of fish which included, catfish, king crab legs, tilapia, salmon (which my dinner companions just raved about) chicken masala, meatloaf, smashed red potatoes, buttered corn and a few other things that I can’t even remember right now.  Needless to say we visited these tables a second time.

When we finished grazing the salad, shrimp, hush puppy table and the main course tables it was time to partake of the array of desserts.  Oh.  My.  We were all full before we even went there but we had to go anyway.  Rich chocolate cake, apple pie ala mode, pecan pie, carrot cake and a few others I steered clear from.

I think each one of us was uncomfortably full.  Kinda like Thanksgiving dinner, know what I mean?

We walked around Heartwood in hopes of working some of that dinner off.  We checked out each of the rooms.  Each one held beautiful displays of textile creations, paintings, woodworking, jewelry, soaps and lotions, books and the list goes on.

If the truth be told we all were still feeling full when we finally left.

An enjoyable dinner?  You bet!  Will we go again?  You bet!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

6/11/2014 Wildlife & Nice People

(Damascus, VA)

Wildlife is getting more visible during the week now. 
In one morning we saw three deer within a mile.  We saw this first one just a few sites up from ours.

On the way down to the gatehouse we saw this doe and her fawn.  (look to the left of the doe and you’ll see her baby)

We’re getting reports of bears but we haven’t seen one yet.

Now on to the nice people.  I’ve said time and again that we meet the nicest people.  Today I met another such couple

Joe and Donna C.

They were camping with us and stopped by the gatehouse on their way out.  We struck up a conversation and we talked for about a half hour or so.  They told me about things in the area to see and festivals that are must go to’s that are coming up.  We talked camping.  Conversation then led to our fulltime lifestyle and they had lots of questions for me.  I so wish they had been camping in the site next to ours because I would really like to get to know them better.  They did say they would be back again and I’m hoping when they return that we at least get a chance to share a campfire with them.

Yep, we meet the nicest people!