Thursday, August 28, 2014

8/28/2014 Blue Blaze Restaurant

(Damascus, VA)

We went out to dinner in Damascus.  What a disaster that was.  A restaurant called Blue Blaze Cafe recently underwent a transformation so we decided to go in and try it.  It was a pizza, burger, breakfast, small town restaurant kind of place.  Now its half that and half seafood restaurant.    We opted for seating on the seafood side since Bob would surely be having that.  Now you can easily walk from one side of the restaurant to the other because there is a wall separating the seafood side from pizza/burger side but it is open at the back end of the place because the salad bar is on the pizza side.
Soooo,,,,,I knew I didn’t want the pizza because others have eaten there and said the pizza, well, in a word, sucks.  The words grease and bland pizza crust come to mind.  I was going to have, you guessed it, a hamburger.  Our waitress informed us that I would have to go to the other side to order it, that she couldn’t order it for me.   I asked her if this restaurant was owned by the same person and was there only one kitchen.  I got an affirmative answer to both questions.  Well, alrighty then!

I went to the other side, placed my order and found that I had to pay for it right then and there and that when it was ready they would call me to come get it.  What???

I wasn’t getting warm and fuzzies here let me tell you.

Bob’s dinner arrived and we knew it wasn’t good when he put his fork into his fried fish filet to cut it and half of it went flying across the table because the crust was so hard.  Oh this wasn’t going to be good.

My burger was ready and it was in fact delivered by the counter person much to my surprise.  I wish they kept it.  To me a soggy hamburger roll just doesn’t cut it.  It was a frozen patty and not freshly made.  I asked for lettuce, tomato and onion on it and they all seemed fairly fresh.

Our fries were bland and I have to say this is the first time I ever had fries delivered to my table that were already peppered.  What if I didn’t want pepper on my fries?  As a rule, I don’t add pepper myself.

Now the wait staff was attentive.  Too attentive.  There were three people who were constantly at our table asking if everything was ok, did we want more drinks or was there anything else we wanted.  It was to the point of being ridiculous.

So readers, if you are ever in Damascus, Virginia I cannot recommend Blue Blaze CafĂ©.  Keep driving.

8/17-8/27/14 The Last Ten Days…..

(Damascus, VA)

The last ten days brought us ordinary days.  Nothing special went on or differed in any way from the norm.  At least some part of most days, with the exception of the last three, we dodged raindrops from showers or ducked from real downpours.

We made two trips off the mountain to get groceries and replenish the Pepsi and adult beverage supply.

The campground is pretty much empty.  There was one night when we had one camper.  One.  Several nights we had two or three, tops.  To say it is quiet around here is an understatement.

We are in high gear as far as packing is concerned.  I’ve already got the rubber shelf stuff in between my glass plates and bowls that I know I won’t be using between now and when we leave.  Knick knacks are all put away for traveling.

Bob hasn’t had such easy go of getting his stuff put away.  Since it rains so much everything is wet and you just can’t pack stuff away while its damp and wet.  Of course it isn’t easy to get stuff to really dry out in the shade either.  It’s a no win situation I’m afraid.

He did manage to get the front of our rig waxed which is important when one is getting ready to go cross country.  We’re going to send a ton of bugs to bug heaven but when we get to Arizona we want their flattened bodies stuck to the front of our 5th wheel to slide off easily with soap and water.  Now they will.

We did take a ride one afternoon to just outside of Abingdon to a truck stop.  Our CB radio died and because it gives up to the minute weather reports and warnings we wanted to get it replaced.  Besides, it certainly comes in handy on the road too.  On the way we took a back road that our brother in law told us about and it took us through some pretty farmland.  Lots of barns like the one below dotted the landscape.

Of course I’m a sucker for old barns.


Our time is getting short on the mountain and we are definitely counting the days.  I even have a handwritten calendar page of sorts and every night I mark another day off.  It’s the not the people we want to leave, it’s the rainy, dark and damp mountain that we no longer want any parts of. 

We both are longing for the land of hot, cold water.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

8/16-/8/17/14 Ooh, My Cheeks HURT!

(Damascus, VA)

Ooh my cheeks hurt and I’m not talking about the ones I smile with.

This weekend three couples, Jim & Patti,
Robert (Bob?) & Betty and Glen & Sandy came to stay the weekend and to spend most of their time on their bikes.  I know this because when they arrived on Thursday Patti asked if the Creeper Trail could be accessed close by.  My first thought was, “Ah newbies.”  I explained to her that they needed to go into Damascus and get a shuttle that would take them to the top and drop them off and then they could ride down.  I was happy to offer this info because, after all, I had just made (well almost made) the 17 mile trip myself.  In my mind this makes me a seasoned Creeper Trail rider. Patti came back with, “No, we want to get on someplace close by and ride up the Creeper Trail and then back down.”   I laughed out loud.  I said, “You want to ride UP the trail and then ride back down?”  Surely I misunderstood her.  She assured me that yes, that’s what they wanted to do.  I then proceeded to ask her if she was nuts.

By now several of the group were standing near the gatehouse for registration information and I’m hearing about how much they ride and my butt cheeks are involuntarily clenching at the mere thought of it all.  The feeling of my sore buns on that fateful day I rode the trail could be conjured up in a nanosecond.  Ouch!

Now I didn’t see them again until later in the weekend.  I don’t know if they were coming back from yet another ride or perhaps doing some shopping in town.  Jim told me right away that he had a picture they took for me and couldn’t wait to show it to me.  As soon as I saw it I told him I had to have it!

These nuts nice people not only rode up hill, are you reading this people, UP HILL for seventeen miles from Damascus to White Top Station and back down again.  They actually went a little further to the North Carolina state line while up there.  And then the next day rode from Damascus to Abingdon and that’s 15 miles or so, ONE WAY.  Oh my achin’ rear end from just typing that!

I really wish these folks had been in my camping loop.  They were fun and Bob and I would have loved to sit around the campfire with them.

So here’s a picture of the three fellows when they were on the first day’s run.

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Now they took another picture for me.  I think this was in reference to my sore cheeks.

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Regardless, we all had a good laugh!

These are the people and memories I always remember of Beartree Lake.  Thanks guys!

Friday, August 15, 2014

8/15/2014 Camp Hosts Go To Dinner

(Damascus, VA)

Today we did something we should have done a long time ago.  We got together with Buzz & Jackie and Todd & Amanda and went in to Damascus for dinner.   Why we wait for the end of the season to do things like this is beyond me.

It’s a Friday night and we’re all supposed to be present in our camp loops so it had to be an early dinner.  We left the mountain at five and drove into Damascus, seven miles away.  Buzz & Jackie offered to drive us so we only drove as far as their area in the campground.

Our restaurant of choice, trust me there isn’t much to choose from, was Out In the Country.  It wasn’t until recently that we even knew a restaurant was there.   Sitting in front of the building is a smaller one which houses an ice cream and fudge shop which is always, always busy.

in the country 1_thumb

I thought the building that sat back further was a residence.  At one time it was, I’m sure.  My sister-in-law Cathy happened to mention the fish fry they have there on Friday nights and that brought the place to our attention.

So we arrived and we entered into a gift shop of sorts.  On the shelves and racks were candles, Creeper Trail T-shirts, pretty scarves, key chains and other assorted knick-knacks. 


We placed our orders for dinner.  Buzz & Jackie ordered first and they both ordered the fish fry platters.   Next was Todd & Amanda and they ordered a fish fry platter and a shrimp basket.  We all ordered individually because we were all paying for our own dinners.  Bob wanted the fish fry and since I don't eat fish I ordered something else.  Long time readers....what did I order???  Yeppers!  A hamburger!  Actually, I got a bacon cheeseburger with lettuce and tomato.
We got our self serve drinks and made our way to our dining room which was probably somebody’s bedroom back in the day.

in the country  5_thumb

We didn’t have to wait too long and the food started arriving.  Well, Buzz & Jackie’s arrived.  We encouraged them to start, not to wait for us so it didn’t get cold.  About 6 minutes later Todd and Amanda’s dinners arrived and ours came 6 or 7 minutes after theirs.  Obviously the kitchen can only work on one order at a time.

Bob was not impressed at all with the fish fry dinner.  He found the fish to have no flavor and he thought the fries were bland.  On the other hand I thought the fries were tasty and my burger was pretty good.  Of course it had bacon on it, how bad it could it be?  Todd and Amanda thought it was the best food they had in Damascus so far .  Believe me, this is not high praise.  They’ve had dinner in two other establishments and their reaction to those dinners was BLLEEECCCHHHH!  That means road kill would have been better.  Buzz & Jackie thought their dinner was okay. Between you and me, we won’t go back there.  I would for a burger but Bob isn’t interested at all.

There is another restaurant in town and it sits right on the water.  I checked the menu out online and I have no desire to go there.  I think they are charging outrageous prices.  Shallow river view or not.  I think $28.00 for a crab cake is too much.

We’ve only got 14 more days here anyway.  I can cook for 14 more days without going out for dinner.  I am craving a pizza though.

So dinner was, well, so-so but the company couldn’t be beat!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

8/12-8/14/2014 I CANT’ TAKE IT ANYMORE!

(Damascus, VA)

It finally happened.  I knew it was coming and I was fighting it but it got the better of me.  It happened at the most inopportune time,,,,and place.  I had a meltdown in the grocery store.

We went to sleep one night and it was raining.  We woke up the next morning and it was raining.

I used to enjoy the rat-a-tat of rain on the roof.  Now?  It grates on my nerves.  Fingernails on a chalkboard kind of grating.  I can’t take it anymore.  The next day it rained again, nearly all day.

We have to get off this mountain.  We have to go west.  We are both so looking forward to the desert where rainy days are few and far between.  We need sunshine.

It seems it rains at some point every day.  Even if it only showers for 20 minutes its enough to set me (us) on edge.

Tuesday, when we were off for the day, we went in town to run some errands and get some things done.  First on the list was to get everything needed to do an oil change in the truck.  We’ve found getting it done at the Ford dealership is just getting too expensive.  Our last one was well over a hundred dollars.  Bob was going to buy the oil and filter and have the guys at Walmart do it but after talking to them he lost confidence that they would do the job with care and do it competently.  This is Bob’s baby after all.  Well, we had to go to three different stores to get everything he needed to get this done.  Two to get enough containers of the oil needed and another to get the oil receptacle.  I had a list made of things we needed to get and I discovered that I didn’t pick it up off the table when we left.

Next was getting my nails done.  We went to the shop where I go and found that only two employees were working and they both had clients that were getting both manicures and pedicures and they had just arrived.  Much too long to wait on this day.

Next stop was to be the RV parts store.  We had an idea of where it was but we couldn’t find it.  Bob talked to three different local people and none of them had a clue where it was.  Bob was frustrated which only added to my own.

We finally decided that our best bet was to just go home since nothing was going right.  We did make one more stop at the grocery store and ran into co-hosts Buzz and Jackie in the parking lot.  I must have looked upset or down in the dumps or something because Jackie asked me if I was ok right away.  She then asked if I needed a hug and I knew if I had said I was going to lose it right then and there.  I told her no and said I had to get into the store and off I went.  She understood where I was coming from as we’ve talked a lot in the past few weeks.

Bob came into the store a few minutes later and when he found me he asked what was going on, what had I said to Jackie.  And why was I near tears.  That’s all it took.  The tears started and I couldn’t stop them.  Bob doesn’t handle my tears well at all, he hates to see me cry for any reason.  He asked if I was going to be ok and I assured him I was and that he should wait for me in the truck.  I couldn’t leave the store without my items because I was picking up things we were out of.  Bread, butter, potatoes, lettuce, all staples in our house.  So I put my sunglasses on and proceeded to the checkout line.  Take it from me, its difficult to go through the checkout line with tears running down your cheeks below your sunglasses.

Rain, constant shade and very little sunshine is not a good recipe for either of us.  Needless to say we are now counting the days until Labor Day.

Monday, August 11, 2014

8/11/14 Birthday Celebration for Three

(Damascus, VA)

Within a two week period we had three camp hosts celebrate a birthday.  Today we had a surprise birthday party for all three of them.  I was one of them!

Our park manager, Edie was in California last week when she had her birthday, the week before I had the family reunion on my birthday and last Wednesday Buzz celebrated his but we were all off and everyone went their own way off the mountain.

Now I knew we were having a surprise celebration for Edie today but what a surprise it was for Buzz and I to have our own cakes cards signed by everyone too.

Ken, Edie’s other half, and after I saw the cake he ordered for me I will forever more refer to him as her lesser half, organized everything with help from Melissa.

Edie went to the bank and while she was gone Melissa, Jackie (Buzz’s wife) and Ken decorated the tents in the drive behind their motorhome which is next to the gatehouse.

There were balloons….

and dancing boys…..

Actually, look close, its raining to beat the band. Again.  It just poured!

We also had one very surprised Edie!

…and then, Buzz and I were surprised when not one, but three cakes were brought out.  One for each of us.  A sheet cake for each of us.

Now Buzz likes to fish and here’s his cake.

Edie loves carrot cake from a particular bakery in Bristol, about 30 miles away.  Like a good husband ol’ Ken made a special trip to please her.  Well let me tell you this had to be the highest round cake I’ve ever seen. Huge!  The pieces were so big.  The pieces took up an entire paper plate.  She was thrilled hers was the carrot cake.

Now mine.  Ken likes to tease me and of course I give it back as good as he gives it.  When I saw my cake I didn’t even have to ask who ordered it.

OLDER THAN DIRT???  Older than dirt Ken?  Really?  Oh Ken, you silly, silly man, you know what they say about paybacks!

Ice cream and cake for everyone!

Bob dug right in.

As did everyone else.  I think Edie was praying for the rain to stop.

That’s Buzz, the birthday guy in the forefront.

These masks were sitting on the table and soon they were being used.  Between you and me, it’s the rain.  The rain makes us behave this way.



It really takes so little to entertain us.  It’s the rain!

So it poured 90% of the day, a truly miserable day weather wise and we still had a camper come in.  A tent camper no less.  They had to be soaked by the time they got their tent up.

So it was a surprising day for sure.  A very nice and appreciated surprise.  Remember Ken, paybacks…..

Saturday, August 9, 2014

8/9/2014 Happy Birthday Smokey the Bear!

(Damascus, VA)

Today we celebrated Smokey the Bears 70th birthday.

Unfortunately, it’s a rainy weekend and we had more adults, including the staff than we did kids.

I spent part of my shift at the gatehouse making Smokey’s birthday card which everyone signed.

I didn’t get a picture of the front cover darn it.

We gathered at the playground situated between the two campground loops at six.  Shortly thereafter Smokey was escorted in.

The story of Smokey the Bear was told by a staff member from our sister park.

It had been many years since I heard the story of this iconic bear.  Below Smokey is letting everyone know that his paws were burned in the wildfire.


After the story was over it was time for pictures with Smokey.

Todd & Amanda…

Jackie who is a camp host in our group area.

I couldn’t stand by and watch everyone else having fun with the bear so I set claim his lap too.

Look at my arms,,,,no tan!

Next came ice cream and cake.

We got through the party before the drizzle started.  Rain.  Again.

We have 23 days to go.  Hitch itch is full blown now, we gotta get on the road.

Friday, August 8, 2014

8/7-8/8/2014 Back to the Salt Mine

(Damascus, VA)

Today I made reservations at a very small RV park in Damascus for the day we leave here.  We’ll spend 3 days there to give Bob a chance to check out all of our systems to make sure everything is ready for our long trek west.  At the same time I’ll give the inside a thorough fall cleaning if you will.

I’ve been working on a Shutterfly photo book of the weekend our kids and grandkids were here.  With the pictures I took, the ones Brandi and Shannon took and all the pictures taken by everybody during our reunion that are now posted on Facebook, I have tons and tons of pictures to sort through and edit to make the book the best I can.  I can’t imagine what its going to take to do the reunion photo book.

On Friday the rain starts.  Our weather forecast says rain for the next week.  Eighty percent chance which means a one hundred and ten percent chance of rain in Beartree Campground.  I am now ready to start wishing my life away.  I want to wish the next twenty days GONE!  We are so sick of rain!!!!  It’s no wonder we’re at each others throats right now.  Rain and shade, shade and rain,,,,Bob says he doesn’t care if he ever sees a tree again.  WE CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!  ENOUGH ALREADY!  Whew, I needed to get that out.

When we got here bob had a fairly new pair of leather work gloves.  To give you an idea of how hard he works here I took a picture of one today.


I took a good look at Bob today.  I asked him he felt ok.  He replied, “Yeah, why do you ask?”  I told him he looked so pale.  I’ve told you we have no tans, not even farmer tans, and Bob truly looks sickly.  He told me to go look in the mirror.  I sure didn’t need to hear that!  Its true though, we are so pale.  I talked to my friend in Arizona recently and she told me was brown as a berry.  I told her to shut up.

C’mon September 1st!


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

8/5–8/6/2014 A New Bathtub for Cathy

(Laurel Bloomery, TN)

This morning I packed a bag for us, before we left the house, in case we don’t come home tonight.

We took off for Bob’s sister’s home in Tennessee.  Cathy and her husband Sonny have a new tub and surround to put in.  Since Cathy just doesn’t have the strength or stamina to be of much help right now they asked Bob to give a hand.

It was a pleasant surprise for Bob to find that Sonny had taken the old surround and tub out the day before.  That will save a ton of time.

The men got right to work and Cathy and I sat down for a nice chat.  Since we’ve been here we really haven’t had much one on one time and I was glad to have to this chance to spend the day and talk with her.

The bathroom job went fairly well but it didn’t get done completely so we stayed overnight.  We had a delicious dinner which included fresh out of the garden veggies which made our tummies very happy.

We spent an enjoyable evening talking and watching TV.

Wednesday morning I spent a few minutes on their small front porch and looked at the view.  As much as I don’t want to be here in the fall I would love to see this when the color change.


Wednesday brought a finish to the job for the guys and Cathy and I went to town, with town being Mountain City.  Don’t let the word city fool you.  The old part of the city, where the stores and offices are, has the street parking where you pull in on an angle.  Think Mayberry.  Now, there is a new highway which has McDonald’s, Burger King, a Dollar Store and a Food Lion.  Many newer buildings and businesses, but if the truth be told, I find the old time buildings and what are now antique stores, much more charming.

By three we were on our way home with a side trip to the store to pick up a few things.

It may have been a working weekend for Bob but Cathy and I spent a most enjoyable two days.


Monday, August 4, 2014

8/1-8/4/2014 Same Old, Same Old

(Damascus, VA)

Not much to say about these four days. 

The temperature has fallen a bit, our days are in the low to mid 70’s and we’re down the 50’s at night. 

The weekend was pretty busy in the campground.  The Highland Fair started in Abington today and will run for ten days.  That’s the only reason I can think of for us being pretty much filled.  Or perhaps families are getting one last camping trip in before school starts.  I’ve heard school starts August 11th in these parts.  I feel really bad for these kids having to go to school before August is even half over.  Take me back to the days when school started the first Wednesday after Labor Day.  I’m afraid those days are long gone.

We’ve decided on an exit date.  The date we’ll get off this mountain.  September 2nd!  Labor Day is on the first and we’re history the day after.  We have to get out of here.  If we don’t get some sunshine and get out from under these trees we’re gonna kill each other.  This constant shade is really starting to affect our moods.  To tell you the truth I’m surprised we’ve made it this long before it got to this point.

Amanda, one of our co-hosts has decided to start a blog too so we’ve been busy during the slow times in the gate house getting hers set up.  I like to see how excited she is to tell her and Todd’s story.

I thought there would be more vegetable stands here.  I haven’t seen a one.  Lots of people have large gardens but they don’t sell their excess at stand in the yard.  Must be a whole lot of canning going on.  That said, we are seeing local tomatoes in the grocery store and I’m thankful for that.

So that’s about it for these four days….just living life on a mountain in Virginia, counting the days till we leave.