When camping goes awry, you just learn to smile :)

Taking you back to the beginning of this trip (actually recorded in the morning rainstorm in GA, at the campsite, and updated later from my tent in TN)

When I grouse about technology, I often forget that it is technology which allows me to be atop a ridge, on hundreds of acres, in a tent, running a laptop with a wi-fi hot spot so that I can type these words to you and share this experience.  In that realm, technology is mighty cool 🙂

Bridge over to Red Top Mountain

Bridge over to Red Top Mountain

My birthday trip and quest began rather like most of my activities, well-intentioned but scathingly humorous in the deployment. After hitting 20 MPH traffic south of Macon and into Atlanta, then another slow down past Atlanta as the SEC Sweet Sixteen let out, my time table was in the wonky mode. There was lots of rain up to that point, and then it broke nicely.  I said to myself “Self, if you don’t find a campground in the next thirty minutes, let’s just get a hotel room and get good rest.”  See, I should never, ever listen to Imp when I am traveling.  She’s a pain in the ass about things.    Lo and behold, about five minutes inside of my timeline I spy a little Campground legend on an exit ramp sign.  Oh, the folly.  Off I went,  boldly in search of tent nirvana. The campground was beautiful, at Red Top Mountain, between Altoona Lake and the Etowah River.  Beautiful span bridge to get out to the campground.  It was near dusk so the Welcome Center was closed, and I almost turned to leave but spied an envelope labeled “For Campers Without Reservations”.  Voila!  That was me, it was my special day, as there was only one little packet left.  Down the hill and to the campground I went, so blithely unaware.  I got checked in after signing scads of paperwork, handing over a check, and paying for my car to camp too.

View from campsite down to the lake, first night of trip.

View from campsite down to the lake, first night of trip.


I drove the mapped area looking for a nice place close, but not next to, a ‘comfort station’.  I found a beautiful spot overlooking the lake, with a huge boulder outcropping, and hurriedly set up the tiny tent on top of a tarp, hung another tarp over the picnic table, and lugged the necessaries to the tent.  Whew, done before dark.  I took some photos and noticed it was awfully wet.  Hm.  But I moved forward anyway, you know, give it your best shot.  I connected the generator to the power outlet and started charging my phone.   Called a friend to check in, sent texts to all my family letting them know I was settled in…and my friend read me the weather forecast.  Rain. All. Night.  I made reverse trips throwing everything back into the car except for the tent and the tarps.  There went my perfect Tetris-like packing job dagnabit!  Just as I got back from the bathroom and settled into trying to make a bed inside of a Honda Fit, the heavens opened up.  Good timing eh?  So much for camping in a tent that first night.  The rain continued off and on during the night, the drops like a lullaby staccato on the metal roof, waking me and then lulling me back to sleep.  Oh, but that phone charging thing?  Didn’t happen.  Just as I get settled in and good and asleep, my phone protests loudly on the dash to be charged immediately.  Since that was my alarm clock, up I sat at 2:30 a.m. and started running the generator for a bit to charge the phone. And the downpour began yet again.  Finally charged enough to keep till morning, I shut things down and rearranged my bedding for a bit more comfort.  Thankfully, I’m quite short, so there was plenty of room and I slept well, planning on a 5:30 a.m. rising. The alarm went off at 5:30 and it was pouring rain.  I set it for 6:30 and went back to sleep.  At 6:30, it wasn’t raining, so I dashed to the ‘comfort station’ for a shower.  Showering when it is 50 degrees outside, in an open tile bathroom, is quite eye opening, I must say.  I shucked down, turned on the water, and…no hot water.  Um, no.  Grabbed my glasses, figured out how to work the new-to-me faucet and out came blessedly hot water.  Yay!  I was one huge goose bump though after that hot water, stepping out into 50 degree ambient temps, lol!  Just as I get all dried, dressed and my hair wrapped in a towel, a massive overhead heater kicks in.  Um, bad timing there, but, still nice after the fact.  Dashed back to the campsite and…more rain.  Back into the car to wait that out.  My tent and the tarps were soaking wet.  When the rain finally broke, I stuffed everything into plastic trash bags, threw them into the hatchback area and took off, in yet another rain shower.

Not even a blustery day could dampen my excitement

Not even a blustery day could dampen my excitement

As I was leaving, I stopped by the trash barrels to toss any garbage, and pulled up to the comfort station thinking to blow dry my hair into something acceptable.  When I went down to the comfort station, to my embarrassment I discovered that all of my previous activities, up to this point in the dark, had been carried on in the MEN’S side of the comfort station.  Ack!  Most people there were in RV’s, so the station didn’t get a lot of activity.  But if anyone was peeking out, they probably wondered what in the world was wrong with me – is she illiterate perhaps?  Nope, just blind in the dark apparently 🙂  After making that discovery, I was too traumatized to try and go back to dry my hair, lol!  And off I went with my natural curls blowing free.  It’s cute on a five-year old, just rather unkempt looking on a 50 plus year old, from my perspective at least.

First night tent camping? – bust.  But the scenery was beautiful going out and I hit the highway for my destination – the woods of Tennessee.  As an aside, the VERY next exit had five hotels.  So much for good sense. The first stage was past, and I was on the road for my potentially future home, and even rain, sleeping in a car, a freezing shower environment and wet stuff could not dampen my enthusiasm.  I received a pleasurable visual gift as I drove up to get coffee that I couldn’t make in the rain at my campsite…daffodils!

Dafs are like my own personal little good omen deal

Dafs are like my own personal little good omen deal


And so off I went, northward bound!

Laugh at yourself. Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Be flexible and adaptable.  Most of all…have fun!


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