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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Day 108 4/19/17 - SE GTG to Bryson City, NC

I left Stevenson, AL, where the SE GTG was located, at 7:00 am with the general direction to head along the east side of the Appalachian Mountains and find a place for tonight.

I had thought about going to a baseball game in Rome, GA, so in checking the schedule for home games I found that they had a rare 10:30 game.  Having left at 7:00, an hour change going from AL to GA, and a 1.5 hour drive time, put me going past the Braves stadium just in time for the game.

The Braves is a AAA team with home games at the State Mutual Stadium.

They have this nice generic baseball sculpture inside the gates before you reach the concessions. 

Above is a picture of my game ticket.  I asked for a best available single seat.  I was asked if I wanted home or visitor's side and answered I didn't mind.

My ticket was for the Braves side of the field. 

Above gives you an idea of the midday attendance.  

Parking is $5.00.

I was given home dugout seat where fans roll balls and toss Sharpie's to the players to have them signed.

The Braves Cheerleaders do their thing on the dugout roof.

In the end it was a good game but the local boys lost to Columbia. 

After the game I drove northeast on Georgia highways and the in to US highways to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.

I stayed the night in Deep Creek National Park Campground in Bryson City, NC.

The cost of the campground is $17.00 with flush toilets and water.  I paid half price ($8.50) with my Senior NP pass on an automated machine with my credit card as you do at many NP campgrounds. 

As usual I made dinner first and hot water for washing in the AM.  Then I got a phone call from my MD son asking if I could get to his house Thursday (tomorrow) around dinner time so I could watch my two granddaughters as they had concert tickets.  Since I had put 3.5 hours behind me this afternoon, since leaving the baseball game in Rome, GA, it only leaves me 8.5 hours of driving to get to where he lives near Baltimore. 

I decided to drive through tomorrow to MD and forgo the leisurely travel I started on US highways on the east side of the Appalachian Mountains.  My sons and their families are important and want to visit and enjoy the granddaughters whenever I can.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Cooking Cornbread In Frying Pan

After visiting the Lodge Factory Store (see separate blog post), I decided to stop at the Shop Right grocery store in Stevenson, AL and buy some cornbread mix.  

I saw a display about cooking cornbread in cast iron in the Lodge Factory store and it peaked my interest to try making some with my Prius cook set.  Above is the mix I bought that I figured would work for my experiment. 

I have a camping cook set and mixed the ingredients in a small pot.  It required one egg and some milk.  I had the egg but no milk so I chose to use some beer from the bottle I was drinking.

It all mixed well and I sprayed the frying pan and put the cover on to keep the heat in.

Don't look down.... look up at how nice it looks.

My result was a little overlooked on the bottom.  I should have checked the bottom sooner and shut off the flame and allow residual heat to finish cooking the inside or have turned the flame to nearly nothing.

I ate it anyway with soup for one meal and beans and hotdogs for another.  My technique needs some work but it is possible to cook cornbread in my camp cook set.


Easter Dinner At SE GTG

It was a collective decision to have a SE GTG Easter Dinner at 2:00 on Sunday.

With the headcount at the gathering about 14 we each took some menu item to bring to the feast.

Above is my green salad creation.  It was a bit large for the size of the group attending.  I guess I could have done without the 2nd head of iceberg lettuce.

I went to Walmart about 11:00 and decided to buy the aluminum tray with cover since I don't carry a mixing/serving bowl along with the ingredients for the salad.

I picked up 3 different salad dressings and someone brought out another.

My serving tongs are collapsing from my backpacking kit.

There were some nice compliments for my presentation. 

There were all kinds of goodies to eat and enjoy with the ham, below. 

On this rack are two kettles of ham and a vegetable delight.

The weather was great and we all had a great time enjoying the food and friendship.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Days 103 - 107 4/14-18/17 SE GTG, Stevenson, AL

I returned to the SE GTG in Stevenson, AL on Thursday after visiting my cousin in Cartersville, GA

There has been a great string of weather with daytime temperatures in the mid 80's and nights around 60.

The gathering is on conservation land called Raccoon Creek along the Tennessee River.  We are welcome guests, as explained to us by the Ranger, who came to visit us one day.  They know we respect being able to come here to camp, because we leave the area better than how we found it.  We are also a group that keeps locals that use the area for elicit things away and other locals that like boating and fishing feeling safe. This may be the fifth year the group has come here.  It is my second.

We are a small group of people from near and far that have only one purpose and that is to enjoy ourselves and others.  The group is head up by Dyck Tracey, who calls everyone Cuz.  Can't get more homie than that.

Here is a YouTube showing the area and group that was taken by one of the attendees.

The sunsets over the Tennessee River are beautiful. 

It's time for a full-time screen as it's 80's during the day and about 60 at night.  Great weather but humid and as the evening cools I need some ventilation in my Prius.

I installed my rear passenger screen and left it in while here as the bugs are bad and unlike the desert where I just cracked the windows, here screens are a must. 

I can leave the screen in as I have a sufficient opening through the screen to see traffic.

We have wonderful nightly fires.  I stay out until 8-9 pm before I go in my car to write my blog.

Above my back is to the river looking back to the main group of campers.  Some come and go as I did, but a core group stay.  It was nice seeing folks again this year.

Every so often there is a large boat or tug going by pushing barges.

This was a Saturday group Dinner of beans and hot dogs.

My collapsible bowl that I eat many meals out of.

On the road driving out one day I met this turtle making its way across the road.

Our good, no excellent weather, gave way to storms.  Above I picked up this evening electrical storm to our east giving off some lightening. 

There is sharing and helping of others that goes on here.  This is the side of a light weight trailer with plywood sides that was given to a solo woman traveler from a solo male traveler.  

It needed a new plywood top and paint on that and her car needed trailer wiring connection.  A group came together to help her with the project.

The new owner wanted the tribe to sign or leave their mark on the side of the trailer.

I left my small mark on her trailer.

The end SE GTG came a couple days early with our tribe leader Dyck becoming very ill and requiring hospitalization 100 miles south of here.  

A plan came together to logistically make this work.  There was an offer of a house to recover after the hospital.  There was an attendee who was a nurse and agreed to provide care during house recovery.

There was another who drove Dyck to the hospital and drop off his rig at the recovery house.  Another drove down the 100 miles to drive the other back here to reconnect with his rig.  I was asked to stay behind and spend the day looking after vehicles and equipment while everyone was away.

Above, is my car parked at the Raccoon Creek sign that I chose to wash the collective grime off of as far as I could reach.  The suggestion was made by another vandweller, but I was bored and took on the task.

The rain was still developing each day and while I was sitting listening to podcasts this one rain cell developed over the gathering site and dumped lots of rain and some hail.

This is how hard it rained.

All our thought are on Dyck's treatment and recovery.

We, the remaining few, were all planing to go our own way the next day (Wednesday).  I am headed north to MD to visit east coast son and family before arriving home in a week and a half.


Lodge Factory Store - South Pittsburgh, TN

Located in South Pittsburgh, TN the Lodge Factory Store is about 15 miles north of the SE GTG in Stevenson, AL. 

With it this close and I've driven buy it a few times, it was time to stop in.

Here is a link to the list of the products they make.

When I entered the store the first thing noticed was how well the space was utilized and how nicely products were set up.

I know many vandwellers that utilize cast iron cookware, but I doubt that they use Lodge based on the prices I see at the factory store.  The quality of the finished cast pieces is exceptional and it appears that they have a following for products that should last a few lifetimes.

It was fun to browse the store and the cast iron cookware and other cooking products.  As a Prius dweller, I carry a small lightweight cook set with folding handles.  Cast iron is not in my future.


MoonPie - Chattanooga, TN

I heard about MoonPies and their home in Chattanooga while at the SE GTG this year and decided to drive to the city to find out more.

MoonPie Background: 

moon pie or MoonPie[1] is a confection, popular in parts of the United States, which consists of two round graham cracker cookies, with marshmallow filling in the center, dipped in a flavored coating. The snack is often associated with the cuisine of the American South where they are traditionally accompanied by an RC Cola. Today, MoonPies are made by the Chattanooga Bakery in Chattanooga, TN.

The traditional pie is approximately four inches (100 mm) in diameter. A smaller version exists (mini MoonPie) that is approximately half the size, and a Double-Decker MoonPie of the traditional diameter features a third cookie and attendant layer of marshmallow. The four main flavors are chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and banana. Double Decker MoonPies also come in lemon and orange; MoonPie Crunch comes only in peanut butter or mint. In 2014, a salted caramel flavor was introduced.

I went to the MoonPie General Store in downtown Chattanooga, pictures above.

They had a video loop running providing information about the history of the MoonPie.

There regular size MoonPies an small ones.  Then  they they have them in different flavors.


I also found out that MoonPies were paired with RC Cola as in the combination sold above.

I drove to the factory across the river a few mikes away and found out from a sign that they do not give MoonPie Tours.

I restrained myself from buying MoonPies as I have a rule not to keep sweets in the car as I travel as it is too easy to munch on them as I drive. 

Check out the moonpie webpage for additional information.


Unclaimed Baggage - Scottsboro, AL

I would say that one of my highlights of my visit to the SE GTG in Stevenson, AL is the 18 mile trip south to The Unclaimed Baggage Store in Scottsboro, AL.

When I went this year, I didn't have anything that I wanted to buy.  Checking through the rolling rack blue bins I found the above headlamp.  When hiking this year in Havasu Canyon I had a headlamp but to turn it on and off I needed two hands to rotate the lens to turn on and rotate to turn off.  This headlamp is a push button and much easier to use with one hand.

The new one takes AAA batteries and the one I had takes button cells.  Both are good but the push button is way more easy to use with one hand and a great price at $4.29.

The other thing I learned from my hike to Havasu Falls was that solar is not effective in the canyon due to the high canyon Wall's blocking the sun.  My ability to solar power my phone was limited to carrying AA batteries as solar didn't work.

Above I bought a Lithium power brick rated at 16000 mA.  This new brick will charge my iPhone 5 times for $10.59.  Retail on Amazon it goes for just under $60.00.

Inventory at the Unclaimed Baggage rotates in and out daily so it pays to check back if you are looking for something.