Friday, August 9, 2013

Coleman Lake Part 2

This is the sickening sight that greets me on Tuesday morning, our last day at Coleman Lake.

Suddenly the lack of cell service becomes more than an annoyance.

Joann immediately pitches in to work the problem.  Turns out, she's great in a pickle.  Soon our neighbor, Frank, camping with his wife in a nearby site, joins in.  We soon discover the problem – a great big metal screw.  It's really jammed in there.  

I have some of that fix-a-flat stuff in a can but Joann is concerned that I would have to get a new tire ($$$$) if I use it. 

Plan B: remove the screw, patch it with Frank’s kit, borrow an air compressor, and inflate.  This would allow me to get to Heflin – 15 miles or so out of the forest.  Good plan but it's a no-go.  The screw will not budge, Frank doesn't have the kit with him after all, and the air compressor Joann borrows from a nearby work crew is ineffective. 

BTW, the nearby work crew are plumbers who promptly proceed to turn off all the campground water! Not knowing how long I'll be there, I have just enough time to fill my water tank before the water source is gone.   

Plan C: find some cell service and call for Progressive’s roadside assistance.  Frank drives me the miles out of the forest to obtain a signal.  The signal is poor and the call is dropped a few times.  Oy!  Finally I get word that a local service is on its way and will arrive at my campsite within the hour.

We drive back to the campground to wait.  We talk for a while as Joann hitches up Zelda, her cute little house-on-wheels. 

Joann, Frank, and Zelda

Then the thunder starts.  Followed by – what else? – rain, of course.  Frank goes back to his trailer as Joann and I scurry into the GDB to wait.  After an hour-and-a-half, I have a sinking feeling.  Joann, bless her, unhitches her truck and insists that I drive it to a cell signal in order to call the local repair place.  

I end up going all the way into Heflin to get gas for Joann’s near-empty tank.  I call the number Progressive gave me and the lady informs me that they can’t come after all (they don’t do ‘heavy-duty’ vehicles).  She tells me that Progressive has dispatched someone from Gadsden, at least 90 minutes away. 

While talking with her, Brian, the fellow from Gadsden, calls and needs to the campground.  Oy again!  Like most National Forest campgrounds it is tucked away down a series of  forest roads. 

I tell Brian I will meet him at the Texaco station in Heflin near the turn-off to the NF.  By now the rain has stopped, I'm feeling frustrated, and have a need to pace around outside.  I get out and a big work truck pulls in to the station – full of convicts!  I haven't seen so much orange since the last Tennessee football game.  

If I wasn't so hungry, wet, and irritated, I’m sure I would have laughed.  I try to walk around but the blatant staring soon gets to me so I get back in the truck.   All the while, I'm chanting my mantra: Itcouldbeworse.  Itcouldbeworse.  Itcouldbeworse.

Brian arrives sooner than expected and we drive to the campground.  It takes him about 10 minutes to get me roadworthy using the patch kit.

Go Brian!

The surgery is a success.

Brian is only able to inflate the tire to 40 PSI and the rear tires require 80 PSI.  So Joann follows me into town and makes sure that I got some assistance at a tire shop before she heads home, some 4 hours later than planned.

So much for our anticipated leisurely morning!  We were going to pack up at a slow pace, then drive into Anniston for some shopping at the RV dealer.  As it was, I don't arrive home till almost 6 PM.

Lesson learned.  I will think twice before staying anywhere out of cell phone range.  Last time I stayed at a campground without coverage, I arrived home to find that John had gotten a GI bug and was sick.  

It seems I have my share of mechanical glitches the past year but am cautiously optimistic that I am in for some trouble-free road trips in the future.    

Many thanks to Frank, Brian, and Progressive!  And especially to Joann for sticking it out with me!

Hey, it could be worse!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Coleman Lake Campout

Just got back from 3 days, 2 nights at Coleman Lake in Talladega National Forest.   

Web Photo

I met up with Joann, a new buddy from my online women-campers’ discussion board.  We had no plans other than just hanging out in the woods.  I was looking forward to meeting her and touring her nifty camper.  

Joann was familiar with the campground and described it as nice and shady which helped me overcome my aversion to hot-weather camping.  She also warned me that there was no cell service and no internet signal.  This would become a significant issue later. 

Loop B, Site 19.
Water & electric = $12/night

Joann was right - nice and shady it was.  And spotlessly clean.  Quiet too!  We were just about the only campers there.  Joann arrived early on Sunday and, at that time, the place was packed.   Guess those poor folks with J-O-B-S had to leave.

On arrival, I had no problem identifying Joann’s rig.  

This is an A-Lite, the smallest trailer made by A-Liner at a little over 400 pounds.  Folded up, it measures 6 x 6 feet.  Joann says the camper gets lots of attention and she doesn’t mind giving frequent tours.   She pulls it effortlessly with her Ford Ranger.  

Joann is a recently-retired teacher ready and eager to embrace her new long-awaited life of leisure.  Her plans include frequent camping.  She's a wonderful camping buddy: smart, accomplished, funny, with many interests.  She's got a great set-up here with one of the most ingenious outdoor rooms I've ever seen.  

We had a great time!  And although the humidity was stifling, the temperatures were in the low-80’s.  Of course, we didn’t know Murphy was on the way.  More about that in another post. 

The first evening, we were sitting outside gabbing when Joann mentioned she was a geocacher from way back in the early days of the sport.  I was familiar with the concept and have been hoping to try it one day.  The next morning, we decided to take the GDB into Heflin (about 15 miles away) and give it a go. 

What fun!  Just by chance, I parked the GDB at the Cleburne County Courthouse and Joann pulled up   

There was a cache at that very spot!  Somewhere around there.  

I set my GPS and off we went.  We searched all around.  And searched some more.  Joann finally found the micro-cache that contained a log book.   I'm not sure I would ever have found it on my own.  I've got a lot to learn, I guess!

I was all ‘oooh, let’s do another one!’.  We tried without success to locate the next cache at the city lake boat ramp.  Never did find it.  So I’m 0 for 2.  But it was an absorbing way to spend a couple of hours.  I can see how geocaching will allow you to explore places you wouldn't otherwise have known about.  

We learned the history of this charming courthouse.

It was a lovely getaway - I made a new friend and found a new hobby!  

I continue to be amazed that I equally enjoy both traditional camping and scampering from place to place always on the move.  

More about Mr. Murphy next time.   Hint: I’m flat-out tired of mechanical issues; they really let the air out of the fun!  

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Wild Wild World

Click:  Explore TV

I learned about this website from fellow-blogger Jerry.

I agree with him that these fascinating glimpses into wild (and not so wild) life is way better than TV.

Here are some photos I captured from the Brooks River camera at Alaska's Katmai National Park.

I could have watched this little family for hours.  When the salmon are running, this place is hoppin'.

And if bears aren't your thing, there's plenty of tropical fish, arctic terns, kittens, great-horned owls, and puffins.  There's even a buffalo watering hole.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!