Monday, October 26, 2009

2009 10 24 Jacksonville State Game, Cheaha Park and Ellsworth Visit

Note: We have gone a week without internet access so check prior posts. We have published several in one day to get caught up!!

Cheaha Mountain is Alabama’s Highest Point

It seems that Cheaha Mountain was not to be one of our favorite destinations but mostly of our own doing.
We arrived Thursday afternoon at the top of the mountain to find that our Brake Buddy had somehow malfunctioned, was going bonkers, and totally ran down the battery on the jeep. In what we’ve learned to be normal Alabama hospitality, we quickly had help from both a park ranger and a fellow camper. It took nearly ½ hour of jumping the jeep to get it charged enough to turn over.

Our site in the Upper Campground

By the time we were able to finalize our campsite selection we were pretty limited in finding a site that would accommodate a 40 foot rig and a tent for our weekend guests. The closest we could get was a site that had more slope than we preferred and as a result had the sewer outlet in the ground actually higher than our outtake on the rig – not good. Nonetheless, the trees were beautiful in the area and the rustic accents of stone building, even stone fire pits added a nice touch.

Exploring behind our campsite

One of 4 deer who visited nightly at dusk

We had a beautiful area behind us that was a playground for gray squirrels, chipmunks and deer.
Since Ken wanted to keep the jeep running for a while to complete charging the battery we decided to take a quick tour of the state park.

Cheaha Mountain observation tower-stone building theme throughout park

Waterfall – man-made/natural stone combination

Bald Rock Lodge that can be rented – 13 bedrooms, just $2000 per night

Rain clouds approaching the mountain

As we headed back to the campground, it was obvious that the forecast heavy rains were on their way in.
Ken and I spent most of the day inside Friday because of the heavy rains. Another reason this wasn’t one of our favorite destinations to-date. We decided late afternoon to head in to Anniston to pick up a few groceries since the weather wasn’t conducive to exploring outdoors. We stopped by an RV dealer / Camping World on the way to pass the time and check out some of the 2010 RV’s they had in stock—we enjoy that over a shopping mall any day!
When we arrived back home late Friday afternoon, we received a call from Trevor reporting on the EIU football team’s plane-ride from hell. Apparently they weren’t having the best luck with ‘vehicles’ either. They had a chartered flight from Charleston, IL to Anniston, AL . At one point the plane apparently hit some sort of pocket or wind sheer that dropped them a long way, enough for the guys not in seatbelts to fly in to the air. But, the worst was on landing when they came down much harder than expected and immediately heard a loud boom . It turns out they blew a tire. The boys were apparently very happy to get off that plane.
On Saturday, the rains had not cleared out up on Cheaha Mountain. Ken and I left for the hour drive to the game amidst heavy fog and rain. After we had driven a few mile, though, it was apparent that we had basically been sitting in a cloud on top of the mountain and that there was no fog and little rain as we got down to the lower elevations. It was pretty neat to look back from the bottom to see that our campground was sitting above the clouds.
We had arranged to meet our good friends from Atlanta, the Ellsworth’s, at the game. They actually arrived well before us since they’d forgotten that in their 90 minute trip they would be crossing time zones! Dave and Donna had brought along their son Kenny (yes, our Kenny’s namesake!), his girlfriend, Jenna, and their youngest son Brian. (Regular visitors to our website have met Brian several times as he’s come to Quincy and gone camping with Ken over the summer.)
Trevor is continuing to nurse a high ankle sprain and problems with both shoulders. They have him wearing Sully braces on both shoulders to limit his range of motion in hopes of reducing further damage. You wouldn’t have known he should have been on the ‘disabled’ list from watching him on the field.

Ha! Ha! A Sully brace can't keep me from blocking passes!!

Ok I’m behind the O-Line but where's that guy with the ball?

Trevor, Andre: Is this play called synchronized tackling?

EIU played very well, came out early with a 14-0 lead and stayed ahead for the rest of the game. Giving up 20 points against a Jacksonville State offense with the high touted (and infamous) quarterback Ryan Perrilloux meant that defense really had a pretty good game. Trevor had 2 solo tackles and 2 assists.

Final score JSU 20 – EIU 28!

For a full team recap, click here.

After the team came over to our stands to sing their fans the traditional EIU victory song, we met with them outside the locker room for a more detailed play-by-play and picture taking.

Trevor with Defensive End Nate Galan and fellow D Tackle Andre Lima

Enjoying the victory with Trev and Andre

From left Jenna, Donna, Brian, Kenny, Trevor, Cindy, Ken and Dave

The Ellsworths came back to Cheaha State Park with us for the evening and we ate at the restaurant at the top of the mountain.

Saturday evening at the Cheaha Mountain Restaurant, buffet ... $10.95

View of the sunset from Cheaha Restaurant ... priceless!

With a full day out doors at the game, we were all yawning pretty quickly by the time we got back to the RV. Dave wanted to sleep in the tent but had trouble finding any other takers in the family who all liked the warmth of the RV. Actually Dave had it pretty nice with the full size bed air mattress and one of our ceramic heaters to keep him toasty.

The Ellsworths sacking out in the RV

Ditka and Sox spent the night moving from one bed to another inside the rig making sure they kept everyone warm by snuggling up next to them.

The next morning, Ken fixed his traditional big breakfast for our guests while we sat around chatting, waiting for it to warm up outside.

Ditka and Sox playing lapdog with Jenna and Kenny

In the afternoon, after seeing the Ellsworth’s off, Ken and I packed up, not exactly sure of our destination for the day except that we’d head north back in to Tennessee, generally in the direction of the next game.

Since roads were tight and one-way at the top of the mountain we decided to hook up the jeep down by the park store. It’s hard to say exactly how it happened but following Ken down the mountain, I got a birds-eye view of the next incident that made this ‘not our favorite destination’. Apparently Trevor called in to update Ken on his ‘injury report’ at the same time that Ken reached the overcrowded store parking lot. I was behind him. When he tried to pull over far enough to the side to be out of traffic he forgot about the post-and-rail fence to his right and put a nice long scrape along the passenger side of the motorhome. Lessons learned: no talking on cell phones while driving motorhome and have us both in RV cockpit when negotiating congested areas.

The park ranger was very understanding and wouldn’t even take our offer to pay for the section of fence that we had knocked over.

Since Ken had obviously dropped his call with Trev short, I called him back once we were hooked up and on the road. He was nursing a lot of aches and pains from the game but felt that with some rest this week he would be ‘game-worthy’ by next Saturday at Murray State.

Ken and I decided that since we had gone without good TV channels, restaurants and internet access for many days now, stopping at a full-service RV park in Chattanooga was in order.

And so, I’m finishing this post from the Trav-L-Park in Chattanooga where, yes, I finally can get my fix of Internet! In the meantime, Ken has done some 'cleanup' on the side of the RV and now it really doesn't look so bad. It will be fine until we get back to Quincy where he can enlist nephew Jim to estimate and execute real repairs.

I’ll post again soon as I can as we make our way west across Tennessee.

Hugs, C

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