It’s been so long ago that I can’t even remember the first time Lisa Hembree, suggested, while in the RV-Dreams chatroom that we should all come visit her since, with her newly adopted little one, Rick, she and Tony’s dreams of hitting the road were postponed a bit.
Isn’t technology a wonderful thing. Lisa was able to organize this whole wonderful event electronically.
Sending invitations via Facebook - $0.00.
Spreading the word via blogs and forums - $0.00.
The schedule for this event coincided with Carthage, TN schools 2-week fall break since Lisa is a teacher. That meant that we could expect the Defeated Creek COE to be packed and reservations for sites in the full hookup sections really hard to come by. Lisa identified a section of the campground that was particularly attractive and encouraged those interested to get their sites reserved as soon as the online reservation window opened.
Site fee, full hookups, for those with Golden Access - $9, $12.50 if on waterfront
Group organization – a white board with info on next organized activities - $0.00
JoAnn suggested this whiteboard, having seen this kind of informal group organization used with the SKP Boomers. Something you want to do that day and invited others in the group – write it on the board and people can join in if they want. Of course, being a teacher, Lisa was able to come up with the board!
This sign is from the night before most were leaving and the decision was made that the ‘meal for the evening’' would be all the things people needed to clean out of there frig before they hit the road!!
The days usually started like this.
Glorious views across the lake out or windows as we awoke to perfect autumn days - $0.00
Morning line dancing classes with Ellie - $0.00
These classes even attracted other campers and their children to join in with us!
Impromptu happy hour ‘Seminars’ on the latest in RV equipment, trip planning, recipes and joke-telling - $0.00
In this example, the instruction was on how to set up these unique chairs that Nat had bought and everyone coveted. Here she has enlisted the assistance of an audience member, Chuck, to demonstrate how easy the chairs were to operate.
Education on local wildlife – the habits of local fish - $0.00
I had heard the phrase, “the shad are running” but had no idea what it meant until this week. Huge schools of thousands of these little fish congregated in the lake right below our rig. They caught my attention when I suddenly saw so many large fish jumping up out of the water.
When I got down to the water with my camera, a local fisherman was by the bank and explained to me that this was ‘God’s way’ of insuring that before these small shad are killed off by winter, they bunch together to provide a massive banquet on which the large fish can gorge themselves before they go down into winter hibernation.
One extra special service we received was having Ditka’s surgery staples removed while at the campground. Lisa put us in contact with a vet named Lindsey
Dixon. When Lindsey missed our Friday morning appt. she drove out to the campground to remove Ditka’s staples there. Pretty cool – house calls by the doctor for Ditka!!
There were 15 staples and Ditka made sure that everyone in the campground heard is howling displeasure at having them removed.
Entertainment provided regularly by Tony and Lisa’s little Rick - $0.00
Here he’s showing Papa Tony how he can use a nice long stick as a switch to herd a wayward parent.
3 year old (yes, he is really, really tall for his age!) Rick working the crowd at happy hour!
I also understand we missed some wonderful fireside entertainment with some of Lisa’s friends dropping by the week before to play and sing for the group.
Jeep tour to find more awesome scenery - $2.69 per gallon of gas!
This is one of many beautiful views down on to Cordell Hull Lake where the campground is located.
Games – ‘Hand n Foot’ competitions were held almost every day - $0.00.
Ken and I had just learned this game but I’m not sure Ken missed a single time they were playing.
Lawn chair Meditation - $0.00
Gazing across the lake….
….Or just looking up!
Attending Local Events – Ken and I took in the EIU vs Tennessee Tech game - $10 each
We really enjoyed getting to see an EIU game and visit with all the travelling fans we knew even if our Panthers played really awful, extending their loss record to 0-5. How strange that the OVC champions last year cannot seem to win a game this year.
Happy Hours – most every night the group met at 4:30. Cost - $0.00 – ? (depending on what you wanted to bring to eat or drink.)
Sometimes a couple or two woff on their own adventure or just stay in for a quiet night on their own but this seemed to be the time that most gathered during the day.
Tony and Lisa, to the left, had this tent set up besides their awning so that was the place we usually did happy hour. To the right are Sandy and Ellie.
This schedule meant that at about 4:15 everyday we were pulling out my ‘It’s 5:00 somewhere” wine glass! I finally just left it sitting out!!
Luscious meals with friends - $0.00 – $10 each (We didn’t spend more than $10 each with tip the whole week, very reasonable restaurants, about $5 each on chip-ins at the campground when someone else provided )
With this group, even leftover nights were a feast. Sometimes it would be bring your own meat for the grill and a dish. Other nights someone would provide the main course and others would chip-in. And, then, of course, some times one couple, two couples or the whole darn group would head out to a restaurant.
Here John, Ken, Mac, and Netters work their way through the ‘leftovers’ table. Yes, Frericks family, that is a deviled egg Ken has found, his well-known picnic favorite. He and Mac made short work of Sandy’s eggs!
Saturday night when Ken and I went to Cookeville for the football game, we stopped first at an Italian restaurant in that town that was recommended by Lisa and Tony. Mamma Rosa’s had very good home-made Italian entrees with serving sizes big enough to give us a each a large lunch serving to take with us. The only downside to this restaurant (and they even have a sign up about this when you come in), the food does take a while to get there. They say this is because it is all homemade but I think this is one area they could work on. If you’re not in a hurry it’s a perfect pick for Italian in Cookeville.
Our friends, JoAnn and Doug, had arrived before we did but also had to leave early so we decided to do our favorite activity with them, find a great local place to go out to eat! In this case, it was the Pleasant Shade Grocery. Here’s Ken and Doug on our way in.
We enjoyed our time with Dough and JoAnn over some good home cooking. They explained a bit to us about how the SKP Boomers group operates and winters in Arizona and suggested we consider joining them with that group for part of our first Southwest experience. I’ve since made the contacts to get signed up because this sounds like a really good idea for us greenhorn boondockers.
On Sunday evening, we did a group outing to the Cracker Barrel, in Lebanon, TN. Lebanon is where Cracker Barrel originated.
From left, Netters, Mac, Linda, John, Lisa, Rick, Tony, Tez, Kathy, me, and Leno.
From left, Kathy, Chuck, me, Donna, Netters, Mac, Sandy, John.
Rick keeps Kathy, Chuck and Uncle Tez entertained while waiting,.
All in all, its been wonderful to see how well it can work to just invite a group of like-minded folks to camp together and have everything turn out so beautifully. We attended this little ‘mini rally’ with no rally cost and considerably less out-of-pocket expenses for site, food, entertainment shopping, and incidentals than we’ve spent at the last 3 rallies we attended. There was a total feeling of flexibility – do what you want, when you want but have the availability of group activities along the way. At rallies because you’ve paid fees you feel obligated to take part even though I’m finding the main draw for us is becoming the socialization.
Thank you so much Lisa and Tony for inviting us to your gorgeous part of the country and for making our stay so enjoyable.
And so, To end our days during this adventure…
, the sunsets, like the fun, food, fall scenery and most of all
the new and growing friendships - PRICELESS!