buck hall redux

well…here we are back at the place where a lot of things were set into motion.  to briefly recap for you dear readers who might not have been along when all this started…ten years (or so) ago i retired.  turned my back on the workaday world and set off to make a new existence.  we hit the road to celebrate by driving the blue ridge parkway and then the skyland drive parkway.  well, of course, that involved a lot of hills (called mountains here in the eastern part of this great country).  it was a great trip but all those hills grew a bit tiresome toward the end and i was longing for some flatland experience.  the magic of the internet pointed me toward a small national forest campground on the coast of south carolina.  well, we made our way here and fell in love with this small out of the way refuge on the inter coastal waterway.  i was so infatuated with the place that i approached a pleasant lady dressed in a green forest service uniform and asked how i could become a campground host.  she smiled and said “wait  right here”.  she returned with forms that needed to be submitted and within a month the forest service called and asked if i could host for march and april.  all i could say was “hell yes!”  that was the beginning of a six year experience that proved to be amazing.  it’s been about three years since i’ve been here after i turned in my host’s hat and i felt it was time to revisit.

and boy howdy, did i pick a strange time for this redux!  the nation is in a panic with the pandemic (coronavirus).  the country is slowly shutting down telling everyone to “shelter in place”.  yeah, i know, i’m not obeying the rules (sort of a perineal problem of mine) but, i sure feel a lot safer here than in a city. 

the drive down (a hundred fifty miles or so) was pleasant on a cloudy but dry day.  the road here from home is a boulevard of memories.  two lane blacktops thru rural south carolina that i can traverse without a sat nav.  there was a stop at cooper’s country store to stock up on dead porcine products (sausage and country ham with a pulled pork sandwich to go). 

this is the first real world test of the new (sound familiar?) solar powered cooler.  it’s really operated on a solar charged lithium battery.  it’s sorta like the amazing fridge i installed in the casita…12v/120vac and no gas involved.  that cooler maintained a temperature in the mid thirties for the entire trip and the battery was still fully charged when we arrived at the campground.  we’ll see how it performs during the dark.

we are on site two at the hall.  it’s the one site i alway envied when i was hosting here.  it provides a view of the waterway and the sunrise thru the back window of the casita (the trailer doesn’t have a front window) and it’s next to a wonderful live oak tree. 

my pals jake and clancy are here as well.  sort of a boy’s retreat.  we’ve not done a lot of interaction today what with all the set up stuff but i expect that will change tomorrow. 

it’s late and it’s been a long day….goodnight.


tuesday morning here at the hall.  it been a long time since i woke here with absolutely nothing to do.  no paperwork that must be done, no bathrooms to look after, no irate campers to deal with (the happy campers seldom bothered to tell the host).  it feels nice to have no responsibilities other than to enjoy this wonderful place and look after that wonderful dog.  one thing however has not changed…those damned noseeums are out in full force.  they’ve driven simple and i back into the trailer.  the puppy and i share our ill will for those cursed little creatures.  they may play an important role in the ecosystem here but, i can’t imagine what that role might be.

i was up before the sun and simple this morning.  sipping bourbon flavored coffee and listening to the quiet was peaceful.  when the puppy finally decided to open her eyes we went for a morning walk.  there was a bit of excitement when she managed to slip off the edge of the waterway onto the large rocks lining that edge.  it was low tide so she didn’t get wet but she was very anxious to get back out.  on her hind legs her front paws just made it to the ledge from where she had fallen.  i still had her leash but that was of little use attempting to help her.  i had to lie down so i could reach her armpits and extract her.  forty five pounds of squirming dog is a handful but somehow we managed to get her back on dry land.  she has a new found respect for that edge now.

after our walk we both had breakfast.  she had her usual kibble while i had country ham biscuits yeah, i know…not really a healthy breakfast but it sure was tasty.  the ham came from cooper’s country store.  a place in the middle of nowhere not far from salters, south carolina.  george cooper raises the hogs that he turns into hams, sausages and some seriously good sausage and bbq.  he’s been doing it for many years and i don’t think the store/gas station has changed very much in those years.  well, he did finally change the sign from the original esso to exxon. 

the day has remained overcast, mildly warm and intermittent showers.  that, dear readers, is the buck hall weather report for the day.


it’s a cool clear wednesday morning here.  the sun is rising and the breeze calm.  simple and i were competing for space in our small bed all night…the puppy won.  so, after a not so great sleep i woke to this insane itching from gnat bites yesterday.  my wrists (the only really exposed area) were demanding some fingernail attention.  so far i’ve tried alcohol and later some vinegar neither of which provided any relief.  but, i do smell like a drunken salad.  i had a great meal planned for last night.  mr. coopers sausage, rice, beans and cornbread.  everything was great except i forgot the beans that i’d prepared at home.  they were still in the amazing gosun cooler when i called my mates (jake and clancy) to the table.  the ever observant clancy mentioned the missing beans.  well, with great fanfare i went to the cooler, produced  cold beans and announced that we were trying a new recipe and the cold beans were being served over hot rice.  somehow i don’t think my showmanship worked, however, my very polite guests didn’t complain and ate cold beans.

simple has been amazingly cool about this trip.  sure, she will bark at passing dogs leading their humans around, but none of that going crazy stuff from our past trips.  she’s been quite pleasant actually and adapted to being with my human friends without me.  she appears to be quite comfortable in the trailer even when left alone for short periods.  i feel she’s well on her way to becoming a great camping dog.  and that’s a good thing in light of things to come.  we have the opportunity to spend a good portion of our summer in vermont.  the opportunity to host at molly stark state park campground in southern vermont exists.  another small facility (twenty four sites) with managers who live there.  they’re very pleasant people and friends of my daughter bonnie and that’s how the gig opened up.  i realize that i’d decided to sorta give up on the hosting thing when i “retired” from buck hall.  however, when presented with the possibility of spending the summer in the mountains of vermont instead of remaining in famously hot (and wickedly humid) columbia, sc it was a no brainer, right?  all the application paperwork has been completed and the required background checks submitted and approved (ha! fooled them again) so…unless this pandemic thing gets in the way, we’ll be heading north in early may.  stay tuned for updates. 

speaking of that pandemic thing…i’ve made a concentrated effort to ignore news of it so far this trip.  i’ve no notion of the situation currently.  for all i know, it’s gone or we all doomed.  there’s not a lot i can do in either case but i can avoid the stress of fretting over the situation and maximize the pleasure of living in the now here.

more impact from the pandemic….the camp host reported today that there’s a chance the campground may close due to health concerns.  a decision on that may be as early as tomorrow.  and here i was seriously considering staying longer than the end of the week if my site was available.  my pals and i decided today would be a good time to dine out for lunch.  little did we know of the governor’s order for all restaurants in the state to close their dining rooms.  we could however order take out from graham’s in mcclellanville and we did.  no, it wasn’t a good in it’s styrofoam box but what can you expect during such perilous times.  there’s still some levity however…a young man just sped past our site on a unicycle with a little dog on a leash doing his best to stay out front and causing me to smile.

friday…me and my mates had a meeting last night to discuss the situation here.  it was a casual meeting.  with so many cancelations for reservations (as per the camp host) there was the possibility of an opportunity to stay a bit longer.  we all pretty much came to the conclusion that what with all the rumors of closing the park we’d be best just to head back toward home.  and that’s exactly what we did.  we were all up and breaking camp early this morning.  i lost the race to the dump station and was waiting for a while for my turn.  i couldn’t help thinking what a nightmare it would have been if everyone was trying to lighten their load before hitting the road at the same time.  “dump fest” indeed.

one high point of this mini adventure was a visit by a couple of “gnome groupies”.  “trailblazer” (his screen name on the casita forum) and his lovely wife showed up for our first face to face meeting.  it’s fun to finally meet someone from your digital persona in real life.

so…another one’s in the record books.  our next adventure will most likely be hosting in vermont.  the gnome, simple and i all have our fingers crossed that the plague will be a memory by then and we’ll be able to enjoy a cool summer.  stay tuned….

the gnome, simple and your intrepid traveler…


update saturday afternoon:  it was officially announced that francis marion national forest had been closed.  whew!

devil’s fork campground

                           a winter trip to south carolina’s hills

day one…

it’s februrary tenth and we’re finally in the woods again!  specifically at devil’s fork state park  in the northwestern part of the state on lake jocassee just off of the cherokee scenic highway not far from the town of salem, sc.  google can tell you all about it.  no matter what they say it’s a damned hard place to find.  we did great the first hundred or so miles (of about a hundred fifty total).  after that things got a little weird.  first there was a ten buck toll to travel about twenty miles on a deserted freeway (tolls are not something southerners are accustomed to).  then when we got on the two lane roads our gps went wonky.  damned thing took me up a small road that proved to be closed after only a quarter mile or so.  it was indeed a small road with deep culverts on each side.  well, nothing to do but back out.  backing out with a trailer is not on my list of fun things to do.  i tried a couple of times to turn the rig around to no avail.  then, after a stellar display of my backing up skills (not!) i finally got back to the   spot where we’d turned.  this was a somewhat busy two lane with limited view of traffic.  my technique   was basically to close my eyes and go for it with emergency flashers on.  it worked, but i wouldn’t recommend you try this.  after that misadventure i foolishly followed a road sign toward what turned out to be another state park.  well, even tho it was great to get directions to the park i was looking for, that visit resulted in another difficult turn around event.  not as severe as the first, but time consuming.  following those good ole’ boys directions i finally arrived at devil’s fork.  i got checked in and a map to our site.  it only took two laps around the circle to locate site number thirty eight.  did i mention that all this was taking place in a driving rain storm?  well, it was.  and yeah, the whole setting up thing was more than moist.  so, here we are.  still raining but we’re hooked up to water and electricity which means heat and bathroom facilities.  both make for happy campers.

not long after we were set up and i was about to relax simple started making her “take me out noises”.  noises that you can’t really ignore.  so…back out into the wet.  now simple is very particular regarding her spots to relieve herself.  finding her place took longer that i would have cared for.  that spot was finally found and we returned to the trailer.  then the puppy made it clear that another trip into the wet was required.  another lengthly stroll in the rain.  that need satiated we came back again to the warm, dry cabin. 

so…here we are.  sitting in the dark with that soothing sound of rain falling on the fiberglass roof.  finally!  i treated myself with a cup (or two) of bourbon coffee.  the puppy is curled nose to toes and npr is providing the soundtrack.  all’s well that ends well.  we’ll talk more tomorrow….



tuesday here at devil’s fork.  last night we went to bed with raindrops pelting the fiberglass roof.  that soundtrack continued thru the night and greeted us when we woke.  simple slept in while i drank coffee listening to the rain in the early darkness.  at first light (there wasn’t much) the puppy let me know it was time for her to go outdoors.  our first trip out was nothing but wet and none of it came from simple’s bladder.  we both returned to the trailer frustrated with the lack of success.  wasn’t long before i heard to “take me out” song so we did it again…same results.  well, there wound up being five (maybe six) trips out into the monsoon before her bladder and bowels were emptied.  needless to say we spent a very moist morning.  i love the smell of wet dog in the morning.

around midday the rain stopped.  the clouds didn’t really go away but at least they weren’t emptying their buckets on us any longer.  finally a chance to get out and walk about a bit.  that improved simple’s outlook a bit but, she really wants to run.  i’d chance a run in with the rangers if i was sure she wouldn’t go off and get lost…she’s still very much a puppy.

as usual there’s some new stuff in our gear arsenal.  one is a pretty big deal.  a new truck!  at over two hundred thousand miles the mighty nissan was beginning to act her age.  that was a great truck that never failed to deliver whatever i asked and i didn’t feel like pressing my luck.  all things considered i could see no reason to change.  so, i now have the mighty nissan two.  exactly like the original except it has four doors and a proper back seat.  that back area with the seats folded out of the way is simple’s space.  equipped with a large plush bed of furniture pad and a sleeping bag.  she seems to appreciate the comfort.  i chose to get an eight foot bed (that’s truck talk for the box in the back).  the first nissan had the same size bed and i wasn’t interested in loosing that precious storage space and i’m able to use the topper (that’s more truck talk for the enclosure over the bed) i’d installed on the other truck.  you know, the thing that makes it look like an ambulance.  number two is a couple feet longer than number one.  i only notice that increased length when i’m in a grocery parking lot.  this is our first trip with the new and improved tow vehicle.  so far i’m satisfied.  a new tow vehicle inspired me to improve the storage system under that topper.  now there’s all new plastic  boxes (two sizes) that stack neatly and securely and generally work better that the hodge-podge of boxes i’d accumulated over the years.  and yes, it is definitely my ocd in overdrive.  the all electric fridge i installed last summer is working wonderfully.  the days of dealing with the inconsistent behavior of the original unit is fading into just a bad memory.  thank goodness…

we met and chatted with a couple of our neighbors.  well, all of our neighbors since we have only two.    one an older guy who’s been forced into retirement by illness and just purchased his first rv.  a mid size motorhome and this was his maiden voyage. our other fellow camper is a young guy who gave up a career at microsoft, purchased a ford transit van, put in some cabinets and a bed and set out about five months ago to see america with his girlfriend.  her visa ran out and she had to return to canada.  he’ll travel a bit longer before moving to vancouver. 


day three…




wednesday at devil’s fork.  a cloudy, cool (verging on slightly cold) with little or no breeze and for a change no rain.  there is a fog hugging around the lake.  peacefully quiet.  we did the many trip outside thing agains this morning with about the same results.  dry runs… when finally there is a fruitful event the puppy and i rejoice!  it’s a shame we don’t have an audience for our happy dances.


after breakfast we set out on a leisurely walk about to find a trash receptacle and just poke around a bit.  stopping for a chat with the guy out on his first adventure with his new used motorhome.  we were joined by a new guy from texas who travels and works out of his big trailer.  his rig is a “toy hauler” and his toy is a big honkin’ harley that has it’s own room.  his work involves driving remote submarines around the bottom of lakes (“aquatic drones”?).  i’m not sure why this needs to be done but it seems it would be kinda fun to get paid to do that.  both of these men were chronic talkers.  they took turns trying to talk about one thing until the other saw a opportunity to use his voice to go right back to what he was talking about before the other guy started….i didn’t have much to say and before too long simple and i moved on.   

all this strenuous activity simple and i were ready for an afternoon nap. 


day four…

thursday morning after one hell of a storm sometime after midnight.  shortly after i fell back asleep my slumber was interrupted yet again by a puppy vomiting in our bed.  i can tell you this is not a pleasant way to wake up.  lots of paper towels and a bit of water took care of the mess and then i could rearrange simple’s blanket so the wet spot wasn’t where she sleeps.  it wasn’t long after that that we could both return to our dreams. 

when next we woke it was still raining with serious winds blowing.  as the morning progressed things gradually improved.  now it’s totally beautiful.  blue skies with white puffy clouds.  see…if you wait long enough the camping gods will smile.

this will most likely be the last entry for this adventure.  the plan is to break camp early and head home tomorrow.  even with the inclement weather i feel this trip was a success.  the puppy grows more comfortable and confident with each trip out.  she’s on her way to becoming a true traveling dog.  there’s a trip to buck hall campground scheduled for the middle of march.  and…there is the possibility of a grand tour this summer.  there’s still some details to be worked out but, it’s beginning to look like a seriously fun adventure so stay tuned.

and thanks for checking in….

the gnome (who remained subdued this trip, the puppy simple and your humble wanderer 

mid summer trip to lake thurmond



day one…

sunday evening and here we are at petersburg campground near appling, georgia.  the campground is on sperm thurmond lake (or clark’s hill if you live in georgia).  the lake separates the states and the folks in georgia don’t think as kindly toward mr. thurmond as those in south carolina.  it’s a corps of engineers facility and a really nice park.  big sites with ample space between and provide water and electric.  no sewer but, there’s a dump station.  not too bad for twelve bucks a night.

there’s some big news with the roaming gnome.  we have a new traveling companion.  she’s a nine month old catahoula hound. and as you can see modesty is of little concern for her.  these critters are the state dog of louisiana where they’re put to work herding.  hogs (yes, hogs) and cattle are what they herd.  she found her way into my life as a result of  one of those “these pets are available at your local pound” ad on the facebook.  it was love at first sight, for me anyway, and she reciprocated when i found her in her pen.  her name is “simple”.  this came from her human who acquired her as a very young puppy.  his intention was to train her to hunt.  raccoons was his prey of choice.  well this puppy wasn’t interested in chasing any coons, not that i could blame her…quite the contrary i took it as a sign of higher intelligence.  so, the hunter decided to give up on her and take her to the pound.  one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  when the guy dropped her off he told the pound people “that dog won’t hunt a coon…she’s simple”.  the ladies at the pound found this very amusing and named her simple.  on my drive to the animal control center i was wracking my brain to come up with a name.  after my arrival and introduction it was apparent that she already had a name.  i’m not one to fly in the face of serendipity.  so, her name is/was simple.  my daughter belle has a puppy named trouble so perhaps there’s a connection there.  i suspect that there was little or no affection and certainly no love in her life with the hunter guy.  she has responded to me amazingly.  we were bonded before bedtime that first day and she’s become my shadow.  at my feet constantly nipping at my heels to make me take the path she’s picked out.  if you can’t tell…i’m smitten with this puppy.  and a puppy she is…not house broken nor crate trained.  i’d forgotten the joys of puppy parenthood.  it can be trying but, i’m willing to deal with it.  and yes, this is her first camping trip.  so far she’s adapting well.  quietly sleeping at my feet as i peck on this keypad.  i’ve missed this companionship.


today started early, very early.  four am!  simple decided we should wake then.  i escorted her to the back yard hoping she might empty her bladder and allow us to get back to sleep.  that was not her plan and a herding dog is not to be argued with.  so, i made a pot of strong coffee and waited for the sun to peek out and we could take our morning walk.  yeah, the puppy won that one.  then i set about finishing the hook up and making ready to hit the road.  everything went well until i disconnected from shore power (that’s camper speak for being plugged in to electricity) and the fridge didn’t seem to want to operate on twelve volts.  now this is my brand new fridge i installed to get away from that dismal excuse for a fridge that was original equipment with the casita.  needless to say i was more than a bit stressed.  i poked and prodded the wiring and really couldn’t find a problem.  well, after a half hour or so of panic things seemed to be working so we hit the road.  the wonderful thing of all this was the fridge temperature remained at mid thirties in nearly one hundred degrees with high humidity ambient conditions.  that’s a first for the little house.

and here i sit wishing i could put the sun on high speed as it heads toward the horizon.  i’m feeling like that’s another one i’ll loose today and i’ll be asleep before darkness falls.  i’m going to join simple on the bed and read for at least ten or fifteen minutes. 

good night.


day two…

monday morning here at the petersburg campground.  we slept well last night with the air conditioner keeping us cool.  so cool, in fact, i had to slip inside the rv superbag (more on that product later).  at some point during the dark it rained.  a gentle rain but enough to add that patter of water drops of the casita’s roof.  simple was a bit curious about that sound .  the first clue was me waking to the puppy sitting up staring at the ceiling.  she remained calm and all it took was a little love and belly rubbing to put her back in slumber land where we remained until five thirty or so.  that was when i discovered i’d failed to bring along the thermos.  now that item is essential to making our coffee.  the water heated in a small coffee pot and then fresh ground beans are dripped thru a cone filter into the missing thermos. this called for some innovation.  now we’re heating the water in a saucepan and dripping that thru the filter atop of the pot.  the pot remains heated atop of my simmer mat on the stove.  camping requires adaptation.  that, i suppose, is a camping tip.

by seven thirty i’d had a few cups of delicious bourbon flavored coffee, simple had consumed her morning meal and we’d taken a walk around circle c.  now it’s time for one of those over rated showers and then i’ll feed myself.

later that same day…simple and i walked for a while with our friends the browns and elvis their dog.  the puppies (well, elvis is a fifteen year old puppy) are getting along famously.  elvis has a lot of patience and basically ignores simple’s attempts to engage in puppy play. and speaking of puppy play, simple has discovered how much fun it is to play tug of war when she’s on the leash.  she plays for keeps and i’m amazed at her strength.  that game seriously impedes my photographic efforts.  due to her chewing fetish i’m reluctant to leave her unsupervised in the trailer.  in such a small space it wouldn’t take her long to wreak havoc in the cabin. camera stability is critically compromised with an insanely energetic forty pound herding dog tugging on her lead.  i do believe that living in such close quarters is having a positive effect on my efforts to house train her.  not a single “accident” so far.  let’s hope this experience helps at home as well. 

did i mention that it’s hot, very hot, here on lake thurmond?  how’s mid nineties with damned near one hundred percent humility sound?  whew!  our outside activities are, out of necessity, brief.  i’m happy to report that the casita’s air conditioner is performing exceptionally.  we’re at seventy four degrees in here and it’s dry air.  speaking of temperatures the new fridge is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do.  maintaining mid thirties in this tropic summer situation is so very satisfying.  could it be that i’ve lost the major complaint pervasive in my wanderings?  this heat has only reinforced my aversion to roaming in the summer.  this trip was intended to be a test of both the new fridge and they puppy’s reaction to living the the trailer.  so far both seem to be very positive.


day 3…

it’s a cloudy wednesday here on the banks of sperm thrumond lake.  i think it rained off and on thru the dark time.  last evening the brown’s treated me to hot dogs for supper.  being in their rather large trailer made me feel as if i was in an urban apartment.  now, it’s not a huge trailer at twenty six feet long but it does have a slide out in the dining area and that adds to the impression of being huge. soon after simple and i arrived she simply peed on elvis’ bed.  the was the first “oops” of this adventure.  i suppose that was at least partially my fault.  rain was falling and my desire to remain somewhat dry overruled my inclination to allow the puppy to empty her bladder.  i’m learning along with her.

this morning it was my turn to treat in the food arena.  i created my famous and ever popular french toast and crispy bacon.  the fare was well received with no leftovers.  the toast was baked in my baby breville oven and the bacon was fried in their electric pan.  we enjoyed this breakfast in their trailer so everyone would have a place to sit and the puppies weren’t on top of each other.  we remained indoors chatting and telling tales  until noon when it was time to walk a bit and then retire to the little house to escape the brutal heat…did i mention it’s quite hot here?

while i was cooking simple found several targets for her chewing fetish.  she destroyed a sponge and plastic dish washing device, ate a portion of the lid to one of my collapsable bowls and removed several inches of the zipper on the rv super bag.  yeah, the one that i had to send back to the company that makes them twice (at seventy five bucks each time for shipping costs).  that trick caused me to become a bit unhinged and i’m afraid that i spoke rather harshly to the poor puppy who was simply being a puppy.  i recovered and spent some quality time being apologetic.  she seemed to accept my overtures of remorse.

and while we’re on the subject of that rv super bag… first of all let me say that it’s a great product.  a sleeping bag that has a light weight summer side and a heavier topping on the other side for use in colder weather.  it accepts custom fitted cotton sheets (i upgraded to three hundred thread count) that are held in place by velcro around the edges.  very clever, huh?  well, i purchased this thing in quartzsite, arizona at the giant rv show.  it was not an impulse purchase as i’d been interested in one for quite a while.  i opted for a single size since (ha!) traveling solo with a small casita “double” bed it seemed a perfect match.  well, there was something amiss from the get go.  i couldn’t make the sheets fit and there seemed to be a lot of extra bag on my small bed.  i figured it was my lack of experience with the product causing this issue.  then on the way home i found the zipper on one side was missing a tooth or two and wouldn’t zip.  back at home i called the company to discuss the zipper issue and spoke with the most insipid man i’ve ever had the displeasure of dealing with.  when confronted with my zipper issue this guy responded by telling me it was my fault because i obviously didn’t know how to operate a zipper.  now i’ve worn big boy britches for a long while and nearly all of them were equipped with zippers and seldom seemed to have serious issues operating that closing mechanism.  he reluctantly agreed to allow me to return the bag for his evaluation.  a month later the bag was returned (with a new zipper) and guess what…i had no problems zipping and unzipping.  but i did have one fitting the sheets.  back at home i had room to spread the bag out to see what i could do to make things work.  i put it on top of my queen size bed and it covered from end to end and side to side.  the sheets didn’t.  it was obvious i had a queen size bag.  another call to mr. friendly only to be told that it wasn’t his problem if i bought the wrong size product.  fortunately i’d retained the sales slip which indicated that i actually did pay for a single size and was given what was obviously a queen size.  that piece of evidence sorta took him by surprise and he told me to ship it back to him.  my suggestion that he foot the bill for shipping fell on deaf ears.  he wouldn’t simply send me what i’d purchased and insisted on “remanufacturing” the thing.  so, another trip to the ups store and another seventy five buck shipping charge was required.  then i politely suggested that perhaps he could include a spare set of sheets with the modified bag to offset all the shipping costs i’d incurred with this ordeal.  he never responded to this and i held little hope for satisfaction.  well, another month later i got the thing back without spare sheets.  i seriously considered doing everything i could to bring some misery to his life, but quite frankly was fed up with dealing with this guy who had obviously slept thru the classes on customer relations when attending sleeping bag sales school.  and yes, that is the very bag that simple ate the zipper of.  i’ll be damned if i’ll go back to this guy for repairs and if i have to i’ll use safety pins for closure or perhaps duct tape?  so, if you’re considering buying this product (which is a good one) be very careful.  rant over.


day 4…

another overcast muggy morning on the lake.  simple and i were up before dawn and after a quick trip outside for the puppy to relieve herself i settled in for some serious coffee drinking.  shortly after sunrise simple enjoyed her breakfast and then a longer walk in the quiet morning that let her enjoy her morning dump.  this has become a regular morning pattern.  i’m hopeful that we can take that pattern home with us. 

after that second walk i had my breakfast.  a couple of frozen waffles heated in the little oven and topped with peanut butter and sliced bananas garnished with honey.  having that little freezer in the fridge is so cool.  it sure opens up the culinary delights available.  delights that were impossible with that old poor excuse for a fridge.  will i ever cease to complain about the fridge that was?  after the morning meal i showered and even put on clean clothes.  my friends will most likely appreciate the clean new me.

one new gizmo on this trip is a pair of walkie talkies.  now i sorta thought they’d be particularly useful  when traveling and camping with others.  in reality they’ve proven to be not so great.  mostly they were put into service just because they were a novelty newly available.  now, i didn’t actually spend money for these radios since i cashed in some credit card points to “pay” for them.  perhaps on a longer trip they’ll be handy to have.  if not, they may very well wind up on craig’s list. 

the photographic opportunities here are pretty limited.  trees, empty campsites and a few glimpses of the lake are pretty much all that are available.  and even those meager chances for decisive moments are made more difficult with the blurry inducing effects of simple’s tugging on her lead.  i’m certain that someday that puppy will become an able photo assistant (a camera caddy?).

last evening, acting out of curiosity, i gave netflix a try.  with at most two bars on my phone i didn’t expect much.  well, the surprising results allowed me to view a couple of episodes of one of my current favorite dramas “mindhunter”.  it’s a rather gruesome tale of the fbi’s first attempts to profile serial killers.  it’s a docudrama that chronicles the origins of the behavioral analysis unit of the top cops.  and…according to this series, gave birth to the term “unsub” (unknown subject) used so often in the series “criminal minds” which is another of my favs.  yeah, i watch a lot of cop shows on the box. 

day 5 and beyond…

friday morning here at petersburg campground.  it seems that momma nature is in a bit of a rut.  playing the same tune every morning…cloudy, hot & muggy (concert for perspiration in be flat majorly). it’s not an uncommon tune in the south east summer.  just to keep the repetition theme flowing simple and i performed our well rehearsed morning dance.  a quick trip outdoors before sunrise, coffee consumption (sans bourbon), breakfast for the puppy, a bit of wandering on the www and then our walk around.

this being our last day in these woods i then set about making ready for departure.  about half way thru the unhooking and hooking stuff i was interrupted by a nice guy on a bicycle wanting to talk casita.  it had to happen, right?  i’m always eager to discuss the merits of the little house and this morning it was especially welcome to have a half hour to allow some perspiration evaporation.  a retired guy traveling about in a van full time.  he’d decided it would be nice to move upstream a bit to have more in the amenities department.  i gave him the grand tour and answered all his questions and gave him some of my expert opinions on his decision.  i expect he’ll be visiting rice, texas before long. 

on the way out of the campground we stopped by the dumpsters and the dump station to shed all of our waste.  then we were on the road.  i let thomas guide us on the fastest route which was about thirty miles on two lane blacktop toward augusta and then onto the twenty.  that freeway takes us to within three miles from the dude ranch.  we were in the driveway by about one in the afternoon.  sad to say we’d not driven out of the the heat and humidity.  i made the prudent decision to unpack only the necessary stuff and postpone a full docking until the “cool” of the morning.  every time i try to do that it results in a dozen or two subsequent trips for forgotten essentials.  fatigue and heat do not make for clear thinking.

so anyway, we’re back at the ranch.  i’d say this trip was a huge success.  the new fridge performed flawlessly and the temperature was held constantly in the mid thirties and kept my biscuits and waffles frozen.  what more can one ask of a fridge?  simple adapted to the confines of the little house extremely well and i sure enjoyed what she added to the experience.   those were the primary excuses for the trip so i’m happy.  the puppy is pretty darned tired as am i. 

thanks for riding along on this brief adventure…



the gnome (who spent all his time hiding from the oppressive heat)

simple the puppy

and your intrepid vagabond


early spring on the nc coast


yeah, i know.  you’d think that with a six thousand mile trip still quite fresh in my memory would temper my urges to travel and live in the casita.  but no, and i find myself in the croaton national forest on the coast of north carolina.  specifically we’re in the cedar point campground on loop a and campsite seven in case you care to drop by.  this was not a whim trip.  six months ago i’d decided that it would be great fun to revisit buck hall as a guest and try to make life difficult for the camp host.  actually it was to be a sentimental trip back to a place i’m very fond of.  anyway, that was the plan. a plan that came to a screeching halt with a cancellation of my booking due to campground closure brought on by a total lack of water.  well, these plans were made with my good friends clancy and jake both of whom have brand new trailers and were very receptive to a trip.  so…clancy came up with this alternative and i’m always ready for an adventure so here we are.  we’re just oustide of the city of cedar point, north carolina.  very near the camp lejeune marine base which i can only assume is the source of some very noisy helicopters overhead.  it is however, a very nice campground.  small, well spaced sites and flat places to park the rig.  there’s electricity service but no water.  my site has a communal water source conveniently located next to my driveway.  not a bad arrangement.  there’s a good public radio station with contemporary music that i don’t know but it sounds great.  there’s a great signal from verizon and six or so over the air television choices. 

the drive of a bit over two hundred fifty miles was a long one.  several freeways and a road that was a freeway wanna be.  those took us to us highway seventeen and thru a lot of cities.  thirty five miles per hour cities.  the final forty miles took forever.  adding to the stress of all that driving was that stupid tire pressure warning light on my dashboard.  the damned thing has been doing it’s glowing orange warning every now and then since i’ve owned the truck.  my reaction early on was to, well, panic.  pulling over to check my tire pressure and never discovering a problem.  well, that reaction has tempered over the years and now i generally ignore it.  today it was overactive.  giving me several warnings and then one that lasted longer (in my mind) than ever before.  i don’t need to tell you that this triggered some serious anxiety.  not only was i keeping an eye out  for a spot to stop for some air pressure checking i was planning for the impending disaster of a dangerous tire incident.  then the light went away just like always.  i knew that dreadful device had a history of “crying wolf”  but….

that’s it…i’m tired and am heading the the super bag. 


it’s friday morning on the coast of north carolina (and a lot of other places i would assume).  lovely spring weather.  why, the temperature swing yesterday was practically nonexistent.  mid sixties during the day and low sixties during dark.  dry and mostly clear skies…what more could you ask for?

yesterday the final member of our trio of camping geezers arrived.  clancy, jake and your interpid traveler.  both jake and clancy are on their maiden camping trips.  now both of them traveled a long distance getting home after they acquired their new memory makers but this is the first time out from home base.  there’s a difference.  they’ve both chosen “big rigs” (well, compared to mine) and i’ve toured both.  they are very spacious and equipped with four season accoutrement.  double pane windows, insulated holding tanks and a bevy of other things that make for comfort in weather extremes.  while i do envy their luxuries i’m not tempted to swim upstream in the creek of change.  my little rig suites me fine.  the one bone of contention being the fridge.  that’s going to change soon.  as i sit here pecking on the keypad there’s a new unit headed my way.  a fridge that requires twelve volts or hundred twenty volts (shore power) to keep things cold.  no gas!  i’ve always had a nagging distrust of the act of burning propane to make cold.  my experience with that is evidence of the viability of that distrust.  you can expect to read all about the results of this grand experiment right here.

tonight we dined at a local seafood eatery for a meal of fried.  fish, shrimps, and hush puppies.  i did make an attempt toward “healthy” by ordering a baked potato.  all of the more than ample servings were quite good.  after that it was time for some rv super bag slumber.


nearly all of yesterday was spent sitting around in the clam with my pals telling camping (and other) stories…most of them were at least partially true.  the day flew by.  around dark time we dined on clancy’s delicious chili while continuing our banter until we felt the need to recline and headed to our respective trailers (i had the shortest walk).  that was our friday…how was yours?

in addition to my shampoo i’ve forgotten the battery charger for my camera.  so, i’ll be forced to fall back on my phone for images and steal some shampoo from someone.


well, i’d written a great report of out trip to emerald isle beach however, that report was eaten by the cyber beast that lives in this laptop.  so, i’ll just post some images from there and you readers will be left to imagine the things we did.


tuesday morning and our last day here in north carolina.  i’ve discovered that having pals around to hang with has seriously limited my reportage output.  now, i’m not complaining…quite the contrary since having folks around to interact with is a pleasure.  just one i’m not accustomed to.  sunday we made the drive out to look at the atlantic ocean.  that trip took us to emerald isle,north carolina.  a place that my kids and i, along with a lot of friends, spent the y2k new years event.  that was most likely the biggest non event ever.  the world didn’t end and there was still money in my bank account (altho it remained meager).  the anticipation, however, had just a bit of an edge.

yesterday we enjoyed sausage biscuits for the morning meal.  jake and i watched clancy hook up for departure and as soon as he left began wondering what we were going to do for supper since the chef had left.  his cheerful presence as well as his culinary talents left a bit of hole in the trio.  jake rose to the occasion with grilled hamburgers accompanied with pork and beans.   the burgers were tasty and those beans reintroduced me to a treat that i’d long ago given up.  they’re really pretty darned good.

between the biscuits and the burgers i spent  some time prepping for departure by packing up the clam and a some other stuff so today the remaining packing will be less of a chore.  it’s been a great week here in north carolina.  a nice campground and pleasant weather spent with old friends who were enjoying their maiden adventure with new rigs.  i, of course, was the resident “expert” with my nine year old rig which was by far the smallest.  i must admit that those larger trailers are great with all that additional space for dining and hanging out indoors…but, i was always glad to retreat to my little house and the comforts it provides.  different strokes for different folks.

this will most likely be my last post from this adventure.  i’m hoping to move the blog to a new site and that may take a while.  hopefully there will be a “new and improved” version for you faithful readers soon….


the gnome’s new home

ok…here we go with the new web presence for our adventures. the purpose of this post is to verify that i have sufficient knowledge about this wordpress application to make it work. so…there will be some words and a few photos. you readers with a bit of memory left will recognize the images from wayback past adventures.

the blog will have a new address at asthegnomeroams.com so you’ll want to bookmark this page to keep us with us.  i would expect that as i become more adept with the software (any helpful tips will be appreciated) the look here will change.  but, never fear the same thought provoking words as i relate our tales will be ever present.

so… stay tuned.  

right now i’m a bit overwhelmed with catching up on much needed maintenance and some changes here at the dude ranch.  i’m certain that i’ll loose my enthusiasm for that sort of stuff before long and the irresistible urge to hit the road will return.  i can tell you that the trip to alaska has been postponed.  my would be travel companions are going ahead without me.  it saddens me to know i’m missing that journey however, i’m afraid that is was too close behind that recent winter trip west.  an experienced vagabond knows his limits and i felt taking off for another multi month trip was not in the cards.  


i know, i’m rambling.  so i think i’ll bring this test to a close and see if i can figure out how to publish it.