LIVING THE DREAM, Part 24: “Chigger-Bite Remedies: the Tried and the True”

July 12, 2018


They lurk. They bite. They torment. They are ‘chiggers’, ‘red bugs’ or if you like to show off, Trombiculidae. Miriam Webster dictionary defines chiggers, also called ‘chigoes’,  as “six-legged red or orange mite larvae that feed by latching onto skin and leaving itchy, red welts”.

Itchy?  Try ‘fiendish and teeth-chattering’. These bugs from Hell especially like shins, ankles, and feet, but they will also munch on the skin between toes or fingers or even behind knees. Recently, I even found a bite between my third and ‘pinkie’ fingers.

Why is this post appearing in an author blog? Simply because authors cannot ‘auth’ when they’re too busy scratching.

Because of my succulent, fair skin, I have suffered from chigger bites since I was a child. When I grew up, I dared to hope that I had outgrown my susceptibility to them until we moved to northeastern Georgia, in the middle of May, where it rains more often than not.

I like rain. Rain is good because it freshens the air, replenishes the earth, and makes the grass grow so my husband, a camp host, can earn extra money by mowing it. Not too long after I wade through it, my arches and heels, shins, and ankles begin to itch.

Polka-dotted by bites, I have tried drugstore potions and home remedies, some of which I found out, later, are old wives’ tales. One such example, clear nail polish, was suggested by a camper.

“It works because it smothers them,” she said.

I was willing to believe her, so I applied polish everywhere I itched.

There, I thought, after screwing on the top. Take that, Mr. Chigger. When it worked instantly, I thought that I had found my ‘forever cure’.

Then, one day, we were visiting with a man and his wife camped beside us.

“Wow! Looks like chiggers have eaten you alive!” he said. “What are you putting on the bites?”

“Clear nail polish,” I said, with confidence. “I have heard that it smothers the chiggers.”

He waited until I finished talking.

“Ahhh, but if you will Google that, you will find out that it is an old wives’ tale. The chigger cannot be smothered because it has already fallen from your body right after it bit you. Besides, Absorbine Junior works so much better.”

To help him demonstrate his point, his wife rolled some of the icy liquid originally for soothing sore muscles and arthritis pain, all over my legs and ankles. That night, for the first time since we arrived here, I was able to close my eyes and sail off to sleep, itch-free for the rest of the night.

So off we went to the grocery store to buy some, only for a clerk to tell us that the store had stopped carrying it. Seeing a bottle of Caladryl Clear Lotion, recommended for insect bites, poison ivy, oak, and sumac rashes, and minor skin irritations, I bought a bottle of it, remembering how its pink predecessor once relieved my chigger bites.

Other remedies that have worked well are Vicks Vapor Rub, Tea Tree Oil, and Dermacort, an anti-itch cream put out by a company named Melaleuca.  During our two months at  primitive, peaceful, but chigger-infested Appalachian Campground, I have found that I  need different remedies at different times: a few dabs of Dermacort, an anti-itch cream with Melaleuca (or tea tree oil)  for daytime and at bedtime, Absorbine Plus for its instant, cooling, long-lasting relief.

Now, chiggers don’t bug me like they used to. Could it be that they know I’ve become a triple threat with my spray, cream, and lotion?

Back to you, gentle reader. What is your ‘go-to’ cure for ‘creepy, crawly critter bites’?

I can hardly wait to hear from you!


“LIVING THE DREAM”, Part 23: “From Spill to Thrill!”

June 25, 2018

I stared, transfixed, at the purple puddle of Cabernet spreading like a malignant amoeba  underneath Jeff’s keyboard.

“Oh, shoot. Oh, SHOOT, OH, SHOOOOOT!” I hollered until he tossed me a rag.

“‘Shootin’ won’t help. We gotta mop it up,” he said, as we wiped the surface of our dinette table until the liquid was gone.

At that moment, “I’m sorry” didn’t seem an adequate apology until Jeff admitted to spilling milk all over his laptop, a few weeks ago.

“We’ll just go back to ‘Totally Computers‘ for another one,” he said, giving me a kiss of forgiveness.

To tell the truth, had I slopped wine on my own technology, I’d have wanted to shoot my  klutzy self.

Anyway, when we rushed the wounded keyboard to the computer store, Jeff shelled out another fifty dollars for another keyboard like that one. But the black cloud of rotten luck didn’t go away. For what should have been a short jaunt into town lasted until six p.m. The day had turned into a classical example of  ‘one thang leadin’ to ‘nother,’

When we reached our car, Jeff smacked his head.

“Dang! I locked the keys in the car! I never do that!”

Enter Good Sam whose message played the same tune so many times that I was sure I could play it on the piano. After almost forty-five minutes, a real-live human being picked up the phone. While Jeff was telling her where to send the tow-truck, I went back inside to use the restroom when I saw a piano keyboard on a stand.

“Hey, cool keyboard!” I said, in passing. “I’ve missed my piano since we sold it to move into our RV.”

“Yeah, I practice on it,” Don said. “I’ll let you have it for $150 dollars.”

Bong! My eyes bugged out.

“Really? That’s a good price. I’ll tell my husband.”

“I’ll be here until six if you decide to get it.”

Meanwhile, I returned to Jeff.  Within minutes of finding out that a wrecker would be there within an hour, we saw one pulling into the parking lot.

Well, as we learned, our little Subaru is not only safe on the road; it’s also a booger-bear for a thief to vandalize. For the next fifteen minutes, we watched “Tow Truck Guy” wedge a sheet of plastic with a pump attached between our front and rear passenger windows. When that method didn’t work, he stuck a bar with a hook on the end down the back window.  From the driver’s side, we directed him toward door handle where he was able to pop the door open so Jeff could reach up front and grab the keys.

Having worked up an appetite, we pulled into Steve’s Place, down the street, for a beef-tips plate lunch for Jeff and a French dip sandwich for me. Our next stop:  Hiawassee Hardware for spare copies of car and motorhome keys, plus a few supplies and then to the grocery store before doubling back to purchase the keyboard. We planned to run in,  slap down our debit card, get the keyboard, and go.

It looked like the day would turn out okay, after all.

Imagine our shock when both of our cards were declined! When we asked our bank,  someone said that the PIN numbers were incorrect and gave us another number to call to reset them. Already frustrated, Jeff became more so when he got cut off for pushing the wrong numbers and taking too long to punch in the zip code, but he got it right on the second call.

Meanwhile, outside, another wild-and-crazy Georgia thunderstorm blew heavy slanting rain everywhere. Jeff pointed to his card.

“We’re not going anywhere, with this rain, right now. Go ahead and reset your PIN and I’ll pay with my card.”

Soon, the debit-card went through with nary a hiccup and we were wagging our new (to us) Casio keyboard out to the car.

That night, as I played a variety of tunes that turned the campground into a honky-tonk, a revival meeting, and even a “rave”.  I sampled rhythms and sounds. Much more high-tech than a computer, this keyboard also came with sound effects, such as helicopters, waves, birds, telephones, and even gunshots.

In spite of the spill, the delays, and the debit-card snafu, I was thrilled to be reunited with a piano keyboard equipped with 100 rhythms and 200 tones. This high-dollar gizmo can do just about everything but salute the flag.

So what’s up for the next post? It’s anybody’s guess, but I’m sure I’ll come up with something.

Meanwhile, if anybody needs me, I’ll be banging out a story on my Mac or creating a hullabaloo on my Casio.


LIVING THE DREAM, Part 22: “Helen. Georgia, An Alpine Melting-Pot”

June 20, 2018

Day 2 of “Playing Tourist”‘

Helen, Georgia

After all of us slept late, we piled into our Subaru around noon and headed south to  Helen, Georgia. Settled in 1969, according to a sign that greeted us as we entered the city limits, Helen is an Alpine village decorated Bavarian-style. Even the Dollar General Store followed suit by decorating the outside of its store in the Bavarian theme.

After parking in one of their lots which vary from $2 to $5 (depending on their distance to main activities), all five of us spilled out of the car to stroll the shops.

The first stop was Wildewood, conveniently located near our parking lot. This shop was one of my favorites as it offered a variety of merchandise that was a little out of the ordinary.  Besides for t-shirts galore, its shelves were stocked with one of my ‘addictions’:  purses of every size. Clutches, wallets, backpacks and shoulder bags were made of leather. Thankfully, since I had recently purchased a large, lightweight backpack at Wal-Mart, I was able to resist a backpack hurling itself into my quivering arms. At a counter across the aisle from the purses was another addiction: jewelry. Rings, earrings, and necklaces and even tiny glass boxes for rings were displayed in a rainbow of colors.

Another shop Bonnie, her teens, and I prowled while Jeff took a phone call was Tim’s Wooden Toyshop. As we prowled around in there, I wished my grandchildren were still little when I saw a wooden baby rattle sanded down to a smooth, satiny finish.

Next, we crossed the street to Dreamcatcher’s, an import store specializing in Native American jewelry. As I had misplaced the toe ring I bought in Port Aransas, Texas, I succumbed to a selection of toe (or “pinky”) rings and picked out one with an opal and sterling silver band in the shape of a sideways cross. It was almost an exact match to a ring and earrings I found, four years ago, in Fredericksburg, Texas.

Saving the best for last, we hopped back into the car and drove around the corner to Betty’s Country Store, located on Yonah St. For souvenirs, gifts, wine, groceries, and a delicatessen where you can order fresh deli sandwiches, salads, potato chips seasoned with pink Himalayan salt and more basic flavors, and HUMONGOUS cookies big enough  to share. As far as drinks, we reached into an old-fashioned Coca-Cola cooler and pulled out iced-down, bottled soft drinks. Betty’s definitely caters to all tastes. After we feasted on custom-made submarine sandwiches, chicken-and-dumplings, potato chips, cookies, fruit salad, and drinks, we were instructed to tell the cashiers what we had and pay them later.

Having shopped in these three stores, and more, we were ready to go home and flop out on the closest couch or bed we could find.

The two days that Bonnie, Hannah, and Brayden spent at our campground have really been fun. Even Russet got in on some extra loving from Brayden who took a special shine to her. After they packed the rest of their bags into the Ford, we hugged before they pulled out around  5:00 a.m.

Now, it’s back to the camp-hosting business. After the adventures of the past two days, I came away with stories-in-the-making and characters waiting to be born. Little do those people we ran into suspect that one of them could wind up in one of my books.

For our next adventure, I’m thinking I’d like to explore the waterfalls in this area. Who knows? There are at least two beautiful falls: “High Shoals” and “Anna Ruby”.

Stay tuned for my next adventure in “LIVING THE DREAM”.


LIVING THE DREAM, Part 20a: Playing ‘Tourist’ at Brasstown Bald

June 19

Since Jeff and I became camp hosts at Appalachian Campground, we haven’t done a whole lot of sightseeing. It took his daughter and teenaged grandchildren driving down from Texas for a visit for us to get out and play “tourist” along with them.

Breakfast was the first order of the day, as we crowded into a booth at Huddle House in Hiawassee and feasted on omelets, eggs, grits, bacon, and sausage. For those not familiar with Huddle House, it is similar to Waffle House only it is larger and offers a more varied menu.

After stuffing our tummies, we hopped into our Subaru Legacy Outback wagon and jogged off the highway to Brasstown Bald Mountain in Georgia.  According to the Visitor Center, Brasstown Bald is the highest peak in Georgia. I’ll admit that as the shuttle chugged up the steep, winding road to the lookout, my ears popped.

Once we arrived at the top, the view was beyond amazing! Velvety-blue mountains were juxtaposed against lush, green vegetation. Rivers and lakes scattered like throw rugs in the basin. According to the above link, visitors looking through a telescope can also see both North and South Carolina and Tennessee on a clear day.

Having snapped pictures with our cell-phone cameras, we filed into  Mountain Top Theater for a short video about Brasstown Bald before heading down to the store where Jeff bought me a pair of bear earrings and, for himself, a tiny bear that is now perched on top of our coffeemaker, and a packet of “Mystical Fire” to make our campfire turn different colors.

After coming off the trail, we were exhausted. All we were good for was lolling in the cabin, cramming down Quarter-Pounders with cheese, French fries, tall Dr. Peppers, and, later, strawberry ice cream.

“We’ll do Helen, tomorrow,” we promised each other, as we turned in for the night.

Stay tuned for our next sojourn onto Bell Mountain, coming up in Part 20b of “LIVING THE DREAM” followed up by Part 21, about Georgia’s own Bavarian village, Alpine Helen.







LIVING THE DREAM, Part 21: Reviews — Balancing Praise with Honesty

June 21, 2018

Do you remember writing book reports for school?  Well, if you were like I was, your paper was a blow-by-blow ‘he did, she did’. And, most likely, you dashed it off, in full-out ‘panic mode’ on the night before it was due at the beginning of your first-period class. Ratchet that tension tenfold if you had to read it in front of the whole class.

Now that I’m an author, I appreciate the value of leaving customer reviews of fellow authors’ books as a means of supporting them. I now understand the importance of positive (preferably five-star) reviews of my book to make it more visible than other books in its genre. When I’ve asked new readers to follow up by leaving a positive review of FROM HER MOTHER’S ARMS, if they enjoyed it, I’ve watched their faces blanch and their eyes glaze.

Sometime, somewhere, I have perceived that some are translating  ‘book review’ as ‘book report‘, causing them to run screaming to the four corners of the world, never to be heard from again.

What does a customer review of a book consist of?  Basically, it’s the reader’s brief assessment of the book tempered with praise and honesty.

Speaking of honesty, Beth Barany, a Creativity Coach, Creator of the  Writer’s Fun Zone website and Author of  “How to  Write and Get Great Reviews — with Examples of Book Reviews” recommends looking for one, two, three, or four-star reviews in order to look at the “worst” parts of a book before punching back with the best. Pointing out the worst and following up with the best is rather like a boxer’s “one-two punch”  only with different numbers. After enumerating her steps, Barany offers tips for writing good and honest reviews of books they read and examples of great reviews.

Barany’s advice to the potential reviewer is comprised of the following six points to include in a review:

  •  types of booksthey usually read
  • the mostpleasing part and the feelings they  got while reading it
  • element or elements (such as character, plot, etc) that worked for them
  • the least pleasing part FOLLOWED BY the most pleasing part (that made them forget the parts they didn’t like)
  • who might like this book

Remember, longer doesn’t equal better. According to Barany, reviews should be limited to  300-500 words.

If you need examples to back up these points, see the rest of Beth Barany’s article on  “How to Write and Get Great Reviews — with Examples of Book Reviews”. While you’re at it, browse the whole website.

Until next time, stay tuned for the next LIVING THE DREAM segment.


LIVING THE DREAM, Part 19: “Back in the Driver’s Seat”

Hiawassee, GA.

June 5, 2018

Since May 25, 2017, when we bought the Ford F350 pickup for pulling our fifth-wheel RV, Jeff was its only  driver. I knew that, if push came to shove — like if I had to outrun zombies after an apocalypse —  I could manage to drive it. Still, the idea of wrangling with the “beast” was intimidating. So, when we sold our fifth-wheel, we sold the truck, too.

On May 12, when we arrived at Appalachian Campground, in Hiawassee, Georgia, all we had to get around in was our motorhome, which would have been cumbersome for  grocery-store runs. So later in the same week, one of the campground owners drove us to Blairsville to look for a “runner” to drive to the grocery store, etc. Although we were looking for a junker to get us by until November 1, we revised our plan when we  saw the metallic grayish-green and gold 2002 Subaru Legacy Outback on the lot of Blackwell Automotive. Because of Subaru’s reputation for being one of the safest cars on the road, I knew we’d want to hang onto this baby long after we moved onto the next camp, wherever that would be. When daily rainstorms made the roads slick, I was in no hurry to brave them in any car. That is, until today, the second day we have had clear skies.

Invigorated by the sunny, yet cool, day, I struck out for a long-awaited pedicure at Julie’s Spa Nails in Hiawassee.  Well, my luxurious pedi was over entirely too soon, but I was still too revved up to go home. So I swung by the Towns County Library to inquire about doing a book-signing.  Although the person with whom I spoke didn’t hold out much hope for such an event,  she did suggest the Mountain Regional library in Young Harris for such an occasion.

Well, who would have thought that my li’l ol’ junket to Hiawassee would turn into an out-and-out quest! After grabbing a single-meat Patty Melt at The Huddle House in Hiawassee to silence my growling tummy, I struck out for Young Harris. After all, it was just “down the road a piece”. Once again, the librarian at Mountain Regional Library sent me to the next stop in the road to the Union County Public Library in Blairsville where I was able to schedule a book-signing for August.

Chest puffed as I walked back to my car, I was bursting with self-confidence.

What did I tell you, back in Young Harris, Kim? You can DO this!

As soon as I buckled myself back into the car and  pulled out onto the road, my moxie melted. Yes, I had been to Blairsville plenty of times, but  only with Jeff driving.

Now, in spite of the dubious guidance of “GPS lady” (on my iPhone X)  directing me with her whispery voice and rapid but poor enunciation, I  wound up at a garage with a bunch of junked-up cars. I half expected mutant mechanics named Bubba and his other- brother Bubba, in their overalls, to attack me with monkey wrenches oozing grease.

C’mon, ol’ girl, I hissed. Get a hold of yourself.  The same GPS who threw you off track can just as easily lead you home.

So,  I was once more back on track and driving out of Blairsville when  a light on the dashboard caught my eye: the “Check Engine” light. As I clicked off the miles, I ticked off the reasons it could have come on:

  • that the ‘safest car on the road’ would self-destruct with me in it
  • that the dealer where we bought the car had programmed the light to pop on so we would bring it in for a check-up to make sure it was safe.

Clinging tenaciously to Reason Number-Two , I drove the rest of the way with bated breath until I finally pulled up to the safety of our humble but cozy motorhome, reminding me of the last line of an old Nineteenth-Century song:

“Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.”










LIVING THE DREAM, Part 18: “When The Dream Became a Nightmare”

Appalachian Campground

May 30, 2018

“I’m really concerned about that creek, after these downpours,” I told my husband, a camp host here at Appalachian Campground, yesterday.

“Awww, it looks way worse than it probably is, babe,” Jeff said.

Still, it was true. The Hiawassee River was definitely throwing a tantrum, as its muddy headwaters spread ever closer to the campsites.

That was yesterday afternoon. Hours later, while Jeff watched a Western movie on his laptop  and I was pounded out  a story on my Mac as we sat at our dinette booth, lightning and thunder of Biblical proportions put on a show outside our window. Suddenly, my phone bleated a warning about flash floods in our area.

As if on cue, someone banged on our door.

“Hey, y’all,” he said. “The water’s  up to the first or second step of our trailer. It’s lookin’ real bad for people close to the bank.”

By then, the sky had turned an inky bluish black. I looked down the road to see whether our friend, Terri, was home. If she was not, I asked her to let me know as soon as  she got in. Just as I was ending the call, I saw a Maraschino cherry-colored Chevy outside. Soon, she straggled, sopping-wet and panicky, into our motor home,She said she had been in a deep sleep when someone hammered on her door and insisted that she leave her fifth-wheel, at once, so it could be moved clear of the flood water. She must leave at once, he repeated, even if it meant  leaving Nicky and “Sugar-Baby”, her cat and her  sugar-glider  behind.

“You know, Kim, I’ve been visiting a friend for a couple of days, but something — or Someone — told me to come home now,” she said, folding her hands as if in prayer. After I loaned her a dry pair of shorts and the softest t-shirt I owned, I poured us each a glass of Shiraz. While we were talking, another soggy camper joined us to wait out the storm.

As the night wore on, it was beginning to look like everyone — including Jeff and me — would have to evacuate, as the waters had spilled into the sites. Since we also have a car, I was afraid I would have to navigate it along dark, slick,  shoulder-less mountain roads.

After my friend settled in for the night, cuddled up in a fleece throw on our couch, Jeff and I retired to our bedroom. Still expecting to flee our motorhome, we slept in our clothes. After praying to God for protection, I drifted off to sleep.

So, how does this post relate to authors and writing? Even better, how does it not? The people and events in authors’ lives take on “flesh”. If those people are lucky — and sometimes unlucky — they find themselves in our stories.


LIVING THE DREAM, Part 17: “Wildcat v. Dutch Star — Running Neck and Neck”

May 22

Appalachian Campground

Hiawassee, GA.

I can’t believe it has already been over a week since we arrived at the campground! Time has flown since we set down camp and restored order by putting things back in their proper places. Since we moved out of and traded in our 2011 Forest River Wildcat for a 1999 Newmar Dutch Star motorhome, people have asked us how we like our Class A. I tell them that the advantage of living in a motorhome is not having  to hitch it up to something before we can transport it from Point A to Point B. And because it’s a Newmar Dutch Star, a brand most respected for its quality, even an old one is homey.

Still, even though we love our Class A, we have noticed a vast difference between it and our Wildcat in terms of space, storage, layout, and number of slides. To follow is a comparison and contrast of the two units.

First, the Wildcat was 34.8’ long while the Dutch Star is 35’. Now that might seem like a lot of room but, inside the motorhome, we don’t feel the extra space, as the cockpit (where the driver’s seat is), takes up about a foot or so of that space. The Wildcat seemed longer, and the living/kitchen areas, more distinct. Because the bathroom and bedroom were part of the loft area in the Wildcat, it seemed that we had more room.

Second, we discovered quite a difference in the amount of storage in both units. In the Wildcat, there were cabinets everywhere — and I do mean everywhere! Yet, we managed to fill every one of them within the year we had it. My favorite was the pantry with four wire baskets for different kinds of groceries. What a shock, though, when we found out that only a single, narrow cabinet was all the pantry our Dutch Star offered. Our solution to that problem was to purchase a six-basket rolling pantry with a cutting board on top at Wal-Mart. It was relatively cheap, around $60, and easy to put together, but even that doesn’t hold all of our food. That’s where the drawers in the dinette do double duty.

Two mirrored closets hold our clothes. Jeff’s side has drawers below that we share for our socks, underwear, etc. As far as space, the closets in the Dutch Star are slightly better than our Wildcat because they have rods for hanging our clothing. The Wildcat had holes for the hangers.

In the Dutch Star bedroom, each of us has a drawer and a cabinet on our side of the bed. Whereas the Wildcat had a slide in the bedroom, the Dutch Star does not. It is as though the person who designed the layout, measured the bedroom with barely enough margin on each side of the bed for us to get in, but as cramped as it is, the Wildcat space was even smaller. On the plus side, the Wildcat provided a vanity with drawers as well as a place for me to put on make-up. Because the bedroom was in the loft area, it was extra cozy, like our own little hideaway at night.

Also, the bathroom in the Wildcat was roomier, versus the one in the Dutch Star which is like a postage stamp with a sink and a shower. The shower in the Wildcat at least had shelves for our shower gel and shampoos, whereas the same area in the Dutch Star offered little in the way of shower storage. Although we bought some plastic shelves, hooks, and other fixtures, bath/shower in the Dutch Star requires me to step over a high ledge. As a “workaround”, I have a stool which can be folded and tucked away when I’m safely out. On the plus side, the Dutch Star does have a toilet-paper dispenser and a rack inside and out for hanging towels. In the Wildcat, we had to set the roll on the edge of the vanity.

The outside storage in the Wildcat seemed to be a little less than in the Dutch Star which reminds me of a Greyhound’s luggage bins on both sides.

Although she’s more cramped than we expected her to be, once we moved in our stuff, Dutchie is still comfortable, if not terminally bland. But, although the living area looks as if someone vomited beige all over the couch and the dinette booth, that is fixable, too, with colorful pillows, rugs, wall-hangings, etc. On our way to Georgia, we stopped at a Greenville, Alabama Wal-Mart to pick up some groceries. Before we headed to the check-out stand, we detoured through home furnishings where I snatched up a red pillow to spice up the motorhome’s vanilla-custard color scheme. More improvements will come but, for now, it’s good enough for this redhead.

Living in an RV is a “live and learn” experience at best and worst. As a newbie RVer, I chose our Wildcat based on the brick accents, fireplace in the living room, and overall liveability.  We made happy memories as we snuggled in our cozy loft bedroom, every night. But only after we decided to buy the Dutch Star for its mobility and  traded in the Wildcat did we find out about the mold that lurked in the fifth-wheel when I found my stack of LPs wet and moldy upon removing them from an area that should have been dry. Now that we have traded it in at Evergreen, the Wildcat will be cleaned up and repaired for a prospective owner to walk into it, like I did, sink into a recliner, and say, “This is the one.”

So, to anyone who asks us which one of our units we like better? That’s like forcing a mother to choose her favorite child. Truth is, we built good memories of our fifth-wheel and we expect to enjoy our motorhome.

Next, Part 18 of “LIVING THE DREAM”. Living in a home on wheels provides grist for a lot of story ideas. As a suspense writer, I can cook up all kinds of stories, some of them pret-ty grisly. So stay tuned!


LIVING THE DREAM, Part 15: “Leaving the Comfort Of Comfort”

Comfort, Tx

Sometime around four p.m.

Monday, March 7, 2018

After much exasperation, consternation, and other “ation” emotions that we dealt with during the previous week, the big day we waited for was finally coming to pass. When the moment arrived, it was bittersweet. For although we were excited about blazing a new frontier in a new motorhome, we would be trading in the cramped but cozy fifth-wheel we cut our RV “teeth” on.

We would also miss our friends at RV Park USA in Comfort, Texas. Friends who knew we were leaving crowded around at our slot to see if they could help. After handshakes, hugs, and promises to “see-you-later”, we hitched up our Wildcat to our truck and headed down to the Evergreen RV dealership in New Braunfels, Texas. During the past ten months, Jeff and I and even Russet, had become so comfortable in Comfort.

But despite the friendship, the weekly Bingo games, occasional bonfires, and monthly luncheons with our tribe, it was time to move on to the workamping job awaiting us in Georgia.

As we pulled through the gate of the Evergreen RV dealership, almost an hour later, I was relieved to see our 1999 Newmar Dutch Star waiting for us at the front of the building. When the buyer of our pickup ran into a six-day delay that caused our own plans to veer south, I worried that someone else would strut in and slap down a check for the full amount to buy “her” outright, even though the unit had sat on the lot for five months. Finding our Class A cleaned and air-conditioned for our arrival reassured us that “she” was, indeed, ours. After we parked and went inside, the sales manager got someone to pull the fifth-wheel alongside the motorhome so that we could start moving our stuff from our old home to our new one.

At least, I thought that was the plan.

As it turned out, Jeff and I learned that we could not move our stuff in until we paid for it. Knowing there was nothing more we could do until we met the buyer at his bank, the next day, we spent the night in a New Braunfels motel.

The next morning, after a quick breakfast at McDonalds, we drove to San Antonio to meet the buyer, Paul, at his bank. The check, he assured us, had already been cut, so all we needed to do was sign our names in the presence of the loan officer and take the check to our bank. We were giddy with excitement about driving away in our new-to-us Dutch Star before the end of the day.

Although we had expected to call Uber or rent a car back to Evergreen, we were in luck when Paul rode back to Bank of America with us. We were about to march in, deposit the check, and get a cashier’s check to pay for the motorhome when Jeff went pale.

”What’s the matter, hon?” I asked, as I saw him rifle through the pages of the notebook where he had stashed the check.

”I can’t find it. It was right here, but now —.”

After we had, like, a gazillion heart attacks each, Paul whipped out his cell phone and called the bank to see what could be done.

Fully expecting to receive bad news, we were relieved to see his face light up as he ended the call.

“They found it. And you’ll never guess where it was, or who turned it in. The Good Samaritan was none other than our loan officer.”

After back-tracking to the San Antonio bank and recovering the check, we hurried back to Schertz to the same Bank of America to deposit the check.

“When will the funds be available?” Jeff asked.

“In twenty-four hours,” said the teller. “You can pull out the money, tomorrow.”

Disappointed at having to wait and worried that we might have to stay another night in a motel, we held our collective breath when Ron asked Jeff to step into his office.

Uh-oh, I thought. This happens only when someone’s about to get bad news.

But when I saw Ron and Jeff come out grinning and shaking each others’ hands, I exhaled. So did Paul, who was good enough to stick around, in case we needed a ride to a motel.

“Hey, babe,” Jeff said, draping an arm around my shoulders, “We can start moving in our stuff!”

“And we can sleep in our motorhome, too?” I asked.

“Yep. So, c’mon, let’s get started.”

Seeing that we were set for the night, Paul shook our hands, thanked us for selling him the truck, and wished us a safe trip.

There we were, locked inside the lot until morning, but fully equipped with food, water, and bathroom access. After moving drawers of assorted stuff from the fifth-wheel to the motorhome until we were hot, sweaty, sore, and cranky, we decided to knock off for the night, eat a bite, and sleep one more night in the Wildcat since its bed wasn’t stacked up with clothing and drawers yet to be unpacked.

Before we dozed off, that night, Jeff and I looked into each other’s weary eyes.

“Remind me, again, I asked him. “Why are we leaving the comfort of Comfort?”


LIVING THE DREAM, Part 16: New Home, New Inspiration”

Monday, May 21, 2018

Hiawassee, GA.

We have completed our first week as “workampers” (camp hosts) at Appalachian Campground and are now plowing into Week Two, our most demanding week, yet, with Memorial Day up ahead. Many have called to reserve spaces at our campground. Still, we are glad we are here. Although we received offers from camps in Alabama, Tennessee, Colorado, and both ends of South Dakota, we chose Georgia, as neither one of us had ever been there. As it turned out for two newbie camp hosts, we could not have asked for more breathtaking scenery!

We arrived in Georgia on our third day of travel, just as Jeff predicted. After maneuvering dark, curvy, shoulderless, mountainous roads and winding up, down, and round and round after midnight on Friday, we stumbled across our destination. We had planned to find a park and and turn in early, but, after navigating dark streets with poorly-marked signs in a city and state we were not familiar with, we turned right into the first campground we found, only to discover that — BOOM!—we had reached our destination. Eyelids drooping, we hurried through water, electricity, and sewage hook-ups before tumbling into bed.

Now that our camp-hosting job is underway, we’re answering calls on the park phone, taking reservations and collecting money. We’re also mowing, cleaning the cabins and restrooms, and greeting campers in tents, RVs, and cabins. Although Jeff does most of it, including the mowing, I expect to fill in with anything else that needs doing.

Appalachian Campground is peaceful and primitive. Note the key word: primitive. Although the Bearbottom Bathhouse is equipped with flush toilets and showers in both the men’s and women’s restrooms, campers must bring their own shower caps, shampoo, and conditioner, and anything else they need.

A washer and dryer are available outside the bathhouse for $1.50 per load.

Like the rest of the park, cabins ‘Nappin’ House’ and ‘Hemlock Haven’ are likewise primitive.  ‘Nappin’ House’, as its name implies, has only a bed, a small refrigerator, and a television that plays DVDs only. This smaller cabin is meant to sleep two people. It does not have a toilet, but the Bearbottom Bathhouse is nearby. Bringing a flashlight for those nighttime nature calls is essential, as Appalachian Campground has no street lights.

‘Hemlock Haven’, a larger cabin that provides not only a queen-sized bed but also a loft for adventurous extra guests and, especially children. Meant to sleep four to six people, the ‘Hemlock’ is the only one of the two cabins equipped with a toilet, sink, and shower.

In keeping with the campground’s rustic flavor, neither cabin has a kitchenette nor a coffee maker. Guests are encouraged to bring their own instant coffee and snacks. In other words, the only coffeemakers in these cabins are the guests, themselves.

When Jeff and I first looked inside these cabins, I saw an author’s retreat waiting to happen.  Both cabins feature porches with rocking chairs and barbecue grills that overlook the gurgling headwaters of the Hiawassee River.

Living in this new surrounding stimulates my writer juices. I can hardly wait to bring my Mac Airbook home from the ‘hospital’ — Mountain Mac in Hayesville, North Carolina — attack my current work-in-progress with renewed vigor as well as newer works with a new zest.

Eager for more information? Click on the links for Appalachian Campground, Workamping News, and Mountain Mac.

Next up, people have since asked us the two most expected questions: “How do you like living in your motorhome? How does it compare with your fifth-wheel?”

Stay tuned for Part 17 of my “LIVING THE DREAM” series. In the meanwhile, I do love receiving comments and questions from all of you.