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.

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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.

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