Friday, September 24, 2010

Our (Busman's) Holiday

We have had an extremely busy Summer, and with leaf season almost upon us, we decided that we needed a little break.  We took a couple of days off this week and went camping.  Our love of camping is one thing that led us to purchasing Ash Grove, but this is the first time that we have been camping since we bought a campground almost 8 years ago!  It was also the first time that we have been tent camping in longer than that--we had a pop-up camper for several years.
We trekked to the Mt. Pisgah campground, on the Blue Ridge Parkway, about 45 minutes from us.  It was the 2 of us and our 3 dogs.  Ernie, a mini-doxie, is 11 and had been camping with us many times.  This was the virgin camping trip for Max, the 2.5 year old Basset-Cocker mix and Mr. Henry, the 12 year old mini-doxie, a rescue (and a couch potato) that we have had for a couple of months.
The weather was perfect at 5000'+ elevation--low 70s in the day, upper 40s at night and not a cloud in the sky.  Our tent was a castoff from some of our guests.  They left it at Ash Grove because they found it to be a pain in the neck.  It was too big for us, really, and was made to attach onto the back of a Jeep Liberty, but it was avaliable (and free).  We practiced setting it up before we left (as every camper should do with a new tent!), so it went up pretty easily at the campground.
Our afternoon activity (after setting up camp), was a trip to Skinny Dip Falls (but no skinny dipping) on the Parkway.  The hike was relatively easy and about 1/2 mile each way, plus a short detour on another trail.  The dogs enjoyed all the smells and meeting other hikers and dogs (an older wire-haired mini-doxie and a perky long-haired doxie, among others).  It was our first trip to the falls, a small waterfall but with a beautiful, deep, crystal-clear pool at the bottom.  Mr Henry was starting to lag behind a little on the way back to the car.

Dinner was grilled pork loin, baked potatoes and campfire beans.  One note here:  when we used to camp frequently, we had lists of everything we needed to take with us and always had everything we needed.  Those lists have long ago disappeared, so a few things like a can opener (Steven did have the one on his Swiss Army Knife, but it needed some sharpening!),  a potholder and other necessities were missing, but we made do.
At bedtime, the dogs had their beds and we had an air mattress.  Another note here:  since it has been several years since we went camping and several years before that since we slept on an air mattress, we can tell you that the knack of sleeping on the ground does NOT come back to you after a long absence, like riding a bicycle does!  These old bones did not like it one bit, and each of us got less than 2 hours of restless sleep.  We did enjoy the sounds crickets, katydids and tree frogs.  The coyotes howling in the not-too-distant distance, just before dawn, got the boys stirred up, so that really put an end to sleep.
After a leisurely breakfast, a walk around the campground and some time with a book, it was time to pack up and come back home.  Unpacking and naps (for all 5 of us) was the order of the afternoon.   The tent, which was a pain in the neck, is awaiting a trip to the Goodwill store.  The dogs appeared to have a good time, but they really don't seem to be good camping dogs (they constantly paced around the campsite and tied each other up with their chains, rather than lying by the fire like a camping dog should).  Between the bed/sleep situation and the dogs, we have decided that we probably won't go tent camping again--it's back to a pop-up or camper for us.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Camping for a Cause II

Ash Grove is having our 2nd Camping for a Cause event this Friday, 17 September, 2010.  The money from campsite rentals will be donated to one of our favorite charities, Friends for Life's Forever Farm, a sanctuary for senior and special needs dogs and cats.  "Our residents enjoy a home like environment consisting of both private and group living rooms, porches and large fenced grassy play areas. The majority of our residents will be adopted into loving homes, but some who may be very old or ill will remain at the Forever Farm for the rest of their lives.
Please help us with our mission to help these animals live the best life possible by supporting the Forever Farm. Volunteer your time, donate funds, appreciated stock and supplies; tell your friends and family, and come meet our residents when you are ready to adopt a pet."
Our first event, in May 2010, raised several hundred dollars for The Haven of Transylvania County, a temporary shelter for the homeless, that is in its design phase, and still raising money.