Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Camping at Old Stone Fort State Park

The tearbaby and I went camping this past weekend at Old Stone Fort State Park in Manchester, TN with the Tennessee Chapter of the Tear Jerkers.  We were celebrating the chapter's 5 year anniversary.  The campground hosted 32 Tear Jerkers with 18 unique teardrops and tiny trailers (the people were unique too!).  Great bunch of folks and a wonderful weekend.
Tearbaby resting in its campsite.

If you are interested in teardrop trailers or other tiny trailers out there I HIGHLY recommend that you go to one of the Tear Jerker gatherings.  You don't have to camp, just visit for the day.  Everyone in this national / international group is warm and welcoming, and they love sharing their knowledge and experience with anyone interested in these tiny trailers.  Just to go the Tear Jerkers forum and click on CALENDAR along the top banner of tabs to find a gathering near you or join the forum for even more helpful information.

These people are also packed full of ideas and ingenuity!  Two of my favorite qualities!  I have learned so much from them after attending just 2 gatherings, of which I'll touch on more in future posts.  But for now, I wanted to share with you some pictures of Old Stone Fort.

Old Stone Fort is "a hilltop ceremonial enclosure begun 2000 years ago and used at least through the fifth century".  The spectacular setting occurs where two rivers converge creating a high, isolated "bluff" between them.

The Woodland prehistoric period people constructed wall-like mounds around the edge of this 50-acre high bluff, with two parallel mound walls oriented to the summer solstice sunrise.

This mound site was most likely used for ceremonial purposes.  There is a 1 1/4 mile trail that takes you around the perimeter of the Old Stone Fort where several of the mound walls can still be seen.

With beautiful views of the rivers and falls (several side trails take you down to the rivers edge).

There is also a small museum and gift shop and other trails throughout the park.

Now I am quite embarrassed to admit this next part.  I am a backpacker, primitive camper from way back and know the proper provisions for hiking - good shoes and plenty of water.  However this day I was not properly prepared.  Shoes - Teva sandals - WRONG!  Bottle of water - left in the car - WRONG!  Now in all fairness, I hadn't intended to go hiking - just went to tour the museum - or I would have been better prepared.  That said, the 1 1/4 mile trail was relatively easy and I managed quite well even though I lacked the necessities (though that bottle of water in the car didn't last long once I returned!).  All in all it was a lovely hike and a beautiful area of middle Tennessee steeped in unique history.  Check it out if you are in the area.

*(Note: Pictures were taken with my phone - still learning how to use it, it's new.  Again, had I been prepared to hike I would have brought my camera!).


Fear.  We all have things we're afraid of.  Most of us probably suffer from the same handful of fears like: fear of finding yourself naked in front of an audience; fear of being stranded with a flat in some remote location without a spare tire (and no cell service); fear of being eaten by a ________ (shark, bear, spider, snake, killer white rabbit). Then we have our own "personal" fears.  Mine include fear of crowds (probably because I'm short), malls, falling (not heights, just the falling part), and fire.  [I won't make fun of your fears, so don't make fun of mine!]

I want to address the last one - fire.  Now, I'm not afraid of hanging out around a campfire or BBQ or anything like that.  My fear is in the lighting of said fire.  As a Girl Scout many years ago, one of the last badges I earned was my fire starting badge - NOT because I couldn't build a fire (that was easy), but I couldn't light the darn match.  With much time and moral support from my friend and neighbor (also a Girl Scout), I finally managed to do it and got my badge.  Today I can light a match and start a fire. . . I just couldn't light the stove in my tearbaby.  Yes - I am a wuss!  I had been afraid to light my stove since I got the tearbaby - something about blowing the trailer & myself up when I put match to stove.  I hate lighting gas stoves - they always make that exploding sound when they light and it scares the bejeebas out of me every time!  I think my fear lies in exposing explosive gas to flame.  Now, I'm not Einstein, but WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT??????   Explosive gas and fire to me is like worms and Tequila - just because we put them together doesn't mean they should go together.  (Then again, my one and only experience with Tequila proved that after drinking Tequila you just don't give a damn about the worm - "Worm?  What worm?").  But we are talking about my fear of lighting my stove not my night with Tequila.

So, I knew I had to get over this fear or live on PB &J sandwiches and cold showers for the next several years - not what I envisioned for my new life.  While camping with the Tear Jerker's group back in July, someone reminded me that my little stove was removable from the counter-top and could be set-up on top of a table.  Oh boy, a safe way to light the stove and NOT blow up the tearbaby!  Finally a solution.  So I decided that when I got home, I would take the stove out and set it up far away from the trailer and practice lighting it before my next camping trip. 
Stove in it's place in the counter
Stove removed for use on a table top
Jump ahead to this past weekend - I'm off on my next camping trip - has the stove been lit?  NOT!  But with much thanks to my camping neighbors for their moral support and the wife's volunteering her husband's assistance should I need it, I DID IT!  I LIT MY STOVE!!!  It wasn't scary at all - didn't even make a noise when I lit it!  No little explosion burst or anything!  What a perfect stove.  I LOVE IT!  I really like the versatility of it - that I can take it out of the counter-top and use on a picnic table if I want or leave it as is.  I'm going to have my dad make me a little cover for the hole for when I take the burner out - so I don't lose things down in the cupboard.  

Now the story doesn't end there.  You know how you often get yourself all worried into a tizzy the longer you put something off - and come to find out that you made it so much worse than it actually was? (mountain / mole hill scenario)  Well, I am an expert at that, so much so that I fail to see anything else.  All this time I was so afraid of lighting the stove for fear of it malfunctioning and blowing up the tearbaby that I hadn't thought about any other potential problems in regards to lighting it.  So here I am, stove all set up on the picnic table, stove instructions laid out in front of me (read over several times just to be sure!), and I reach for my lighter thingy to light the stove.

I pull on the trigger and nothing happens.  I try again and it doesn't move.  I go to the camper and pull out the package it came in and read the instructions - "Depress safety mechanism.  Depress trigger. Adjust flame". O.K. easy enough.  I depress safety mechanism (darn that is hard to depress and hold while depressing trigger), trigger is depressed - Look Flame!  Oh, flame goes out.  Couple more tries, realize must keep safety mechanism depressed to keep flame lit.  Hmmm.  One hand to hold down safety mechanism, one hand to depress trigger.  Oh look, I'm out of hands.  Now how the heck am I supposed to turn the knob on the stove?

By the way, dinner was delicious!