My Version of a Shopping Spree

Since my recent goals have all been focused on downsizing, I rarely spend money on myself anymore.  My rule of thumb is, if it won’t fit in a motor home or a boat, I don’t buy it.   However, I recently came across two splurge items that fit that criteria…

I have been using the same Sears tent that I bought myself for my 40th birthday (you do the math!)  It has served me well and lasted far longer than I would have expected, particularly since I moved to Georgia where my camping excursions average four to six times a year.  I really loved everything about it, especially the front and back windows and the fact that it was small enough to carry under my arm, yet still big enough to hold my twin-sized inflatable mattress.  However, when I was at the “Women Go Solo” RV meet-up on the coldest night of my camping experience, I stabbed a hole right through the tent fabric.  It was only on the tent pole sleeve, but I gasped at the horror as I quickly assessed the damage, then “rrrriiiippp!!” the same thing happened again with the next tent pole.  Thankfully, it wasn’t the body of the tent, but still a warning that my “Edmund Hillary” model had lived out its best days, and it was time to start looking for a replacement.

My brother Stephen suggested I try Cabelas, as he had recently purchased this same brand, just a larger model big enough to fill his entire living room (the only place he has camped to date.)   Although this one was slightly larger than my Hillary, it was one of the few tents that contained a front and back window.  I like to see the trees when I wake up!  It seems the trend these days for the backpacking tents is to build the base out of mesh, and then cover the entire thing in a ground-up rain fly with no openings.  So you have two choices; with the rain fly off, you feel like you are sleeping in a fishbowl, not ideal for a solo female camper.  With the rain fly on, it feels like the neon blue or day glow orange Northface nylon walls are closing in.   So Cabela’s Trekker seems to be just what I was looking for, and a bargain at $69, including free shipping!   As I pitched the tent, I was grateful for the ample rain fly with little pole “awnings” as I heard the sound of thunder rumbling in the distance.

I took it for a test drive to my favorite campsite just outside the Highlands in North Carolina.  Once you cross the northeastern Georgia border, it is a steady, snaky climb up 20 winding miles through the Nantahala Forest where the temperature drops a good 10 degrees due to a rise in elevation of about 4,100 feet.

Just outside Highlands, NC

The Highlands is a cool little weekender destination with lots of expensive boutique shops, al fresco dining, and enough chocolate shops and ice cream parlors to chip away at the best of all intentions of even the well-heeled urbanites, who stroll the main street licking ice cream cones with their sweaters tied around their necks, seeking a respite from the heat of the city.   What most people don’t realize is just five miles outside of town lies a tiny little National Forest Service campground tucked off the thickly wooded, scenic highway.  With only 20 campsites and a cool, refreshing river running alongside it, advanced reservations are a must.

My favorite campsite

I drive two and a half hours to get away from the noise of the city, and that is one of the many reasons why I love this campground, because with no hook-ups, it is typically very serene.  Nothing irritates me more than to find someone in a campground with the car radio blaring Why leave home?   This weekend, there are two, so it is dueling country twang with the base rattling the dashboards, “thump, thump, thump.”   Thank goodness they were on the opposite side of the loop from me, so I can really only hear it when I make a trek up to the bath house.    I often wish I lived in the Pacific Northwest where fellow campers are peacenik nature lovers instead of the Georgia red necks spending a night in their pick-up trucks listening to Charlie Daniels wail, “Be proud yer a rebel, cuz the South’s gonna do it agin!”  As is often the case, the loudest ones are usually just passing through looking for a cheap place to sleep, so thankfully the guy left out early the next morning.

Gazebo view from Clifftop Trail

One of the things I like best about the little campground is the Clifftop Vista trail, which can be accessed right from the campground.   It’s a healthy climb to the top, then a beautiful downhill stroll through the Rhododendron forest alongside a stream, ending at Cliffside Lake for a total of about five miles for the complete circuit.   I made the entire hike this time without seeing a single person until I reached the lake.

Cullasaja River

And…A river runs through it!  This photo was taken from a giant rock in the middle of the Cullasaja river, where you can wade across and lie on the rock like a salamander, dipping into the little falls occasionally to cool off.

And of course there is the nearby thundering Dry Falls, named so because it is possible to walk behind the falls and stay dry.

Dry Falls, Highlands, NC

Another purchase from my ebay windfall is my new Sea Eagle 330 inflatable kayak.  My intention was to stop by one of the area lakes on the way home and take it for a test drive.  I looked at the seats, and they both had valves installed, so I went on the assumption that the kayak hull had the valves installed also.   I am embarrassed to admit my stupidity, but unfortunately, those that I found in a spare bag were not “extras.”    So tales from that part of the shopping spree will have to wait for another day…

6 thoughts on “My Version of a Shopping Spree

  1. As arm chair psychologist and native Texan, I have always wondered why we Southerners as a people are always so selfish in every other way except when it comes to sharing a few Hank Williams tunes at high volume during the entire evening of our camp-outs. Maybe for the same reason the neighbor boy likes to “gift me” when he drives by, presenting me with a quick way to determine the prime resonate frequency of my entire home’s window panes. Ya gotta love them, because what else can you do? 😉 Silence is golden, as I suppose is a budget big enough to get you away from the yahoos 🙂

  2. Loved reading this Suzanne… I’m with WGS in case you can’t place me 😉

    That is just beautiful country. I have just begun to accept the fact that there will be inconsiderate people wherever I go…

    I was tent camping years ago … had to get away from the City… pitched my tent way down a hill so surely surely! no one would be near. hah!

    At some point during the night… I pronounced that I could no longer take this SPOTLIGHT shining right into my tent! the nerve of these a’holes… Soooo I traipsed up the hill ready to do battle… and there was no light… in my twilight awakened mind… I .. well, it was the hugest biggest and most magnificent full moon I had seen in eons… so, I relaxed and sang myself to sleep with Moonlight in Vermont…

    Love your pictures!

    • Hi, Carolyn! Thanks for checking in! You are my first “non-family” comment! haha! I have just been trying to get this blog up and going, and my brother Don has been helping me build it. I have been slowly adding some historical stuff, as I find it very nice to have a place where I can keep my travel memories all in one place! Because goodness knows, if I don’t write it down, I don’t remember it! 😉

      Thank you for linking me from your blog! I just had a look at your’s, and that Alfie song is one of my very favorite songs! I am glad to see you are now writing “publically.”

      How are you and Homer? Any upcoming “odysseys” planned?

  3. One never can see their own faults and reading this comment about singing “Moonlight in Vermont” reminds me that this song is one of my very favorite songs and gosh, now that I think about, how often do I belt out a few bars in some campsite, being as much a violator of “sharing” as the emandem crowd. Oh well, no one is perfect but it’s sure nice to sometimes think so LOL 😉

    Keep up the great work, sis! I’ll keep supplying the square blocks if you’ll keep supplying the text and photos 😉

  4. Yes… I love the way your blog looks! and well? I began my blog to also keep track of my travels but the custody stuff with my little g’baby has stalled me and ol Homer’s plans…

    So I just started writing stuff until I can travel again…. it helps.

    I want to go up Highway 1 on the west coast … one more time before I can’t. I’d also like to post more of my travels from emails and journals I kept during those times.

    Glad to see you posting! 😉

    • DW — A few bars of “Moonlight in Vermont” would have been enjoyable, because I would have probably just started singing along. But the bass from a pick-up truck with the windows rolled up, no less! was less than desirable!

      Carolyn — sorry to hear about the custody bits, but I trust the right thing will be done for the child, and with someone as caring and adventurous as you in her life, she can’t go wrong! I will keep an eye out for those posts from Hwy 1 !

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