Friday, July 13, 2018

July 1, 2018 - Leaving Big Creek

In several ways, our stay at Big Creek has been less than ideal this year.  It's not Big Creek; it is us. It was mostly me: five trips out to the dentist and endodontist, three or four trips out for my computer issues, one week doing absolutely nothing but sticking my foot up in the air.  And, I lost count of the number of trips to Walgreen's. Andy's only issue was his inability to walk anywhere but around the two campgrounds and on the bridge in Big Creek.  With all our errands, we didn't have time to take a hike anyway. I think the RV was responsible for four trips out for repairs.  We seemed to spend more time in Knoxville than I thought possible for a two-month stay in Big Creek. We really missed seeing park personnel.  We heard Ranger Heath on the radio many times but never saw his face. Boss Larry did his best to drop in at least once a week.  And Spence, who used to be full time in Big Creek, is now spread between Big Creek, Cosby, and Greenbrier.  He would stop in for coffee and run when he was in Big Creek. We did not interact with the campers as much as we have in the past; that is one of the best parts of volunteering in a campground. Ah, but it is still such a beautiful place to stay in the forest! I am optimistic that it will be better next year.

Now for the rest of the summer.  Go to to follow our summer road trip.  We go to Wisconsin to visit grandsons Owen and Cam.  Then Grant Tetons National Park, Crater Lake National Park, Son Christopher in Arcata, CA, Lassen Volcanic National Park, visiting Erin near Pasadena, Lamar southern CA, Steve and Louise in San Diego (if our schedules line up), Joshua Tree National Park, Pie Town NM, Mesa Verde National Park, Tonto National Forest, family in the Washington DC area, back to Wisconsin to pick up my roll-top desk, and then home to Florida. More or less.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

June 25, 2018 - THE FOOT!

I finally got my new computer with my old files transferred.  Most of my old files, anyway.  I'm glad I bought a cable to connect old and new so I can retrieve some things that did not transfer. It is another digital mystery (to me) that they transferred my saved emails in Outlook, but a number of them did not transfer. It seems random. Then, I realized that I did not have my program disks with me.  Andy wanted to use my computer bag so I emptied out all my stuff and must have left the programs at home. We had planned to make yet another trip to the Best Buy in Knoxville to get another copy of Quicken and Photoshop, the two applications I use most often.

However, when I woke up on Monday morning my right foot was swollen and very red around the toes.  The last time that happened, I ended up in the hospital.  So I was motivated to get online and find a walk-in clinic.  I found one close to the Best Buy in Waynesville, NC and we were on our way.

I told the physician's assistant that this had happened before and was diagnosed as a Brown Recluse spider bite.  She said that there would be signs of necrosis by now if it was a spider bite.  Well, could it be athlete's foot?  My toes had been itchy over the weekend.  She got down on her knees and inspected between all my toes - no sign of athlete's foot. She concluded that it was some kind of bite that had become infected.  It was getting worse as the morning wore on. We got the antibiotic prescription filled and then headed to Best Buy for the program disks.

As I was directed to stay off my foot and keep it elevated above my heart, I did just that.  I read in my bunk in the RV with my foot on pillows  Then I moved to the screen room and rested my leg on the picnic table. The infection did not seem to be affected by the antibiotics; it was getting worse.  I went to the walk-in clinic in Newport a few days later.  That physician's assistant prescribed a stronger antibiotic and more foot elevation with dry heat.  Another visit to Walgreen's.

When we got back to Big Creek we saw that it had rained - a lot. Our rain gauge showed almost three and three-quarters of an inch and we could hear Big Creek roaring through the trees.

Judging by the debris on the ground, there had been some good wind too.

Big Creek was a mad torrent.


and down

I walked to the far side of the creek to get a picture of the bridge and noticed that the Mountain Laurel was in full bloom.

Two days later, the foot seemed worse.  I called the clinic and was told to go to the emergency room.  I called Boss Larry, a native, and he told me that the Newport hospital has a lot of experience with gunshot and knife wounds.  What a recommendation.

After I was installed in a bed in the emergency room, poked and prodded, Dr. Gupta walked in.  She seemed puzzled about something. 

"What is your name?" She had my chart in her hand.

"Dinata Misovec".

"Are you at the place where the place where the Baxter Creek Trail is?"


"You are the author!"

She was so excited to meet me and acted as though I was some kind of celebrity.  She LOVED the book "Big Creek".  She had bought it last year at the Big Creek Country Store. She left the cubicle and returned with some sodas, crackers, and peanut butter snacks for us.  Wow, doctors don't usually deliver snacks, do they?

I asked Andy to go out to the van and get another copy of the book for her so I could sign it with a note. She was thrilled.  After she left my cubicle, I could hear her at the nurse's station saying, "She gave me a book and signed it!" The next time she came in she had decided that I needed to be admitted. I had been getting antibiotics intravenously all afternoon in the emergency room and they continued them in the regular hospital room.  Dr. Gupta visited me in my room at the end of her workday. The next morning she arrived with a rose and a gift card for Applebee's Restaurant!  She said her Physician's Assistant was reading and enjoying "Big Creek".

I forgot to mention the food. You can't expect too much with hospital food and lunch arrived in the form of meatloaf.  I took one look and didn't want to eat it.  I never eat meatloaf away from home. But it was late and I was hungry.  I took a nibble and discovered that it was delicious.  Then I ate everything on the tray.  Andy got a lunch tray too and agreed that it was very good.

My new doctor was a handsome mountain doctor with a neat black beard and wearing jeans, a plaid shirt, and cowboy boots. The foot was improving, but he wanted me to stay another night to keep an eye on it. On the third day, July 1, they sent me home, but not until the late afternoon.  Spence says that is so they can charge for another night's stay. I was told I was well enough to leave the hospital but not well enough to be without a doctor's supervision.  I was to visit a family doctor as soon as possible.

July 1 was the day we were to leave Big Creek and Clyde and Debbie were to arrive.  Spence was waiting for us when we got back to the host site to gather up our belongings.  I called Debbie to ask if she would like to use our screen room while they host.  Spence said he would take it to his house when they were done with it.  An hour or so later we were on the road to Wisconsin.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

June 22, 2018 - Saudi Campers and then Windy and Junior Visit Us

Almost every morning, for a few magical moments, the sun shines through the forest and lights up the small tree in our host campsite.  I have been taking pictures of it for years, but have never really captured the magic.  I came closer than ever this time.

The tree is covered with moss (or are those lichens?) and has not been very healthy in recent years.

Granted, the effect would be much better if not for my clothesline and laundry hanging on it. Instead of a cloud with a silver lining, I have a tree with an emerald lining.

With the change in the registration system, reservations online or by phone beforehand, many campers show up unaware.  Fortunately, we have internet access with our hotspot and can help them make a reservation.  Here a young French woman is sitting inside Scamp making their reservation.

Somehow, ordinary, everyday chores are beautiful here in Big Creek.  Witness Andy taking out the trash.

Here, we are on our way to the tent campground.

I saw one of the most remarkable camps in Site 10 and knew right away whose it was.

Two men had come to our RV the evening before to report that someone had set up in the campsite they had reserved.  The other campers were nowhere to be found.  One of the men was very tall and dashing.  I thought he was Spanish because he looked like one of the Three Musketeers. He corrected me and said they were Saudis.  He is a college student in Texas and the other is studying in England.

Daughter Kathy is going to have to up her game to beat out these guys with the coffee making!

You know how you sometimes meet a person and instantly "click"?  Well, Ahmed and I did so.  I was sassy and he was sassy right back.  He came to the RV in the evening to ask a question.  When I looked at him, I could see smoke rising above both his shoulders.

"You're SMOKING!"

"Yes, I put the cigarette behind my back out of respect. Like a mother or grandmother."

"Well, you should not be smoking at all.  It is very bad for you!"

"Yes, mother."

And with that conversation, I became his forest mother and he became my forest son. I'm afraid I have not had much influence over his smoking habit.  No more so than with my son Christopher.

I was quite surprised when I got these two photos from Ahmed.  His friend had taken them unbeknownst to me.

This was a day I remember very well.  A local and regular camper, Windy (in blue on the left) brought Junior, another local who had been a regular, (center) to visit us. Junior used to came camping often.  He would park his pickup truck in the parking lot and set up a tarp and a folding chair in his campsite (usually Site 8).  He would stay for a night or two and then offer his campsite to some newcomers and go home.  I think he slept in the back of his truck as I don't recall ever seeing a tent.

Junior's wife died a few years ago and we had not seen him in Big Creek since then.  I'm sorry that I had remarked to Andy that, with his wife's death, Junior must not need to get away from the house as often.  This day I learned that Junior has been in deep mourning since her death and his health suffered as a consequence. He was neglecting himself in his loneliness and sadness. Windy told us that Junior almost died himself.

At any rate, I was so happy to see him back in Big Creek.  Thank you, Windy, for bringing him to see us! I hope we see him more often in the future.

June 20, 2018 - Boys Swimming in Big Creek

I don't remember much about June 20 either.  I took only a handful of photographs.  This one is of Andy standing in Site 5 in the tent campground as we made our morning rounds.

This is the path along the creek with Site 10 (overlooking the creek) in the distance.

I like this composition and often take a picture of this log.

A group of mid-teen boys was swimming in Big Creek.

The boy in the red swim trunks lives just outside the park and we see him regularly.  He will regularly stop by our host site and chat with us.  Here, he is sliding head-first over the two-to-three-foot drop near the bridge.

June 17, 2018 - Kathy Visit

Oh, the heartbreak when I realized that our new, tiny motorhome does not have an icemaker.  Double tragedy when I realized that the freezer is too small for ice trays.  Being a cheapskate, I did not want to buy a table top ice maker.  However, six weeks in the woods without ice put me over the edge.  I got on Amazon and bought one and had it delivered to Spence's house.

Spence and Linda delivered the ice maker on Saturday morning and we set it up on our small table next to the RV (an an outlet).  You pour water into the reservoir and, just as the advertisements say, in seven to fourteen minutes it begins dropping small ice cubes into a basket.  The cubes are small and wet to start, but after the machine gets chilled properly, the cubes get larger and harder. Frozen joy!

The instructions say that the ice maker will make up to 26 pounds a day.  I have no idea how much ice that is.  However much, it is more than we need.  When I add water and turn it on it the morning, we have more than we need for lunch - and the rest of the day as long as I keep adding more water. One drawback is that it is not a freezer and does not keep the ice frozen.  When it melts in the basket, the water drips back down into the reservoir.

This butterfly was most attracted to the ice maker and fluttered around and landed on it most of the day.

Kathy was the dinner chef and made a wonderful vegetable stir fry which we served with pasta. A nice feature of our outdoor kitchen is that you can sit at the picnic table to cook and eat.

Andy spent the time reading on his Kindle.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

June 16, 2018 - Kathy Visit

Daughter Kathy came for a visit and joined us for a walk around the campground.

Larry asked Spence to bring this cart to Big Creek. We did not use it as one reason we volunteer is to get in some walking time.  Clyde and Debbie will use the cart in July.

This tuft of grass in next to the picnic area parking lot.

I walked down the creek bank to take a picture while Andy and Kathy enjoyed the scene from the bridge. 

Every time Kathy comes to visit, she brings some new method of making coffee.  I forgot what this one is called.  It is something like a French Press but only makes one cup at a time.

We went to The Beantrees in Hartford for lunch and got a table at the water's edge.  A mimosa tree was in full bloom next to the deck where we sat.  The white spots are sparkles on the river water.

June 10, 2018 - Unremembered = Forgotten

Since the computer was dead, I could not write my log at night.  These were the photos I took on June 10, but I don't remember that day at all.

Andy Walking Up To Parking Lot

There had been a smaller tree on this spot, now a hole in the ground.  There must be a dozen baby trees sprouting up around the hole.

The door to the men's room was coming off its hinges.  Two maintenance men fixed it one day, but it did not stay fixed.  Spence propped it up with a rock to prevent men from opening and closing the door - and it falling off completely.  Eventually, the maintenance department sent Spence some materials with which to fix the door better.

There are wild strawberries growing in Big Creek.  They don't have any flavor.

June 9, 2018 - Daddy Long Legs

I don't think I've mentioned the Daddy Long Legs yet this year.  They are everywhere!

There was at least a dozen of them on the ceiling for the screen room, clustered in every corner and on every seam.

Since we have moved to a smaller RV, we set up a "kitchen" on the picnic table in the screen room.  Here, Andy is performing the waffle-making ritual.

We saw an interesting truck from Colorado.  The big black package on top says "Cascadia Vehicle Tents". It looked to me as though the package stayed on top of the vehicle and folded down to make a tent. After looking them up online, I discovered the tent actually stays on top of the vehicle and you use a ladder to get inside it.

Two friendly and interesting women were camped in the horse camp with an RV.  They had a beautiful Christmas Cactus on their picnic table.

The horse-camp day-use parking lot was full of cars, so Andy told a family pulling a trailer of four horses to park in Site 6.  The horses were patiently waiting while the family was eating lunch 

The day-use lot was definitely too full to park a horse trailer and unload the horses. When it gets this crowded (and sometimes before so) people start parking along the narrow roadsides.  That is when I hide out at our RV.