We’ve been on vacation. It was fun. I could write a lot more about how much fun we had but what’s the point. It was our vacation not yours. Writing about our vacation hoping others will read about it and enjoy our experience is like force telling someone about the dream you had last night.
We have some cool vacation pictures and I might share a few of them – although that remains to be seen. What I will write about is a missed opportunity.
I don’t know what exactly was the opportunity. I do know I missed the call. I hate to admit it, but when America called I wasn’t home:
Yes, I know this was a robo call. Robo calls have led me to keeping my phone in the ‘Off’ position 90% of the time. I wish the missed call from the United States had been notification that Congress had found a solution to end the public nuisance of robo calls. Or just have the FCC police the robo callers using public nuisance statutes to prohibit the nuisance.
The past few weeks have encompassed camping, travel, and archery. August and September include more of the same regarding archery. The results of all this work over the past four weeks have been under whelming: two second places and a third.
The two second places where hard pills to swallow. In one I’d shot well enough to surpass the prior State record in field archery only to be bested by a friend that set the new bar 3 points higher. The other second was nothing more than being schooled by a better archer. He topped me by 9 points for the Southeast NFAA victory in field archery.
What really did me in was the Georgia ASA State 3D Championship. There’s no class in my age group for those selecting a hunter rig during competition. This meant I’d be shooting against athletes up to 15 years younger. Taking third in this event felt like a new low.
Before the first warm-up arrow at the 3D contest flew off my bow I considered not competing. It wasn’t because I felt off shooting or was overly concerned competing against younger athletes. As soon as I arrived at River Bottom Outdoors’ range near Franklin, Georgia, host of the tournament, my truck malfunctioned.
It was a minor flaw that could have serious consequences. The driver’s side window partially lowered and froze in place. With rain in the forecast, being nearly four hours from home with a camper in tow archery was the minimal of my concerns.
Being at the range I gambled and shot. After the first 12 targets the sky looked like it was going to open up at any second. In the Ford there was a towel covering the back set, a protection from River, my lab, when she’s riding. I’d come up with a plan to run back to the truck, cover the window using River’s seat protector and run back to whatever stake the group was shooting from should it begin raining.
It never did rain and I was spared a sprint. I wasn’t spared too many 8s and not enough 12s. Well, I’d hit ten 12s on the second range, only problem was I hadn’t called the upper. The thing is on every one of those shots I knew I’d hit the upper. My mind and confidence were lost on a wayward window.
Regardless of the electronic malfeasance sitting in the parking area I did my best to subdue the problem while I shot. I truly can’t say how much if any the F-150s ailment contributed to all the 8s I shot. The final score was actually my running average points per arrow for 3D. I’d been practicing for a peak performance not an average. The second and first place winners of the Senior Hunter division bested my average per arrow without apparent pause.
As soon as the tournament concluded I hopped into the truck and headed to find a remedy for the window. So far, it hadn’t rained and I’d been lucky. (Well lucky regarding rain, no luck in archery) The search for an auto mechanic reached a dead end so I hooked up the camper and headed home. There I could park the truck in the garage to save the interior from the forecasted rain.
It did rain. In fact it poured the very next day. I had made the right decision to leave early. (I’d made the wrong decision not calling the upper that same day) Fortunately, by then the truck was at the dealership and out of the weather.
Forty percent of all competitive archers are over 50 years of age. That’s approximately 3.12 million competitive archers. If you’re going to win in this crowd you can’t make mistakes or have your mind elsewhere.
We’re at another campground, an old favorite, Hester’s Ferry near Lincolnton, Georgia. Here we have all the toys: bikes, running shoes, archery equipment, kayaks and a pontoon boat. Plus, we’ve been spending time with the grandkids. Well, three out of four of them.
Nice thing is there are all sorts of ways to play. No time to write.
We were only supposed to be in Georgia for a couple of days. It turned out to be longer. See, there was this property near Athens and it looked right for a move back to Georgia. We bought the land.
There are a number of valid reasons to leave our home in North Carolina. The combined needs to get back home warrant the relocation leaving behind a house where we’ve put in renovations intended for a lifetime. Someone will end up with a dream home. If the North Carolina property were closer to Athens, Georgia we’d keep it. The distance is simply too great to make it worthwhile.
The new home, for me, includes: amazing archery ranges, great cycling roads, and phenomenal water access to rivers and lakes. Athens is the Southern Cycling Mecca.
Georgia, from what I can glean from the Internet will offer more competitive archery than where we live in New Hope (near Hertford, NC). It’s not that North Carolina doesn’t have a fair share of archery events where one can compete. It’s that many of them are so far away from where we live that it requires an overnight trip. Certainly, Georgia is another one of those larger states, but in and around Athens there is an abundance of archery competitors and tournaments to meet their needs.
To top that off there are endurance sporting events, from running to triathlon, nearly every weekend – to supplement my completion fix provided by archery.
For Brenda, my wife – a professional Yogi instructor – being near Athens offers an abundance of Yoga opportunities. There are a number of Yoga studios within minutes of our new property.
Another major benefit will be our proximity to UGA. Since our move to New Hope I have worn out a search for continuing education classes. There’s just too little here to be academically satisfying.
The property we ended up buying is minutes outside of Athens. Its just far enough to be out of congestion and enough to get into the city at the drop of a hat. The “lot” we bought is just over three acres in rural “Good Hope” (Population – 289) meaning archery ranges can be affixed. Yes, that is “Good Hope, Georgia” and we are moving from “New Hope, North Carolina.”
If all goes well the relocation will impact athletic training, hopefully to a minimal. The long term benefit to be so close to other cyclists, runners, triathletes and archers has great potential.
It will be cool to shoot over in Social Circle and Snellville, GA. Since Georgia is our home, we’ll be surrounded by family and one of our two daughters. We hope to be moved back to Georgia by February 2018.
We’re back in New Hope, North Carolina after two weeks on the road living in our Winnebago Micro Minnie. The trip began as a three-day outing to Madison, NC to attend an indoor archery tournament. The adventure expanded to six campsites over three states: North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina.
From the various campsites we took day trips. Among those was a drive to Wilmington, NC. Wilmington is a nice little town except for the traffic. I especially wanted to go there to see some of the sites where “The Hart of Dixie” was filmed. I have no idea how popular this show was when it ran. I watched it after it had been canceled. It is one of those rare series that had me laughing so hard at times I could barely catch my breath.
In Kinston, NC we stopped and for a second time had dinner at the Chef and the Farmer. Kinston has a nice first come first serve campground at a Nature Park on the Neuse River. It is one of the best deals going at $15.00 per night for a full hook up roomy campsite.
Our longest stay was near Tignal, Georgia at Hester’s Ferry campground. By far this ranks as the best campground we’ve used since we bought the RV. This was our longest stay on the trip because we were in Tignal for Thanksgiving.
At all the campsites I found great running trails and got in some off road cycling several times. After the tournament in Madison, NC, I was able to continue archery practice in Tignal.
What I can say about two-weeks in a Winnebago Micro Minnie (the 2106 Model) – there was plenty room, we never ran out of hot water, and the heat at night (temperatures down to below freezing a time or two) was toasty. Nevertheless, it is good to be home.
Usually, mid-day break is lunch a nap then more practice. We decided to break the routine when Brenda, my wife, suggested, “Let’s go to the beach.” And we did.
We left home right after I showered from morning training. It’s still hot and archery can be a sweaty business when practiced outside. We left with plans for lunch at Virginia Beach. Afterwards we’d spend some time on the boardwalk.
Virginia Beach is nice. If you’ve never been there and can plan a trip, do so. It is different compared to the Outer Banks. They’re both about the same distance, around an hour drive, from our home on the Little River at the Albemarle Sound.
We didn’t go to the beach to get into the water. The water a few steps away from my front door is enough for me and it is a lot warmer than the Atlantic at this latitude. But, the waves off the ocean made me wish I’d brought my surfboard. Believe me, I’d have worn a wet suit if I’d gone into the water with a board. Alas, the board was at home next to a wetsuit.
After hiking about 5 miles on the beach we headed home – back by 3:45 PM. Time enough to get a full afternoon archery practice completed. Not bad at all!
We were on road for several days last week. We’d planned a trip to Delaware that was changed at the last minute. We still took to the road, only in the opposite direction.
When we travel, Brenda and I go by RV so that we can bring our dogs. We were traveling so often with archery and other adventures we bought a small Winnebago – for the dogs. Before the purchase I analyzed the cost of the RV along with gas, food, site fee and compared it to hotels, gas, food, and kennel fees. The spreadsheet numbers showed that the RV cost for travel stays will break even on the investment in 28 months. A real benefit is that we enjoy the camping. That is most of the time.
Last year, coming back from the IBO World Championship in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania I stayed at a really bad RV camp. It was simply too crowded, too noisy, and too commercial. It was not by any stretch camping.
But, it was just overnight. I’d not made a prior reservation and pulled over when I became too tired to continue the drive. Beggars can’t be choosers.
On this recent amended trip we planned as best as possible. Our first stop was excellent. It was so nice we stopped there on the trip back to North Carolina. We’ll stay there again in September. That was at a State Park. So far, we’ve found that State Parks are the nicest campground in general.
Little Pee Dee State Park in Dillon, South Carolina was no exception. The campsites are large so we didn’t feel pinned in. It was quiet and very much an outdoor experience.
The second stop, Whispering Pines in Rincon, Georgia was not as nice. It was packed with many long term or permanent residents. It remained me of a drive-in movie theater without the big screen. Our corner lot was located at the intersection of two small and one large road.
I did meet one fellow there, Jerry, while walking River. That was the highlight of the stay. Jerry and his wife have one of those mega-motorhomes. They’re building a home nearby and were parked at Whispering Pines during the contruction of their new home. Jerry is an engineer and contractor, his motorhome doubles as his office. He takes on major jobs aroud the country, most recently finishing a project here in North Carolina.
Aside from Jerry, I can’t really offer much else to say positive about our experience. Seriously, at one point two young men were working on a car five feet from my RV. Throughout their mechanical deliberations revving the car’s engine attached to one of those throaty after market mufflers was the whisperings through the pines.
We do our best to find campgrounds that are as primitive as possible, that is with at least water and electricity. I mean, we aren’t traveling in a covered wagon. Still, we look forward to having as much of an outdoor adventure where we stay as we can find. It doesn’t always work out.
The trip to Georgia for the 2017 ASA Leopold AAE Pro/AM wasn’t 100% about archery. There was a lot of archery with practice “on the lot” and competition “done there at that park.” In addition, we had running, kayaking, visiting with one of our daughters and her son, and hanging out with my father-in-law. We missed our son-in-law. He’s not yet retired.
We also didn’t make it to Savannah. So, I didn’t see Mama, my brother, sister or the pile of nieces and nephews that live there. Nor did I have time to visit my cousins that live only a few hours away or many good friends that are in our home State of Georgia. Alas, time is too short and we must return to North Carolina.
On the trip home we drove nearby the old Lain farm. We didn’t stop and visit our cemetery packed with buried relatives, as is our travel practice. If the timing is correct we’ll pause in Florence to eat at the Thunderbird Inn. The timing was correct.
The Thunderbird serves a buffet that is okay. It’s not the food that brings us back it is tradition.
While I began the process of package and stowing gear I thought about the shoot over the past weekend. It was my second major ASA event the first the same from the prior year. I leave disappointed with Saturday and pleased with Sunday.
What the disappointment taught me was to shoot the way I train. On Saturday I shot sloppy. Not sloppy because of the rain. Sloppy because I too often didn’t follow my complete sequence for each shot on every shot. Sunday I slowed down and thought through what it was I needed to be doing on each shot. It made a difference. Primarily, I made no big errors, like using a 40-yard pin to shoot 30 yards. Such erroneous placement of a pin, both yellow in this case, only yields positive results where enough other errors are in place to compensate. In other words, “Dumb luck.”
After the 2017 ASA Leopold AAE Pro/AM I compared it to the 2016 edition. One of the primary highlights was visiting with people. Three years ago I didn’t know any of them. This year when we met it was all smiles and handshakes. Three years and eight months ago, I didn’t own a bow. That whim purchase brought the bonus of new friendships and experiences. Not a bad deal for what was a fairly expense purchase, a Mathews Conquest Apex 7 – now obsolete. That’s a darn shame; I’d like another just like it. The bow worked just fine in 2017.
One activity that does stand out is the meeting of friends that one only sees during archery tournaments. Some are competitors, many are in different classes. It’s reassuring to see fellow archers from home. Here in Appling I saw many, all with smiling faces on the morning before the first day of shooting. Missing them on Sunday I am currently unable to assess Saturday’s outcomes since no ‘home’ faces were available for reading results. Hopefully, the smiles remained in place.
Despite taking a break after the Nationals, only a few days, I was a bit worn. I exercise and practice archery for hours nearly everyday. A few times a year there are breaks in my schedule for physical and mental recovery. This past week was one of those breaks.
This vacation coincided with my youngest grandson turning four. Brenda and I planned a trip to enjoy the graduation from a mere three years old to that pinnacle of maturity – four years old. My youngest daughter and her family, that holds title to the birthday boy, live in Pittsburgh.
The drive from New Hope, NC to Pittsburgh, PA can be done in a day. However, it is literally a pain in the butt to drive straight through. The drive is a much more tolerable, if not pleasurable, when breaking the trek up and going camping along the route. We decided to make the trip last eight days and have a little adventure.
Our first stop was outside of Charlottesville, VA where we camped at super KOA. Typically, we don’t stay at KOA facilities preferring smaller campgrounds that are less commercial. This one, KOA Charlottesville was a gem and one of their highest ranked facilities.
This time of year the campground was not packed and we had site choices with views from which to select. There was a nice wooded hiking area and key to being outside, it was quiet. While in Charlottesville we met up with Tomas Rahal at his restaurant, Mas Tapas and ate like royalty.
From Virginia we made our way to Little Orleans, MD and stayed at the Little Orleans campground, another outdoor treasure this time of the year. The park has just 16 spaces for transient campers in area separate from the permanent campsites. Each night we stayed, we were the only transient campers.
The Little Orleans campground is a ½ mile from the Potomac River and the C&O Canal Towpath. We didn’t pack our bikes or our kayaks for this trip but we’ll plan to return with those toys.
Pittsburgh was, well Pittsburgh. It is a beautiful city in a hardy way. Passing though it does it little justice. We once lived there and made lifelong friendships. We found a KOA in Washington, PA. It was too close to a major highway and noisy. Aside from the non-stop road noise the camping was okay. Being 30 minutes from my daughter’s home counted for something.
The time with my daughter and her family wasn’t marred by any sports and they got our full attention. The birthday party was exactly as requested – pizza and cake. Oh, and an over-abundance of presents.
On the trip home we booked the same campsites as the trip out and were just as pleased.
The first day home, I shot an easy practice in the morning and skipped the afternoon. I was forced to spend the afternoon grooming the lawn and 3D range.
Three years ago, while in Savannah, GA, I discovered Wildcat Archery in nearby Pooler, GA. Naturally I visited the shop where they informed me there would be an indoor league competition during my stay in Savannah. An archery novice I had never shot in a competitive situation. It seemed like it would be fun so I joined the event.
In that – for me inaugural – tournament the targets were paper screened with animals. I recall being nervous, I didn’t even know how to score. After the shooting was completed I was quietly happy to have not missed an entire paper animal.
A year later, another trip to Savannah, and again on the path to Pooler to practice at the Wildcat indoor range. Their range is small and can handle a line of about 6 archers. But, it’s well illuminated and their backstops are nice. It’s an ideal range for practice.
December 2016 now in my third year of shooting ( actually three years, three months, and 4 days) I found myself back in Savannah. I also learned Wildcat Archery’s 5-spot league was having their final night of competition during my hometown visit. Pooler was again on my itinerary.
I like 5-spots because shooting a 300 seems somewhat possible. Hitting a 60X 300 is a challenge, but a whole bunch easier than getting a 60X 600 against a 3-spot using the smallest ring as the ten (the USA Archery scoring method.) That 60X/600 remains elusive to me for now.
My practice of late has been exclusively shooting a 3-spot. This in preparation for the USA Archery Indoor Nationals. I expected to shoot well at the Wildcat Archery’s event.
The Wildcat’s final league shoot was scheduled to start at 7 PM. I’d planned to leave from Windsor Forest in Savannah a little before 6 PM. The 18-mile drive should take around 30 minutes according to Mapquest and my Garmin GPS.
Since moving from Savannah in the 80’s a lot has changed. I’m rarely there and retain my Old Savannah traffic memory. I’ve been stuck in a lot of nasty traffic in cities like: London, Boston, Atlanta, Paris, Singapore and New York. Those cities stand out as miserable places to drive. Of smaller cities Norfolk, Virgina takes the bad traffic prize.
I’d allowed an hour and 10 minutes for the Wildcat drive. It seemed ample time to make an 18-mile journey leaving plenty room to pay the $10.00 registration fee and take some warm up shots.
The plan to arrive early was a flop. Traffic was shockingly bad – not how I’d remembered Savannah. The trip to Pooler felt more like a drive in Norfolk. Still, I arrived it in time to pay my ten bucks and have a few practice shots before our five shot official practice prior to scoring.
When it was all over I didn’t shoot a 300. I was seriously disappointed. I’d let an off centered target get the best of me as we began. After a few frustrating shots, I figured, ‘oh well, I’m a bit off line’ and ended up with a 296. I’ll wait to see what it is that will draw me back to Wildcat Archery in Pooler in 2017.