With two progressively more complicated camping trips completed, it was time for the final test. I needed an out-of-state trip that would take me further away from home to mountainous terrain and I needed to stay somewhere for five days or more. MINIs on the Dragon was coming up and of course, that was a natural fit. I canceled the cabin I had reserved at Fontana and booked a spot at the campground. Pulling the Beehive up the mountain from Robbinsville, NC would give me a decent test, I thought, and if I could sleep for six nights in the hive without having a sore back, MTTS would be fine.
I left after work on Monday and drove as far as Tifton, then about midnight I used my USA Rest Stops iPhone app to find a place to park and sleep. Around 6 AM I pulled out and was in
Atlanta in the middle of rush hour (bad timing), so that slowed me down a bit. Around 10:30 AM I stopped at the Walmart in Murphy to buy some groceries. When I came out, people were standing around MightyBee and the Beehive, taking pictures. I was in Robbinsville at noon and after getting gas, I headed up the mountain.
Pulling the Beehive up the mountain to Fontana was completely different from anything I had done and for the first time I could really feel the trailer behind me. Second and third gear were my friends and since I don’t have electric brakes, I was careful to use engine braking on the downhill runs. I made it to Fontana without any problems and although I’m sure I will face more treacherous terrain on MTTS, my confidence was building.
After a quick check-in at the Fontana Lodge around 1 PM, I drove around the village to show off the Beehive before heading to the campground. Several campers were already set up there and I found the campsites to be the most rustic I’d faced. My site, which I selected because of its proximity to the bathroom, was uneven and rocky with no shade near the power pole. The site was very wide, though, and there was a shade tree about 30 feet away from the pole but my cord wasn’t long enough (another thing for my list). Another camper let me borrow a long extension cord, so I moved under the tree, leveled the hive and plugged in. It was really hot, so the first order of business was to get the air conditioner running so I would have a cool place to sleep later.
The Sunshine MINIs pre-Dragon party was at 4 PM, so once I had my basic camp set I got cleaned-up and headed to the party.
When I returned the evening was spent getting things better-organized. I had already attached the side tent and set up my checkered Easy-Up shelter in the back over the galley. My colleague, Motoring Advisor Sara Griffith, was set up in her tent next to me, and we visited with some of the other campers while making plans for our first day of motoring the mountain roads. I removed my MINI Fini Sportlink hitch to reduce weight and to provide for better Killboy photos, and we finally turned-in for some sleep after a long day.
A couple of times during the week we had some bad weather with high winds and heavy rain. The teardrop was unfazed by this, but I discovered my staking techniques were not very good for the tents. The ground was very hard, and the cheap aluminum stakes that came with the tents were bending when I tried to pound them in. I had picked up a few of the large, steel nail stakes in Murphy and made a note to get more of them before the next trip.
Sleeping in the Beehive for six nights was no problem at all. The air-conditioning worked well, the fridge kept things cold and I slept like a log. I only cooked in the morning and had my other meals at Fontana and other restaurants while on drives. We’ll probably cook even less during MTTS, since many meals are provided, but we’ll have to see how vegan-friendly the provided meals are and be ready to cook, if needed.
At the end of the week, all the campers at Fontana got together for a group photo and later formed a Facebook group, the MOTD Dam Campers.
When it was time to pull out, I hooked up the trailer lights and they didn’t work. We made a plan to get to Murphy where I could buy wiring supplies at Walmart. Sara stayed close to my tail, to be my brake lights and turn signals until we arrived in Murphy. I bought some wire splices and fixed the problem, and with me feeling a bit like MacGyver we headed home. The rest of the trip home was pretty much uneventful, although we were both tired so we stopped more than usual. I arrived home around 2 AM feeling accomplished. About 1200 miles of towing, six nights camping, emergency trailer light repairs….bring on MTTS!
P.S. – Looking around the campsites each night, nearly everyone had a nice campfire but me. I still stink at building campfires and getting my skills up in that area is on my short list.