After closing for the month of April, Zach, Whiskey, and I, took a long overdue vacation. We were beyond blessed to have our managers, Roxy and Sarah, take over the reins for us and allow us to leave with full confidence that the business would be in good hands. Never have we been happier to own a camper, which we now officially refer to as a “self-isolation unit.” Truthfully, that’s always what it’s been. There are few vacations better than those taken alone, in a tent, camper or cabin, in whatever wilderness one might find. This year took us to Florida to visit my sister and her fiancé, who is in the Navy and stationed in Jacksonville. It was far from our typical vacation, where we see no one, hike for miles upon miles, and craft for hours at night, all while enjoying no cell service and at least one showing of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. However, being able to safely visit a few people for the first time in over a year was a welcomed blessing. Whiskey thoroughly enjoyed bumming around the beaches with his cousins, Kota and Aspen. He wasn’t so sure about the ocean, until someone tossed a pinecone in. The rest is history. He is in love, now. We are less in love with him swimming in salt water, as it takes him a full 24 hours to dry, and it doesn’t make him fluff out anything like Flour Lake does! I think he was quite frustrated by the Sandpipers running to and fro, as well as the crabs scurrying across the beaches, not to mention the jellyfish that kept washing up, looking oh so delicious! He wanted to investigate EVERYTHING! Alligators were a whole other fascination for him, and us, if I’m going to be honest. Zach took great pride in photographing them to freak out his mother!

After 10 days of exploring natural springs, state parks, forts, turtle hospitals, National Seashores, and white sand beaches, reality called, and we headed North once again. After our trip through Atlanta on the way down, we vowed never to drive through that city again – it is a traffic nightmare. So, we took the long way around, which took us straight through the middle of Great Smokey Mountain National Park. We couldn’t really stop anywhere, given the limited parking with our 27’ 5th wheel in tow, but we have promised ourselves a trip back there.

Upon our arrival home, we were met with what seemed like 1000 boxes of re-sale merchandise that I think we both had nearly forgotten we had ordered. Not to mention the stack of mail up to the ceiling. After a couple of minutes of our heads spinning, we hunkered down and started to prep for opening the campgrounds on the 7th of May. Seeing as how we had a guest coming in on Tuesday, the first order of business was getting the docks in. Sarah helped us. It was as calm (and warm) a day as one could possibly wish for in early May, to execute this project. Whiskey was delighted to see open water again, and wasted no time finding his floating Chuckit ball, which he had stashed in the woods last fall, for us to throw for him whilst we tried to work. We weren’t paying enough attention to him at one point, as we were dealing with a particularly frustrating dock. He resorted to dropping/bouncing it down the ramp at us, which we ignored, and which also shortly turned out to be a major mistake. No sooner did we have the dock fully hooked up than we realized his Chuckit ball was under the dock. At this point, I had succumbed to the cold, seeing as how I’d had stepped in over the top of my trusty Muck boots on the previous dock. “What the heck?” I thought, as I handed Sarah my cell phone and waded in further. “I’m not going to lose that dang $12 Chuckit ball!” It took all three of us to finally get it out. The rescue effort included me wading far into the frigid lake, Zach and Sarah jumping on the dock to make waves and push it up under the ramp, closer to shore, and finally the rescue. That all happened yesterday. Today the Chuckit ball has been entirely forgotten, and Whiskey has spent his entire day dropping his flying squirrel toy on our feet while we try to stack firewood. You gotta give it to that Gentle Giant for knowing how to play! As I type, I’m thinking of everything I have left to do in the next 24 hours to welcome all of you back to Golden Eagle Lodge for the 2021 summer season. Meanwhile, Whiskey snores away next to me without a care in the world! Whiskey Wallace, your antics never fail to both entertain and deter all progress, but there is so much we can all learn from how you live: work hard, play hard, and sleep the hardest of them all!