johnny June 20th, 2008
Yup. That’s how the locals know us. ‘Those nutty pirates up on the ridge.’ The day after a camera shy black bear strolled through our campsite, we decided to pull out and refill on water, dump our tanks and go grocery shopping.
We stopped to orient ourselves and ran into a fella that’s full-timing in an even smaller rig than ours. He’s riding a mountain bike and pulling a small trailer behind him. After chatting with him for an hour or so and giving iffy directions to two other people that stopped by, we hit the road.
We found that the rest area in Tennessee where we’d been planning to dump the tanks no longer allowed RVs to dump. Luckily, our fallback plan was a nearby campground, Fox Fire Camp & Canoe. Jenn had already spoken with the owner, and we were going to have to go into Newport to get groceries regardless of where we dumped. I don’t mind paying for a campground after two weeks in the woods. It gave us a chance to take really good showers and wash the truck, which had everything from red clay to tree branches attached.
It turns out that this was probably the best money we’ve ever spent on a campsite. We took a stroll up to the camp store and finally met our friendly neighborhood Hummer tour guides, Wayne and Joe from Off Road Voyages. After it was established that we were, indeed, the Pirate Campers, they gave us directions to a perfect campsite. Of course, it’s on the Hummer tour, so we had to crawl down a pretty rough and steep stretch of road, ford a creek and dodge a few small boulders, but other than scraping the cargo carriers, we got in without any trouble.
Once we got in, we had a bit of a scare as I was walking back the way we’d come and noticed oil splashes on the rocks. I found some more where we hadn’t driven, so we assumed it was one of the Hummers that had bottomed out. An hour or so later, when Joe came by with a full tour group, we flagged him down to let him know about the leak. It turns out, they’d busted an oil line the day before, so nothing to be concerned about today. Before he left, Joe offered us a ride on his next tour group since it would only be half full!
I’ve got to say, taking the Hummer tour and seeing a small fraction of what it is capable of has me thinking all over again about my daydream of refitting a Pinzgauer into a small RV. I’m not sure how practical it would be cross country, but they’ll keep up with a Hummer across rough terrain. And you can buy them cheap! But, very abused by the military, not to mention thirty years old…