Monday, September 22, 2014

Our Lovely Obed

We just had the best weekend near Knoxville, TN along the Obed River! Not only was the climbing amazing and not very busy, but the people were so warm and welcoming!
Our friend, Paolo suggested the Obed when we were visiting their family in Nashville. I am so thankful we found out about it! We drove in having no idea what to expect. The directions to the camping were online and slightly vague. Basically, a couple named Del and Marte opened up their private property for climbers to camp in. So the directions tell you to go down a road until you see a mailbox and turn right. We slowly headed down the road and see a house and a cute dog running around. Eventually, we keep creeping down the drive until we see camping rules and a campfire ring. We find a spot and start setting up camp. The little dog comes and checks on us periodically, but otherwise we are the only ones around.
Our lovely campsite:)
We start hearing people's voices and possibly a motor running somewhere in the woods. After eating dinner, we plan to go investigate but want to clean the dishes first. Again, we hear people and this time it is a yelp of excitement! Just as we are planning to head to towards the noises, a man runs up and excitedly exclaims, "You guys gotta come see this!!" We quickly follow him up through the trees and notice a house and more structures in the trees. He is so excited about something and we are equally excited to find out what it is! Turns out, we had just met Del. He had been working on repairing an old air compressor, probably from the 1940's, and it was actually working!! It was so old looking and nobody was sure it wouldn't just explode, but it was working! Beaubien was working with Del and we quickly bonded over the fear of a possible explosion. We finally decided there was a pressure release valve that would blow off air as it got full. The compressor never shut off, just released a little puff of air. During the discovery, we all found hiding places behind solid objects just in case their was a malfunction, but all was well.
The air compressor!!! Such a cool hunk of metal.
It was great fun meeting Del Scruggs! He welcomed Zach and I into his community instantly and we were so grateful! We immediately felt at home as we sat around the antique compressor and talked about all sorts of things. Marte, Del's wife, came to feed the chickens and I got to see the coop Del had built and enjoyed seeing the chickens. Marte is a teacher at the elementary school in Wartburg, TN. She has such fun stories about her days, each one hinting at what a great teacher she is to her kiddos! Del runs the campground and mingles with the campers. He also has a sweet home brew set up and makes some amazing things! They both play tennis every afternoon on a court Del helped bring to the community. Marte makes amazing hot sauce and grows lots of veggies in her garden. They are avid sailors and have done everything you can think of outside. I loved sitting down with these two and just learning about their lives! They love living somewhat off the grid these days and enjoying the company of their fellow Wartburg neighbors.
Tipsy, Del, and Zach

It was an honor to be introduced to their friends/family and we enjoyed every minute of it! Suzie plays the mandolin and sings beautifully. I have had her version of "Never woulda hitchhiked to Burmingam" in my head since we left. I tried to listen to Adele's version, but it wasn't the same. I'd buy a CD, Suzie!! I loved it! Her husband, Jimmy, does blacksmith work for a hobby. We got to see him in action and learn about his tools on Sunday night in downtown Wartburg. He made all sorts of neat stuff on anvils full of history. Zach and I need to learn a trade to bring to the group when we go back. Someday we hope to return to the Fellowship Of Friendly Intentions (FOFI).
The people were our favorite part of the Obed, but we did buy a guidebook and get out climbing. It was epic! Their were roofs extending out over beautiful walls of sandstone rock, riddled with holds just waiting to be pulled on. To top it off, their were hardly any other people out and about! Our first day, we ran into about six people. Zach and I climbed lots of classics and I lead 3 climbs. It was an exciting day of climbing, full of fun moves and exciting falls:) We were quickly realizing, this place was amazing!
Zach getting to the anchors on Solstice, 12a.

Hiking to the climbing.
That night we met the weekend crowd at Del and Marte's Lily Pad. Everyone was so friendly and outgoing. And the dogs! There were so many dogs! At least one dog per group and they all got along amazingly well. Zach and I each had different dogs who would run up and play with us. We learned their names and who they belonged to. It was fun getting to know all of them. The quirkiest by far was Monster. She was Del and Marte's dog who had learned to drop sticks off the top of a shelter called the Perma Tent. She not only dropped them, but she could aim where they went! It was so funny when she hit unsuspecting campers below. She also guarded certain peoples' car. One guy, named Tim, had his own dog, Rudy, but Monster was the one who took over protecting the area around his car. New dogs would run around just sniffing out the area and come sprinting back with their tails between their legs after encountering little Monster.
Tipsy guarding us from the vultures:)
Marte told us Monster got her name because their daughter heard something under the house and said it was a monster. They went to look and found a little puppy with her eyes shut and part of her umbilical cord attached. She was brand new and needed a family. They bottle fed her and kept her warm. She eventually grew into the little monster that we met! She was great:) And I can't forget to mention Tipsy! She faithfully follows her person, Del, around the campground, keeping an eye on the sky for turkey vultures. When she sees one, she looks up to the sky and barks and barks until she feels she has properly scared them away. It was so funny to watch! The other campground pet was the kitty cat who we only saw Thursday night. He came and hung out with us all evening and slept on the hood of our car. I felt bad for him and put out a towel for him to sleep on. He watched shows with us through the window before we all fell asleep. It was fun to have a little friend:)
Little Kitty hanging out with us.
When we went to climb Saturday, our new friend Blake came along. We had a fantastic day getting a tour of Lily Bluffs crag. I climbed a 10A climb (a moderately hard climb) on lead and got it on my first try!! I was so excited! Zach and Blake both pushed themselves on grades beyond their limits! It was fun cheering them on and trying the moves myself. At the end of the day, we were all pretty pooped and enjoyed a beer and dinner around the campfire. Blake gave us an avocado and salsa to add to our rice and bean dinner, taking it from yummy to delicious! We were pretty psyched we met Blake:) We will have to climb again soon, dude!
Zach making faces while Blake climbs, Gangsta, 12a.

Blake climbing, Clyde the Mega Dude, 11c.

Me on Ticks are for Kids, 10a.

Zach working his project, Gangsta, 12a.
Saturday night was quite a party at the Lily Pad. Suzie, Beaubien, and Tim all played their instruments and we tried to sing along as Del held the lyrics poster to my new favorite song:) We heard lots of great stories and met fun people. I loved just sitting their and taking it all in! The dogs had their own fun community, making new friends and defending cars. Rudy was one dog who just followed this doberman pincer around all over. The doberman kept coming over to me with this look in his eye, like, "Get this dog away from me!" It was so funny! I held Rudy up for a minute with a belly rub, but as soon as he got up, he was headed towards that dog. I was laughing pretty hard.
Lyrics to my new favorite song:)

The perma tent. Monster drops things off the top and we all hang out around the fire.

The Lilly Pad General Store meets all your camping needs:)
Sunday, Zach and I weren't sure what we wanted to do. We finally decided to go back to Lily Bluffs and climb again. It's within walking distance of our campsite so we set out and started climbing. I was excited to try leading more difficult climbs, but as I started climbing, the rain came. I down climbed off the route and we moved under one of the roofs that kept the climbs dry. I ended up trying and 10B climb (slightly harder then the 10A). I rested on the rope once to figure out a move. When I got to the top, I really wanted to try again and see if I could do it without taking a break. I rested up while Zach climbed it then tried again. Pushing myself to the limit, I went for the hardest move. I missed the hold and ended up falling, but it was such a fun fall! Zach kept me so safe with his belay techniques and I just had fun trying hard! I didn't rest and tried to keep going. I finished the route without falling again, but I was too tried to try again. It was a fun route and I'm so glad I got to do it! The other people climbing at the crag with us were Blue and Sarah. They were so friendly and we had a great time sharing about our road trip with them and learning about their lives a little bit. Come to find out, Blue is the one in the picture on the cover of our guidebook! He is such a great climber and so fun to talk to! We were so lucky to meet him and Sarah!
Climbing Tarantella, 10a.

Enjoying another day with my love!

The holds and climbs were getting a little too wet for us to keep climbing, so we decided to hike up and see the scenic overlook above the climbing areas. We got to the top and it was beautiful! The water was flowing below and the trees covering all the bluffs above the river were gorgeous. I wish the leaves would have been changing, but it was still great!! It may be a contender for an outdoor wedding:)
The view from the scenic outlook.
That night, we were unsure whether to stay one more night, or go on to another climbing area up north. Del made our decision easy when he invited us to the blacksmithing get-together. We had so much fun spending time with their crew. I loved hearing Suzie sing again and we got to see some of Beaubien's artwork! I love being surprised by people and getting to know them better. It was so fun.
Monday morning, we finally decided it was time to head out. We found Del and hung out with him for a while. He gave us some of Marte's hot sauce and a jar of local honey gathered by a guy we had met named David. We got to say goodbye to Tipsy and Monster and last of all Del. We came into the driveway unsure of what we were going to find and we ended up leaving a home. I miss being their tonight and can only imagine what Del got running tonight. There will no doubt be a new group rolling in and hopefully they take the time to get to know the people and the place. Its totally worth it!! Thanks for being such gracious hosts and friends to us, Del and Marte!! We are so grateful and can't wait to come back!!
Enjoying our new friends in Wartburg, TN.

Jimmy's blacksmithing setup!
Tonight we are settling into our week at the Red River Gorge. Its going to be a fun week with great weather. The local camping area is called Miguel's. Zach and I have been here before, but it is always a fun place to hang out and meet people. Zach is working on his book and I am enjoying sharing our adventures with all of you! We are excited to see where this vanventure takes us!


  1. good, Ancient houses on cliff wall,

  2. I love reading about your adventures! My parents live on a farm just west of Lexington, KY, right off I-64, so if you need a place to crash or do laundry, let me know on FB and I will get in touch with them for you.

    1. Thanks, Sara! What a beautiful place to live! We are just leaving the Lexington area and heading up to Ohio to visit some of Zach's family otherwise we would totally take you up on the shower offer:) Its about that time again for us to de stink:) Hope the NICU is treating you well and tell everybody hi from me! Thanks for keeping up with me:)