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NAARVA and Towing at Tickfaw

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*I am behind on the blog posts. My internet service and time has been challenged. We are currently at Gulf State Park, Alabama on the way to Florida today. Will try to catch up. In the meantime, here is where I left off. Apologies for any grammatical errors, or lack of images, I was trying to get this up fast...

July 26, 2014

I never understand why people think, “black people don’t camp.” Wrong. There was millions and millions of dollars worth of shiny RVs hooked up at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition in Shawnee, Oklahoma for the NAARVA annual rally that said otherwise. I personally never believed that notion anyway. As a grandchild of black people that camped, I was exposed to it at a very early age. The notion of camping was instilled even more when I joined the Girl Scouts. As an adult I continue to camp with black people in tents and rustic cabins. I also have parents that have a trailer, so that makes more black people that camp.

I was very excited about getting to the rally and a little nervous. This filming was very important to me. I wanted to make sure that the officials and members took me seriously and that I would ask the right questions. It has been one thing for me to go to the parks and only be responsible for seeing and doing on film but it is another to really make sure I get it right this time with the right people.

Some time ago I had a bit of a script written out so I would be prepared. I went over the original questions with Thomas during one of our pre- productions hang outs and he suggested that I think about making the questions more general; the people will do the talking and will most likely say the right thing.

They did just that. We passed on getting food before pulling into the rally and jumped right into things. Thomas began getting this very professional camera rig assembled that made us look like the all-star crew that we were; the rally attendees began to get curious and started meandering over to us. One of the first people that came right over was Mr. Jerry Barber from Arizona. He knew a lot about cameras. He knew his stuff. Naturally the conversation came to what Thomas and I were doing at the rally. Since the conversation was going so well, I thought he would be a great start for our interviews. It was ice cream social time, so we actually caught him while trying to finish his ice cream sandwich. He kindly obliged my request to talk to us but after he washed his hands.

The flies outside were ridiculous. While Mr. Barber went into the expo center to clean his hands from sticky ice cream, we decided to move the filming inside. The official filming started and it rolled on swimmingly from there. The interview went very well. At this point, people were curious enough that while I was still talking to Mr. Barber, Thomas already someone else in the queue. Next up was Mr. John Griswold from Pennsylvania, who started traveling in 1963, Mr. Robert McClain from Oklahoma who is a historian and Mr. Lemuel Horton from Georgia who is the President of NAARVA. I couldn’t be more pleased about how well the interviews went. The film footage will speak for itself, so I won’t go into detail (will try to post clips at a later time). It is important for everyone to see and hear their words directly from their mouth. All of the interviewees shared the same sentiment: get on the road and see what you can while you can, the NAARVA rally is a wonderful form of fellowship for the campers and younger people need to get involved. If you would like more informatio about their organization, please take a look at their website.

The day had already been long when we wrapped up at the rally. I think we were confident that we got what we needed. MUST EAT! It was hard for us to watch everyone chow down on that ice cream earlier. At our lunch stop we caught up on the sports action and news on the TVs and did some travel time recalculations. We were pretty jammed once we added the time needed to travel to our next scheduled stop at Lake Fausse Pointe State Park in St. Martinville, Louisiana. With the time estimated to get to Lake Fausse Pointe State Park from our current location, we would get to there around 4:00 am. Therefore for the sake of our sanity we made another executive decision to cancel our night and make a stop at midway point of Shreveport, Louisiana, which would be about a 5 hour drive (so sad). Let this be a testament to how astounding activities available to us at our state and national parks and simply the wild adventures on the road. If I were to think about what actually caused our time back up, Mammoth Cave National Park was the culprit. Our excursion put us out a bit on time, but it was worth it!

During the drive, I only had one assigned job of picking and reserving our hotel. Somehow, perhaps because it was close to midnight when I made the reservation, I soon found out at the front desk of the hotel that the night I had reserved it was for the following night. I thought today was still today, not tomorrow. This explains why they did have a room for us in addition to the fact that Shreveport is some kind of hot spot on Friday nights. We actually had to stop at a few hotels and finally call to make a reservation a few miles away because every place was sold out. Are all these people at casinos? Unbelievable. This was our longest day so far, so I think we were both annoyed by the room hunt. Bedtime was quick and easy, but we missed the breakfast. I think they need to reconsider when breakfast is over, or at least make another breakfast time for sleepy people.

In the car we go, and on the road to Tickfaw State Park, Louisiana. Please let me tell you again, that there this is no reason for you to not get out there and see what Mother Nature has created. I have to first mention that when we pulled up to the registration gate, we were greeted by two of the sweetest young ladies who were all smiles - too cute. Naturally, Tickfaw State Park was another winner for options for overnight accommodations. One can camp in a tent, pull up in your rv or stay in one of the nicely appointed cabins. Lucky us, we were in another two bedroom cabin. It looked so quint sitting on its stilts overlooking a cypress swamp. This place was even so kind to have a screened in porch. You could easily pack up the entire family very comfortably here.

Another executive decision prompted this time by Thomas, was made to go to Walmart to get some provisions so we can make our meals at home. From this point on we were going to be in accommodations with full kitchens so it made money sense. When we got back to the cabin, it sounded just like it does in the movies when they show a swamp. Every creature that made the swamp home began to vocalize in full harmony. We had our own swamp symphony. Towing (the line) at Tickfaw state park, Louisiana style turnabout near the exit was a small boy maybe 7 in a yellow battery operated jeep wrangler with hard plastic wheels being towed by an older boy in an atv four wheeler. They were in the midst of hitting the turn. Busted. We caught ya. We so wish we had the camera running. They hit the turn and kept going and hit the pedal. They both kept looking back and we tried to catch up. It was like we were in hot pursuit. They got away and pulled into their driveway.

Disappointed that we didn’t get that on film we sulk up the road in the car. Thomas abruptly stops and takes time to turn around. He noticed something that I didn’t even see. It was a RC (radio control) track. RC power hobbies PC power freeway This family owned track is fully decked out with observation deck for a Birdseye view. They opened it up 10 years ago. Jerry had stopped in at 11:30 am – it is now 8:30 pm. He lives in Georgia and drives a truck but is from North Carolina and at one time was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia when he was in the Navy. Drake was about 15 years old and was an avid rc professional. It was his family that owned the track. He started with radio control cars when he was 5. He knew more about these cars than most adults know about their own. Red lose dirt was flying everywhere. Jerry's car was out of commission when we first got there. Apparently the right was left and the left was right when he powered his car up. He had given Drake his battery pack so he was watching and talking shop. Drake's mom came out and helped Jerry and got him back on the road. It always takes a woman to get things straight. By the way, Jerry’s wife is also named Carla. I'm not making this up. The track was a mini Dukes of Hazards with the cars catching air. Drake and Jerry gave us the lowdown on the hobby. The prices range from $200-$6,000 to purchase and kit out a car. Once Jerry was up and running, he was ready. Drake wanted to start drag racing now that his newfound friend had working wheels again. As the lady, they asked me to do the count. I was reliving a girl’s dream of wearing a poodle skirt and waving my handkerchief to start the race like all the movies. We decided to leave because it would have ben too easy to stay and watch.

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Thank you Tickfaw State Park and Mr. Stuart Johnson (Assistant Secretary of Louisiana Office of State Parks).

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