Randy Smith: Preserving Sanity

Friday, July 18, 2014 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith

The older one gets, the harder it seems to be to hang onto one’s sanity. Years ago my wife Shelia and I bought a small pop-up camper for our college graduation present. We camped in it a couple of years and even joined the Sequatchie Valley Ramblers Campers’ Club. This was in the mid-1970s and by the time Jimmy Carter was elected President of the United States, we had moved up to a small camping trailer. Within a year, that small camping trailer had been replaced by a thirty-foot trailer with a pair of doors and two air conditioners. We had been hooked. When we went camping we took almost all of our earthly belongings. Camping became a chore rather than a recreational outing, so in the early 1980s we sold our camper and got out of the camping business.

We stayed out of the camping business until October of 2013, when we purchased a twenty-six foot camping trailer. The trailer has two doors, like our last camper, but only one big air conditioner. It’s a bit easier to camp now than it was thirty years ago. You no longer have to light a pilot light for the water heater, because it’s on automatically and can be run off propane gas or electricity. The awning opens easier now and with a brand new Ford F-150 pick-up truck to pull it, it’s much easier to get from campground to campground.  I’m saying all that to say this; backing in a tough place is not easier than it was. After more than thirty years and a lot of age on the driver, I have had a tough time backing into a camp spot without getting dizzy. I prefer the pull through campsites, rather than a back-in, for obvious reasons.

Since we bought our camper last fall, we have been to four different campgrounds, all county or state park facilities; Harrison Bay State Park, Cumberland Mountain State Park, Fall Creek Falls State Park and Chester Frost Park in north Hamilton County. There have been quite a few improvements at Chester Frost in the last thirty years or so, but the state parks look the same way they did in the 1970s; with the exception of Harrison Bay.   

Harrison Bay has completely remodeled one entire section of camping facilities, with the new section being opened on July first. The sites are large, paved, and shady. For once we have a real modern section to pull our camper to, and a lot of sites are right on the waters of Lake Chickamauga. Perhaps the biggest advantage to camping now is the fact that Harrison Bay is a mere twenty minutes from our house in Hixson. Chester Frost is still a little more than ten minutes away, but it’s always too packed this time of year, and they don’t take reservations at Chester Frost. They also don’t have a swimming pool at the Hamilton County facility, but the one at Harrison Bay is like brand new and is huge.

To camp just to preserve your sanity, (if you have any left) is meaningless unless you have fun. We have truly enjoyed our little camper and will likely buy another bigger, nicer unit within the next year or two. As I finish writing this column I can hear the birds sing, the roar of distant motor boats on the lake and the sound of a small billy goat coming from inside our camper. It’s actually our youngest granddaughter CoraLee who makes that sound when she cries. (Unlike the sound of a mashed cat her older sister Dellamae made)

Earlier this morning, our oldest grandchild, Coleman was forced to sit in “time out” by my wife for trying to place sea shells over my eyes. This was just before his two-year-old brother Boone arrived and fell twice in five minutes while climbing on the picnic table.

Oh the joys of camping…..and preserving my sanity.  


Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. He is currently teaching Broadcasting at Coahulla Creek High School near Dalton, Ga.

His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for thirty years.

He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga Television for more than a quarter-century.

In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith.) They have four grandchildren, Coleman, Boone, DellaMae and CoraLee.

To contact Randy: rsmithsports@epbfi.com

CCS, Notre Dame Advance To Class A/AA State Tournament

The Class A/AA state tournament field was decided on Saturday with eight teams punching their ticket to Murfreesboro next week.  In Chattanooga sectionals, CCS beat CSAS 6-0 and Notre Dame edged Notre Dame in overtime 1-0.   Greeneville, Knoxville Grace, White House, CPA, Jackson Christian and Madison round out the Class A/AA state tournament field.  Brackets ... (click for more)

7 Area Soccer Teams Fight For State Tournament Spots

Five Divison I and two Division II girls soccer teams will be in action on Saturday in state soccer tournament qualifiers across the state.   In Division II, GPS and Baylor play in state quarterfinal games in Memphis.   GPS (#3 East/Middle) travels to Hutchison (#2 West) and Baylor (#5 East/Middle) travels to Briarcrest (#1 West).  Winners of those matches will ... (click for more)

Mayor Berke, Lacie Stone Were At Swanky New York City Hotel While Bobby Stone Was Plying The River

Mayor Andy Berke's top advisor Lacie Stone accompanied him on a trip to New York City on April 12-13 and they ended up at a swanky spot where Ms. Stone's husband, Bobby, had taken her before. They sat at the Stones' favorite table.   Bobby Stone, who has accused his wife of having an affair with the mayor, has said that Lacie Stone told him that she and the mayor kissed ... (click for more)

Fire Displaces Family Of 7; Blaze Ruled Accidental

No injuries were reported in connection with a house fire on Saturday afternoon that displaced a family of seven. The Chattanooga Fire Department received the alarm at 4:11 p.m. and responded to 3308 Dodson Ave. with five fire companies. Captain Wadie Suttles with Engine 4 said heavy fire was showing when the first firefighters arrived on the scene. As additional firefighters ... (click for more)

Please, No Short Term Vacation Rentals In My Neighborhood

Approval of the short term vacation rental item on the City Council agenda for Tuesday  will be the next step toward commercializing our residential properties and communities to benefit those more interested in making money than preserving an old, well-established, rich community of like-minded families.    Anything requiring a business license is ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Kelly Could Win It

I am neither a sleuth nor an odds maker but I’d say there is about a one-in-three chance that Interim Hamilton County Department of Education Superintendent Kirk Kelly could become the permanent superintendent of our public schools next Thursday. I am assured something squirrelly is happening on our newly-seated school board. It has been seven months since the last superintendent ... (click for more)