I had a deadline to leave Austin, get my things packed up from the house sitting stint, and get across the country to Tennessee. I had a date with a mountain – a reservation at LeConte hiking lodge, the only lodge in the Smoky Mountain National Park, and assessable only on foot. It books up a year in advance, and I had the reservation longer than I had the RV. So I was motivated to move.
Since I am still working full time, 9-5, it makes it difficult to travel during the week, so I had to try to make the 900 miles in a weekend. I planned leave early on Friday and break it up in 200/400/300 mile increments to arrive in Gatlinburg by Sunday. It took me two overnight Walmart experiences to get there, the first in Hope, AR and then Nashville, TN. This was my first Walmart Camping experience, and I must say, I slept like a baby in both destinations. I was so tired from the drive that the pavement appeared to still be moving when I stepped out of the RV.
I did not have a campground reservation in Gatlinburg. Since I am heavily dependent on connectivity, and the Gatlinburg area seemed to have more RV Parks than Dolly has wigs, I decided to wait until I arrived to pick a spot. I was so tired by this time, I pulled into the first Big Box Parking lot I could find, and unhitched from the Winnie. I would get in the Tracker and scout out a suitable place.
I started heading through Pigeon Forge on my way to Gatlinburg, and didn’t get very far. What a nightmare that town is! It looks like Six Flaggs threw up all over the highway!
Downtown CRAZY TOWN! Amusement rides right on the street. Hatfield and McCoy shows, lumberjack shows, carnival rides, freak shows, water parks, fudge shops. Trinkets, Tee Shirts, and Trash. It makes the Las Vegas strip look like a classy joint. I decided it wasn’t for me, made a U-Turn, and headed back for the sanity of Sevierville.
I did reconnaissance in five different RV parks until I found the one that felt “Just Right.” Douglass Dam State Park was too remote with too many low hanging branches and electrical wires for my comfort. Ripplin’ Waters felt like it was missing too many teeth. RV Plantation felt like a “planned community” with perfect rows of RVs lined up like eggs in an egg crate, and couples walking their dogs, two by two.
Then I came to Riverside RV Park. By this time, I was so tired I was delirious, and completely missed the 12 foot cross in the entrance drive and invitation to attend weekly service down by the river. Or the cursive Jesus lights over the office….But it turned out to be okay. The owners ended up being angels of the non-converting variety. No attempts to baptize me down by the river, but the nicest, most helpful people you would ever want to know. They even drove me back to get the Winnie so I didn’t have to hitch up again.
They let me pick out a nice shady spot on the river. The peace and serenity was like a balm. I had easy egress to the river, so was even able to get in some kayaking in the inflatable after the work day.
I can’t find anything negative to say about this campground. Just immaculately clean and well maintained. Nice helpful staff. Excellent wifi signal. Large, spotless bathhouse. And a Good Sam discount.
I got a real surprise while I was there. An email from fellow blogger and friend Lynne from Winnie Views emailed to say she and Millie would be passing by on the way to pick up her new “Lynnebago,” an addition to her Spring Sprinter Collection in a lovely Forest Green. They would be passing within a few miles of me on the way back to Chicago, and would be in the neighborhood just in time for dinner! This was very exciting news!
I had the privilege of meeting Lynne over a year ago at the Hershey, PA RV show. She was instrumental in helping me decide on my View, and has been extremely helpful and generous with her time in answering my endless “newbie” questions. Her “Girl’s Guide to…” has been like a well worn handbook for me.
In the land of pancake houses and fudge shops along the “coronary corridor,” we somehow managed to find a fairly decent Thai restaurant. So many topics to cover, so little time, from blogs to international travel, we covered a lot of ground, and agreed we need longer next time, so Millie gets in a little kayaking time. 😉