Monthly Archives: September 2013

Around Middle Tennessee

2013-09-24 11.33.37.jpg What a wonderful lazy week this has turned out to be.  We came in Monday and found ourselves in a nice campground with friendly neighbors. However, ours wasn’t the best of sites.  We walked around a little and found an available spot a short distance away and moved to it on Tuesday.  We are happy with our new site and lazed around the campground most of the week. I read a couple of chapters from my Discovering The Bible text book and fiction stories as well as doing the never ending housekeeping that goes along with living anywhere. At night we are enjoyed looking at the stars and have seen a few shooting stars too.

P9279141.JPG On Friday we drove to Burgess Falls State Park to see the Burgess Falls.  Just a short distance from the parking lot is the Small Falls.  We followed the trail along the water to the Middle Falls and a slightly more difficult trail to Burgess Falls Overlook.  It is worth the walk and we enjoyed the sound of the falls all along the way.

P9279171.JPG From there we went to Edgar Evins State Park to go up the 60 foot observation tower for a view of Cedar Hill lake.  The entrance to the observation tower is inside the Visitor Center so we went in and took the circular staircase up to the deck where I froze and held onto the center beam.  I could see a little of the lake and and dam from that spot and that was all the lake view there was.  Scott walked around taking other photos from the observation deck.  When it was time to go he went down the stairs in front of me so I could get down without too much embarrassment.  There were some lovely flowers still in bloom in the butterfly garden around the visitor’s center.  This looks like a beautiful park and has a marina, cabins, and camping available.

Although we are out of the mainstream this has been another great week on the road!

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Campground review: Floating Mill Park, Silver Point, TN

2013-09-23 18.37.13.jpg Our move from the mountains of western North Carolina traveling west on I40 started with an interesting and beautiful section of highway as we traveled along the Pigeon River gorge.  I40 has lots of twists and turns as it follows the gorge.  We kept our speed down to match the truckers and enjoyed the ride.  Once we crossed into Tennessee we continued enjoying the countryside and the highway settled down to more conventional interstate standards with only a few steeper hills along the way.

image-006.jpg Arriving at our Army Corps of Engineers park was a bit more of a challenge than we expected.  We’re only a few miles south of the interstate but we’ve descended quite a ways down to Floating Mill Park at Cedar Hill Lake; a place apply named with lots of cedars and steep hills surrounding a beautiful lake.  The sign to the campground says nothing about there being a campground.  Instead, it points to a “recreation area.”  Normally, that would be enough.  However, when one is pulling a big 5th wheel on steep roads turning down a narrow and even steeper road requires a certain level of confidence!  Not only that, but my GPS was having problems of it’s own.  I drove past the road and down across a big bridge that, as chance would have it, is undergoing some major maintenance.  Once across the bridge I concluded that the recreation area sign I had passed was, indeed, pointing to the campground but I had to drive a ways up the incline on the other side of the bridge to turn around, cross through the construction again, climb up the other side and turn down the road.  Almost instantly the road took us down another steep grade.  When we came to a house construction site in which the dumpster was taking up part of the road I stopped and asked if the campground was ahead of us.  The workers assured me that it was, so we continued down the steep hill.  Soon the road split into three and another sign pointed to the recreation area, directing us down a narrower, but newly paved road.  An ACoE truck was behind me so I asked the workers about the campground, they told me to follow them on down that road and, sure enough, we arrived at a beautiful, lakeside campground.  Please remember, again, there’s something disconcerting about driving off down a steep, narrow road when you have a 35′ camper in tow.  If not for that, I would have followed the sign in the first place with hardly a thought.

2013-09-24 11.31.38.jpg The campground is an interesting place.  It is built on tiers situated on the steep hill above the lake.  The closer one is to the lake, the more the campsites and shoehorned in.  The roads don’t all work for a larger camper.  They have turns that are simply too tight.  Still, the campground works if you know where you are going and can back into campsites with uphill entry ramps or are in tight quarters or both.  Once in, you find yourself in pretty surroundings, and, depending on how full the campground is and exactly what campsite you are in, with wonderful views.   We ended up somewhere between all that.  During the week we had a panoramic view.  Over the weekend there were three other RV’s packed in below us, closer to the lake.  We still had a nice view of the lake, but not the sweeping views we enjoyed on the weekdays.  Our original campsite was on a corner, facing away from the lake and looking across the street right into our neighbor’s campsite.  We were allowed to move just a short distance into a terrific site with a nice front yard and a bit more elbow room.  We’d come back to this site in a heartbeat.

Did I mention that it’s steep?  On paper we are close to the restrooms.  In reality they are three tiers above us (and the campground goes on up another couple of tiers above that!).  One gets a bit out of breath making that journey!

A lot of people come here to fish.  There’s a state-of-the-art fish cleaning station and we saw people cleaning some big fish.  Over the weekend there was also considerable boating activity on the lake and it looked like a lot of fun.

2013-09-25 09.19.24.jpg I don’t think I’ve ever seen a nicer campground for tenting.  There are many tent pads on the sides of the hill overlooking the lake.  Most of them have steps with handrails leading up or down from the roads.  The pads are level and compact, really tenting platforms; most with gorgeous views of the lake.

As you can tell this is an interesting campground.  It’s a challenge to negotiate but depending on exactly which campsite one is in it can be one of the prettiest spots imaginable.  I guess it’s always true to some extent but here, more than most places, knowing the campground when making reservations makes a huge difference.  There are spots here that I doubt I could ever get into and if I did, I probably wouldn’t like them very much.  There are spots here that are absolutely wonderful and well worth the effort required to get into them.  I give this place two thumbs up — depending!

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Justin Potter Library

Name: Justin Potter Library
Location: 101 South 1st Street
Smithville, TN 32166

2013-Potter Library-Smithville, TN - 7This lovely  library with it’s warm and friendly staff  reaches out to the community offering a variety of materials and programs. To learn about upcoming programs check the website to see what is available for you. The book collection is augmented by a book lease program that allows the library to receive bestsellers throughout the year keeping the collection current. There are also CDs, audio books, videos, and DVDs for all ages. For those with electronic devices wireless internet is available and there are downloadable books available through the library website.

2013-Potter Library-Smithville, TN - 8 The support of the community for the library is shown in  many ways including the the beautiful stained glass windows donated by local families. Area artists have donated their creations and the Children’s area has been brightened by posters and wall art created by local artists. A volunteer oversees the glass display case. I was lucky enough to see this month’s privately owned display. It includes a Jackie Kennedy Onassis Doll and replica jewelry, Marilyn Monroe Dolls, and a Vivian Leigh Doll dressed as Scarlett O’Hara along with jewelry, glassware, and figurines.

 There is Genealogical Room with information on local families and material about the area. A local historian volunteers his time helping people with genealogical questions. The staff and volunteers are doing a great job of encouraging literacy in their community.

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2013 – Mountains of western North Carolina and vicinity

P9179099.JPG This has been a week of beautiful views of untouched woods, waterfalls, amazing mountains, and cultivated, settled valleys.  On Tuesday we drove south into the mountains surrounding us and went as far as the edge of South Carolina. The views were wonderful but with all the curves and switchbacks Scott didn’t get to enjoy them as much as I did.  We went through small villages and stopped at a restaurant overlooking a dam in the Lake Toxaway area for lunch.  After a short break we drove to White Water falls which is well worth the walk even down the many steps and back.  Later we drove the Cullasaja Gorge where we actually drove under Bridal Veil Falls!  We also stopped off at the Dry Falls that were not dry at all.

P9199108.JPG Thursday we decided to go to revisit Catalouhee Valley where we visited eight years ago. I didn’t remember the gravel road which is narrow and  twisty with drop offs.  This drive isn’t for those who are challenged by heights. Once we arrived we visited the historical buildings which are within easy walking distance of the road.  The area boasts lots of hiking trails and, depending on the time of day, elk viewing. There are signs warning of bears but we didn’t see any.  Near the entrance of the valley there’s a beautiful turnout with a picnic table where we ate lunch. It was a nice break before driving back up and over the mountain and back to our campground.

On Friday we took a trip to Gatlinburg, TN.  We drove west on interstate 40 through the Pigeon River Gorge.  It’s a narrow, twisting few miles of interstate with a fairly long tunnel and very nice views.  In Gatlinburg we picked up a pizza and had lunch in a pretty park where we found a table near the stream. We went back into town hoping to catch the trolley but got tired of waiting and walked in a few blocks.  I stopped in a few shops to look around and then window shopped our way back toward the truck.  From there we took Highway 441 through the park.  We stopped at several of the overlooks to enjoy the wonderful views.

IMG_1589.JPG Leaving the National Park we took the Blue Ridge Parkway.  There were more stunning views and interesting tunnels to drive through.  At one point we turned off of the parkway a little too soon and almost immediately realized our mistake.  We turned around headed back to the Parkway and, to our delight, saw a male elk with a large rack right beside the road we had driven down just minutes earlier!

This is such a wonderful area and we are looking forward to future visits here.

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Campground Review: Pride RV Resort, Maggie Valley, NC

image-001.jpg Our F350 diesel handled the long I40 climb up and over Black Mountain just fine although I had my foot in it all the way up the five mile steep climb.  The scenery is wonderful and just the beginning of the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Our home for the week is Pride RV Resort that offers super easy access to I40 and the mountains of western North Carolina.  We’re here using our RPI membership.  That’s supposed to be $10 a night for us but by the time the mandatory “resort fees” (includes cable TV which I don’t need) and “50 amp fee” was added in we ended up at $18.50.  Of course, if we just drove in and paid the nightly rate we’d have paid over $40.  I think this is lesson learned and in the future I’ll budget with the add on fees expected and be pleasantly surprised with the parks that honor the $10 RPI rate.  Also, I understand that we’re in a premier area.  We’re in the mountains with wonderful views and mild to cool temperatures.  It’s not unreasonable to pay for such things.

image-017.jpg This place has some nice features.  The facilities are quite good with a big building for events, plus a “pavilion” for either open air or enclosed activities.  The mini-golf is nice and there’s a playground for the children.  There’s a pool and spa.  One of the nicest things is Jonathan Creek which borders the eastern side of the property.  It’s a nifty mountain trout stream.  There are plenty of places to sit and enjoy the creek.  Also, the WiFi is the best we’ve had on our entire trip; it is also included in the resort fee.

At the same time there are some frustrating things about this park.  For one thing the water pressure is noticeably low.  When I asked about it I was told that the park is on a city water system that is being upgraded.  Hopefully, the upgrade will be completed soon.  Also, through no fault of it’s own it is placed between two lumber processing facilities.  Opposite the beautiful gurgling creek is a saw mill with heavy equipment making lots of noise.  A short distance across the highway is another mill with, I assume, some kind of big saw that makes a low pitched, penetrating whine that is pretty mush inescapable throughout the workday.

looking out our back window.jpg I think coming in on an affiliate membership in these places means that you’ll be treated like the park’s step-children.  We were assigned a spot in which we backed into a narrow site within 20 feet of the highway.  During the week when the one lumber processing plant was in full operation the sound of the trucks downshifting just outside our rear window was pretty loud.  We compensated by closing the roof vents and moving a fan upstairs for white noise.  I don’t know how much better it would have been a couple of rows over but I’m fairly sure it would have been at least a little quieter.  Because of the road noise and the closeness of our neighbors just a few steps outside our front door (very nice people by the way) we didn’t sit outside much during our stay.

2013-09-18 10.16.20.jpg As you can tell this place is quite a mixture of very nice and rather frustrating.  I think I’d return here simply because I love the area so much and because I think it would be easier on the budget than paying the rack rate would be elsewhere.  At the same time I’d lobby big time for a site away from the highway.

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