Campground Review: Natchez Trace Thousand Trails near Hohenwald, TN

At the conclusion of my previous review of Natchez Trace Thousand Trails near Hohenwald, TN a couple of years ago I commented that on a future visit I hoped to see some of the maintenance issues of this campground addressed. Frankly, as we finish up our second stay here, I have to report that my previous review is still accurate. If nothing else, I’d say the mile and a half road back into the campground has even more potholes than it did two years ago. I mentioned that good WiFi was one of the real bright spots, but this stay it wasn’t working well with lots of dropouts even with a strong signal. I mentioned it at the office a couple of times and near the end of our stay someone may have looked at it because it finally settled down and disappeared less often.

As we arrived there were two other rigs just ahead of us. We found out they were a mom and dad from the northeastern part of the country meeting their son and his family from Texas for a two week stay together. They were very disappointed in the campground. The son wasn’t a member and had paid the “rack rate” for a two week stay in his brand new 5th wheel. After walking around the campground for a long time, looking at every available site and digesting the news that there were no 50 amp sites at all, they settled on a couple of rougher sites next to one another. The next day they pulled out, looking for a nicer campground. I don’t know if they got a refund or not.

Let me say that I think that was a bit of an over-reaction. Anyone who looks online can see that there is only 30 amp service here. Still, for someone looking for a nice campground with some amenities I can understand the feeling of disappointment. For us, the campground itself is at the low end of “acceptable” and not a place I would look forward to visiting aside from it being easy on my camping budget as a fulltime traveler. The primary other positive is that our stay coincided with the peak of the fall foliage here and the colors were glorious.

I don’t understand the layout here. At the front gate there’s a store, pool, min-golf, and lake access. However there are no campsites. The campground for members is a mile and a half away, over a very rough and hilly road. There’s plenty of room for a campground in a big, wide open area near the amenities and I have no idea of why anyone ever thought isolating the primary campground as it is would be a good idea. Aside from that I know the long term residents and the staff of this Thousand Trails are still hoping cooperate will finally turn its attention to this long neglected campground. I suggest that happen sooner and not later.

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Sightseeing Review: Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

We had a fun time revisiting Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave. Many years ago we took the long tour. I remember enjoying the many rooms, colors, drapes and other formations. I also remembered the long walk back out up the many stairs. This time we took the Domes and Dripstones tour, the moderate tour and “only” had about 500 stairs to hike. Still, it was fun going down the steep winding, narrow and sometimes very low passages. We saw domes, pits, and dripstones along with stalagmites and stalactites and drapes. Our guides were very good and even took time to show us a patch of crickets that live in the cave. It was so good to see that God made the inside of the earth is beautiful as he made the outside.

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Shortstop Review: Baileys Point CoE Campground – Glasgow, KY

We’ve enjoyed our short stop at Bailey’s Point CoE Campground on Barren Lake near Glasgow, KY. The campsites are terraced along the lake and most of the sites have nice views of the lake – in fact, many are right along the lake. The campground is on a finger of land, so driving to it means traveling down some country roads. The roads are okay, but are rather narrow and hilly. The sites are mainly water with 50 amp electric although there are some that were obviously designed for tents and smaller campers. Parking in most every site includes backing up a sometimes steep entry ramp. Once you get to the top of the paved ramp the sites, themselves, are level gravel. Several of the site ramps are long enough and steep enough that I wouldn’t want to back my 5th wheel up them for fear that the back bumper of the camper would scrape the paved surface of the ramp. When you make camping reservations online you can see photos of the individual campsites. You might want to pay attention to the photos to get an idea of just what it would take to back into the sites. I had no problem getting satellite TV and my Verizon 4G as weak but usable. The campground is well cared for and the scenery is great. We’d be happy to have a longer stay here in the future.

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Campground review: City Campground – Madison, IN

There are no sewer hookups in the campground, but there is a dump station. The campground has for-pay WiFi. We didn’t use it as our Verizon signal was a strong 4G. Also satellite TV was easy to get – after all you are basically aiming it out over the river and there are no trees in play. The bathrooms are old and worn but reasonably clean and in working condition. Because of the public nature of the campground (right along a city street) you pay a $5 deposit to get a bathroom key.

The number of sites is limited so if you are coming during the busy time of the year I strongly suggest you call ahead for reservations – especially if you want a riverside spot.

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Sightseeing Review: Madison, Indiana and area

On Saturday we drove to the “Autumn on the River” festival in Bethlehem, IN, close to where Scott grew up. We parked in a clover field and could smell the clover as we got out. There was lots of food and music. We enjoyed some homemade bean soup and cornbread. My favorite event of the Festival was the parade. Although it wasn’t large there was an antique firetruck, restored tractors, and beautiful antique trucks and cars. The American Legion was there with several veterans riding along waving to family and friends. It was fun way to spend a fall southern Indiana day.

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Observation: Campground Serenity (or not)

One recurring theme I see on the RV Facebook groups is the behavior (or better, misbehavior) of fellow campers. As ironic as it may be, going to many commercial RV parks is a poor way to get away from it all.

The worst crowding we’ve experienced was on the coast of Washington where people were parked next to one another as they would be in a parking lot. The beautiful Pacific was a short walk away and people were willing to be packed into a campground to be in such a prime spot near the beach. The house and city lot we sold a few years ago was just a modest place on an average property. I think, though, that in that Washington campground there were six RVs packed into a spot the size of that city lot.

Not only is spacing an issue at many campgrounds, but RVers want to be outside so there are lawn chairs and campfires everywhere. Thinking about the house we sold, imagine what it would have been like if day after day my five closest neighbors came to my back yard to each build their own campfire and, while being cordial to one another, didn’t want to spend that time together with their other neighbors. And, of course, each would bring their dogs who would be out of their element and tending to bark at one another and the other folks in my yard. Meanwhile their kids would be having a great time, riding their bikes up and down the roads and sometimes through where other groups are sitting.

So, people put themselves into the crowded conditions of the typical commercial campground and then complain about the behavior of others. Of course, they are right – people are being noisy and rude, acting as if they are at home with plenty of space to call their own. At the same time, if you pick a crowded campground for your get-away weekend you might want to remind yourself that you aren’t at home. If you don’t want to hear barking dogs, slamming doors, yelling kids, and even quiet campfire conversations next door you might want to avoid crowded campgrounds. If you do go to such places, well, remember that you aren’t at home where you can get away from all that kind of stuff.

Campground Review: Indian Lakes Thousand Trails – Batesville, IN

The property features a large pool, playground, mini-golf, and other recreational facilities. An adjacent golf course is on the same property. Our stay was near the end of the season so the pool was closed and there were no activities in the campground. However, we enjoyed mild weather and the early stages of beautiful fall colors. Also, there were fall fairs in the area and we enjoyed going to a couple of them.

We had good Verizon 4G and no problems getting satellite TV. We’ve visited several Thousand Trails preserves through the past few years and we’d rank this one as one of the nicer ones.

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Sightseeing Review: Southeastern Indiana and Cincinnati

It was fun going to the Aurora, IN Farm festival. There was a carnival, many vendors including local merchants, churches, and various clubs.  We enjoyed going through the Lions Building looking at all the arts, crafts, foods, and produce that had been judged and were on display.  Our primary reason for being there, though, was a southern gospel concert featuring Triumphant and the Dixie Melody Boys. Even though it was windy and cool people came and enjoyed an evening of good music.

A highlight of our sightseeing for Scott was the Milan 54 Hoosiers Museum in Milan, IN.  In 1954 the high school basketball team from this small town won the Indiana State High School basketball crown.  In those days all schools in Indiana, of all sizes, competed in one tournament.  As the tournament continued, Milan became a David competing against several Goliaths and ultimately won the championship by beating a team from a school over 10 times its size.  Then, in 1986, a hit movie, “Hoosiers” was released, based on this true life story.  Being from a small Indiana high school, and growing up not long after the “Milan miracle” “Hoosiers” has long been one of Scott’s favorite movies.  We spent about an hour looking at the memorabilia from players as well as items from the movie.

In addition to all the above, we enjoyed meeting and fellowshipping with one of Scott’s cousins, Pastor Paul Mingus and family.  The cousins talked about everything from family history to theology, having a great time.

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Project: Lasko 755320 Ceramic Tower

We have three options for heating our camper:

  1. The furnace – which is very inefficient but produces a lot of heat; runs on propane which we always pay for
  2. The heat pump – part of the air conditioning system but of limited use when the outside air is colder; runs on electricity which we may or may not pay for
  3. A space heater – amount of heat depends on the unit; and, again, we may or may not pay for the electricity

The past winters we have used a combination of the three.  However, in our case we generally spend the winter months in places where the electric service is part of the campsite, so using electric heat makes a lot of sense for us.  We’ve had  “cube” heaters that help a lot but still leave the 5th wheel feeling a bit drafty and with uneven heat.

On the RV forums I kept reading about the Lasko 755320 Ceramic Tower and how happy people are with it so we decided to give one a try.  You can find them at several retailers or online.  The tower has a digital readout, can be programmed, has a timer, and rotates.  It also comes with a remote control.  When we got ours it was 68 degrees in the camper – that running our little space heater and with the heat pump set on 72 and cycling on and off.  Within a half hour the Lasko had raised the temperature to 75.

I’m thinking we’ll remove the space heaters from service all together; although we may keep one as a backup and to supplement the heat on especially cold mornings.  At this point, I recommend this unit to RVers who are looking for alternative heating solutions.