2018 – Sightseeing the Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee

We always enjoy returning to the Smoky Mountains. This visit was just for a week, so we had a short but busy stay. A highlight for us was the opportunity to attend the Saturday afternoon sessions of the National Quartet Convention at the LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge. Thanks to some friends who were attending the convention, we got tickets for the Gerald Wolfe Hymn Sing. This was a fun “sing along” event with a full choir and several other southern gospel singers. Then, we attended a concert featuring several male quartets. As you can guess Scott was right in his element and I enjoyed my first NQC.

We spent one day enjoying the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Years ago we spent some time camping at Cades Cove and we haven’t been back there since. It was as pretty as we remembered. We took the scenic loop drive, stopping at three historical spots along the way. Our first stop was at the Primitive Baptist Church. We could see the space where the heating stove sat and the roof vent where the stovepipe vented outside. There is a large cemetery in back and we could see some the names and dates of the people buried there. One thing that stuck me in both cemeteries was the amount of children’s graves; especially those that died on the day of their birth. I was surprised to see several more recent graves there, apparently family plots still being used by families to lay loved ones to rest.

We also stopped at a Methodist Church. The building has an old upright piano. As we arrived a young lady was playing the piano and after she left Scott played his trademark “When the Saints go Marching In.” Several came in as he played and they asked for an encore! Scott said this was his day of fame! It really did sound good in that old church.

We stopped at the visitors’ center to eat our picnic lunch and then walked around the historic farm there. Next month the National Park Service will be using the historic equipment on site to demonstrate how to make sorghum which they have on sale in the store. The house is large with several rooms on the main floor and an upstairs. We also saw an old barn, corn crib, and a working mill where a man was grinding corn into cornmeal. The mill wheel was turned by water from a nearby stream. We loved the drive through the park that follows a beautiful mountain stream that features many impressive rapids. We thoroughly enjoyed our day in the beauty of God’s Creation.

There’s so much to see in this area that it would take months to really do it justice. We enjoyed returning to the Apple Barn for a meal as well as exploring the shops there. We’ll look forward to future visits here.


See individual photos with captions here.

2018 – Project: Wide Angle Lens for hitching the 5th Wheel


I know that there are nifty bed mount cameras for this, but I was looking for a low tech solution and found one that I am sharing with you.

The challenge is backing the pickup up to hitch the 5th wheel. In our setup, the only way to see out to back window down to the hitch is to prop yourself up at a strange angle in the seat, twisting around while keeping your foot on the fuel peddle, ready to switch to the brake. My neck and back don’t work very well for that kind of Jujutsu move anymore so I looked around for a cheap alternative.

My solution was a wide angle lens that sticks to the back window of the truck. The lens “bends the light” letting me look through the rear-view mirror and see the hitch. To help things out, I put some fluorescent tape on both the edge of the hitch and the front of the hitch.

Once I put the wide angle lens on the window and tried it out, I took scissors and cut it in half, using only the bottom half on the window. That kept the lens low enough that I can look through the rear view mirror when driving without the camper and not see much of the lens at all.

This setup has been surprisingly helpful. I line things up without turning around at all, just looking in the mirror as I back up to the 5th wheel. Admittedly, there’s a bit of a learning curve, but this set up works well, especially when you consider the low cost.


See individual photos with captions.

2018 – Douglas Dam Headwater Campground – Sevierville, TN


We really liked it at Douglas Dam Headwater Campground, just north of Sevierville, TN. The campground is located right at the dam with great access and views. There is also a Tailwaters campground below the dam. We didn’t get a chance to check it out.

This is a TVA campground, very similar to a Corps of Engineers campground which are favorites of ours. The campsites have water and 50 amp hookups. Many of the campsites are large enough for most any camper. We were in a pull through site on the hill overlooking the lake. The only negative was that the site sloped left to right. There are also several beautiful back in sites down close to the water – I’d likely try to get one of those on future trips. Not all sites on the hill will accomodate all rigs, so be sure to pay attention when booking your site. Aside from size, we thought we would have been happy in most any of the spots we could fit into.

I had no problem getting a satellite signal and our Verizon 4G was good. We think this campground is a real winner and will happily return on future visits to this beautiful area.


See individual photos with captions here.