web analytics

2018 – Agricenter RV Park – Memphis, TN

We stopped off for a long weekend stay on the east side of Memphis, TN at the Agricenter RV Park. The Agricenter hosts everything from Agriculture-related education to sports events. During our stay a corn maze was in operation, there was a Harvest Festival with Farmer’s Market, plus an event in the sports arena. The campground is adjacent to all of this – just a few steps away.

Campsites are long enough but very close side to side. To get an idea of just how crowded it could be one only needs to look at the section given over to long term residents. During our stay there was no one on either side of us so we had a reasonable amount of room. I confess that I was a bit concerned when, as I checked in I was cautioned to park fairly close to the power pedestal in case someone needed the site by our front door. Had someone taken that site we would have been face to face with hardly room to put an awning out. Judging from the campers around us, the plan is to use every other site for overnight campers. During busy times, though, the situation would be as crowded for overnighters as it is for long term residents.

Campground WiFi was decent most of the time and there’s a cell tower right on the property, giving us full scale Verizon 4G. There are no trees so satellite was easy enough. During hot summer months the campground must be pretty hot.

Everything is handy with all kinds of shopping just minutes away. There’s actually a steakhouse on the property and just across the street there’s a well known BBQ restaurant named “One and Only.” We tired the ribs there and I think they were the best I’ve ever eaten.

Knowing some of the negatives, I think I’d still return to the Agricenter RV Park – not for a longer stay, but for another long weekend.

Click this for full screen photos
See individual photos with captions here.

2018 – Seven Points CoE, Hermitage, TN

Everything we read about Seven Points CoE campground on J. Percy Priest Reservoir at Hermitage, TN was positive, so we looked forward to this stay on the east side of Nashville. The campground lived up to its billing. The campground is in a beautiful wooded area along the big lake. The campsites are long and deep with large patio areas. If you want to stay more than a chance night or two (and even that won’t be possible on weekends) you’ll need to make reservations well in advance as this campground is very popular and it fills up night after night. Our stay was for a week and the “no vacancy” sign was up for our entire stay.

Seven Points is close to I40 but it feels farther than it is because you have to make several turns through residential streets to get to it. The roads are plenty wide enough for any RV, though, and not really a problem. Follow the directions on the campground website and you’ll be fine.

While all the sites are very nice the lakeside ones are something special. All of them feature long driveways off the road and great lakeside camping in the trees. The rest of the sites are nicely wooded and if not for comparing them to the premium lakeside spots they would be considered prime real estate in most campgrounds.

So, right off, you want a lakeside spot if you can get it (I reserved four months out and they were all taken). If you can’t get a lakeside site, there are a few on the inside loop that afford nice lake views. They are, I think, sites 26-30 and 38-44.

There are no sites with sewer, but all do have 50 amp electric and water. There is only one shower house and it is a bit of a walk from both the north and south opposite ends of the campground. I found it strange that there’s a nice gravel trail from the back of the shower house, through the woods to the opposite side of the campground. However, once you get there you find yourself in the back of someone’s campsite with no further trail. It seems like a lot of effort to service just two or three campsites.

The dump station was designed by someone who obviously never drove a larger RV. The turns are sharp and the roadway is narrow. You’ll likely end up with wheels “cutting the corner” but no worries, it’s obvious that it has happened many times before.

Satellite TV will be easy for people with portable domes and lakefront property. It will be considerably harder for those with rooftop units or who are camped on the inside loop. It will be impossible in several sites. I made it, but the window was very small. Our Verizon signal was decent.

The campground is close to some major shopping areas, especially at nearby Mt. Juliet. Also Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage is nearby. All the Opry-related attractions are less than 30 minutes away.

We most always like Corps of Engineers campgrounds and this is a great example of why. We hope to return the next time was come to the Nashville, TN area.

Click this for full screen photos
See individual photos with captions here.

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.

Click this for full screen photos
See individual photos with captions here.

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.

Click this for full screen photos
See individual photos with captions here.

2017 – Campground Review: Raccoon Valley Escapees, Heiskell, TN

20170421_193013.jpg We’re just finishing up a one month stay at Raccoon Valley Escapees RV Park at Heiskell, TN, just north of Knoxville. The setting of the park is scenic, in a pretty valley with tree covered ridges on either side. Of course, this is eastern Tennessee, home of the stunning Smoky Mountains. Without doubt, this is a great area. The campground itself is basically a gravel parking lot. Sites are very close to one another with one’s neighbor’s utilities in your front yard. The grounds are well kept, the rest rooms clean, and there’s a nice activity center.

The campground hosts a weekly gathering of local musicians who sing and play for a few hours each week. Anyone who plays an acoustical instrument is welcome to join in. The music ranges from pretty good to “not pretty good” (if you get my drift.) However, everyone is having a good time and it makes for a friendly, easy going evening.

The monthly prices here are quite good and that has drawn a variety of residents. There are traditional Escapees who travel in their RV’s full time and there are working people who had never heard of Escapees, but joined to get the discount rate as residents of this park. Most everyone is friendly or at least cordial. Because of price, location, and limited sites the park stays pretty busy.

My Verizon signal was good. Our satellite TV is via Dish Network. There are plenty of over-the-air TV stations but the primary Dish channels are on the Dish “eastern arc.” Since my dish is a western arc one, and since the trees pretty much blocked my western satellites I decided to bite the bullet and buy the replacement LNBs. I found them on Amazon for around $25. After swapping them out and aiming the dish to the eastern satellites I had all my channels again. From what research I’ve done, I’ll be using the eastern satellites for another month or two and in the future I’m sure I’ll be glad to have the option of switching between satellite sets when we travel east.

Honestly, a month was too long for us to be at this park. Had the campsites had a bit more elbow room we would have liked it better but it still would have been longer than we really wanted. I’d return here for a week or maybe two, but that’s about it.

Click this for full screen photos

2017 – Knoxville and eastern Tennessee

IMG_5341.JPG Just south of Knoxville is Marble Springs Historic site. It’s the last remaining home of John Seiver, first Governor of Tennessee and Revolutionary War hero. The buildings are representative of his life and times. They include a tavern, loom house, smoke house, spring house, and the John Sevier Cabin and detached kitchen. The large loom in the picture is over 100 years old. The tour guide shows how they prepared and spun wool, cotton and flax.

While looking for a good place to take our morning walks we decided to visit the University of Tennessee Arboretum at Oak Ridge about 20 minutes from our campground. I was looking for a place to walk on flat trails through pretty gardens at this working University Research and Education classroom. It is set up to be a natural laboratory and wildlife area. There are plenty of hiking trails but they steeper and rougher than I expected. At the visitors’ center there is a large collection of walking sticks for visitors to use as they hike the trails and enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors. It was an interesting place to visit but the trails are a bit more challenging than I wanted for a morning walk! We did find a great, paved walking trail along the Clinch River in nearby Clinton. We enjoyed walking there several times.

20170425_135445.jpg The highlight of our time in eastern Tennessee was two especially enjoyable day trips. One was to Pigeon Forge where I wandered through the shops and enjoyed seeing the old mill. The other a fun and beautiful drive up to Newfound Gap high in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We drove to the top, right on the Tennessee/North Carolina state line. However, we were up in the clouds and the view was lost in the fog. A bit lower down the mountain we ate a picnic lunch by a beautiful stream. The weather was cool and cloudy but it didn’t take away from the beauty of it all.

20170428_142254.jpg We picked a pretty day to visit Knoxville’s Market Square for the Dogwood Arts Festival. There was a wide variety of items for sale there including jewelry, pottery, photography, metal art as well as a booth you could have a Henna design applied. There were many food trucks there providing a variety of tempting treats as well as local restaurants doing a brisk business. My favorite thing was the music stage where we heard the Empty Bottle String Band performing.

Nearby Oak Ridge is famous for its part in the Manhattan Project where uranium was enriched to be used in the first atomic bomb ever made to end World War II. We visited the American Museum of Science and Energy and did a bus tour of various facilities where scientists searched for ways to quickly produce what was needed for an atomic bomb. At the Graphite Reactor we heard a lecture on how it worked. We could walk around some and saw the actual log entry made when the enrichment was finally achieved. We were surprised to learn that several other buildings still being used for research and by the Department of Energy. Along the way we saw two original churches with their cemeteries that were part of the rural community before the area became a research area in World War II. The American Museum of Science and Energy has many hands on activities relating to atomic energy as well as information on the coal mining done in the area.

As you can see the Knoxville area has a lot to offer sightseers. It’s no wonder that it’s such a well known and loved area.

Click this for full screen photos

2017 – Chattanooga, TN: Incline Railway, Point Park

20170407_111516.jpg We had a pleasant day seeing one of Chattanooga’s many tourist sights: Lookout Mountain Incline Railroad. Each car holds 40-some people and goes almost straight up the side the mountain. We got there around 11AM, paid for parking, bought our tickets, and got on board. We immediately started to climb up the mountain. It was very steep out the back door and side windows. As we continued up we could see the expanding horizon and town through the windows in the top of the car. The trip up or down takes about 15 minutes and especially for people like me who don’t like heights, it’s an exciting ride! At the top we walked up two more flights of stairs t0 enjoy a panoramic view of the area. On a lower level we saw the engine that powers the cars.

IMG_5290.JPG We walked a few blocks from the railroad to Point Park, a memorial park that overlooks the Lookout Mountain Battlefield with the city of Chattanooga far below. We enjoyed this beautiful park and it’s pleasant, easy walk with impressive views all around. We were lucky to see dogwood trees and redbuds in bloom. As we walked to and from the park we talked about the beautiful mansions there on top of the mountain. We thought the visit was well worth the time. Of course, there are other terrific attractions in the area and we intend to pick up where we left off on future visits to this great area.

Click this for full screen photos

2017 – Shortstop: Camping World Campground – Chattanooga, TN

20170407_162141.jpg This campground is operated by Camping World in Chattanooga. Interestingly enough, the store is in Georgia while the campground and service department is across the parking lot and in Tennessee! I don’t think anyone would consider this campground to be a destination campground. The sites are quite narrow and the campground has a generally tired feeling about it. And it is urban camping: a motel parking lot was across the tall chain link fence by our rig. The restrooms were clean but the pool wasn’t open yet for the summer. Surprisingly, it looks as though there are a few long term residents here (let me mention, though, that all the sites were clean, etc.) People come to the campground to await getting service done on their RVs and to take advantage of the low price during a visit to the tourist town that is Chattanooga. We saw one happy camper moving from their old RV into a new one that had been parked facing them in the neighboring campsite. I saw elsewhere that if you renew your Good Sam membership at the store (which is where you register) that camping fees were waved. I asked, and we got the same deal – not just for one night, but for both nights of our stay. Our Verizon signal was very good and I had a clear view of the sky for satellite reception (although cable TV was available at each site). We arrived in late afternoon and all the 50 amp sites were taken. The second day many of them were open into the evening. If you are visiting Chattanooga, don’t mind a crowded campground, and are okay with taking your chances on getting a spot, you might want to keep this place in mind.

Click this for full screen photos

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.

100_4825.JPG 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.

Click this for full screen photos

Campground Review: Natchez Trace Thousand Trails, Hohenwald, TN

The 150 mile drive from east-central Tennessee to south-central Tennessee was easy aside from some major construction we encountered between Columbia and Natchez Trace Parkway.  Even with that we arrived at the campground without any problem.

image-003.jpg Arriving at Natchez Trace Thousand Trails is, in itself, an interesting experience.  One exits the parkway and immediately comes to an 11 foot overpass.  Our camper comes in at 12′ 8″ so that’s a problem.  However, there’s a solution that is described on the campground’s website.  A sort of bypass has been created that gives plenty of clearance.  One eases off the pavement onto the gravel beside the road, drives through and then back up onto the road.  There’s no telling how many hundreds of people have done this with everything from budget campers to high end motorhomes.  However, if you look at the underside of the overpass you’ll see ample evidence that a few folks should have paid more attention!

2013-10-03 10.44.27.jpg Once you arrive at the campground and check in you are still a mile and a half or more down a rather worn-but-paved road to the primary Thousand Trails campground.  It seems kind of strange to drive so far back and away from the pool, mini-golf (needing lots of TLC), tennis courts (needing even more TLC), camp store, and other facilities.  However, a quarter of a mile from the actual campground there’s a nice facility called the “Town Hall” which is where a lot of activities happen.

2013-10-03 10.48.05.jpg A portion of this facility falls under the KOA umbrella.  KOA customers can’t use TT campsites and TT members can’t use KOA.  However, I doubt that it’s a problem for TT members because none of the KOA sites offer sewer hookups or are close to the lake.

Also, there are lots of cabins – more than we’ve seen in any TT yet.  Some of them are along the lake, others, so far as I can tell, are just along the road and looking out into a tree filled ravine.

2013-10-01 09.36.22.jpg Honestly, no TT traveler need come to Natchez Trace expecting a lakeside campsite.  Those spots are all taken by annual users who have old contracts that pre-date the merger of NACO and Thousand Trails.  These folks have a good deal financially and aren’t likely to give up their contracts any time soon.  If there’s an upside in this for TT travelers it’s the fact that none of the prime lakeside sites which are all occupied have sewer hookups.  The rule of thumb here is “sewer site=no lake view.”  Of course, there are seasonals and annuals occupying many of the full hook up sites too but if one arrives during the week and not in the middle of a busy weekend they have at least a fair chance of snagging a full hookup/30 amp site.  We were quite satisfied with our spot but which was the only one available along a road filled with long term residents.

Not to dwell on the long time residents of the campground let me mention that many of them have made significant improvements to their sites, even going to far as to put up metal RV-sized carports, building decks, and planting flowers.  Also, I’ll mention that these folks are, generally speaking, friendly and welcoming to visitors to “their” campground.  They also volunteer for weekend activities like hayrides for the kids.

I can’t imagine this place ever being clear full.  There are lots of nice campsites for people who are satisfied with a water/electric site.  Some of those sites aren’t suitable for a bigger rig but many of them are.

2013-10-03 10.29.38.jpg This place clearly needs upgrading: primarily road work, more full hook up sites, 50 amp electric (there’s none), and fresh gravel on the sites.   One surprising plus is good WiFi.  I think it’s the best WiFi we’ve ever had in a Thousand Trails facility.  Over the weekend it got sluggish due to, I imagine, heavy use but the rest of the time it’s been pretty good.  My Verizon phone signal has been rather poor, but using my Wilson Sleek signal booster it is usable.  We’ve seen lots of folks sitting in the Town Hall parking lot at the top of the hill using their phones.

To us, the draw here is the campground’s being so close to Natchez Trace Parkway.  I don’t see it as a destination park aside from it being a good spot to let the kids have freedom to roam and enjoy the playground or simply as a place to enjoy some downtime.  I know efforts are being made to catch up on various maintenance concerns and increase the appeal of this park.  I’ll come back when passing through the area again and I hope that when I do I’ll see evidence of that having taken place.

There’s a second review of this campground from October, 2015 here.

Click this for full screen photos