Freed from yet another Jace-imposed traveling pause, it was time to visit Tennessee once again. Our previous adventures in Tennessee were centered around the Pigeon Forge area; once to visit a friend and former manager of mine, Jack Simmons, who I used to work with at Jockey back in Dawsonville, GA, and once to spend a few days with our two grandsons, Noah and Jace for Noah's birthday.
This time, it was to enjoy some fellow Tiffin owner time with one of our favorite Tiffin gasser owners, Scott McKoin. The added bonus was that we were finally going to meet Scott's wife, Sandi, who had managed to avoid Red Bay, AL the last time we were together with Scott. Grover was also looking forward to another visit with Scott, as they bonded when last we met.
We had decided to break up out travel to the Volunteer State by heading from the I-85 north side of Atlanta to the I-75 north side, knowing the trip was going to take us into Friday traffic in and around that very congested city. So we headed to our other favorite campground in North Georgia, Cedar Break (formerly known as Calhoun A-OK) in Calhoun, GA. Got a pull-thru site for 3 days, but only water and electric (no sewer). This allowed us to experience something we had never done in almost 2 years of full-time RVing – the dreaded Dump Station. Two years, and never had to use one on the way into, or out of, a campground. We did enjoy some comfortable temperatures under tall trees and the salt-water pool on site – perfect to soothing aches and pains.
Our first stop in Tennessee was at a Harvest Host site – Silver Springs Winery in Riceville, TN. The interesting thing about this winery is two-fold; they don't have a vineyard producing grapes just yet (they expect to be harvesting their own early next year), so they make their wines from other people's grapes, and that have a really nice Greek restaurant on site. Since we were there on a Sunday, we paid back our host for their free site by partaking of their Sunday brunch, which was really very good.
From an RVing perspective, the stay was nice, but the accommodations could have been better. Sure, we got to stay for free in their parking lot (which is the whole idea of Harvest Hosts), but the area they used was a large gravel overflow lot which hadn't been mowed in a while – always something to be concerned about when running your generator for hours at a time. The other thing was tight access into and out of their lot.. If it weren't for a opening between the overflow lot we stayed in, and the car lot next door, we might not have been able to turn around without unhooking our tow vehicle and associated dolly; not something to look forward to. Not saying we couldn't have made the U-turn, but it was going to be very, very close. A longer motorhome could not have done it.
Then, it was on to a Scott McKoin-recommended Corps of Engineers park; Obey River campground on Dale Hollow Lake in Monroe, TN. At the entrance gate, we met Jeff Harper, a camp host who really knows the park very well, but refuses to admit he knows Scott McKoin at all. When we told him which site we had, he got on his trusty computer and found a half-dozen sites he thought were better suited for us that were available in our time frame, and suggested we unhook the Mini in a nearby pull-off to drive around and view them. One site was infinitely better than the one we had, so he quickly changed our reservations and sent us on our merry way. Jeff is the epitome of a great camp host.
Our site 73 was a pull-in site which had a tremendous view of the lake outside our big front window; level, wide and on the end of a row so people could border us on just one side. As it turned out, we had no one on the other side of us, so we had a very quiet campsite for the entire time we spent there. It was also right next to the boat ramp, so we had easy access to launch our kayak. As with many COE campgrounds, we had water and electric, but no sewer hookups, which meant we used a dump station for the second time in a week when we left!
Grover enjoyed his long walks, had a chance to meet Jeff who had raised beagles earlier in his life but had never seen a lemon beagle, and Grover even got to experience his first-ever ride in the kayak! He started out a little nervous, but settled back into full lay down mode by the end of the half-hour trip. And of course, he was wearing his officially-approved canine flotation device the whole time. It made it easy for me to lift him into and out of the kayak by the attached handle, because while he's cute, he's not very coordinated around watercraft.
All in all, our time at Obey River was meant to rest, relax, and recharge, and we did just that. Our last day there, some other Tiffin friends of ours, Byron and Lynn Hill, were heading east on I-40 through nearby Cookeville, TN, and we were able to meet them, along with Scott, at a Cheddar's right off the highway for an early lunch. Byron and Lynn have a Tiffin 34PA gasser painted like ours (featured in one of our Red Bay reports last year), and we had met up with them twice during our Florida trip earlier this year. Always nice when Tiffin gasser owners get together.
Our time at Obey River at an end, we then got to experience something else we hadn't done in 2 years of full-time RVing – moochdocking. We've talked about boondocking, which is where you stay on land for free (usually government land), and Wallydocking, where you stay in a Walmart parking lot overnight, but moochdocking is different. That's where you stay at a family or friend's house (many times in their driveway) for free. In our case, Scott and Sandi McKoin had offered their place to us. Most moochdocking sites have minimal power, and occasionally water. Since Scott stores his Tiffin 32SA gasser in a pole barn behind his house, he has full 50A service and water for us to use. Plus he's got a big backyard, so plenty of room for Grover, with lots of wildlife (deer and turkeys) to view.
We also get to (finally!) meet Scott's wife Sandi, who, as Scott will admit to you, is the epitome of his better half. Great nights sitting out by the RV sipping adult beverages and getting to know nice people, including Sandi's mom who lives right behind them. Seeing sights is one reason to do the RV thing; meeting up with great people is the other.
Our last full day there we took a hike at Burgess Falls State Park. Absolutely beautiful hike with narrow trails that can go from easy to difficult depending on your physical condition. Worth every minute. Grover enjoyed his extra workout, although some of the “steps” we needed to navigate were bigger than he was. Brought plenty of water to keep both him and us hydrated. Glad I brought my collapsible hiking stick!
Our third trip to Tennessee is over, and it's now time to venture into a state we had never visited in the motorhome before, and a place we've waited 32 years to see in North Carolina. Next up in Parental Parolees . . . !
We're Dave and Barbara Richard, and we're planning the ultimate retirement experience - travel the U.S. and Canada in style in a Tiffin Open Road 36LA Class A motor home, play golf and stop at every weird and wacky roadside attraction we can find.