Too much camping? Our July travel schedule was packed! We returned from Michigan Sunday night and then Friday afternoon, we were back on the road to meet family for a return visit to the Cherokee/Great Smokies KOA. We planned for a quiet weekend at this amenity-loaded campground to get away and relax.
Our first visit to this campground was off-season, in November. This return trip was during the peak of travel season and the campground was busy. First to acknowledge a couple concerns we shared after our first visit; last time, our site was in the front with high foot traffic. This time we noticed they didn't have anyone in that site, even though the campground was near capacity. Our second concern was that the bathrooms were dirty. This wasn't the case this time. The bathhouse was clean and we usually saw a KOA golf cart at there when we walked past. Well done KOA!
Our site was on the end of a row toward the back half of the campground and near the playground. We booked a Premium Site this time so that we could be closer to the Deluxe Cabins where our family was staying. We had a large, concrete site with full hookups and large trees. We really loved this site. The back half of the campground feels less crowded and hectic, but we could easily walk to the front half to enjoy all of the amenities Our family was very pleased with the cabins and found them to be well stocked and comfortable. The cabins have a nice covered deck as well as an outdoor space with a grill.
We stayed at the campground all weekend and had packed and prepared to cook all of our meals on site and let the kids have fun with the available amenities. They took full advantage of it all: they swam, went down the water slide, sat in the hot tub, played ladder golf, jumped at both jumping pillows, played at the playground, walked in the creek, and rode bikes and scooters. They had fun and never struggled to find things to do. Additionally, the campground had several activities going on that we didn't take part in, such as an outdoor movie Friday night. A couple times we had a storm move in and this chased us inside for awhile, but we quickly got back out once the sky cleared.
Spending time at the campground helped us discover some new gear and appreciate some of our favorites.
We just bought a Lodge Dutch Oven that we used to bake a cherry crumble with our freshly picked Michigan cherries. We were surprised how easy and well the Dutch oven worked and we look forward to trying other recipes.
We also made St Louis-style pork steaks that we seared on the grill and finished by slow cooking in our Instant Pot. We also used the Instant Pot in sauté mode to fry bacon, hash browns, and eggs for breakfast. We continue to be wowed by the versatility of this item.
We recently got a Gerber Freescape Camp Knife discounted at a closing Gander Mountain. We have mixed reviews of this product. At home we use a Global G-2 Chef Knife and big wooden cutting boards. This Gerber set has a very small cutting board, but the knives store really nicely inside the case, which is important with our limited space. The paring knife is great. The larger knife, although of very high quality, is too small and thick for much knife work. We will keep it in the Cricket as it is an upgrade to our prior knives, but we expected more.
We just got a SodaStream to cut down on the amount we spend buying sparkling water. We have found adding a splash of lemon or lime juice to the water makes a great, budget friendly La Croix alternative. This will come with us while camping, but go back into the house when we get home. We love the SodaStream!
Finally we made great use of our Kelty Noah's Tarp. This makes a great awning and kept us dry during a heavy downpour.
Too much camping? Not yet. We spent time at the campground and in the car planning and researching future trips. We have an August trip scheduled and will stay closer to home for our next Cricket Camping adventure!
Shane and Jessica
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