Memorial Day at the Mountains
We spent Memorial Day weekend Cricket Camping at Sevierville TN, exploring the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and hanging out with extended family.
To start, we were able to hook up and be on the road in about 15 minutes and this was due to two factors: we pre-packed earlier in the week, and the Cricket is just fast to hookup! We keep the Cricket plugged in while in the garage, so we packed groceries a couple days before we left. For the first time, we packed our clothes in packing cubes and threw them in the camper as they were ready. We also checked tire pressure and supplies the night before, which left the only task to be hitching up before leaving.
It’s a good thing packing was quick, as we didn’t get to the campground until after 11pm. We backed in, unhooked, quickly set up the basics for the night, made the beds, and got the kids to bed. We also got this done in about 15 minutes.
Even with our last minute planning, we found a nice campground in Sevierville. We stayed at the Riverside RV Resort on the banks of the Little Pigeon River. This is a big campground with 300 sites, many of which seemed to be occupied by seasonal campers, full timers, and mobile homes.
This is such a large campground that they were able to accommodate Jessica's parents in a cabin and her sister and her children in another cabin close to our campsite. That was a huge selling point for this campground. It is a faith-based campground, and they hold church on Sundays in the large pavilion near the camp store. We noticed on the pool hours that you cannot swim until after church on Sunday. Friday and Saturday nights we found ourselves on the golf cart parade route and the kids joined in the parade on their bikes with their bike lights and headlamps. This was our first experience with a campground parade and we will have to come up with more light-up gear for their bikes!
The campers at Riverside RV Resort were great. As always, the Cricket attracts attention. Most people passing by stopped for a second look. We had a handful of people stop by to ask about it and peek inside.
We made it to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park on both Saturday and Sunday. As we drove through the abundance of tourist attractions in Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg, we hoped that most of the holiday weekend visitors stayed in the towns, leaving GSMNP to us. That was not the case at all. GSMNP was packed! We decided to do Cades Cove first and the drive from our campground to Cades Cove, with a quick stop at the visitor’s center, seemed to take half the day.
As we approached the west end of the loop, traffic on the Cove road stopped. There was a a family of bears about 50 yards off the road that attracted much attention . A bear sighting in the park is quite the production and there were several Park Rangers there to manage the crowd of onlookers.
Back on Cades Cove loop, the traffic was still heavy. We made it to Hyatt Lane to cut across the Cove, and took Rich Mountain Road, a 12 mile gravel mountain road, out of the park. This road was 12 miles of one way switchbacks of ascending and then descending elevations.
Sunday in the park was equally crowded. No parking was available near Chimney Tops Trailhead, Alum Cave Trailhead, nor Newfound Gap. We decided to stop at a few pull outs and explore a couple different creeks and still enjoyed ourselves. Sunday afternoon we headed back early to enjoy the pool, grill out, and relax.
So what lessons did we learn this weekend? We enjoyed the amenities of a private campground, but this location was too far from our focus of the trip; the GSMNP. Next time we will try to stay in GSMNP, or as close as we can get. We learned that on Saturday mornings, Cades Cove is closed to cars until 10am. On our next visit, we plan to bike this road early on Saturday and be out of the way before the cars arrive. Also on future trips to GSMNP, we plan to research trailheads that are less popular and explore these instead of the popular hikes. We learned that washing dishes in the Cricket fills the gray tank really fast. We plan to get a gray water hose to drain the tank when we have full hookups available. When the weather doesn’t cooperate, the Cricket can feel extremely small. We had a 30 minute downpour at the campground and sat inside where it got hot quickly and the kids were wild. Next time, we will pull out a game if we are confined to the Cricket.
So what is next for Cricket Camping? We just booked a site at Hillman Ferry, in Land Between the Lakes, for Fathers’ Day weekend. If the weather is good, this will be spent entirely at the campground. We plan to spend the weekend on the SUPs, mountain biking, hiking, and swimming at the lake. This one will test our ability to pack and haul gear, and will be a good test run for our Florida trip.
Jon in Texas
6/2/2016 09:31:00 pm
Love it! Great photos! That bear was close!
6/9/2016 05:33:14 am
Jon - We had a great time. We will go again if you want to camp in the park with us sometime. I think there are fewer bears in the mountains, that one was in the valley.
6/4/2016 12:47:11 pm
Great idea keeping the Cricket plugged in and load the fridge up early. Never thought about that....!
6/9/2016 05:37:51 am
We have bear bells for our next trip in black bear country. I'm with you, bear spray in grizzly country is a must.
6/9/2016 06:13:12 am
Do you have an AC unit in your Cricket for your trip to Florida?
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Shane and Jessica
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