This year for Thanksgiving, we decided to visit the Great Smoky Mountains area. During our quick trip, we got to explore America’s busiest National Park at an off-peak time, enjoy a highly recommended campground in Cherokee, NC, ran a turkey trot and visited the largest home in the United States in Asheville, NC, and got try out some new gear.
The disappointments were minimal and easily fixable, so we would recommend the Cherokee/Great Smokies KOA for exploring the North Carolina side of the Smokies and Cherokee, NC. If you plan to explore Asheville, the Tennessee side of the Smokies, or Gatlinburg, you’ll discover the 30 to 50 mile drive is very long through the mountain roads.
Asheville on Thanksgiving
We did our official family Thanksgiving feast before this trip, so we instead planned a low-stress day for Thanksgiving. We started early with the Asheville 5k Turkey Trot. We were concerned about the smoke in the area due to nearby wildfires, but the weather was perfect for a quick race.
After the race, we stopped by Pack’s Tavern to recharge. Pack’s was one of the few places open downtown on Thanksgiving. They were packed and serving a full menu and a Thanksgiving buffet. We opted for a drink and appetizers. The wings tossed in Tiger sauce were a great post-race treat.
We spent most of the afternoon at Carrier Park. This is a fantastic park that was formerly a race track converted into a walking and riding track. The park is loaded with features - bocce, roller hockey, basketball, volleyball, walking paths, and a really fun playground. The kids played here for maybe three hours, as the weather was perfect: seventy and sunny.
Our final event of the day was dinner at Buffalo Nickel. We pick this spot out as it was a farm to table meal that wasn’t a buffet and it sounded like a perfect option. The menu had a choice of soup or salad, an entree of turkey, trout, short ribs, or gnocchi, and dessert of pumpkin pie or a cake. Between our party of ten, we tried and enjoyed all of the dishes.
Our Thanksgiving Day was extremely untraditional for us, but a big hit. Untraditional is becoming our new Thanksgiving tradition as the prior year was spend hiking Sedona on our first big camping trip and next year we already have a trip booked.
We did try out some new gear on this trip.
We recently ordered an Alps table and side table. These are lightweight tables that set up quickly. The full sized table is perfect just outside the camper to store outdoor cooking gear. The side table is great between our chairs outside to hold a book or drinks.
To go with the tables, we ordered Alps rocking chairs. These are well-built folding camp chairs that rock. We tried a lot of chairs and ruled them out. These are comfortable, lightweight, and seem very durable.
We got the kids new chairs as well. We decided on Susufaa Camping Chairs – Ultralight. We have seen similar chairs at REI, but found these for half the price and with great reviews on Amazon.
This is not a flashy piece of gear, but we had to buy an adjustable water pressure regulator. We’ve had some minor water issues in the Cricket and we think it’s due to our previous regulator not reducing the psi enough. With this flashy new regulator, we can monitor the gauge and get just the right amount of water. Set at 20 psi, we’ve had no issues.
This was our second year of Thanksgiving Cricket Camping, which is now a tradition since we have year three booked.
Shane and Jessica
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