For the fourth year in a row we have camped for the Thanksgiving holiday. This year, we had the treat of camping in Asheville, NC near the Blue Ridge Parkway.
We'd planned to leave once the kids got out of school and make it to Cosby, east of Gatlinburg, for the first leg of our adventure. We got on the road on time, but got a call from the campground: we had to arrive by 9pm, approximately thirty minutes earlier than our current ETA, or couldn't check in. Completely our fault for not carefully reading over our reservation. Nonetheless, we had to make a new plan on the road. We found a spot at Cumberland Mountain State Park, which was not far off our route and now a park we'd like to return to visit.
We'd planned to get to Cosby for a UTV tour east of Gatlinburg. We booked at Smoky Mountain Premier RV Resort, which recently transitioned to a KOA. We rode trails in the mountains for almost three hours, testing our resolve as we scaled and descended the challenging trail. It was an absolute blast. At the top of the mountain, our guide helped us identify nearby mountains and cities.
Our final destination was Bear Creek Campground in Asheville. This is a good, urban campground that feels out of town. Our site was large and level, with full hookups. The campground is nice, but starting to show it's age. The amenities are odd, for example the playground is almost in the front yard of a house, the bathhouses are not spread evenly, and a part of the campground was seasonal with another business operating almost in the middle of the campground.
We ran the Turkey Trot 5k on Thanksgiving. The course is a great tour of Asheville, showcasing the downtown, great neighborhoods, and the hills through the town. We are immensely proud of Lillian for her third place in her age group!
We headed back to Bear Creek to spend the afternoon. We tried our a new purchase, a BioLite Fire Pit. This is a fire pit with 51 air jets, powered by a micro USB-charged battery pack, that creates an air vortex to greatly reduce the smoke of the fire. We were interested in an option that consumed less firewood, generated less smoke, and started quickly. The BioLite seemed to nail all of these criteria. We had a fire going on Thanksgiving for almost ten hours and only used two bundles of wood. We also used the BioLite as the base for dutch oven cooking,
Our campground Thanksgiving was a lot of fun. We grilled a turkey and managed to make way too much food. We again closely followed Meathead's Spatchcocked Turkey recipe with delicious results. We are also obsessed with Dr. Gundry and made his Millet Stuffing in the Lodge dutch oven, which was also good and really captured the flavor and texture of traditional stuffing.
We love the idea of #OptOutside on Black Friday. In the prior three years, we hiked the red rocks in Sedona, taken a ranger-led hike the the Great Smokies, and climbed to the top of Stone Mountain. This year, we drove up the Blue Ridge Parkway before hiking Craggy Gardens and Craggy Dome.
We continued Black Friday with a tour of New Belgium Brewery, where we enjoyed learning about the brewery, their principles, and sustainability efforts. With grandparents to be the perfect babysitters, we had a great date date afterward with Jessica's sister and brother, and their spouses. We decided to try Nine Mile in West Asheville, were we enjoyed great Caribbean-influences dishes.
We went for a drink at The Crow and Quill, one of the most unique bars we've ever been to. There is no exterior signage and the building looks abandoned from the exterior. Due to North Carolina laws, we had to join the bar as a member, and then you can bring in a guest after signing the guest log. The interior felt very Edgar Alan Poe inspired with dim lighting and Victorian decorations. WIth over 400 whiskey's on hand, Crow and Quill has an extensive bar, we settled on a rye old-fashioned and a buttered rum, both were exceptional. We listen to Momma Molasses play a set, she has an awesome, folky sound.
W.e walked the shops downtown on Saturday morning, exploring the Grove Arcade and surrounding shops. We found amazing burgers at Farm Burger Asheville. In the afternoon we returned to the Blue Ridge Parkway Asheville Visitors Center to complete Junior Ranger badges. Finally we burnt off energy at Carrier Park, a big park near the campground.
Our fourth Thanksgiving at the campground was a great getaway. Although we've visited Asheville twice, we don't feel like we've fully seen the city. We'd love to return in a different season, maybe to see Craggy Garden in the spring. Meanwhile, we are already thinking about which camping destination to pick for Thanksgiving 2019!
Happy holidays from Cricket Camping!
Shane and Jessica
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