Greetings from the land of Rocky Top! We’ve been enjoying our recent days in Lookout Mountain, Nashville and now Cosby (near Gatlinburg), Tennessee. This is a beautiful state, and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed our adventure here. The KOA in Cosby has been our favorite campsite so far - nice people, level lot, clean facilities and fantastic scenery. We took a rainy morning hike Friday on a 2 mile trail right next to the campground.
A couple of nights ago, we stumbled upon a real gem of a restaurant in Newport, TN. If you can believe it, we ate Russian food at a place called Grill 73 (I already posted my review on Trip Advisor!). We had a very unique opportunity to meet the owners - Valentina and Alex Ryzkhov. Not only did we have an exceptional meal (simple, but very flavorful Russian food), but we also experienced warm hospitality as if we were dining in the Ryzkhov’s home. Val shared stories of their journey to America several years ago after she and Alex had spent over 30 years as specialty circus performers around the world. Tennessee is home for them now although they appreciated our RV adventure having lived in one themselves for a period during their circus days. I was so impressed with how these people are truly living their American Dream and are making a meaningful impact in their community as naturalized American citizens running an honorable business with lots of raving fans in the region.
We plan to be in the Gatlinburg area for another few days and then we will head towards Fort Mill, SC (suburban Charlotte, NC). After visiting in Charlotte, we plan to be in Hardeeville, South Carolina, also known as the “gateway to Hilton Head Island”.
We’ll be in Atlanta in late August / early September. We will drop off the RV in Knoxville for two weeks, so we can get some warranty and repair work done at our dealer. During part of this time, we will fly to Colorado (more on this detour in later posts) and enjoy some Rocky Mountain scenery and hospitality in this wonderful state. After we retrieve our RV in mid September, we will do our final checks in Atlanta before pushing off for a while. Itinerary is finalizing for the fall - more to come in our September posts.
These shakedown trips are essentially, trips fairly close to home where we can test out our systems, stock up on necessary supplies and home goods, experiment with cooking and sleeping routines, etc.They have been invaluable to us, and I’m grateful that our itinerary was reshaped to help us accommodate more practice runs. That said, even the practice runs have been enjoyable, and we’ve managed to see some of the beautiful Southeast US that we’ve not spent much time in as explorers and tourists.
“Home is where you park it” , “RV there yet?” and “Not all that Wander are Lost” are just a few of the quotes and bumper stickers we continue to see and now understand even better.
And then there’s old school wisdom - thank you, Mr. Clemens!
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain”
Wow! What a great crazy week! We have had a blast at 2 KOA campgrounds this past week, and so much has happened! I won't go into everything, but our time in Chattanooga and Nashville has been amazing. We only stayed in Chattanooga one night, but did a lot of things in the campground. Since there is so much to talk about, I'll list some things that we've done, and then give a brief description of each.
1. The Sasquatch Crossing Sign. As soon as we neared the top of the hill where our campground was in Chattanooga, we saw this sign:
How's that for a welcome mat!
2. The Jumping Pillows- Not long after spotting the Sasquatch Crossing sign, we pulled into the campground and saw a huge orange pillow-like thing. Upon further investigation, we realized it was a blow up jumping pillow. It acted like a mix between a jumpy house and a trampoline. When we arrived at the KOA in Nashville, we saw another one! We had a very fun time on those!
3. The Marshmallow Fight- The good times kept on coming in Chattanooga! When we checked in, my mom and I saw that the next day (a Saturday) there was going to be a marshmallow shooter fight! For only a little over $5, you could buy a marshmallow shooter made our of PVC. They work like a blow dart. You can see the picture in the gallery below. (Dedad, I'd better not get smacked in the face by a mini marshmallow next time I see you!) A bag of marshmallows could be purchased for a little over $2. Jack, a boy at the campsite, was the one who got us more interested, and, as it turns out, was the only other player other than Nate and myself. (However, my parents did get in on the action a little!) That was a great fight!
4. The Pools- Of course, no blog post would be complete without some mention of the pools! Both KOA pools were excellent. They were spacious and comfortable. Nate is a huge fan of pools and has loved the daily visits.
5. Meeting People- We've met some great people along the way. TC and Linda, a very kind couple, were exceptional neighbors in Chattanooga. They gave us encouragement for our adventure. Jack, the guy we played with in the marshmallow fight, was really nice and very friendly. Mr. Willy, at the Nashville campground, was friendly as well. While we were in Nashville, we visited some family as well! Jenny and Mark Stewart were kind and invited us over to their house for dinner after a lunch with them in the RV. That was fun! Nate and their daughter McKelvey got along wonderfully, and I enjoyed hanging with Ray and Britt, especially the whiffle ball. We would love to camp with them soon, since they also have an RV.
6. The Game Room- The game room in the Chattanooga campground had arcade games and an air hockey table. Note: Who knew my dad is so good at Galaga? However, it really is a money pit!
7. Amenities and Such- When we arrived at the Nashville campground we found it had outdoor bowling, ping pong, mega chess and checkers, a pool table, a pickle ball court, and hammocks. What a campground! Also, though it doesn't count as a playground, there was a huge slide (going down a hill) and a drain pipe tunnel (going through the hill). It really is a good campground!
8. Ghost Pepper Relish- Considering the Ghost Pepper is the seventh hottest pepper in the world, at over 1,000,000 Scoville units (a jalapeño is only about 2,500), a relish which has been made with 200 Ghost Peppers in 1 pot, is pretty hot! When we went to Mark Stewart's house (Beth's cousin), he gave us an entire jar of the stuff! Below you can see me a little bit after ingesting it! Please note that I only had a flake! Kids, don't try this at home!
With all of that said, and more adventures soon to come, I will leave you for now. Please do comment, and stay tuned for more!