Thursday, June 18, 2009

North Carolina Side of the Smoky Mountains

Since last year’s Airstreaming trip to the South Carolina side of the Smoky Mountains was so much fun, we decided, for our third trip of the 2009 Airstream season, to point the Mighty Suburban to a KOA campground on the Cherokee, NC side of the mountain range.

Our site’s location & layout was one of the best we have ever had. Bordered by a finger of the Raven Fork River, the view was great.

Of course the Boyz quickly found, and thoroughly enjoyed, the pool.

Did I mention that my Airstream sleeps nine (if you include stuffed animals)?

In addition to fly-fishing, the Raven Fork River is also popular for tubing. One of the campground’s amenities is free shuttle service to an upriver drop-off point. Come to find out, we picked a good time to visit, because some other campers told us that this was, due to the drought, the first time in two years the river had had enough water flowing in it to tube. Although tame, the river was too rough to take a camera on, so our only physical remembrance is a picture of genuine river water draining out of our shoes.

I’m the only one I know who appears to enjoy the challenge of cooking on a campground-provided grill. While I have been known to tote along my full-size Weber grill (when a lot of people are expected to eat), one of my life’s endless list of small challenges is to master cooking over the equivalent of a pit. I made this fire for Kim to grill some hotdogs, and we both agreed the fire could have been a little hotter. But it was still a tasty lunch.

Jared’s absolute favorite attraction was the jumping pillow. He even got me to join him for a while.

Although tubing proved to be Daniel’s favorite activity, he and I both enjoyed the biking trail that ran along part of the river.

Normally, on extended-weekend trips, our final destination usually precludes eating out anywhere. For various reasons, we decided to not pack supplies for the Saturday night meal, and take our chances on finding a good local restaurant. Lo & behold we found a Big Boy complete with statue. I haven’t been to one since I was a kid. Kim and the Boyz ordered off the menu while I helped myself to the buffet’s fried Rainbow Trout. Everyone left happy.

The Campground’s Putt-Putt course left Daniel with a new appreciation for Tiger Woods’ prowess on the green.

When Jared was not on the Jumping Pillow, he was usually at the playground.

While we spent a lot of time enjoying the campground’s many activities, we did find time to appreciate the scenery along a short portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s 469 mile stretch.

Sunday afternoon found the Boyz enjoying make-your-own Sundaes after another swim in the pool.

Having crested the learning curve on the campground grill, our last supper of the trip came out even better than if I had used the Weber grill.

One thing I had not anticipated was, due to all the mountains, there were no FM radio stations available. Since I forgot to bring my iPod, the mighty Burb shared a feed from its XM radio so that we could have dinner music at the picnic table.

Seeing as we were fairly high in the mountains, the outside temperature for the trip was always comfortable during the day and almost chilly at night. But seeing as how the Overlander does not have any Fantastic Fans, the air conditioner was run during the day to keep the inside cool. I was simultaneously surprised at how much condensate was produced, and thankful that it drained out the bottom instead of down the side of the trailer into the foot-traffic path like some other campers have to deal with.

After returning home without incident on Monday, we all agreed that the Cherokee, NC KOA trip was one of the best yet and would certainly be repeated in the future.


  1. Sorry folks - While I agree with the comment above, Number 1 son posted it while reviewing the post on my computer.