Drive to Wyoming

I have to say, when traveling across the country pulling 40’ behind you a myriad of things can go wrong. And sometimes they do. Fortunately, as of the time of this writing, it’s been relatively smooth driving. The weather has been fairly cooperative as well.

While I think it’s great that some people who travel have their plans scheduled out a year or months in advance—our family has never traveled like that. That does limit us sometimes when it comes to campgrounds. Many times the nicest ones are booked so you end up calling and hoping they had a cancellation or settling for what you can find. If we’re just stopping overnight it matters little to me (as long as it’s a safe area) what the campground is like, as I have MY home on wheels, which we love, so as long as we have full hookup or even just water and electric I’m happy. Now this kind of traveling isn’t for everyone, it’s just how we do things.

Our drive from mid Nebraska to Cheyenne went well. We stopped at the KOA Cheyenne https://koa.com/campgrounds/cheyenne/?utm_source=campgroundreviews.com&utm_campaign=RVLife_Campgrounds&utm_medium=referral for the evening. I would stay there again. We have found that sometimes the KOA’s are hit or miss. Some are quite nice and others—well, they leave a lot to be desired. There’s approximately 500 of them around so probably if you’ve traveled for any length of time you’ve stayed in one or two. Most of them offer different amenities (for instance the one in Cheyenne had a fenced in dog park, mini golf, a pool, horseshoes, etc.) which is great. Typically we don’t partake of many of the amenities, but they are there if we decide to. They can also be a little pricier than a different campground in the same area—so just do your due diligence and check out the reviews.

Cheyenne KOA
We appreciate the fenced in dog park after a long day of travel!

After one night at the KOA we were off to Montpelier, Idaho. Yes, Idaho. But no worries we had reservations for a site in Alpine, Wy for a few days next so it was literally a stop over point. There we stayed at a KOA https://koa.com/campgrounds/montpelier-creek/ as well…..mostly because there isn’t much else in the area. While there wasn’t anything wrong with it, this one seemed a little more run down than the one in Wyoming. While it was completely filled it didn’t have the same vibe as the one in Cheyenne. It felt a little older and the sites could use a little updating. But for one night it was fine. There was a nice little walking trail that bordered a creek and had wild roses growing nearby which was a lovely 20 minutes spent.

You’re also close to the Oregon trail center, which I think would be super informative and educational to visit. Maybe next trip.

Oregon trail center
Hubby on bridge over creek
Wild roses

The drive between Cheyenne and Idaho was pleasant. I enjoy driving through Wyoming and in all honesty it’s one of my favorite states. The variety in landscape is quite amazing. Eastern Wyoming I would consider an extension of Nebraska. Flat and kind of desolate. One interesting features we saw on rte 80 in Wyoming were the vedauwoo rocks. This is shortly after you leave Cheyenne. People come from all over to rock climb these structures and camp nearby.

Vedauwoo rocks

There’s a lot to see in Wyoming if you have the time. I will say something that can be frustrating (to me at least) is when you’re traveling with a huge 5th wheel you can’t always stop and see things you want to on a whim. Many times I’ll see something and want to stop but we’re limited by our size and parking—or maybe just the route—so I make a note and will try to make plans to see it next time when we can stay closer. So I would say that’s one of the down sides to driving such a big rig.

So after a few days of driving we made it to Wyoming. What will we decide to do next?

We made it! Wyoming!

And we’re off…

No, not to the races—our next stopping point on vacation. Our new trip. It’s like a trip within a trip (The Inception version of vacations maybe) How often does anyone get to do that?

I would like to point out however, because of the Covid outbreak everything is done very thought out and methodically. Only one person goes in to pay for gas, we don’t go into souvenirs shops or to use the public bathrooms anywhere we always wearing a mask, avoiding contact with unnecessary people, all our activities take place outside, etc. Unfortunately because we drive a Ford F-250 diesel and are pulling such a large rig we can’t stop at a typical gas station. We have to use truck stops. Which means that hubby always has to go in and pay for gas otherwise they treat us like they would a truck driver —which obviously costs several hundred dollars to fill- and automatically put a $500 hold on your credit card. (I’m sure that number varies, but we learned that the hard way last year after we stopped twice without knowing that). So when you’re traveling lots of miles and need lots of diesel all those holds add up. So that’s just a tidbit of info for you all who may be in the same situation. We go in and just say we want $x.xx on our card and it works much better.

Moving on…..unfortunately we do have to backtrack some after making this adjustment so back we travel through all of Tennessee. yes we the backtracking too and it easily added an extra day to our drive but I figure any traveling is good traveling so there’s nothing to be upset about. We stopped the first night in Clarksville Tennessee at a cute little RV park there. https://clarksvillervpark.com

We stayed there last year so we already knew it was adequate and had what we needed. Everyone was friendly and they did curb side check in so we didn’t even have to get out of the car.

Their cute little vintage mascot trailer out front!!

It was full hookup with plenty of space so we didn’t have to unhook our camper for the night, which certainly makes it easier to get going in the morning.

After Clarksville, we were headed thru Kentucky (FYI—State of Kentucky—you seriously need to fix your interstate. The roads are in awful shape!) to Illinois and Missouri.

Yes, we viewed the gateway to the west through the car window this drive through St. Louis.

Our stop that evening was Cottonwoods RV park in Columbia, MO https://cottonwoodsrvpark.com.

When we got there we realized we lost a tail lite cover on our trailer somewhere that day—probably Kentucky. This Rv park is somewhere I would absolutely stay again for an evening. The sites were very level and had a lot of space for your RV—once again not having to unhook.

Now I know in writing this it probably makes people anxious that we are only driving and not stopping and doing things, or unhooking for the night—but hey, this is how we roll, I guess!

Also typically we would check out the amenities that each campground has to offer like bathrooms, showers, laundry etc, but to keep risk of contamination low this trip we are avoiding all these things!

Our drive upon leaving Missouri and heading to Nebraska was a little more fun filled. Now, if you’ve ever been through Nebraska you’ll realize that it is 93% farmland. Seriously. So I watched a documentary on the Smithsonian Channel that I enjoy at home frequently—Aeriel America—(https://tve.smithsonianchannel.com/video/series/aerial-america/62184). If you’ve never seen it you should. It gives you a flyover if the state as well as the history. It’s quite interesting to watch.

However, seriously, there is little to see or do. (However we did get hit with a nice rock and now have a huge crack in our windshield so jay has to be fixed when we get home.) So I went on rvtripwizard.com, which is where I do all my route planning and campsite finding, and found a campsite that had only 2 reviews but they were both 5*. I then went to their campsite to look at their website. Looks great! I book it!

We pull in and we’re like…..What? So while it was an okay stopover spot, after being there and parking we realize at one point in time this used to be a campsite and a motel for travelers and these new owners are trying to fix it up and make it nice again! http://firefly-meadows.com So, while right now it’s nothing to write home about, it did seem like they are putting lots of effort and money into it to make it a great place. I don’t have anything negative to say about it at all, actually, just from outward appearances, it was a little run down. I would be interested in checking back next year to see what they accomplish this summer actually.

Firefly meadows campground—under renovation!

We did, however enjoy a most beautiful sunset over the prairie.

So this morning we headed across the plains of Nebraska to tonight’s destination—Cheyenne, Wyoming!

Plains (and trains) of Nebraska Rain headed our way (Nebraska)

Now that we’re here what will tomorrow bring?

What now?

To tell the truth when we left Erwin we were a little unsure about our next destination. Our trips are usually jam packed scheduled out to the day, meticulously researched and busy, busy, busy every day. (Otherwise what’s the point of traveling, right?)

Well obviously my family was unhappy (I heard I’m bored approximately 7,624 times a day) with what was taking place this trip. Which was not very much. We’d sleep in and maybe take a hike in the afternoon—killing a few hours and then do what? Not much. Lots of family togetherness and little WiFi. The kids were clearly dying by this point.

So as we left Tennessee everyone was wondering what we were going to do at our next stop in Fries, Virginia. (Yes, it is spelled like fries, the food, but it’s pronounced like freeze). We were scheduled to be there for a week with NO agenda. Yikes!

It was only a few hours drive to our next RV park and we were there and got set up. The first thing we noticed was that this campground was meticulous and gorgeous. I would highly, highly, highly recommend anyone staying there for a night or longer. http://www.friesrvpark.com/

The owner was a super nice guy named Tom and every sight is creek side with a nice gravel site and a plush lawn. Clearly the owner takes a lot of pride in his park and it’s not overwhelmed with trailers. It’s close to Fancy Gap, Virginia and about 18 miles off of Rte 77 so if you are in the area traveling stop there! In fact, when we travel to visit family in Ohio it’s definitely going to be a stop over point for us!

Small creek and lawn
Our camper from small overlook trail

The town itself has an interesting history, which we learned all about from Wikipedia (and our daughter) as we were traveling through. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fries,_Virginia. It’s an interesting read if you have a few minutes. The town also has a very large waterfall which was quite pretty to watch as it was surrounded by some wildflowers as well.

Fries falls

Here’s the only problem. There’s not much to do—or should I say—there’s not much to do that my family enjoys. So after a very long discussion—-weighing the pros and cons and safety factor—we decided to ….. wait for it ….. drive to Wyoming! What?!?!?

I know, right? So here we go! It’s like starting a whole new trip! Wyoming here we come!

Who are the people in your (RV) neighborhood?

Yes it is a song from Sesame Street but I feel it’s quite appropriate for this situation. Before we left Erwin we had a chance to chat with some of our neighbors. While my striking up conversations with people drives my family (mostly the kids) crazy I think you can learn a lot by being friendly.

(Don’t worry—all these conversations took place while using social distancing guidelines…lol) For instance, one young mom and her daughter had booked a cabin there for 3 months and were only 10 days into their trip. They were from Texas. Another gentleman and his daughter lived there in the area and from the sounds of it somehow were involved with the owners of the RV park (maybe his parents?). He was a contractor and was thinking about moving to New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

The most interesting conversation happened while we were trying to start our fire (FYI—if would never survive in the wild—we couldn’t even start a fire with a lighter 🙄). Our RV neighbors we hadn’t seen at all until then. I asked something simple and found out they had been there for a few days and were from The Villages in Florida. This is about 45 minutes from where we live. Of course, we then mentioned we weren’t FloGrown we were born and raised in Ohio. Where? The Cleveland/Akron area. What? They lived and raised their children one town over from where my husband was born and raised. Crazy right?

We then find out they are in Nolichucky because the husband is hiking the whole Appalachian Trail. Evidently this is a thing . You have one year to hike the whole Appalachian Trail. https://appalachiantrail.org/explore/hike-the-a-t/thru-hiking/. It’s 2,190 miles long. That’s a lot of walking. Our neighbor, we found out, had left in February and then got stopped when they shut the trail down because of Covid. So they added an extra 10 weeks onto his time so he can finish. He mentioned about 3,000 people a year sign up but only about 1/4 of them are able to finish the journey.

I meant to get his information before we left so that I could follow his journey and see if he is able to finish, but the opportunity to talk again never happened! Listening to him I learned a lot that I previously didn’t know, so I hope he is able to accomplish his dream and can do so successfully!

So, if you get a chance to strike up a conversation with your RV neighbor try it. Most people are quite friendly and you might learn something you didn’t know before!

Where in the world is Erwin, TN?

Good question. If you read my last blog you realize this years vacation is slightly different than prior years. So how did we end up in Erwin, TN staying at the Nolichucky Gorge river and cabins (http://www.nolichucky.com/)?

Basically we stumbled upon this place by accident. We’ve wanted to visit the Asheville area for awhile and decided this was the perfect time to do so. The only problem is that finding a quality campground on short notice in a popular tourist destination is often times difficult.

This is how we ended up in Erwin, Tennessee. This small little town is a a stones throw away from North Carolina and about 50 miles north of Asheville.

In our limited travels we have noticed that R.V. only campgrounds are slightly different than campgrounds that have camping in tents with activities to do.

As you get off the freeway you must traverse along a very narrow road to get to the campground. I’m not going to lie. We followed the GPS (and there was a sign saying which way to go) and then finally the GPS said we arrived and yet there was nothing indicating there was a campground, so onward we went (basically because we were on a one lane road next to the river and had no other option at this point).

One lane road to campground

After about another 1/2-3/4 mile we finally made it! Whew! The campground sits next to a white water rafting company (http://www.usaraft.com/) so the area is a little crowded when you pull in.

We arrived on a Tuesday and it was very pleasant. There are about 8-10 spots for your campers or RVs and then a lot of spots for tent camping. Our 5th wheel fit nicely and the spots were all graveled and nice and level. You have your own picnic table on a little raised platform and they provide a fire pit for you! (And evidently I forgot to photograph this 🤷🏼‍♀️). However the view and river are beautiful.

Daytime view
Nighttime view of river

While we had a lovely few days at the campground (we used the app Alltrails to find some local trails and hiked to several beautiful waterfalls in the area.). Sill Branch Falls and Martin’s Creek Falls. They are easy enough hikes and while we were there they were deserted so it was perfect!

Sill Branch Falls
Martin’s Creek Falls.

We also took a day trip to the Smoky Mountain National Park, which was about a two hour drive to the entrance, so it is a whole day!

View from scenic overlook

While we had a nice time I will say that the demographic did change towards the weekend. There ended up being a ton of tent campers and day river rafters and loose dogs and people just milling about everywhere. While this didn’t affect us so much—because we had a specified campsite—I could see if you were just there with a tent there would be very little privacy and people all over each other.

We checked out on Sunday morning to head to Fries, VA so stay tuned to see what happens when we arrive!

Where should we go in 2020?

When talking with different people who “glamp”—many of them plan their vacations months or even a year or more in advance. Is that what we do?

What fun would that be? Owning a small contracting/remodeling company often times our schedule is dictated by what jobs we have going on and when we may have a little break in the schedule. We have found that typically the beginning or middle of June is a perfect time to get away for a few weeks.

About the middle of April we start examine the work schedule and upcoming jobs to see what is going to work for us.

Last year we left after my daughters dance recital and planned our first stop in Atlanta so she could go see JoJo Siwa (https://itsjojosiwa.com/) in concert! We then continued our trip to Glacier National Park in Montana up to Banff national park in Alberta! By the time all was said and done we had traveled more than 6,000 miles and totaled our brand new trailer.

My husband said we needed a re-do this year so we had planned originally to drive to Acadia National Park in Maine and then cross the border into Canada and go to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island (yes a dream of mine since I first read Anne of Green Gables).

Enter Covid.

So here I am blogging from the Nolichucky Gorge Campground and Cabins in Erwin, TN. (Nolichucky.com) How did we end up here? Erring on the side of caution we decided to stick a little closer to home and continue social distancing as much as possible. Easy to do when you’re camping in a small campground. (I’ll post more about this place later!)

We did however make our first stop in Stone Mountain Park just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. (https://www.stonemountainpark.comCampground).

The views from Stone Mountain were lovely as we stayed in an orange site, which we prefer, because it’s much less crowded than some of the other colors. We had plenty of room to back in our 5th wheel and didn’t feel crowded at all.

We were able to do several small walks seeing very pretty, well preserved buildings and bridges from the early 20th century.

Grist mill
Old covered bridge

There are miles and miles of dog friendly trails to enjoy! (Did I forget to mention we also have a 6 month old bernedoodle that’s traveling with us??).

6 month old puppy with our 2 year old son!

We were even able to meet up with the original Camper Crazy Buzzers and have some nice Socially Distanced Visiting.

Original camper crazy buzz blogger!

Is it the same as camping pre-pandemic? Absolutely not. But we are trying to make the most of it and still enjoy our time together!

So what’s next on the agenda? Follow us to find out—(although I kind of already spoiled it a little. Next stop—Erwin, TN. Lol) I

Glamping during a pandemic

Who would have ever thought we would be using that kind of title?  Not me.  Maybe I should introduce myself and tell you who I am exactly. Remember the campingcrazybuzz postings last year about the camping trip disaster?  That was us!  

Crazily enough—we’re back at it. Why?  Good question. Although this year in particular camping should be high on your list of things to do. Why you ask?  Social distancing.  Something we never even dreamed of when we purchased our first travel trailer last year. 

But this is 2020–unprecedented has become a term that is overused at this point.  But, I digress. 

Why should glamping be high on your list this year? First of all—glamping is low contact— everything is self contained within your own camper. Need to take a shower? No problem. Need to stop while traveling to use the bathroom? Guess what? It travels with you. Eating out at restaurants? Why would we do that when we have our own indoor/outdoor kitchen? I think you get the point.

COVID-19 has now taken over our lives and the way we live so glamping has now become a particularly popular way to vacation. (Side note: I use the term glamping to refer to people to camp using a travel trailer, 5th wheel or motor home—anything but tent camping).

So here we are. Summer 2020. After our disaster last year you may be wondering why we would ever consider purchasing another camper. To be honest I wondered too. My husband said we had to redeem ourselves this year —so here we are. Armed with our Ford F-250 and our 2019 Elkridge Lite 361 5th wheel.

We started our journey last week so as the week goes on I’ll update accordingly. Suffice it to say—glamping with my family is something that is unforgettable! I’ll also clue you in about our experience going from a travel trailer to a 5th wheel! Stay tuned!