Our four nights in Gatlinburg were spent at the Greenbrier Campground. It was right outside the Smoky Mountain National Park and only a short drive to Gatlinburg. This campground was amazing. It has it’s own private swimming hole in the Little Pigeon River. Our tent site had electric and water and wasn’t too close to our neighbors. This campground had the best bathrooms I have seen in a campground. Seriously, they were as nice as a hotel and were kept clean. I saw people cleaning them several times a day. There is also a large yard area set up for all kinds of fun and games–basketball, volleyball, pool table and ping pong (you could check equipment out in the office). All this plus a large pavilion with a fire pit and a shelter with several gas grills. I will be back at this campground the next time we go to the Smokies.
We spent the first day driving. We made it to Kentucky, Moutardier Campground, to be exact. Our first official vacation activity was going to Mammoth Cave National Park, which was about a 30 mile drive from the campground. While waiting for our cave tour, we did a little hiking around the park, and we had some amazing views of Kentucky.
We did the Frozen Niagara Tour, which is one of the shorter tours available. We weren’t disappointed, however. The cave is beautiful. There were so many stalactites and stalagmites and interesting formations. Our tour guide was hilarious. Or, that could just be me because I have the same dumb sense of humor.
From the cave, we drove to Nashville. We spent a little time driving around, looking at the city. We had thought about going to check out the Opryland Hotel, but didn’t feel like paying $28 to park. We went to Long Hunter State Park, to walk around their arboretum, but due to the heat, didn’t see the whole thing. We did see this deer, however, before heading to our campground.
Our first night on vacation was spent at Moutardier Campground in Leitchfield, KY. It was a last minute decision to stay here, and we are so glad we did. We had a site right on Nolin River Lake. We had neighbors on one side, and their site was right next to ours, but that didn’t really bother us. We had our tent set up on the side on the campsite that was farthest from our neighbors and we hardly even knew they were there. This campground is run by the Army Corps of Engineers. It was well maintained and the bathrooms were clean, although they were a bit of a hike up a fairly steep hill. We could have had a site closer to the bathrooms, but that would have meant giving up the lake view. Who would give up waking up to that view? The site was only $15 a night and it was less than a 30 minute drive to Mammoth Cave National Park, which was our first destination on day 2.
Day 210: Vacation finally started. Our first night was spent in Kentucky, at Moutardier Campground, just north of Mammoth Cave. Our campsite was right on Nolin Lake.
Day 211: Our first official site-seeing stop on this vacation was Mammoth Cave National Park. We did the Frozen Niagara Tour and really enjoyed the interesting formations in the cave.
Day 212: Nashville was our destination today. We went to Cheekwood Botanical gardens and then to downtown Nashville. I had to get a photo of the “Batman” building.
Day 213: Today brought us to Stones River National Battlefield, a memorial from the Civil War.
Day 214: We drove from Nashville to the Smoky Mountains today. On the way, we stopped at one of the many state parks, Cummins Falls State Park, and hiked to the waterfall.
Day 215: Not the most scenic photo from today, but it’s a great reminder of one of the highlights. We were doing the Cades Cove drive today and stopped at one of the historic buildings along the way, the Primitive Baptist Church. We expected a quick stop, a photo or two and then drive on. We were blessed instead with a service. Old fashioned hymns being sung, followed by a short message. We loved it.
Day 216: Day 2 in the Smokies was the Newfound Gap Road. So many gorgeous mountain views all day long. I could have soaked in the views for hours.
Day 217: Last day in the Smokies and we went on the Roaring Forks motor trail. One of the things I was looking forward to on this drive was a waterfall called Place of a Thousand Drips, for no other reason than I liked the name. It turned out to be a really nice little waterfall.
Day 218: Time to start heading for home. We stopped in Kentucky, at Cumberland Falls State Park. I love waterfalls.
Day 219: We spent most of the day driving today. One quick stop at Fair Oaks Farms, but we didn’t pay to do any of the “adventures”. Everything was farm themed, including this milk bottle rock climbing wall.
Day 220: This sweet little girl was so happy to have me home again. She hasn’t left my side at all.
OK. I admit it. I used to be in the “I hate camping” group of people. For most of my life, I said I would never go camping. Then, 2 years ago, totally out of the blue, we decided to go camping for our anniversary. We bought a tent and a screened-in canopy, in case it was needed for rain, etc. I searched Pinterest for ideas on what was needed and bought a few basics. We didn’t want to buy a lot of stuff in case this was a one-time thing. Our first camping trip took us to Yellowstone Lake State Park and we had a great time. Who knew camping could be enjoyable? Two months later, we bought another tent for our daughter and her friend and took off again for a long weekend at Wyalusing State Park. The next summer we expanded again to include tents for our sons. Our current equipment includes 4 tents plus our screen tent, which is our “kitchen”. I don’t pretend to be an expert in the area of camping, but I will share in the future what we have done, what works and what doesn’t, and tips that I have for others just starting out.
Wyalusing State Park in Bagley, WI Visited on September 16-20, 2016
This park is located on the Mississippi River, right where the Wisconsin River flows into it. It has some of the best views I have seen in Wisconsin and is one of my favorite parks ever. There are campsites that are right on a bluff, overlooking the river. We didn’t plan our trip early enough to get one of these spots, but we will be back. One of the many hiking trails took us down a rather steep path and was then supposed to take us along the river. However, due to high water, the lower part of the trail was closed, so we had to go back up again. Another trail took us to a small cave with bats (not a fan of those, I didn’t go in). Sunsets over the river are amazing. I can’t wait to go back, get a campsite overlooking the bluff and watch the sunset from my campsite.
When I turned 50 a few months ago, I made a bucket list of things I wanted to do before I die. One of the things on this list is to visit every state park in Wisconsin. In the last couple of years, I have been to a few of them, so I am including them in my list of those I have visited.
Yellowstone Lake State Park in Blanchardville, WI Visited June 17-20, 2016
This was our first ever camping trip and was planned on fairly short notice. We chose this park because we had never been there and it had campsites available. We had a bit of trouble finding it, but weren’t disappointed when we finally arrived. The campground is very quiet and our neighbors weren’t close enough to intrude on each other.