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Continuing South

September 22, 2013

Because I’m so far behind with the blog posts, a couple of these may be a bit long.  I’m trying to catch up, and there’s a lot to tell.

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Wednesday and Thursday, September 11-12, 2013

Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky…

Mammoth Cave National Park was one of those places we’d always passed on our annual trips from Texas to visit Nell’s family in Ohio.  “We should stop there someday.” was the usual comment.  This year, we needed a stopover in this general vicinity, so we took an extra day to visit the park and tour the cave.

 at singing hills near mammoth cave

We chose Singing Hills RV Park near Cave City, Kentucky for two reasons: first, it had some very nice reviews on rvparkreviews.com; and second, we could use our Passport America membership.  With our PA card, we got two nights at half price, which for this RV park was $15, so we paid a total of $30.  This is a no-frills park, offering mostly pull-through sites with full hookups (water, electric, sewer).  There isn’t much else in the way of amenities, although they did have a decent bathhouse.  The sites are gravel laid over red dirt. It stormed while we were there, and we did have a strip of red mud between the grass and our steps.  Considering the price we were paying at a park just outside a National Park, it was really a minor inconvenience.

at singing hills2

After the rain on the first day, the sunset over the Kentucky hills was beautiful.

mammoth cave3

We bought a federal Senior Access Pass when we arrived at the park on Thursday.  This is a $10 lifetime pass that provides discounts and reduced rates at national parks and other federal lands, including Corps of Engineers campgrounds.  We bought one pass in my name, and got an immediate discount on my cave tour price.

mammoth cave5

There is no flash photography allowed in the cave, so none of the photos we took do the place justice.  Mammoth is not a “wet” cave, like Carlsbad.  It was carved out of limestone by the Green River, and since it has a dome of sandstone over it, the moisture doesn’t seep down through the ground.  Thus, there are no stalactites or stalagmites in this cave.  It is, for lack of a better term, just “dry rock”.  We went down 300 feet, in a two mile roundtrip walking tour which included some 400 stair steps as well as dirt and rock paths.

mammoth cave 4

No visit to Mammoth Cave would be complete without a stop at The Olde General Store.  Situated on the road to the park, this is combination tourist trap and authentic antique store.  I love places like this.

mammoth cave 6

The only thing missing was the fake Indian tomahawk, although there were some feather headdresses and dreamcatchers in one area.  You name it.  It’s here.

Antiques are the name of the game just across the interstate in Cave City.  The old downtown area is a cluster of antique shops.

*****

Friday, Saturday and Sunday, September 13-15

Nashville Country RV Park, Goodlettsville, Tennessee…

We’ve stayed at this park near Nashville three times now.  Like most parks, there are good and bad points.  It’s a nice park overall, but some spots are just a bit too close for my liking.  If you are really sociable, you might like the sites that sit back to back and front to front.  In some cases, I’ve seen slideouts that backed up to another rig with about two feet separating them.  On the front (door) side, the concrete patios are a bit too close together for me.  We’ve stayed in one of those sites one time, and every time we stepped outside, I felt like I was stepping into someone else’s living room.

In other sections, the layout seems to be more standard, with all the units pointing the same direction, and the separation appeared to be reasonable.  We paid $35 per night here.  We consider that pretty pricey, but it’s the closest campground or RV park to the relatives we stop here to visit.

nashville country rvpark1

We like the half dozen or so sites that parallel the perimeter road.  You get rigs passing by pretty close from time to time, but I personally like the open space on one side, and the residential fence with trees behind.   In all fairness, we rarely spend much time at this park when we’re here, because the whole reason for stopping in the Nashville area is to visit Nell’s sister-in-law and nieces.  When we arrived here on Friday afternoon, most of these parallel sites were empty, and we were able to request this one.  Pulling out on Monday morning was a breeze.

We were told that if we had waited another week, the park would have been almost full, and we wouldn’t have had a lot of choices.  The snowbirds are starting to migrate south for the winter.  And we’re joining them.

*****

Monday, September 16, 2013

Natchez Trace State Park, Tennessee

 natchez trace stte park tennessee2

Whoever laid out the sites at the RV Campground at Natchez Trace State Park knew what they were doing.  Some sit on a hill, looking down at the lake.  Others, like the one we had, while below the hill, still sit on an elevated area above the water, broadside to the shoreline, allowing  a full view of the lake from every window on one side, which for us included the dining table during dinner and the loveseat recliners as the sun went down.

This park shouldn’t be confused with Trace State Park, which is in Tupelo, Mississippi.  We stayed there last September.  We arrived at the park around 1pm.  There was no one at the entrance, but the Camp Host flagged us down as we started into the campground.  He told us that the Kentucky Parks Department had started a reservations only policy at state parks in February.  He said he was certain that anyone who already had a reservation was already in the park, but gave us a number to call.  His friendly advice was that we shouldn’t unhook and set up at a site until we had called and reserved the site we wanted.  This is a beautiful campground, but because it was so remote, the cell phone service was off and on, so it took a while to get the call through and get the site reserved and paid for.  Once that was done, we connected to full hookups in the spot you see in the photograph.

There are several campgrounds in this state park, but the RV Campground appears to be the largest, and will accommodate rigs over 25 feet.  We paid $28.51 for our one night stay, which included full hookups.

natchez trace state park

Before sundown, after dinner, we took a walk around the campground.  There were enough people to keep one from feeling isolated, but not so many as to disturb the wonderful peace and quiet we found here.

The only negative we could find about this park is the very long drive from I-40 through the park to the actual campground, about 10 miles.  That’s a long drive on a winding road for a one night stop, but we don’t do long drives of 8 or 10 hours, so it’s worth it for the beautiful view.  We would definitely stay here if the occasion called for a stop in the area.  Well… there is another negative: internet and cellphone service was nonexistent in this park for us.  The Camp Host said he uses a booster that we may look for to kick up the power of our Verizon MiFi.

More parks and campgrounds to come…

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 23, 2013 12:44 am

    Thanks for the update Ralph. I like those out of the way spots myself. BTW I’m pretty sure you meant Tennessee for the Natchez Trace SP because the trace ends in TN, and I-40 runs through TN, not KY.

    • September 23, 2013 1:41 am

      Thanks for the correction, PG. You’re absolutely right, and I’ve made the change. Those one and two-day stopovers can get confusing after a while. Or maybe it’s just age.

  2. September 23, 2013 1:38 am

    I just stumbled onto your blog. I am the sherpa spouse of an East Tennessee wayfaring artist. My wife is the artist and I carry stuff. She retired after 28 years as a kindergarten-1st grade teacher. She began painting 12 years ago and after a few years of commission work, she has begun the life of a itinerant working artist. She did her first festival in Fernandina Beach, Florida in May of this year. This summer has been busy with weekend shows, workshops, and plein air events. We spent 16 days in Ireland this summer where she participated in a nine day plein air event. We will be traveling every weekend for the next 8 weeks to various festivals and plein air events (and one math conference in California where she gets to tag along and find places to paint while I go to math meetings). She paints with acrylics on canvas, but is drawn to the same subjects; landscapes, seascapes, old homeplaces, barns, gardens, etc. with similar motivation to what you have described. I am not retired, however I work on a nine month contract as an assistant professor of mathematics which gives me the flexibility to accompany her most of the time.

    The reason for this long-winded introduction is that after too many weekends in expensive and uncomfortable hotel rooms, we took the plunge and bought a 25′ foot travel trailer which we took on its maiden voyage last week to a plein air event about three hours away in Blue Ridge, Georgia. We managed to return home with our new home away from home relatively unscathed, (one scratch on the floor from a swivel rocker we added that was missing the plastic cap on a metal foot, and a lost bar for attaching the weight distribution bars which is probably still sitting on the ground in the campground). Another bonus, Radar, our cat who actually owns us is now able to travel with us. He took to his new digs quickly. I pull the travel trailer with a Chevrolet Silverado which has a camper top which provides enough space to transport the tent, display panels, artwork, lighting, etc. for events where her work is exhibited for sale. The information you share about different RV parks will be incredibly useful when we plan the longer trips we want to take. We live in East Tennessee at the base of Walden’s Ridge and the Cumberland Plateau. You have described a few places we want to visit in Kentucky and Tennessee. Thanks for sharing, you are providing an invaluable service.

    I am starting a new blog about the view of the art world through the eyes of a non-traditional academic and non-artist sherpa spouse. My wife, Sherry’s website is http://waldensridgegallery.com/ and the Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/waldensridgegallery

    We have pictures of the travel trailer on the Facebook page. My website is coachsmith math.org. That is where I will house my blog. I will be adding something for my first blog post I wrote for another website regarding the comedy of errors that was our first festival shortly. Thanks again for sharing your experiences. I hope we meet on the road somewhere.

  3. September 23, 2013 1:53 am

    Hi John! Great to hear from you. You’ll find a lot of recaps of our preparations and activities at art festivals as well on http://www.ralphparker.wordpress.com All the best to you and Sherry. I’m finding that while I continue to paint a lot, we’re slowing down with the festivals and focusing more on the travels. We love the life. I’ll look forward to visiting Sherry’s website and reading your blog posts.

    • September 23, 2013 2:50 am

      We are coming to the same conclusion, more traveling and painting and only 10 or so shows a year. I expect that number to go down over the next few years. Thanks for the response. I look forward to reading more. I love the work.

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