Lynchburg Thousand Trails Park–Not so good

I hate to put this type of post up about a park but this is to help remind us never to go back to this park.  This park is close to Gladys Va and Lynchburg Va..

 

This park does have some nice features with a large pond, well maintained hiking trails, nice roads, on site deli, pool,,,,,,  However This park is older and still has aluminum wiring to all sites and only 30 amp.  Well in theory they have 30 amp..  At best I could only get about 24 amp max which would let us run one of our AC units.  Between 24-26 amps the park would just stop supplying power to some sites and shut down for a few seconds.

I could measure what was happening and  there would be an open ground condition and our power management would shut down the RV to protect it.  As more people showed up the power would drop out more frequently.  At least one of the workers at the park was aware of the lack of full 30 amps and frequent drop outs but there did not seem to be a plan to fix it.

Our last night there, at least us and two other RVs spent the night without AC to prevent power drop outs.  You could still power a TV..

 

Nice park other wise

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Cades Cove – Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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The park has a number of these pull offs at key locations for photo’s and trails.

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Our first stop in the park was at a visitor center.  The park ranger told us there were two paths in the park that dogs were allowed on the trail.  One of those dog trails was from that visitor center.  Our dog had a ball as you can tell.  (people warning, TICKS)

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Dog Friendly Path

Cades Cove

We have had fellow bloggers tell us we have to make the Cades Cove in the short time we would be in the area.  Cades Cove area is rich in history however the main attraction is the wildlife  available on an easy driving tour.  This is an 11 mile one way drive and the park service suggest you plan 2-4 hours.  I was really having difficulty understanding how 11 miles could take even 2 hours but ok I planned for the two hours.  In hind sight 4 or more hours is a better estimate.

We had been told as we drive through the park, if we see cars stopped in the road, there is either bear or deer close.  In addition there were plenty of places to pull over to take photos of the mountains and grass lands.

I was taking this photo of the mountains and clouds when my wife asked if I was photographing the turkey ?  Turkey, what turkey?  Do you see the turkey in the photo.  Hint it is at the tree line on the right side.

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Ok our next stop with another 4 or so cars was a baby bear.  By the time we left the bear could not be seen any more and there were maybe 20+ cars and more arriving.

He is in the center of the photo.  You can see a hint of black and if you can pinch and expand the image you might see an ear.  He was clearly hiding till mom returned.

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Now the next bear had 40 or so cars (trucks….) and multiple rangers directing traffic.  You were not being allowed to stop on the road or have any of your auto hang over the road as this was narrow.  Great I have a 4X4 dually and could pull off in a mud field on a slope where small cars could not go.  One ranger even complemented me parking the big truck and not interfering with traffic.

Ok first photo do you see the bear.  Hint he is in the tree.  And center in the photo.

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I could see through the lens that he was moving his eyes watching all the commotion on the road.

Other scenic shots

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Part way through the 11 mile loop was a reconstructed early mountain community.  The earliest Europeans began settling the area in 1818 with a population of 271 by 1830.  To survive they had to form communities with specializations in each community such as black smith, mills….

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This community was open to walk the grounds and not only did you see how they lived but got a good feel for the size of one of these communities.

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This mill is still in operation.  The person is not a statue but runs this water wheel mill and sells the flours along with giving demonstrations.

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Every building we went to had park signs warning of snakes as these are old wood buildings with hiding places snakes like.

Ok can you see the snake.  (bottom left before you go through the door).

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The main building and park store to buy stuff.

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Getting to and from the area we had caves of which we lost count in our different drives in the park.  We noticed that on one side of the cave the height  might be 12 feet but coming from the other way the height might be 13 ft. 4 inch.  Take a look and you can almost see the difference (although this is a larger cave in general).

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There are horse tours offered also.

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More to come in next post.

Sevierville Tn.–DRV Rally and local

Some might recall that Sevierville Tn. in the Great Smokey Mountains is the home town of Dolly Parton.  They even have a statue of her in the town.  We were in Sevierville for a DRV Suites RV owners rally.  We stayed at a really nice RV park the River Plantation RV park.  More on the park in a moment.

First, this area is very popular and Sevierville Tn.  plus the road and towns to the great Smokey Mountain National Park is excessively commercialized taking advantage of the Dolly Parton name and the enchantment of the Great Smokey Mountains.  There are plenty of tourist trap events to take advantage of from theme parks, food and tours.   Just in my personal opinion and for us we will not come back to this town on purpose.  This is not our cup of tea as the saying goes.

Back to the RV park – River Plantation RV Park.  This is a large park  with both pull trough’s and back ins that were easy to get our 40 Ft 5er in.  Their definition that our site had two “small” trees did not match our concept of the size of the trees.  All worked well and we even had satellite with no issues on our site.  They had a number of back in sites on the river around the edge of the park.  If you have an interest I encourage you  to take a look at their web site.

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Nancy and I walking our dog.

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Around the camp fire rally style

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Some of our visitors who stopped by.

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Walking/Driving Tour – Mammoth Cave National Park

In our short time at the MCNP it seems we tried to do a little of everything.  There is still plenty on our list to do the next time we can make it to the park.

Walking tour

This is a very large park with about 84 total miles of trails.  About 18 miles are not part of the back county trails.  We did not plan which trail to take and just took a trail we happened to be close to and not sure what to expect.  We were short on time and only did about 2 miles on this one trail.  All the trails we could see seemed well maintained which was a surprise as there is such a large number of trail  miles.

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I mentioned in the past Cave Post that there were 507 original family homes in what is now the park.  To our surprise as we got to the end of the trail we came across a cemetery. This was really a short side trail off the main trail.

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Take note that everyone in the picture is white which had been explained to us that blacks were not allowed to be buried in a white cemetery.

In the next pictures notice that some stones have well carved names and dates, some had initials only, some had no name.  In addition we saw a few small stones in a family or woman only grave area.  These small stones had no names.  I can only guess why these small stones with no names were there but could not find documented facts.

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Next is one with initial only and one with no name.  Both are similar in size.

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On this short trail we did not see any wildlife but a few plants stood out.

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Driving Tour

We took the Flint Ridge road as both locals and park rangers had told us if we could only do one drive this would be the best.  One local did try to explain this road is narrow in places even if it has a center stripe.  With our big dually, we lucked out that when we did meet others except when we had a place to pull off.

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Just the scenic view is worth the drive.   We came across an old Baptist Church and it is still in use.  The doors had no locks but there were pews and other items inside.  The attached cemetery had new dated graves.

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The restroom accommodations are wide open with a view.

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What a picture to end this post on!

Cave tour – Mammoth Cave National Park

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People have been exploring Mammoth Cave for 4000 years with many tall tales and stories to follow.  The known part of the cave is 400 miles long with estimates it could contain another 600 miles of yet to be explored caves.  There have been very old human bones and graves found way back in the cave.  We were told this is neither the largest or longest cave in the world.  Mammoth Cave was inscribed in 1981 as a World Heritage site by a United Nations spear headed World Heritage Convention.

The Mammoth Cave National Park was established in 1941 and enjoys more than 2 million visitors a year but only about 500,000 take one of the many cave tours.  Actual tours of the cave started in 1816.  In any give week there might be 16 different cave tours with several a day.

We took the “Historic Tour” which is 2 hours and 2 miles and an easy tour except the about 600 steps to get out of the cave.  Leading to the cave entrance is very picture perfect setting.

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Our guide stopped along the way to begin to explain the history of the area.  As he explained the role which slaves played in the development of the cave, recourses and tours we learned that he is from a 5th generation slave family.  As the tour progressed we learned his family was one of 507 who settled what is now the National Park.  In addition his family was the first slave tour guides of the cave system plus each generation was cave tour guides.  He had both facts and family passed down info that he conveyed.  In addition he interspersed quite frequently how bad and mistreated the slaves were who worked in and around the caves.

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As we began to descend into the dark void it will be another 2 hours before we see the light of day again.

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Most cave tours I have been on have light for key features and easy walks on the paths.  This cave is different or I should save the historic tour was different as they maintained just enough light for safe walking.  They were clearly trying and succeeding in giving us a better feel what the slaves had to work in and the experience of the early tours.  In addition they did not allow flash but I have tried a few pictures to try and convey some of the feeling in the cave and the experience.  These will be somewhat dark but if you want to see good quality medial pictures then go the the Mammoth Cave Media Library.

The soil of the cave is rich in nitrates which can be processed to saltpeter and ultimately gunpowder.  During the war of 1812 the British cut off the supply of gunpowder to the fledgling republic who would have lost the war if it had not been for the Mammoth Cave natural mineral resources and the  tireless effort of the slaves mining these materials.   Below are the leaching vats that was used in the process.

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Leaching implies the use of water.  They used a special local tree and hollowed out the center of the trunks and fit the sections together to make water pipes.  I could see what looked like there might have been a hundred yards or more of these unique pipes.  The first picture show a joint of two pipes.

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Pipes laying around

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Double stacked pipes

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Very difficult to show how large this one work area is and they only used candles according to our guide. Look at the size of the rail in the background for some idea of size.

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Fat Mans Misery was so named because of the tight passages and very low ceilings in places.

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There is plenty of cave art as early visitors were encouraged to write on the walls.

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This room once was the bottomless pit.  Trust me we could not see the bottom or the roof.

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Getting out is where the real physical activity came in.  However first everyone got to sit while the guide caught us up the final leg of our trip.

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I can not begin to convey how many steps (almost straight up ) 400 really is.  Once we got to the top of these there were still 200 more on the final trail.  With the dim light we could not see the people at the top.

The first picture is looking up the best as we could see, and the second is looking downward.  The light at the top was an illusion and not the end of the way up.

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Those light colored shadows in the center are people still on the way up.

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Yea, day light again and back to civilization.

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We will have to go back and try some of the other cave tours sometime.  They even have one you have to crawl to get through (ok maybe not this one for us now days).

Pond life – Mammoth Cave National Park

This full time RVing was meant to be a relaxing lifestyle.  However we seem to always be on the go putting me way behind on post.  Just a sample of life in a pond at the Mammoth Cave National Park.

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For this first guy I zoomed in 270 mm optically on my camera and still had to zoom in more on the computer.  However take a look at the final integrate and delicate features in the wings.

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After hearing a big splash in the distance on the pond and watching large ripples, I was expecting a ample size fish to finally appear.  Was I surprised!

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I and another guy with a camera could not get this one to turn around and look at us.  He hopped from limb to limb in a direction to keep his back to us as we tried to move around him.   He even made sure he flew a direction we could not see his head.

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Not wildlife of the pond but wildlife dear to me as we explored so much more around the pond eco system.

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