Washington DC to Pigeon Forge
Today was a wasted day. Late last night we concluded this week must be the American equivalent of Half Term which explains why everywhere is so busy and there are so many kids around. It’s just like peak season. We had great difficulty in getting booked in to a campground in the National Park, and eventually at 11:40, just 20 minutes before we were due to leave the campground at Pigeon Forge we were reluctantly forced to book another day here. Searching the internet there was no availability at the state park campground until tomorrow, Thursday and then it was limited. Eventually after a few phone calls we managed to book 4 nights at Smokemont Campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park www.nps.gov/grsm unfortunately the campground is not near the Appalachian Trail but needs must. The weather is due to turn unpleasant by Friday and so we‘ll be pleased to settle in to the very basic campground before it closes in. We have enough LPG to keep us warm; we can generate our own electricity, though with restricted running hours, we have plenty of food onboard, and so look forward to the experience without concern.
After finally managing to get a result with a campground we went for a long walk along the dreadful tourist trap which is Pigeon Forge, the only good thing was that we were able to treat ourselves to four Krispy Kreme Donuts, one each with a hot drink on our return and one each after our evening meal.
Tomorrow we will try to get away at a reasonable time so that we can have a steady drive in to the park and the campground. We will be well loaded as we’ll be carrying full tanks of petrol and fresh water as we may not be able to fill our tank in the campground. Both tanks hold 50 gallons, so we’ll notice the difference when climbing.
LOCATION TONIGHT: Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg KOA, 3122 Veterans Blvd, Pigeon Forge, TN 37868.
We slept quite well last night, even though we were parked nose to nose with a truck running its engine or generator during the night. We had a reasonable distance between us but found that by opening the toilet door and putting it across the corridor we were able to cut down the noise quite considerably. It was a cold night but not as cold as the past few.
After picking up some shopping we made our way to Gatlinburg www.gatlinburg.com where we intended to stay for just one night at a private campground with all facilities in order to catch up on emails and laundry etc, before spending a few days at State Park campgrounds. On our arrival the first campground we visited was full; apparently this is a busy period. I hadn’t planned on this since many campgrounds close down in a couple of weeks time so I imagined it would be the end of season and quiet. The receptionist suggested we try one further up the road which we did, they could take us but didn’t have Wi-Fi, and so off we went again. I felt we should try the KOA campground in Pigeon Forge www.pigeonforgekoa.com as KOA’s always had Wi-Fi. We’d had experience of them in the past and there is generally an acceptable standard at them, besides which Gatlinburg was very touristy and busy.
Rosina phoned the campground and they could take us but not until 12:00, so we pulled in to a lay-by and had an early lunch watching a constant stream of cars drive past.
At 12:00 we popped down the road to the campground and booked in having already paid in full over the phone, and told if we didn’t turn up we’d lose the money. Once allocated a space we made our way to find it. The instructions were to drive forward in to it and whilst doing so I collected our pitch’s round steel fire pit under the right rear wheels. The problem then was that it was trapped firmly up in the wheel arch and close to the exhaust pipe and the ring was no longer round. The steel was too thick to bend and so eventually having summoned assistance from the office I borrowed their spade and dug it out from below. I wasn’t too pleased to say the least and couldn’t get a satisfactory answer to the question: 'Why wasn’t I allowed to go around to the other side of the pitch and back in where the road was wider and there were no hazards?' Never mind, luckily it hadn't damaged the tyres or bodywork and we have the only fire ring on the campground that could very possibly win next year’s Turner Prize.
I had us plugged in to the hookups quickly before starting on some chores. After a while The Chef suggested we went for a wander round. It’s just a short walk from the campground to the public green space where they’re putting up Xmas lights and then on to the main street through town. We’d had some idea of what the town was like from our approach to the campground but on closer inspection Pigeon Forge www.pigeonforge.com made Gatlinburg look positively classy. It was more like Great Yarmouth sea front, I couldn’t believe it. I put my head on Rosina’s shoulder and told her I couldn’t believe I’d driven over 300 miles yesterday to get us here to find this. There was a very popular restaurant in The Old Mill, and nearby numerous gift and craft shops. Customers who wanted a table had to order one giving their name and party number and when a suitable table became vacant a loud tannoy message would go out to the restaurant, every shop, both inside and out, and the open spaces close by, announcing the name of the customer who had to report for their booked table which had become available. Needless to say we will be on our way tomorrow in search of a State Park campground. I’m concerned that they will also be busy. Ideally we want the one which has the Appalachian Trail passing close to it enabling us to hike some of it. The Chef has been over to the laundry block and got us up to date and I’ll be attempting another barbecue a bit later on this evening.
LOCATION TONIGHT: Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg KOA, 3122 Veterans Blvd, Pigeon Forge, TN 37868 (GPS: N35.786817 W83.549066).