Wednesday, July 27, 2016

RV Park Review- Shadrack Campground- Bristol, TN

Check-in Date: 07/17/16 
Check- out Date: 07/23/16
Type of Accommodation: Full hook up back-in
Price: $126 for the week with Passport America (half off for entire week with PA)

Amenities: This is a no bells and whistles kind of RV Park. It had all we needed which was a spot to park the RV. There is no pool. They have a place to do laundry and a bath house but we didn't use either of those. The office has a nice little store in it with RV supplies.

Every spot had a paved area to park the RV and then a grass area next to it. They dogs enjoyed having their own spot to lay in.

Samson enjoying having a "yard" for the week

Wifi/Cell Reception: The wifi and cell reception were great. The wifi was so good we kind of spent our nights binge watching Game of Thrones. When we find a park with good enough wifi to stream you better believe we are going to use it! 

Our favorite thing to do in the area

Twin City Drive- In Theatre is right across the street. It was only $7 per adult for a double feature.  We brought our own snacks and drinks but they also have a nice little concession stand and restrooms inside.

Downtown Bristol. There are a lot of restaurants and shops. One side of the street is Bristol Tennessee and the other is Bristol Virginia

Add caption
Steele Creek Park was a really nice place to go hike some trails. We saw a lot of butterflies, greenery and wild flowers. 

Favorite places to eat:  Mad Greek Restaurant which is less than a mile away. It had great food and service for a decent price. 

Mad Greek Restaurant
Half veggie & half greek- delicious
Reese pie- chocolate peanut butter- yum

Grocery stores:  There is a Wal-Mart less than a mile away. We try to avoid Wal-Mart so we found a Food City which was about 4 miles away.

Recommended: Yeah. I thought it was nice little campground for a decent price. I feel I should also mention it is right next to Bristol Speedway. I don't think you can get the Passport America discount when they are having races but it would be a nice close place to stay if you were going to the races.

*You can see all of Shadrack Campgrounds amenities, pricing and other information on their website.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

RV Park Review- Endless Caverns -New Market, VA

You can't miss the sign

Check-in Date: 07/01/16 
Check-out Date: 07/15/16
Type of Accommodation: Full hook up back-in 
Price: $526 with Passport America (can only use PA for 1 night)

Our back-in spot for two weeks

Picnic table at our site

Amenities: Zero entry swimming pool, catch/release pond, recreation area with large TV and game room, horseshoes, volleyball, hiking trails, showers and restrooms. They also have a cave on the property that you can tour for a special camper price of $15 each. See our prior post of our Cavern Tour.

Endless Caverns
Special note: They have a designated dog area but it was a long trek down and uphill to get there. There wasn't much grass. It was a lot of weeds and who knows what else. Our dog ended up getting poison oak and we aren't sure if it was in the designated area or on the walk back to the RV. We didn't take him on any of the trails. It was also quite a hike to the dumpsters.

The catch and release pond
Meadow across from catch and release pond

Wifi/Cell reception: Our cell phone reception was great but the wifi connection was bad. It wasn't really usable most of the time. We mainly used our AT&T hotspot.

Customer Service: The staff in the office were great and very friendly. When we first arrived they escorted us to our site. We ordered a lot of packages from Amazon while we were there and they actually delivered them to our door. 

Our favorite things to do in the area: Visiting wineries on the Shenandoah Wine Trail and Shenandoah National Park. We previously posted reviews of the wine trail and national park.

Wolf Gap Vineyard
Shenandoah National Park

Favorite places to eat: Jackson's Corner Cafe. It is a little coffee shop with amazing coffee. We bought a bag of Crazy Fox Coffee- Hoot Owl Blend. It is so good. Wish I would have bought two bags. They also serve breakfast, lunch and have fresh scones daily. They had great chicken salad. We tried a couple other places in town like Kathy's Cafe and Southern Kitchen. Their food was about average but nothing special. 

The essentials coffee, tea & dark chocolate ;)
Chicken salad on wheat & chicken salad croissant

Grocery stores:  There is a small grocery store in downtown New Market. We wouldn't recommend it. It is more like a gas station selection of food. We drove to Harrisonburg which was about a 20 minute drive to go to Kroger.
The Cupcake Company in Harrisonburg has the most delicious cupcakes. These are strawberry cheesecake, grasshopper, oreo cookie and red velvet. 

Recommended: Definitely. One of our favorite places to stay so far. It was beautiful and peaceful. 

There are beautiful deer and chipmunks roaming around and at night you will be surrounded by fireflies.

Monday, July 25, 2016

RV Park Review - Bull Run Regional Park - Centreville, VA

Check- in date: 06/26/16
Check-out date: 07/01/16
Type of Accommodation: Pull through- full hook up RV site
Price: $245 with Good Sam Membership

***SPECIAL NOTES*** There are two ways to get to Post Office Road. Make sure if you come in on I66 that you take it to Lee Highway 29. DO NOT turn on Compton/658. Compton/658 is very narrow and is difficult for big rigs. We actually made it through but it was very stressful.

Crazy narrow road

Customer Service: The Park Rangers were great. We ended up getting there right as they were closing the park and a young man still escorted us to our spot. We had to check-in with the main office the next morning and it was no problem.

Site: The site was U-shaped from the main road and was covered in gravel. You will need some leveling blocks. The electric hookup was good. There is only one water hook-up so you may need a splitter. There was a picnic table and fire pit, as well. The area dedicated to us was quite large, we could have parked at least 2 more cars on the site with no problems.

U-Shaped Campsite with plenty of room

Amenities: There is plenty of camping and picnic area to enjoy with some wildlife. We got to see a beaver, deer and some geese.

We saw deer, geese and a beaver

There is a Frisbee Golf course, although the holes seem to be amongst the trees. I don't play but it seemed a little odd to me. They do have showers and restrooms but we did not use them. The dumpster for all trash is in the front of the park and you basically have to drive your trash to it. They did have bins for recycling though which was cool. There is plenty of open grass area to take your dogs to play and do their needed business.They also have a small Waterpark on the grounds which we went to. It was $8.50 a person to get in but is half price if you stay at the campground.

Atlantis Waterpark

Wifi/Cell Connection: There was no wifi here. We did use our AT&T hotspot and Cricket phone with no problems..

Our favorite things to do in the area: Pretty much everything we did was closer to the DC area which is about 45 minutes or so away from the park. You can details of our trip our earlier post, but here is a quick list:

Atlantis Waterpark
The White House
Lincoln Memorial
Smithsonian Air and Space Musuem - DC Location
Smithsonian Air and Space Museum - Hazy Center

Things we wished we did: 

The Winery at Bull Run is only 8 miles from the campground. Doh! We didn't notice this until we were packed up in our RV and on the road. There is also the site of the Battle of Bull Run nearby.

Favorite places to eat: We ate a place in Old Town Alexandria called Gadsby's Tavern. It had a colonial theme and was very good. It is pricey though so be prepared.

Grocery stores:  We went to a Trader Joe's which was about 10 minutes away

Gas nearby: We did not have to get gas in the RV while we were there but there are plenty of gas stations nearby.

*You can see all of Bull Run Regional Parks amenities, pricing and other information on their website

We would recommend this campground and would return.

Our Visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Yesterday, Chris and I visited our second National Park since hitting the road, The Great Smoky Mountains. It is the #1 most visited National Park in the U.S.  They estimated there were 10.7 million visitors in 2015. Just to compare the Grand Canyon which is the second most popular National Park only had 5.5 million visitors last year. 

We are currently staying in Pidgeon Forge, Tennessee which is less than a 30 minute drive to the park. We got up bright and early to avoid the crowds.

We came in through the Gatlinburg entrance and when we first arrived we stopped at the Sugarlands Visitor Center to load up on some maps. The maps were all .50 to a $1 but there was no charge to get into the park which is pretty cool.

Our first stop to admire the river on the way to Cades Cove

We decided to head to Cades Cove which is a valley surrounded by the beautiful mountains and it is the most popular destination in the park. It is about a 30 minute drive from the visitor center. It is an 11 mile one-way loop. You can normally see a variety of wildlife including black bears, deer, coyotes, etc. 

They have riding stables at Cades Cove and you can stop and visit the horses. 

Blue tailed skink 

Out of all the cool wildlife we saw....a turkey

Along the road there are many places to pull over and admire the mountainous views. There are also a lot of old log cabin houses and churches to get out and walk around. We enjoyed the John P. Gable Mill which was built in the 1800's and is still a working mill. They even sell the corn meal in the gift shop. 

Lovely view of the mountains

John Oliver House

Mountains and lots of wildflowers

John P. Gable Grist Mill

Our drive around the cove probably took about two hours. There wasn't much traffic when we first got to the park but it did continue to get more crowded through out the day.

After our visit to Cades Cove we headed over to the Elkmont area so we could hike the Little River Trail. 

Why did the deer cross the road? I've got nothing.
Elkmont is a ghost town and has 74 historic structures which you can walk around but you are not permitted to enter. Of course, once we got there it started raining but it didn't rain too long. Chris got a nice little nap in before we got out and hiked.
Haha Sorry Chris had to do it

Spence Cabin part of "Millionaire Row" in Elkmont- you can actually rent out the cabin

Beautiful view of the  river from the Spence Cabin patio

One of the run down old houses on the trail

We enjoyed our hike. It is an easy and peaceful hike down a paved trail with the river on the side. There were some people fishing and playing in the water. 

Little River trail- nice wide paved trail 

We had a lot more things we were planning to do but by this time we had to get back home to the dogs. It was a long day of driving and walking around and we were tired. 

We would definitely recommend visiting the park. We already picked out what we will do if we are able to come back this week. Plus, it is free to visit which is always nice.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Our Trip to Washington, DC - Part II

So, in between seeing my Aunt, Rachel and I were able to see some of the cool things in the Washington, DC area.

First, I have to say that DC’s METRO system is one of the best Public Transportation systems I have seen. Rachel and I took this a couple times from about an hour outside the city of DC into the heart of it. It was very simple to use. We did drive into DC and parked one time and it really was about the same price. There were pros and cons with both but I won’t get all into that. Just wanted to shout out to the METRO and post this funny picture of us riding the longest escalator we have seen ever in life.

Me on the longest escalator ever

In Part I of this post, you saw that we went to the Air and Space Museums and spent time in Old Town Alexandria. We also spent a day walking around the rest of the National Mall. First, we went to see the White House. It was Rachel’s first time ever in DC so she hadn’t seen it in person before. 

I think when you see it for the first time it just feels so unbelievable that the President stays there and that so many world changing decisions are happening just a few hundred yards away. The kind of folks you find outside the gates are interesting, too.

Protester outside the White House front gates

We, then, made our way over to the Lincoln Memorial. I’m not sure why, but I was very excited to see this. Of course, it didn’t disappoint. 

Outside the Lincoln Memorial

I think when I see things like this up close and personal it takes me back to the history behind such memorials. It makes you think about what it was like back then and the impact that someone like Lincoln had on the world.

Inside the Lincoln Memorial

From the Lincoln Memorial you get a really great view of the Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool. After the deep thought above, is it bad that when I saw the Reflecting Pool I thought of the scene from Forrest Gump when Forrest is making his speech and Jenny runs out of the crowd into the pool? Classic movie.

Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool

Anyway, it was getting late so that was all we were able to see. We were able to get this gem, though, on the walk back to the car, lol.

Two beautiful Statues in a park

 The day before we left we were able to make it to the Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery Welcome Sign

It’s hard to find the words to describe this place. The headstones of all of the fallen soldiers seem to never end. You cannot help but feel heavy-hearted. 

Graves at Arlington Cememtery

The history behind how the family of Robert E Lee. acquired the land and how during the civil war it began to be used to bury fallen soldiers was very interesting. You can tour the Estate and a small museum on the grounds that explains everything.

We also got to witness the Changing of the Guard Ceremony for the Tomb of the Unknown SoldierWe actually got lucky and stumbled onto this as we made it to the Tomb. It is guarded 24 hours a day 365 days a year even in inclement weather.

Changing of the Guard Ceremony

If you ever make it to the grounds, be prepared for lots and lots of walking. We were not able to see everything thing we wanted to like the Challenger memorial, but we did get to see where JFK is buried, the Estate and the Memorial Amphitheater to name a few.

JFK burial site

The Estate at Arlington National Cemetery

DC has so many places to see and things to do and we definitely want to come back. Some places we missed but want to see are the Modern Art Museum, Mount Vernon, Monticello and the Capitol Building.