Boondocking in East Tennessee

Just west of the Smoky Mountains, we found a campsite right on a lake where we could gaze across it and soak in all the beautiful colors of fall.

For years I’ve joked about how life would be better if we got rid of all, or at least most of the children’s toys and electronics. Turns out I was right. Without toys and only trailers in a field, these kids had the best week. They were merchants with shops of shells, acorns and fishbones. Elijah was a blacksmith with metal collected from nearby camps and banged on with a hammer. With imagination and a discarded pot lid, the boys were knights who protected Queen Leila in her fort castle and they brought her bouquets of collected flowers. They were children and it was beautiful.

It was a slow couple of weeks without National Parks to explore or a checklist of cool things in the area. Tom caught up on work, mostly from the fancy offices of McDonald’s – the only nearby place with wifi. We caught up on schoolwork. I did yoga and I laid in the sunshine and read books. I felt Peace.

Halloween was our first holiday on the road. Traditions look different in this season of life, but with each one, we will find new ways to make memories. 

We went to the local racetrack in Spring City, TN and watched the Enduro Derby races. The drivers did a Trunk-or-Treat from the race cars and the kids loved being able to go in the pit and meet the racers. After, we had our 5th annual tradition of s’mores with candy and hot cider and whiskey by the fire. 

Our camp was about 40 minutes from Knoxville where we visited a couple of times. Cities are not my jam and this one didn’t make me change my mind and love being there. But, I do love the charm of old buildings, which the East has to offer. On the west coast, everything is so new in comparison, so I just love the faded brick and old signs and architecture in historical cities. 

We have friends from the area, (check out Tiny Shiny Home)  who recommended Stock and Barrel burgers where we had unique quality burgers like the Elvis with peanut butter and bananas.  They also sent us to Cruze Farm Creamery where we had ice cream from an old-fashioned soda fountain and coffee milk (which we enjoyed throughout the week added to our iced coffee topped with whip cream and you should 100% go there and buy that.) I’m a firm believer in food and music being the best ways to experience the culture of a place so we appreciated and greatly enjoyed the recommendations.

We also had a lunch date at Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria where they offer live music while recording the Blue Plate Special a weekly radio show. We loved the bluegrass and I got myself a new favorite cider Gypsy Circus.

Where we Stayed:

reflection on Jackson Lake Tennessee

Jackson Island in Rhea County– the campsite itself was beautiful, right on the lake, under a variety of trees (even a magnolia tree, which are my favorite.) It was free for 14 days. It is worth noting that some people were camped to enjoy a fishing trip or some nature, but many people seemed to be living at camp long term. Any locals we met were kind and no one bothered us or made us feel unsafe, but if you’re uncomfortable camping alongside the homeless population, this may not be your favorite place. The campground wasn’t far from a power plant which made me uncomfortable and the little town didn’t have much to offer as far as charm or amenities. Overall, if you’re looking for a pretty place and peace and quiet, it’s a good spot.  

1 thought on “Boondocking in East Tennessee”

  1. I get so excited to see your blogs. William and I are taking a cruise to Alaska this coming June. Can’t wait to share pictures with you.

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