Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life-and travel-leaves marks on you.
----Anthony Bourdain

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Harvest Hosts: Tsali Notch Vineyard, Madisonville, TN

Night 2 of our anniversary weekend trying out Harvest Hosts was spent at Tsali Notch Vineyards in Madisonville, TN. We were there an hour before we said we would be, but JD welcomed us with open arms and told us to head into the Tasting Room to let them know we were there. It was only about a 20-minute drive from Grain Bin Commodities so if you wanted to stay at the Vineyard and make a pastry run, you could. (Just a suggestion!) If you're coming from I75, the drive is only about 10 miles from the exit so it's not too far out of the way. The vineyard is also just down the road from The Lost Sea so you could spend the day exploring the world's largest underground lake and then stay the night.

Entrance to Tsali Notch Vineyards
When we arrived JD was prepping for an event so we tried to just stay out of the way. I managed to get in the wine tasting ($10) before it started raining. Tsali Notch is a Muscadine vineyard, and, being a red-wine girl, I wasn't sure how I would like the wines. But I managed to find a couple that I liked, so again, I had no trouble spending the suggested $20 for staying the night. The Chatsworth is a dry red with just a hint of sweetness. Even the French Broad (rosé) surprised me. Their juice is pure juice from the Muscadine; no sweeteners are added...or needed. 
The Tasting Room
While it rained, Robert napped and I read. Even with an event happening at the bottom of the hill, it was extremely quiet and peaceful. 
View from the side window as it rained.
The view looking out of the windshield
Our site for the night was just beautiful. There was one other van that came in later; their view was awesome as well.
We parked right across the road from one of the vineyards
Perfect spot!
Our view from behind the van before the rain.
We had asked ahead of time if we could set up our gazebo and were given the go-ahead. There were storms in the forecast so we decided not to put it up in case the wind picked up. It ended up just raining, which was fine since we had such a nice quiet afternoon. The views after the rain were even more spectacular:
Mist over the vineyard after the rain
Low-lying cloud in the distance
More clouds in the distance
More views of the vineyard:

I loved these Tennessee Tri-Star fire pits

In the above picture, the building on the left is the Jackson Lounge, where the restrooms are housed. The restrooms were kept open at night and weren't that far of a walk from the van. That made it really nice so we didn't have to use the van toilet. Also, the gates are closed at night, but when we left around 9:00 the next morning, they were already open. As we drove away, I made Robert stop so I could jump out and take a few more pictures of the vineyard in the morning mist.

Looking out over the main vineyards
The Event Barn
Both nights during our weekend were A+! Harvest Hosts is a great way to discover unique places in your area of the country that you may not have known existed. It may not be your typical camping experience, but what a great way to support small businesses! 

Have you heard about Harvest Hosts? It's an RV camping membership that has opened up exciting and new overnight experiences for my road trips! Use it to unlock unlimited overnight stays at locations such as farms, wineries, museums and so much more. The network has over 4000 locations and is expanding daily - and it's so much fun! I think that you'd really enjoy it. Here is the link to join with a special discount: Flyin' the Coop Harvest Hosts Invitation . Check it out and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Harvest Hosts: Grain Bin Commodities in Sweetwater, TN

I bought a Harvest Hosts membership in April during National Parks Month for $20 off of the original price. I thought we'd try it out and see if we would use it enough to make it worth the money. We wanted to try it out at a couple of places near our home before we hit the road and need to use it. We chose our anniversary weekend to spend the night on a farm and a vineyard about an hour away.

Friday night was spent at Grain Bin Commodities. This unique farm has a bakery right in the middle of it. Craig met us as we pulled in and showed us around the bakery while telling us the story of how they got started. He led us to some options to stay and was extremely accommodating. We were able to finally sleep with the back doors open to enjoy the fresh country air and late spring breezes.
Entrance to Grain Bin Commodities. There is a little dip just as you go in so if you have a bigger rig you may scrape.
The camping spots are just beyond the field. There were several flat ones to choose from.
We were at the bakery just before 9:00 the next morning to buy goodies for breakfast, as well as some to take with us. 
They have an event barn for private events.
We enjoyed our breakfast on the patio.
The views were gorgeous.

How relaxing would this be to sit here with coffee and a book, just watching the world go by!
The outdoor fireplace would be perfect for cool fall nights.
Callie & Craig paid close attention to every detail on the grounds.
And even in the bathrooms!
We had no trouble spending the requested $20. It was hard to choose what to buy.

But we did make a choice:

Night one of our Harvest Hosts weekend was a hit.  Maeve Anne continues to perform just as she should.

Stay tuned for our second night...
Have you heard about Harvest Hosts? It's an RV camping membership that has opened up exciting and new overnight experiences for my road trips! Use it to unlock unlimited overnight stays at locations such as farms, wineries, museums and so much more. The network has over 4000 locations and is expanding daily - and it's so much fun! I think that you'd really enjoy it. Here is the link to join with a special discount: Flyin' the Coop Harvest Hosts Invitation. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Quick Overnight Boondocking

Maybe it's boondocking, maybe it's "Moochdocking". Technically we were boondocking but since it was on a friend's land, maybe it is moochdocking. But, when a friend with land says, "Come and stay any time", you do. We're still getting used to Maeve Anne and all of the nuts and bolts of her. And since we plan on doing some boondocking in the future, we need to make sure we have a good idea of how much battery and water we'll be able to use. 
We enjoyed sitting right on the lake and admiring the reflection of the trees in the water:

We only stayed 1 night but we were able to gauge how much electricity and water we would use per day. We made full use of the bathroom for the first time and used the inverter so we could cook supper and then breakfast. Maeve Anne did a great job although the water situation is a little questionable. When we left the house we had 67% of the tank but it quickly fell to 33%. We've read that the water gauge isn't real reliable so we'll have to continue to figure that one out. 
It was pretty warm during the day so we thought we would leave the back doors open and use the screen. When I got in bed that night we decided to close the doors. With the window over the bed open, the front windows of the cabin open and the fan on, it was pretty chilly. So we have yet to sleep with the doors open. 

We went to bed and woke up to the sounds of bullfrogs and birds. Since the friend's land is popular with motorcyclists, there was a class going on that morning. It was a little loud but not too badly and they were very respectful. 
One thing I am really enjoying is the short amount of time it takes to pack up. With the Cargolite Xtreme and the tent, we would be so sweaty by the time we were ready to get on the road.  (Robert more so than I.) With Maeve Anne, I make sure everything is ready in the cabin and Robert checks outside and makes sure everything is ready to go. Right now we have a large tote in the garage that we are tying down to keep it from moving around. We think we have an idea for what we want to do. It's different than what we've seen anyone else do but it's what we think will work for us and will give us some additional storage. So stay tuned!
Robert also had the chance to try out the 4-wheel drive:  He drove through the creek to get to our site, and then got to drive back through it on the way out. She did great!

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Hornsby Hollow, TN


Hornsby Hollow is a favorite campground of ours. We first visited back in 2016 when we had our Cargolite Xtreme.
Cargolite Xtreme Toy Hauler by Watts Bar Lake
This time we were on the opposite side of the campground and I have to say that I prefer the side we were on before. It just seemed a little more crowded than the last time we were there. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Where is Hornsby Hollow? It is in Ten Mile, TN between Chattanooga and Knoxville. It's right on Watts Bar Lake (one of the largest lakes in the south) which makes it a favorite for fishermen and water enthusiasts. TVA created the lake when it built the dam. 
Hornsby Hollow is easily accessible from I75 or I40
The sites are spacious and absolutely gorgeous. I would argue that every site has a view of the lake. We were lucky enough to snag a site right on the water.
View from Campsite
The sites will cost you, though. It's definitely not the least expensive place we've camped, but it's not the most expensive either. Their website indicates that the average site will cost $40-$43/night. We were told that the reservation system is going to change, but for now, you have to call the morning of and reserve a spot then. 

Cell service is okay but not great. Wifi is available but only at the entrance. Water and electricity are available at the sites; the dump station for gray and black water tanks is located at the entrance. Each site has a picnic table, lantern post, and a firepit/grill.
All of the sites are equipped with a grill/fire pit
A very small store is at the entrance with a book-lending library and a residential washer/dryer. When we arrived, we were able to go directly to our site since Robert paid online. I was surprised at the great site he was able to get, but even more surprised that there were so many sites available on the weekend. The bathhouses are plentiful and the shower pressure is good. 
The bathhouses are energy efficient

Spacious shower with good pressure and warm water
Nice big bench in the shower far enough from the water to keep your things from getting wet
2 sinks with paper towels!
More pictures of the campground:
Boat ramp with more sites
The sidewalk leading to swimming section
Stairs to the swimming section
Like I said at the beginning of the post, I prefer the other side. I'm sure it's not, but it feels like there's more room over there. Luckily, we didn't have anyone in the site next to us so it felt like we had more room than we actually did. 
Would we stay here again? Absolutely. It's not far from home so it's good for a quick getaway. It's peaceful hearing the water lap against the shore and watching the fishermen out on boats. Not to mention watching the water birds.  We aren't water people but we do enjoy being close to it and watching others enjoy it. 
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