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, 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. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

The Maiden Voyage with our Entegra Launch

First night in Maeve Anne

For Maeve Anne’s maiden voyage (which we have dubbed “Maeveanne voyage”) we drove about an hour from home to a campground where we have stayed a couple of times. This is a campground that you have to call the day of to see if there are open sites, then you can reserve a site. Not only did we reserve a spot, but there were several that were open. This is definitely a hidden gem…right on Watts Bar Lake with every site having a view of the lake.

Robert had no trouble backing her into the spot. Once there, I put some groceries away and Robert got out our chairs. Then we started figuring things out. We got out the covers for the windshield and the cab windows. That’s where we encountered a problem. The shades are supposed to have magnets in them, and I think they do but they are so weak that they won’t hold up the shades. Fortunately, we didn’t have anyone right beside us so it wasn’t a huge concern this trip. Buying magnetic shades quickly went to the top of the list of things we need to purchase...or heavier magnets and some glue.

I managed to get the side cover up but it didn't last long!

Now for the bed. I’m 5’9” and Robert is 6’3” so we aren’t small people. We weren’t completely sure how comfortable we would both be since the bed is a little on the small side. Size-wise, it turned out to be fine. As with most RV mattresses, the comfort level left something to be desired. We watched videos of people recommending different toppers or mattresses. I ordered the one recommended by a guy who is about our age and at the time of this writing, it's on the bed, all made up, ready to go.


We used the portable induction cooktop for the first time to make breakfast. It worked great but getting the sticker off it was fairly time-consuming. It’s going to take some time to get used to the controls and how the heat works, but it’ll come. I like that it is stored under the pantry instead of taking up a whole drawer. It has its only little place so it will be protected.

First meal! Another thing on the list...outdoor rugs!
Coffee...a must-have

We hooked up the water without incident. Robert checked everything inside to make sure there were no leaks and that everything was working as it should. No problems there. When I washed the dishes I put a collapsible bin in the sink, filled up one with soapy water and one with just water for rinsing, and washed outside. Thankfully, we have a lot of camping supplies from our years of camping so the only things we’ll need to buy are things specifically for the van (like the window coverings). 

Now...why "Maeve Anne"? As mentioned in the previous post, our Ireland trip inspired this purchase. While we were in Killarney, we walked into a crowded pub and asked a young couple if we could join them because there were absolutely NO seats available. They said yes and we ended up talking and laughing with them for a few hours. (Okay, truth be told, since we were in a pub, of course, drinks were involved!) Her name is Maeve...she was absolutely beautiful and extremely nice. And to top it off, she is a special education teacher of high school students with autism. That's why we named her "Maeve". Robert said that since she's southern (the van, not the Irish lady) she needs a second name, and "Anne" just popped out. I didn't think about how it sounded when both names are put together but we think it works.

We can't wait to see where Maeve Anne takes us!

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