A Call to the Appalachians
It was a Friday, the middle of July when we got the call. The next job would be in Kentucky, near the famous Cumberland Gap. As a child, my family had vacationed in the area, but nearly 50 years had passed since I visited there. I had limited memories of the area, but I could recall how beautiful the Appalachian mountains were and I couldn’t wait for hubby to see them. My memories served me correctly, and the breath taking views of the Appalachians made them a piece of heaven on earth.
You Take What You Can Get
Sometimes you have time and energy to find the perfect campground, and other times you take whatever you can find and hope its a good one. This time, it was a little of both. The job site was in Middlesboro, Kentucky and there were no campgrounds nearby. We were forced to look across the state line at a little place called Mountain Pass Campground near Harrogate, Tennessee. It was the best we could do at the time, so we made reservations to stay there for a few days until we could find something more suitable. We were a little skeptical, after all, they didn’t even have a fancy website like most, and it seemed to be located at the end of a long gravel road, but it would have to do until we could do better. And so we headed out to Kentucky.
Great Roads, Beautiful Scenery
Our 7-hour drive took us through Georgia, South and North Carolina, and through the beautiful state of Tennessee. Most of the drive was on great roads, mostly interstates, and then we finally made it to our turn onto Powell River Road. We had been warned of the winding river road, but we had no other place to stay, and the campground assured us that they could accommodate our 34 ft 5th Wheel camper. So into the Appalachians, we drove.
The Narrow Mountain Road
It didn’t take us but a few seconds to discover that the road was truly a one lane road, with absolutely no shoulder for pulling over. When I tell you that we drove 5 miles deep into the mountains, it doesn’t seem like a daring feat, but the little road was so narrow and winding that the drive to the campground took every bit of 20 minutes. On one side of the lane was a mountain ridge, straight up, with no shoulder, and foliage that grew so close to the road it brushed the side of our vehicles in places. The other side was a drop-off, plummeting down the mountain to the Powell River. If there had been a way to turn our rig around we would have escaped this lane immediately, but no such opportunity presented itself. So we continued the long, winding lane to the Park.
It Was Beginning to Look Like a Mistake
I drove ahead of hubby in my little putt-putt car, so I could warn oncoming traffic of the big Dodge pulling a 5th Wheel that was behind me. And just as I feared, I met not one, but two pickups pulling small utility trailers, and I waved them down. Both were happy and thankful for the warning and were able to pull in driveways until Hubby passed with our camper. I was feeling thankful for our cell phones, so I could warn him of the oncoming trucks but before I could, I lost cell service. This was beginning to look like the scariest mistake we have ever made.
The Campground Was Beyond Beautiful
After 20 minutes or so, we finally arrived at the gate of Mountain Pass Campground. The owners knew we would be arriving after hours and had marked our spot ahead of time. The campground was on the Powell River and our spot was on the water. What had us doubting our sanity for driving deep into the mountains of Tennessee, was beginning to fade as we looked around the campground.
The park was beyond beautiful, and there was no noise but the crickets and the sound of the river rippling across the rocks in shallow places. There was no doubt, I was going to love this place. Never had we stayed in such a tranquil, relaxing RV park and we couldn’t wait till morning so we could see more.
Ready to Explore
Hubby is an early riser and was awake way before daylight, and the moment I opened my eyes, he was ready to explore. He had already been down to the river to survey the fishing possibilities. We were thinking that this may be way better than expected, and if we just had good cell service and internet we would stay here for the duration of the job. The job was expected to last 3 weeks at the most. We could stand this Appalachian Paradise for that long.
A Much Needed Refreshing
Later on Saturday, the owner came by to introduce herself and welcome us to Paradise. She showed us around and gave us the Wifi password. We were sold! We only needed bait, something to float in, and about a month to do it. This place was amazing! Cradled between two mountain ranges, in the middle of the Appalachians, with a rock bottom river flowing along side us, how could we find anything better than this? Soon, we were praying this job would last longer than 3 weeks!
A rustic bath house was close to our camper, and although we dont use them (we like our own shower) I had to check it out because it was so cool. Inside there was a shower and a sink that was made from wash tubs! Very primitive, and functional, and I loved that style.
Every day, Hubby drove the 15 miles to work, and I stayed at the campground. My original drive into the mountains was more than I could handle and I decided that I would not drive it again until absolutely necessary. I would find a way to occupy myself every day. It’s a hard life, but someone has to do it!
My mornings would be filled with drinking coffee on the banks of a rock bottom river. I loved listening to the water, and birds. I set up a small table outside and spent hours working on my blog or painting. If I needed to make a call out to the civilized world, (where most of our family lives) it was a short trek to the bucket! Yes, I said bucket. There was a bucket, hanging upside down from a light pole, inside the bucket was a Verizon cell phone booster! Standing under the bucket you could catch all the signal you needed to make or receive calls.
I would take breaks and walk along the river breathing in the smells of the forests, and clean fresh air. The temperature in the cove was in the high 70s / low 80s and was very comfortable. This was the most peaceful place we have been since we left the beaches of Texas. The slow pace and tranquility allowed us a much-needed refreshing of the soul.
A Converted Rock Hound
The river was shallow, less than waist deep in many places, with a smooth rock bottom. The cool water was clear as it could be. When Hubby wasn’t working, he was wading in the river looking for rocks. In addition to “southernizing” him, he has become a rock hound. He wouldn’t want me to tell it, so shhh, don’t say you heard it from me. As many of you know, I am a rock hound, as are most of my family. We all pick up rocks! I love painting on flat rocks, so hubby spent hours looking for stones perfect for my designs. He is a special kind of awesome! You can see some of my rock art in my Etsy shop if you click here.
The Best We Could Do Turned Out Better
What started out as the “best we could do” turned out better than any campground we could have chosen. We loved our stay at Mountain Pass Campground and the surrounding area had many historical attractions that we visited. No visit to this area would be complete without visiting the “Olde Towne” of Cumberland Gap. The Cumberland Gap National Park and The Wilderness Trail Park had great programs that told the history of the area. The history and culture of the of the Appalachians offer a better understanding of the lives of our ancestors. If you enjoy the outdoors, then this area is a great place to visit.