Category Archives: Camping Journal

Yarberry Campground, part 2

Sunday morning, Boone fished while I got breakfast going. To make things easier we prepped a lot of our food before we left on the trip. We have a tabletop grill but for this trip everything was cooked on the propane camp stove. I like to have all of the food that is taken on the trip eaten with nothing being brought back home so here was our meal plan:

  • For the Saturday trip down
    • ham, turkey and Swiss cheese sandwiches
    • cutup celery and carrots to munch on
    • peanut butter on saltine crackers
  • Saturday night: eat out
  • Sunday Breakfast: scrambled eggs with cheese, bacon, toast, coffee and juice
    • 3 farm eggs that were cracked into a jar with about a ¼ cp. sharp cheddar and a splash of milk. All you have to do it shake it up!
    • 8 slices of Italian bread in a baggie, 4 for breakfast toast, 4 with dinner
    • 6 slices of bacon wrapped in aluminum foil
    • Premeasured coffee in a jar; just enough for me on Sunday morning & evening (Boone does not drink coffee), premeasured orange juice in a jar
  • Dinner: caramelized pork chops, sautéed veggies, baked potato w/sour cream and butter, bread
    • Carrots, red & yellow bell pepper, broccoli, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and onions cut up into a baggie
      • About an hour before dinner I poured a bit of Zesty Italian dressing in the baggie to season the veggies.
    • 2 prebaked potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil
      • Boone started a camp fire so I put the potatoes on the edge of it, not in it and turned every so often. I had already baked the potatoes so they just needed to be warmed up.
  • Also packed:
    • Butter
    • Sour cream
    • Salt, pepper
    • Small amount of Italian dressing
    • Half and half for coffee
    • 2 pork chops
    • Bottled water for drinking and coffee

While the camper refrigerator does a great job, we try to stay out of it as much as possible. I always pack a cooler for drinks and the snacks that need to stay cold that we can get into often. Boone hooks up the camper the night before a trip which is when we pack everything except for the food that needs to go in the frig. I like the frig to get good and cold overnight then I will pack it with food right before we leave.

After breakfast we headed out to the Highland Games. It was being hosted at the Maryville University. Maryville is such a nice small town and the campus is beautiful. The first thing we heard was bagpipes, yay! There was a lot of activities going on in different fields and stages. We saw kids learning how to milk a cow – so funny and cute, athletes tossing what looked like whittled down telephone pole, clan tents and more. The competitions were the best and the competitors come from all over.

Highland Games


Clan Tents

After leaving the games we relaxed by the water, just chatting and fishing. With the farm, we always have something to do so to just slow down, sit back and do nothing feels like a luxury.

Listening to the wind, water and birds was simply great.

Yarberry Campground, fishing on the Little Tennessee, and the Scots…part 1

I am half Scot through my father. My grandparents came from Scotland and Dad was first born here in the US. It’s not really a factor in my life but every now and then I do like to attend a Highland Games. I really like the sound of bagpipes and it is one of the few places to hear them live.  Boone has never been to one but he was game to check it out so we took off to the Smoky Mountain Highland Games in Maryville, TN this past weekend.

We loaded up Little Bill the camper, and took off down the back roads. I have been wanting to get comfortable towing so I drove the majority of the trip. Little Bill is really light and being a small fifth-wheel camper, he sticks right with you (no fish tailing) so the towing was pretty easy. The hardest part was getting the electric brake set just right in the truck and getting used to braking with it.

Being on the back roads was great as we just took our time and enjoyed the drive down on US 127. Sometimes the interstate is the way to travel when we are in a time crunch but the two-lanes are my favorite. We stopped at a general store along the way to get drinks to go along with the sandwiches we had packed. As with some of the small stores around our area, it appeared to be a local hangout as there were some local older gentlemen sitting out on the front porch passing the time chatting and whittling.

Forbus General Store

Yarberry campground lays between Lenoir City and Maryville off of Hwy 321. We rolled in around 3 o’clock and got set up pretty quickly.

Little Bill the camper

The Knoxville Flea Market was going on so we decided to drive over and check it out. It turned out to be quite the disappointment. There were only folks selling stuff you could buy anywhere; socks, lotions, CD’s, etc.

We had planned on eating out the first night and for some reason I had pecan waffles on my mind so off to the local Waffle House we went. The food was great and nicely stuffed we rolled back to the campground. Boone bought a TN fishing license on the way down so he was ready to do some fishing.

Little Tennessee River

The next morning, we strolled around the campground. It is really nice and sits on a peninsula. Along with the campground, boat rental is available. The roads are gravel and our site was very spacious and pretty level with lots of trees.  The rates were reasonable, only around $76.00 total for the two nights. There were only a couple of things lacking. One was that while the bathrooms were extremely clean, there were only two stalls and one shower in the bathhouse near us. The campground had around 70 sites so that seems pretty small for so many people. The men’s side was the same. There was another bathhouse that we did not go in but it looked to be the same size. The majority of sites were for RV’s so maybe that accounted for the small bathhouses as there are not that many tent sites. The other thing was I never did see a play area for children. The campground is growing; adding in new sites – a beach, a pier, and more so maybe the playground is in the future plan.

When I made the reservation over the phone (the only way to make it) I did not receive any type of confirmation via email or otherwise which would have been nice and is pretty standard these days. I had asked if they had internet at the campground which they did not so maybe that was the reason. Hopefully, they will get access at some point. All in all, we had a great time and would recommend camping there. The host was also very nice as we met her at the gatehouse when we first got there. Our site was #69. We also liked sites 17-21, 25, 31, 33, 67 (our favorite), and 71.

P.S. The fishing was great! Boone caught 8 good sized cats.


Shakedown trip – Green River SP, Campbellsville, KY

I grew up tent camping…in the woods behind our house, on trips with friends, on college field trips and more and have always loved it. After Boone and I took our first camping trip together, due to his bad back, he was in quite a bit of pain the next day. Even though we used a good air mattress, I think it was due to the dampness in the night air. So we resigned ourselves to hotels and such when traveling.

Flash forward 10 years: With all the great mattresses, ceramic heaters and the amenities of a popup camper, we purchased a used one because I really missed camping and wanted to try to make Boone as comfortable as possible. Well, call me crazy but after having it for a while I got to thinking about how we were laying there in canvas just about snack high for a bear. So, the popup was sold (for a profit, yay!) and we were back to hotels again.

Flash forward 2 more years: Due to a very disturbing bed bug incident at a hotel, we put camping back on the table. Knowing that we were going to pay in full and not wanting to put a lot of money into one until we decided it would work for us, I started hunting for a good used camper within our price range. The criteria was it had to be a gooseneck or 5th wheel as Boone is very experienced pulling those, under 20 ft., comfortable sleeping, and a bathroom.

After looking for 4 months, I still couldn’t find anything that met our criteria! Going to town one day, I passed a farm in our area and noticed it had a small 5th wheel camper sitting in front of the barn that was exactly what we were looking for. I told Boone about it and he said he would ask the owner (we knew him) even though it didn’t have a For Sale sign on it. Well, it took the owner about a month of thinking about it but he decided to sell to us. He really needed a larger camper to accommodate all of his grandkids so we motivated him to make that move.

We hauled the camper home (a whole 1 ½ miles) and while it is in really good shape it is somewhat dated as it looks to be mostly in original condition. I decided not to put one dime into updates until we camped in it and determined whether we would keep it or resell. The previous owner had put in a small flat screen TV and a new water heater so those were 2 less items to worry about.


2005 GMC Sierra, 1988 Sunline 1850 Fifth Wheel

On to the trip…..

I plugged in the camper at our house to be sure all the lights were working inside and out and went through everything just to get familiar with it. There was a lot of researching online all about camping in travel trailers but I still didn’t understand all the ins/outs of the gray and black tanks, etc. Luckily, we have good friends that own their own RV’s and use them a lot. They had an upcoming campout planned at the KY Green River State Park and invited us to join them so they would show us the ropes. There would be 6 of us going in 3 campers.

Boone and I met up with our friends and followed them down to the state park, about 1 ½ hours away. Our camper is so light the only time we could feel it behind us was when the electric brake kicked in. It towed like a champ and setting up was easy. We had leveled it at the house so we were practiced in that. We had to borrow an electric cord from one of our buddies because we only had a 30ft. one with us and it wouldn’t reach the service at our site. We thought the camper cord extended to only 6 inches or so when pulled out but it actually extends to about 10 feet. Who knew?

Tip #1: Carry an extra electric cord just in case because at some campgrounds you will actually need two.

Water hookup was easy. The camper water heater is all propane and with a bath house right up the hill from where we were camping we opted not to use it. After getting all set up, we realized we had parked in the middle of the paved site driveway and when we extended the steps we were stepping off into grass. Not that big a deal but it could be muddy if it had been raining.

Tip #2: Park offset to the far side of the drive so you are stepping off onto pavement.

At the house, I tried the TV out and got all kinds of channels. Nice, but we weren’t really planning on using the TV much. Sure enough, the first night we camped it drizzled rain a bit so we all went to our respective campers to ride it out. We couldn’t get any channels at all! Turns out, when you travel you have to reprogram the TV and do a search for the local channels. We use satellite TV at the house so it never occurred to me that was the issue.

Tip #3 – Conduct channel search on TV to bring in local channels.

During the brief rain, I decided to blow up the air mattress and make the bed. Oh my god, that was a feat for which I was unprepared. Because the sleeping area is a loft, you cannot get around to the other side of the mattress. After I had it blown up and had the foam pad on top of it, I had to hold a corner of the fitted sheet, make sure I had plenty of sheet loose below it since I was kneeling on it and basically flop across the bed to reach the far corner and wrestle the sheet on that corner. Repeat on the other 2 corners that were hard to reach and the last one by the open steps was easy. With the top sheet and coverlet, I decided to sit in the bed and arrange them around me. Claustrophobia occasionally hits Boone so we planned on sleeping in the bed backwards with our heads at the steps which made all the tucking in on all the sides that were hard to reach. I was sweating by the time I was done.

Camper bedroom
Tip #4: I am going to try to partially blow up the air mattress, put foam topper on, put the fitted sheet on, and then finish blowing all the way up to see if that will be easier.

The camper was plugged in the night before we left so we turned the refrigerator on to start cooling down. The next morning we loaded up the camper and frig. This is a small frig so every time we opened the door to grab a drink, we were sucking the cold air out and it starting getting a bit too warm. I had put thermometers in the freezer and frig so we had to stay out of it until it got good and cold again.

Camper kitchenette

Tip #5: Pack a small cooler just for drinks.

We also learned to not sit straight up in bed. Keep a flashlight handy as the camper gets cold really quick so waking up to adjust the A/C or heat is a must. Be careful on the carpeted loft steps because you can shoot right down them if you are wearing socks.

All in all it was a great trip. The camper did great, we slept great, Boone’s back didn’t hurt the next morning, had a blast with our friends and are ready to go again. With lambing season coming up we don’t know when that will be but hope to sneak away for a least a weekend soon. Now that we know it suits us, I am ready to do some updating.