From Winston to Asheville is about 150 miles. Almost every trip will have its particular travel problems usually preceded by a long day of hooking up and fighting traffic. Generally nothing much in the travel info on campgrounds is true. You can count on the basics and you have to understand that everything boils down to three main cables: Water Sewer and Electric. If a camp doesn’t have that, they are a parking lot or a State Park and generally have community Showers and toilets. Your cable and wi-fi are luxuries! There was a time one would spend an hour adjusting their antennas at every park. You go into parks knowing that the FCC changed the signals on all cable companies. Your over the air picture is often better than the new cable. Because of cable theft, cable companies tried to bullet proof their receptions making the top 99 channels the norm in hotels and campgrounds. The thing is a camp used to be a social event, however the new wave of people run straight back to their trailers, leaving the social campers a better chance at weeding out travelers that hate each other and hate traveling. If you want wi-fi all the time you can buy your own wi-fi box or get one in your truck now a day. Now you have Road Warriors that have no business on the road. They try to take their frustrations out on people that are running the campgrounds. This is stupid because the very people that make your life better are catching hell from ass-wipes. Before I ramble on I need to tell you I noticed people burn out in the voice of a very capable, thorough professional woman at Bear Creek months before I got there. When I arrived, a few months later, I saw her handling at least four emergencies and a line of people in a hurry and worn out by the mountain. If she ever sees this I want to give her a standing ovation for having an impossible job. Her campground, Bear Creek is the busiest park I have ever seen bar the beach. But the beach has twenty people to handle traffic. I think her name is Missy. Her park has apartments, permanent and long term spots. I saw Prevost buses and tent campers camping in close proximity. With an amazing turn over at her place she manages to keep the place spotless with a good team under her. She had a second shift partner that was still fresh and happy to be around people. She noticed my camera and she and her son came over to say hello! I failed to take her photo because I was astonished with her kindness and curiosity. This is a smack my head moment if I ever had one! I hope she is still there on my next visit!
A good photographer can make a garbage dump worth visiting. You know the drill if you have ever trusted in a brochure and counted on a beach or a mountain view only to find when you get to your hotel you find their definition of a view means, if you can hang off of the top floor rail and peak around the corner you may get a glimpse of the beach or mountain. Generally, campgrounds are zoned out of town. In Asheville we shot for Bear Creek and visited four other camps within 10 miles of town. From a realistic point of view, I am not sure how I survived 30 years on the road without a GPS. As is most mountain towns you better expect that after fighting traffic on the Interstate that the very second you get off of the Interstate that the roads turn to hell with sharp curves and steep shoulders with not much for navigation even with a GPS. Then if you miss just one turn you may end up on Banjo Lane ( a real road in Asheville). When you get stuck in a tight spot pulling a 38 foot trailer you get your driving skills tested pretty quick. I’ve taken two to four hours to get into spots at the beach. Bear Creek campground is the perfect Pit stop. But even if you are a full-time resident, you may get stuck behind someone checking in or out and miss your day. The large “Creek” is a half mile straight down a hill and you can see it if you walk your dog. You are just off the interstate so traffic noise is constant. Wi-Fi is a hit and miss depending on wi-fi traffic. I try to turn traffic noise into beach waves. You have a couple of kinds of travelers….assholes and elbows. The assholes think everything revolves around them. Slamming every door they own is the normal for them, every chance they get. The door slamming isn’t as bad as most hotels with positive “locking” doors. The guy who invented those damn doors needs to be shot dead. Hotel noises always come with maids slamming vacuum cleaners into the walls, and people traffic only when you finally nod out, then the BANG of the doors. I have a gift (curse) that I can tell you when someone comes home or leaves on most any floor from any spot. So campgrounds are the same but the noises aren’t as bad to me. You have camps that are meant to be pit stops from Interstate travel, camps that are actually cool to live in permanently and camps that should never be camps to begin with.
We thought of making Asheville a frequently visited city so we took two days following a Woodall’s guide to local camps. Camps aren’t inexpensive anymore. Even State owned parks are 30 bucks a night. Bear Creek is $45.00 to $55.00 per night and they offer an $850.00 monthly rate.
It is an excellent Pit Stop. We lived in 9A, a pull through site. The weather got rough and the tree above us started scratching at our roof. Within ten minutes, despite her always busy day, the boss had her team down to my camp and he and I clipped the limbs to fit our trailer! One traveler killed a water faucet with their trailer and the team had it fixed as soon as it stopped raining! We found a campground that doesn’t exist at all but for Woodall’s imagination. That was a good two hours wasted looking for nothing. The Pisgah Lake National State Park had perfect State Park views with a lake we couldn’t get to. The sites were tough for large units. Without a doubt to us the most beautiful picture perfect view was at a camp that had a frightening hill with a make no mistakes factor involved. But if you could make the climb the view at the top was spectacular, even in the rain! You can pay $75 bucks for a site with a view at Campfire Lodging. About five people get the primo views and the spots are cut so you don’t just see the back of another person’s trailer. The rest of the spots are surrounded by trees. Don’t be in a hurry coming up and down that hill……unless you have lost your brakes. We saw a $500,000.00 tow truck take a 40 foot coach down the hill, so if you have any skill you can make it and it is worth the climb. Wilson’s river is near a recreation park and I swear when we drove by it there was an Ultimate Frisbee game going on. It is cut in the middle of a giant runner’s track off the “Big” river. You can actually live in your van down by the river. I saw the perfect van with a tent off the open door that made me have flashbacks and appreciate that often smaller is better!
We had a three-day window to visit Biltmore Estate. We were tired the first night and that was the only clear night. We voted to sleep. So we visited on an after 4:30 pm you can come and hang around outside the next day pass. That “inexpensive” pass was $160.00 for two. It was drizzling the first night and we were only able to visit two floors and the front yard due to me wanting to photograph everything in site! We were upset at the weatherman because apparently being a weather person in the mountains is a lost cause. We didn’t make the second day because Asheville was experiencing record rainfall.
But we know not to travel if you think the weather waits for you alone! You need to be tough as nails to travel under the best of circumstances! We know to do Asheville will take some planning. First you have to fight for a spot or a room because the downtown people are just that cool to visit. I met a spinner. I attract spinners like a moth to lights! Of course, this spinner was at The Magic Mushroom known to locals as The Mellow Mushroom. Finding spinners in a good Pizza place is a thrill for me!
A good campground can be used as a pit stop or a final destination depending on your needs. We will be back to Asheville if we can find a spot to camp! We don’t have the luxury at the time of planning vacations when the weather is at its best. We take them as we can get them.
This was a well-earned and deserved vacation!
I envy John Cayton and Edgar Payne! They are true light writers and do our mountains the justice they deserve with their photography. The mountains have that way of sucking you in!
We had a well-deserved vacation in Asheville, NC the first week in November of 2018.