Is It an RV Park or a Neighborhood?

On our way between two major stops—Finn in Michigan and appointments in Texas—we’re visiting our Airstreaming friends, Sherri and Mooch, whom we met two winters ago in the Florida Keys and feel a special connection with.

I’ve posted this photo before when we ran into them unexpectedly at different Florida campground; it shows how much fun we have together.

They have a lot (as in, a nice-sized campsite) in an amazingly lovely Airstream park where they stay between travels; it’s called the Tennessee Cumberland Plateau Campground (TCPC).

This place is like a beautiful rural neighborhood (we’re here in the fall, which is gorgeous, but I hear the spring is amazing, as well). The lots are large, with lots of trees and gardens and decks. The only difference between this neighborhood and one like it outside of Chattanooga, for instance, is that all the houses are actually Airstreams.

Our Site

Normally, as visitors we would have been assigned a simple back-in gravel spot in the woods without any to do. Because we have connections (we do!) we scored a site that’s empty right now because it’s for sale, and it’s pretty much across the street from Sherri and Mooch.

We’re backed up beside a covered patio, and the two buildings behind us belong to the site: one that could be a nice little office or lounge and the other a storage shed. It’s a large site, and damn is it nice.

Sites Around the Park

People’s sites vary as much as the people here do (within neighborhood ordinances, like anywhere else).

Some are owned by fulltimers like us who just drop by when they’re near Tennessee, and they don’t bother with the outbuildings.

Other people go all out: they build huge ports to protect their trailers, and they build decks, patios, outside bars, firepits, outbuildings, all kinds of structures to make their lots welcoming and homey. (I tried to take pictures of lots where the people are away so I wouldn’t look like I was snooping.)

Some folks have what look like downright small houses built right beside their trailers, while others seem to keep things simple, but you know they have stuff going on out back.

Unusual Airstreams

Again, I haven’t taken many pics in order to preserve people’s privacy, but here are a few of the many unusual and even rare Airstreams parked here.

It’s like an Airstream museum walking through the place. An unusual non-aluminum trailer model (that I need to research), the rare Airstream Touring Coach, and an even rarer Airstream 5th-wheel. There are some vintage beautiful trailers here, too.

What’s behind the Trailers

Our first night here, the folks next to us invited Sherri and Mooch and us over for dinner at their outside bar and grill, and then we sat around their back firepit. I didn’t take photos because I was worn out and overwhelmed with kindness, but they said yes when I asked to take a few as they were packing up a couple of days later (they live in a house nearby and spend weekends at their trailer every month or so).

From our site, it looks unassuming (like many sites here). Step back to the buildings though, and it’s everything you’d want for a vacation house, right next to your trailer.

The dad and his friend built a huge bar on casters, which I immediately sat at while he was grilling the fajita ingredients, and I pestered him about how much I miss bars. It’s bare-bones in this photo because they’d packed up, but they have all the fun stuff at their bar and grill. It’s delightful.

Mooch and Sherri’s Place

They’re busy changing a few things around their outside space so I haven’t bugged them about photos. But they have a main porch area, just like anyone’s very nice deck, but it’s under a roof and well heated with comfy sofas and lamps, and a bar for parties. A building in the back is Sherri’s She Shed where she has a beautifully decorated office for her Airstream International volunteer work, plus more baskets than I’ve ever seen in the rafters as storage, and Mooch’s tools.

We’ve spent several evenings with them there, and in this chilly fall weather it seems like the living room of a mountain cottage, just with an Airstream parked right beside. How convenient for them, and how relaxing for us!

Social Life

As Sherri pointed out, before we even arrived I’d made several new acquaintances in the neighborhood. Anne Marie, the camp host who checked us in, is taking me for a hike tomorrow morning. Susie, who runs a Facebook group for Airstreamers who enjoy interior decorating (the first place new owners go for ideas to make their factory-bland trailers colorful) agreed to take my Tiny Sushi Restaurant. She’s invited me to her lavishly decorated screen porch; I’m excited to see it but haven’t made it there yet.

That’s because I’ve been so busy going to dinner, going on walks, and attending the weekly Saturday night jam session at the communal firepit. Two excellent guitarists were there the night we went, and they played together and separately, lovely old tunes, funny parodies, actually enjoyable sing-alongs, even special requests they’d been working on for their neighbors.

They were so extraordinarily gracious to invite me to play with them. I know for some musicians it’s standard culture to invite beginners to sit in and play gently along during jam sessions, but these guys literally gave me a turn along in their lineup to play my own songs, which just about delighted me to death. Of course, I was nervous as could be and forgot some lyrics and even more chord progressions, but thanks to everyone’s good humor, I made stuff up as I went along and ended up laughing throughout my mistakes.

Mooch played his homemade one-string stand-up bass, in pure Mooch style. He’s part of the fun committee that holds these jams, and he built the fire that lasted until Tracy and I were the final people to leave the jam late that night. Think we like it here enough?

Usually I say: “the scenery [or hiking or kayaking] here is amazing.” Or I’ll say, “it’s the people who made this trip worth [whatever it took to get here].” So far, TCPC has it all, and it’s going to be very hard to leave after nine nights here. I feel like the fun has just begun.

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