Pittsburgh to Knoxville, TN
Heiskell (Knoxville), TN - Events of Wednesday, September 24 to Thursday, September 25, 2014
As we said in our last post, we pulled out from Lora and J. Michael's driveway on Wednesday and headed south. Our destination was Knoxville, TN with an overnight stop at Ft. Chiswell RV Park near Wytheville, VA. At 5½ hours, Ft. Chiswell RV is a bit farther than we usually like to drive in a day, but it is an excellent place for an overnight stop because it's a nice campground and essentially all their sites are pull-throughs. We looked for a campground a little closer to Pittsburgh, but we couldn't find anything as nice as Ft. Chiswell RV.
The 5½-hour drive was lengthened to over 6 hours by a traffic slowdown due to an earlier accident on I-79 just south of Pittsburgh and by a fuel stop at a very crowded Flying J. With diesel at $3.50 a gallon, the place had trucks lined up wall-to-wall waiting to get to the truck pumps. The line was long enough to block the entrance to the RV lanes. But we can't complain too much because gas was cheap, too - $2.99 a gallon plus a 3-cent a gallon discount for the Flying J RV loyalty card. With the additional delays, we didn't arrive at Ft. Chiswell until around 3 p.m.
Ft. Chiswell RV Park has about 90 sites with full hookups and 30/50-amp electric. There is free cable and free Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi had a strong signal, and it was pretty fast, at least it was when we first got there. It did bog down a little in the late afternoon and evening when the campground filled up. There was a strong Verizon 4G signal, but it also slowed somewhat later in the afternoon.
The roads at Ft. Chiswell RV are paved, and most of the pads are gravel; but there are about 20 sites that are all grass and about 10 that have paved pads. We lucked out and got a site with a paved pad. The sites have decent spacing for a private campground, although the ones with paved pads are a little closer together than some of the others. The rate at Ft. Chiswell RV Park was around $33 a night with a Good Sam discount.
The section behind us had gravel pads, trees and a little wider spacing.
In spite of the fact the traffic is very heavy on this section of road where I-77 and I-81 run concurrently for several exits, and in spite of the fact Ft. Chiswell RV Park is only a short distance from the exit, there is surprisingly little traffic noise. That's because there is a pretty big rise between the RV park and the highway that blocks a lot of the sound.
We got on the road around 9:30 the next morning for the second leg of our journey to Knoxville. The drive was about 3 hours to the Escapees Raccoon Valley RV Park in Heiskell, TN, which is located a short distance to the north of Knoxville.
The sites at Raccoon Valley are much closer together than those at our favorite Escapees RV park - Rainbow Plantation in Summerdale, AL. However, it's hard to beat the Escapees parks for price. With a weekly rate, our cost for a full-hookup site with 50-amp electric was less than $17 a night.
The roads and pads at Raccoon Valley are gravel. All sites have full hookups. Some have 30-amp electric, and some have 30/50-amp electric for an additional $1 a night.
Our original plan when we left Pittsburgh was to head east to Pennsylvania Dutch country around Lancaster. However, we weren't sure of our departure date from Pittsburgh until right before we arrived, and we weren't sure how long we wanted top stay in the Lancaster area once we got there. Therefore, we held off making reservations until the last minute, and by then it was too late to get a site. Like Berlin, OH, the campgrounds in the Lancaster area book up pretty far in advance for fall weekends.
Since we couldn't get a site in Lancaster, we went to Plan B, which was to head south. That actually turned out to be a good plan because, not only are the campgrounds in the Lancaster area very expensive ($40 to $60 a night), the weather was turning cooler faster than we expected. We went from a high temperature one day near the end of our stay in Pittsburgh that didn't get out of the 50s to highs in the 80s in Knoxville. Now, that's more like it!
We haven't been to the Knoxville area for quite some time, and we're looking forward to exploring. Look for our next post to see what we found.