Remember when I mentioned how much I hated all of the brown in our camper and how I couldn’t wait to get rid of it?
We JUST finished our first step in making changes within the camper. I got together with my mom and we sewed (ok, she sewed, I just advised) new curtain valences for the camper. Prior to our changes, all of the valences were dark brown and were either curtain valences or, like in the dinette, cornice board valences. I couldn’t STAND them. To me, they looked like something straight out of the 80’s, and while I love the 80’s and all of their awesome movies, music and tv shows, I don’t like the overabundance of drab brown colors!
Back when we first bought the camper, I purchased this adorable camper themed fabric from a seller on Etsy. We used a yard of it to cover the small throw pillows that came with the camper. I loved that fabric so much I ordered four more yards and decided to use it to make curtains to replace all of the ugly brown!
We simply just measured all of the windows and made simple rod pocket valences that would fit the existing hardware (which was the classic u-shaped adjustable rods) and changed them out. The windows in the rear slide and in the living area had the valences with additional side curtains that were connected by tension as well. We removed those altogether. When it came to the dinette, that was a little more complicated.
The dinette valences were cornice-board style and the blinds were screwed directly into the cornice board. We had to remove those from the cornices and then screw them into the wall instead of into the board, as that is how the accordion shades were installed on the other non-cornice board windows throughout the trailer. This was simple and easy. Once we had those, we purchased some additional u-shaped rods for around $1.50 each and installed those with the included hardware, flush to the ceiling. The end result made a HUGE difference in the brightness of the trailer. While it is still heavy on the brown, the slight change brighten up the interior quite considerably!
The next step in the interior transformation includes covering the cushions of the dinette and jacknife sofa. I can’t wait to see how those changes will brighten up the camper even more!
After spending 10 hours in the car on the way up, our second day in the Smoky Mountains started out a little slow. We started our day at breakfast in the hotel and then at the arcade for a bit before heading a little further into Sevierville to Forbidden Caverns and to the Little River Gem Mine.
Both my husband and I had a similar memories of visiting caverns as kids and we wanted to create a similar memory for our son, .. so off we went to explore! We couldn’t wait for him to experience underwater streams, rock formations, etc. and to explore and see what we don’t have in Louisiana–underground caves!
The drive from our resort to Forbidden Caverns was only about 15 minutes and it was a beautiful, scenic one that I thoroughly enjoyed. The road was dotted with farms, hills, and valleys and lots of unique barns, grist mills and other scenery. It was very quaint and had a lot of charm! Before we knew it, we were pulling in and grabbing our sweatshirts to explore the caverns below.
Tours start on the hour and we arrived about 10 minutes before the tour was to start. This gave us time to explore the gift shop and explain to our son that it would be dark and that it could be slippery. The tour was very entertaining and our young guide was very knowledgeable about all of the formations and the history of the area! I think our favorite part was seeing the large breaks in the rocks as well as the underwater stream that flowed below. We really enjoyed our experience and highly recommend it to anyone who wants to explore caverns but doesn’t want a super tough workout. We were able to do this hike through the caverns without much effort or complaint from the little guy. Also, be sure to bring a sweatshirt if you get cold easily as the temperature in the caverns is around 54 degrees.
Also, while we were there, we took a drive about 10 minutes from the resort to the Little River Gem Mine, where we mined for gems and had a great time. When we pulled up, we were not sure what to expect, but the experience was really fun, especially for our ive year old son. For the price of $20, he was given a bucket and he was able to pan for gems. The experience was great for him– and the gal there was knowledgeable about all of the stones he came across. He came home with a big ole pan full of all sorts of beautiful stones that we now have on display in our home!! I can’t begin to rave about how much fun we all had panning for gems and learning about the different rocks from the lady that was helping us. Right next door to the gem mine, there is also a large antique store that I thoroughly enjoyed peeking in with the hopes of finding some Shawnee dishware for my mom, but I didn’t find any, much to my dismay.
After our adventures, we headed back to the resort for some more pool and fun time, but that was just the beginning of our adventures around the mountains!
Read More about our Smoky Mountain Vacation:
Sometimes a family just wants to go camping, but doesn’t want to travel too far or to someplace too complicated. Located along the Tchefuncte River in Madisonville, Louisiana, Fairview Riverside State Park is a great small park for a family wanting to get away and get reconnected with the outdoors.
Fairview Riverside State Park is located on Highway 22 in Madisonville and just minutes from downtown Mandeville and Covington. It is about a 45 minute drive across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway from New Orleans and is a great respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Home to the Otis House, a 19th century Queen Anne style home, Fairview Riverside is a small state park with a lot of character. It is also home to a small campground that has 72 RV ready sites as well as 20 primitive sites. Amenities at the park include a fishing pier, boat launch, playground, bath houses, hiking and biking trails along with tours of the Otis House. This is a beautiful state park with many centuries old moss covered oak trees and scenery that is serene and peaceful. The location is also within a 10-15 minute proximity to restaurants, entertainment, and stores if you need any essentials. There is a neat Maritime Museum nearby and lots of great dining along the river in Madisonville.
Campsites are spacious and relatively easy to back into. Most sites are level and concrete pads are provided. There are ample trees and the sites are shady and spacious. Campsites come with water & electrical hookups, but no sewer. There is a dump station nearby. Roads are all paved and the campground is easy to navigate. Bath houses are very well maintained; they are spacious, clean, air conditioned and have ample hot water and good water pressure. Each bath house has several individual showers and toilet areas, that are separate rooms and are very private. Sometimes, we will use bath houses when camping and in the case of this state park, we were glad to use them to save time and space in our camper in the evenings.
There are two playgrounds; one in the day use area as well as one in the campground. Both are well maintained and provided plenty of fun for the kids. If you like fishing, Fairview is right along the Tchefuncte River and has a fishing pier available as well. We did not catch any fish, but we did enjoy watching the boats travel along the river and at least trying to catch a few! Because the campground was small, we were also able to let our kids ride bikes while still being able to watch them. Also, there were not a lot of guests when we stayed, so the campground was pretty quiet and free from lots of car traffic, we were able to enjoy the peace and quiet of the weekend. The ample space for the kids to play and explore was fantastic; it allowed their imaginations to shine and take over for the weekend! The state park does mention that they offer wifi, but we were not able to get a good enough signal for much at all.
The only park staff we encountered was the clerk at the front entrance and that was pleasant. There were no rangers that we came across during our stay. We are not sure if that was because of state budget cuts or because the park is generally quiet and does not require any intervention. Overall, the park was clean and well maintained. If you are looking for a no-fuss camping experience with the charm of natural beauty, Fairview Riverside State Park is a great option!
PARK STAFF: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
AMENITIES ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
KID FRIENDLY ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
BATH HOUSES ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
OVERALL CLEANLINESS ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
CAMPSITES ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
OVERALL RATING ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Sometimes, we take vacations that are not in our travel trailer—this year, instead of taking our annual beach trip to Gulf State Park, we opted to take a trip to the Smoky Mountains and stay at the Wilderness at the Smokies Resort in Sevierville, Tennessee.
Wilderness at the Smokies is a large, sprawling hotel and water park resort that has both indoor & outdoor waterparks, a large arcade and family entertainment area, restaurants, café, and comfortable rooms. It is located about 30 minutes off Interstate 40, in Sevierville, TN, right outside the tourist center of the Smoky Mountains: Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. It was about a 20 minute drive to everything.
The resort had an indoor water park that featured a surfing simulator, wave pool, 4 water slides, a regular pool and a spray park area. Our son, who is 5, was able to ride almost all slides and had a blast on them. He especially was a fan of the surfing simulator! The pools were all clean and well maintained and there were adequate lifeguard staff on standby for any emergencies.
There was also two outdoor water parks. The main water park was located at the larger resort of Wilderness at the Smokies and it featured a second spray park area that had features for younger kids, 6 waterslides, a lazy river, and wave pool. Our 5 year old son was tall enough to ride the racing slides and also play in the lazy river, wave pool, and other areas. I had a spectacularly relaxing time getting stuck in a raft in the lazy river. There were also plenty of lifeguards on hand to ensure safety, and many were very friendly and amenable if you had questions or concerns. The second water park was at the Stone Hill Lodge across the street and featured a pool, bucket spray feature area and several more waterslides. Personally, I preferred this pool area because it was smaller and easier to keep an eye on my son while I sunbathed. This pool area is more suited to younger kids.
If you are tired of being in the water parks, there is also a large arcade area that features miniature golf, bowling, a ropes course, arcade games, laser tag, and a rock climbing wall. Gaming cards can be purchased in the Adventure Forest arcade and it covers all of the arcade area attractions. There is also “happy hour” in the mornings where these games are half off!
There are also restaurants at Wilderness at the Smokies—we only tried the breakfast buffet. The breakfast buffet at the Thirsty Miner restaurant features Kids Eat Free (8 and under) but we feel like there was not a lot of value with regards to what was offered for breakfast for the cost incurred ( around $15 per adult). The breakfast was okay, but it was typical breakfast fare with nothing exceptional or innovative. We also did eat pizza at the café in the arcade and in the pool area, once again, it was adequate, but nothing to write home about. We never did get ice cream or anything else at the resort, but we were pleased with the proximity of the hotel to several supermarkets, pharmacies, and restaurants to cover any other incidental needs.
Overall, we enjoyed our stay at Wilderness at the Smokies and would likely consider coming back! We enjoyed all of the fun activities for the kids, the central location to the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area and the value for our stay. We have already recommended it to other friends and family! Although, next time we head to the Great Smoky Mountains, we think we may do it in our RV!
There are some days where a cute little gift can make someone’s day. I call these gifts “sussies” and they are the kinds of gifts that you grab just because you know someone will love them. My neighbors and family know that I am a big fan of gifts that are themed around camping and travel, and I thought I’d share some of these fun little recent gifts with you! Take a peek and get some ideas just in case you are looking to treat yourself or someone else who has a love for RV themed items!
Handmade Personalized Camper Ornament by Marcella’s Engraveables
I came across these adorable handcrafted ornaments in a Facebook group dedicated to people who are passionate about RV camping in Louisiana. When I saw someone else get one, I knew I wanted one for our family. A quick stop on this Etsy site, and I scooped one up for our tree! She makes these adorable ornaments from reclaimed wood from the recent remodel of her own camper! These would make a great gift for someone who loves camping!
Personalized Happy Camper Pillowcase by Little Boy Luke Designs
One day as I was scrolling through Instagram, I saw that my friend Robin had designed these adorable “Happy Camper” personalized pillowcases. I saw them and I knew we needed one for our little guy, so I went ahead and ordered. She mocked one up for us and I can’t wait to see our son’s face when we put it in his birthday gift box! Also, if you want one for yourself or anyone else in your family, she is offering Savoie Faire readers a discount code for 10% off your pillow case! Use code SAVOIEFAIRE10.
Handmade Personalized Kitchen Towel by Scissortail Designs
Another great gift idea from one of my favorite Facebook groups for camping– Jessica, the owner of Scissortail, makes all kind of great camping themed items that would make great gifts or accessories for your own RV’s. This hand towel is super soft, personalized, and is a useful gift for any new RV owner.
This item was not on my radar until the other night when my neighbor brought it over as a little gift for us. She saw it and immediately thought of our family! After using it, I immediately fell in love! It is a useful and adorable gift that I will likely give to others in the future! This little towel is thick and biodegrable and can be used in so many different ways!
Disclosure:This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission.
Right off Interstate 10 in the heart of Cajun country you can find Cajun Palms RV Resort. Probably one of the first RV resorts in Louisiana, Cajun Palms is a campground that puts their focus on fun and activities for the family.
Cajun Palms is has over 300 campsites that surround a water park, playground, clubhouse, and miniature golf course. All roads within the resort are concrete and level, however the campsites could be tight for larger motorhomes and trailers. Sites have some space but have little to no shade. All sites have full hookups and cable television. Upon check in, everyone in your party will be given an armband that must be worn while on the premises. The first 4 armbands are included in the price of the campsite, however, if you have extra guests, an extra fee is charged per person, per day. The only exception is made for children in a family, however a birth certificate providing proof of parentage is required to avoid the fee. Bracelets provide entrance into the pool and other entertainment areas; and are used at the resort to charge food, drinks, etc. onto your account. Guides will show you to your site and assist if needed. Overall, park staff is friendly and accommodating.
Amenities include 3 pools: one large pool with a swim up bar, one for waterslides and volleyball, and a large shallow childrens’ pool with spray features and small slides. The pools do not open until 10 A.M. and a line forms outside the gate as early as 9:15 or 9:30 for guests to reserve chairs for their party with towels, etc. There are pool cabanas provided for a fee. For the amount of people permitted within the resort, there does not appear to be enough chairs available to accommodate guests. No outside food or drinks are allowed in the pool; employees are at the gates checking bags before they permit you to enter. The pools are nice, but it was noted on several different trips that the chlorine levels in the main pool is so strong that it burns the skin of the children near their eyes, even with wearing goggles. Also, if you are visiting on a Saturday, the main pool becomes so crowded with guests that the pool filtration seems to have trouble keeping up. It was full of hair, bugs, and a greasy sheen on top of the water. This was notably not present on days when the crowd was not as large. There is also a hot tub for those 18 and up, however, every time we have gotten inside, the water is not very hot. The childrens’ pool is fun for the smaller kids, but older children may get bored quickly as it is shallow and all of the slides are small. There are also two larger waterslides that flow into a volleyball pool; these were great, and provided fun for the kids, but this pool is not very large.
Other amenities include a playground, mini movie theater, miniature golf, an arcade, a gym, beach volleyball court, fishing ponds, and a band stand with bar. Miniature golf, movies, and simulator all incur an additional charge. Cajun Palms also offers wifi, but that also comes with an additional charge. Bath Houses at Cajun Palms are well maintained and equipped with roomy showers and space. Laundry equipment is also available in the bath houses.
There is a big conundrum at Cajun Palms, though. While it offers many family friendly activities, it is not 100% kid friendly. The kid-centric pool is great, there is lot of fun for smaller children, but the other pool, as mentioned before is ½ adult and ½ kid friendly. This pool is often very crowded with adults enjoying alcoholic beverages and also, as mentioned before, strong on the chemicals. The general atmosphere of that pool is more adult-centric even though there are slides and play spaces that are child centered within the pool. Also, while there are lots of roads for kids to ride bikes and explore, the environment is not safe for them to do so. Cajun Palms permits its guests to drive golf carts through the property, and there is a constant steady stream of a golf cart parade throughout the resort. Because there is no way to police golf carts, there is a constant need for children to pull over to accommodate golf carts. Also, loud music is permitted until 10 or 11 at night, so it may be difficult for small children, or adults to settle in for the night.
Overall Cajun Palms is a fun experience for the family. The several times we have gone, we have enjoyed ourselves. However, as a family, we are not fans of the party atmosphere and overcrowded pool as well as the additional “nickel and dime” aspect of extra charges on several amenities. Overall Cajun Palms is worth a visits if it suits you and your family- when It comes to our family, we prefer a more laid-back vibe.
PARK STAFF ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
AMENITIES ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
KID FRIENDLY ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
OVERALL CLEANLINESS ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
CAMPSITES ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
OVERALL RATING ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
If there is one thing I love about camping, it’s the food. Whether it is cooking up a pot of jambalaya over the campfire or grilling up some hot dogs, I love it all. If we are being honest here, I just love food in general, but I especially love s’mores. There is just something incredibly comforting when you experience crunch of the cracker and the ooze of the gooey marshmallows and chocolate. It’s just out of this world!
Sometimes, though, I get bored with your regular garden variety s’mores. And sometimes, there are burn bans at the campground, it’s too hot for a fire, or I’m too antsy to wait for the marshmallow to roast perfectly. When that’s the case, I like to rely on these different versions of s’mores.
Most people have a love or hate relationship with Peeps, the famous sugar coated marshmallows in the shapes of chicks and bunnies that we all have seen around Easter. Personally, I don’t really like them at all, I find that they are overly sweet. BUT I LOVE them in a s’more. When roasted, the sugar on the peeps creates a perfectly crunchy and caramelized exterior to the oozing goodness of the middle marshmallow. This is actually the only way that I’ll eat Peeps and I stalk the stores after Easter to get extras on clearance to keep in the camper! Ha!
I always keep the ingredients for these on hand when I get an envie for s’mores. They are super simple and are safe to make around the little ones, too. You still get the flavors without the risk of burning your tongue or fingers on a hot marshmallow. These are also great if there is a burn ban or if it is too hot for a campfire. Simply break your graham crackers into halves, spread some marshmallow fluff and Nutella on the inside of the grahams, and enjoy! Or, if you want to use chocolate, you can dip the sandwiches in melted chocolate chips. They still taste delicious but are much easier and safer for everyone!
Sometimes I just don’t feel like getting my hands all gooey and dirty, but I still want to enjoy the goodness that is s’mores. If I know we are going on a camping trip with a big group, sometimes I will make a batch of this snack mix to share for a snack or dessert after a community dinner. I also made this and put it in little baggies for a camping themed birthday party when my son was 2 and it was a big hit! It’s as easy and combining a small box of Golden Grahams Cereal, a bag of mini marshmallows, and a bag of semi sweet chocolate chips in a big ziplock and mixing well. If you want to avoid a mess with the chocolate chips, you can use chocolate O’s instead!
If you were to ask anyone what my one food weakness is- it would be chocolate chip cookies. Some people love ice cream, others love cake, but I am a sucker when it comes to a good freshly made chocolate chip cookie. This idea was developed when I tried to give my then 3 year old a traditional s’more and he informed me he didn’t like graham crackers. Naturally, we had some chocolate chip cookies on hand and I subbed the cookies in and these delicious bites of heaven were born!
Yes, you read that right. These are a totally a copycat of the famous Rice Krispy Treats, except instead of using Rice Krispies, I use Golden Grahams Cereal. I also add in mini chocolate chips and if I am feeling really adventurous, I’ll melt some extra chocolate chips and drizzle the chocolate over them to make them look fancy. These are great to make before a camping trip (or a bake sale, perhaps?) cut them up, and wrap for a quick sweet treat!