Recently I took a cross-country trip from Virginia to Texas. We skipped Interstate 40 opting for a byway instead for most of the trip. The first thing I noticed was there was a lot less traffic on this route. The second thing I noticed was that the roads seemed to be in much better shape! Not to mention the scenic route was beautiful. The idea of this trip was to make the most of a trip on a shoestring budget. I did some hunting around with three dogs, two of which are large it is not always easy to find accommodations that handle cover them for an affordable rate. After some deliberation, we decided that camping was the be the best choice.

We were also on a time crunch to be able to see all our family and friends in Texas before shipping out to Japan. The drive itself was 1,500 miles through the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Smokey Mountains, and the Shenandoah Valley which was beautiful but extremely slow. Unlike our trips from California to Texas over the years across almost completely flat terrain. To enjoy a trip like this I would suggest a week. We did were able to do it in three days with a moving truck and towing two vehicles.

We stayed at KOA’s campgrounds on this trip which offers everything from tent sites to cabins! Camping is making a comeback. On our first night, we stayed in Newport, TN at the Smokey Mountains KOA which was near a gorgeous lake! We did have a few hiccups along the way. We got our first site much later than expected, but we were surprised to find that the facility knowing we were a military had already set up a tent and left a nice note with a bundle of wood to have a campfire. I do not think I have ever been so grateful. The facilities were clean and welcoming every RV site was full. The campgrounds offer Wi-Fi, a pool, cable tv, and a dog park.

Our next stop was much closer to home we stayed at the Sallisaw KOA in Fort Smith, Arkansas. This was a great stop! It was Memorial Day weekend there were activities for the entire weekend for campers. The facility was new with a wonderful stay that came out after hours to meet us and show us to our site which included lighting, brand new BBQ grills, and wrought iron patio sets for each campsite. There were lawn games set up near a surprisingly large playground. Both places were clean with laundry facilities as well as swimming pools. Sallisaw had an ice cream social while we were there as well as face painting and movie night on the lawn. My understanding is many of the KOA’s offer events throughout the year now as an incentive to get more guests. We have stayed at many campgrounds over the year but always found KOA’s to be a good choice for cleanliness and safety. Many of the ones we have stayed at are located near historical sites as well.

We were able to complete the trip in three days with little to no problems. There was not much time for sightseeing this trip so the biggest highlights were the camp sites with plenty to do and a welcoming atmosphere!


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