There’s something to be said about being able to live in a rural setting and still find like-minded community among the “hollers” and switchbacks here in our Smoky Mountains. Recently I have had the immense pleasure of getting to know a new friend named Primrose. Her long red hair, petite stature, and soft speaking voice give rise to an English countryside in my mind, perhaps an afternoon of tea surrounded by pleasantries and light-hearted conversation. However, the more I get to know her, the more I find the fiery passion underneath the English accent and demure manners is something even more beautiful than the disarming smile she throws my way upon arriving for my first visit at her and her partner Jim’s Air bnb, Camp G.R.I.T.S. I had driven past it too many times to count over the past years, wondering about the tipi set up by the creek that I could see from the road. As we have been getting acquainted through homeschooling and environmental activism, I decided it was time for a trip to check it out.
I find myself in a paradox as I sit here typing. I have so much to try and fit in this post to tell you about Camp G.R.I.T.S. ~ and yet no words will describe the experience of being there in person! Comfortable, serene, creative, unique ~ here’s a few we can start with. As you walk around on their little homestead, you find so many things to look at that are more than just the beauty of the natural setting.
There is no doubt of artists at large on the property, as well as knowledge in sustainable building. We even got a glimpse of a couple of deer as her dog chased them, tail wagging and ready to play, unaware that deer do not play with dogs (but they were too fast for photos)!
Camp G.R.I.T.S. (which adorably stands for “Glamping Right In The Smokies”) currently has 4 possibilities for the weary traveler ~ a tipi, a cabin, and two quaint renovated travel campers. Outside of each of these you will find a sitting area and a fire pit, and they are all nestled amongst the trees to have privacy from each other. Attention to details include not only a comfortable space but also fresh flowers, tasteful décor, and lots of little touches to please all 5 senses.
While each space is intended for sleeping and relaxing, there are several composting outhouses and an outdoor bath house, all of which built, decorated, and kept for comforts far beyond a normal camping experience. Color coding makes it easy to find your parking spot as well as the way to your destination!
The red camper, or Bonanza, was my first stop. I immediately fell in love with the bicycle that had been re-purposed into a shelf. There are examples all over the property, both in the rentals and in their own home, of sustainable, practical art such as this! Inside it was cozy and there were some great mini field guides for identifying things you may find on your hikes in our mountains.
The yellow camper is set up similarly to the red camper, and I was pleased to find that they are using solar panels for the lighting! It is also an extremely cozy nook in the forest, perfect for solitude and space to unwind from all of the stresses of the world.
Looking at the outhouses I found that they too were set up with taste and an eye for creature comforts ~ but with the conscious effort of composting instead of sewage! For those of you who haven’t experienced a composting outhouse, you will be pleasantly surprised to find it is easy, clean, and environmentally friendly. Contrary to some modern beliefs, you do not have to sacrifice your dignity to avoid the harmful practice of water waste through modern plumbing toilets.
Let’s talk a minute about the outdoor bath house at Camp G.R.I.T.S. I was completely inspired and intend on doing something very similar when we build ours! The set up is amazing, and I will say now I did not get a picture that will do it justice. There is a large cast iron tub with a shower head above it. What is even more exciting than that tub, is that there are 2 ways to heat the water! There is an on-demand water heater on one wall that’s attached to the shower part, and space under the tub to build a fire (along with a healthy stack of cut firewood). Three sides have walls, and one side has a heavy duty curtain that can close to a complete privacy wall. The way the roof is above the walls was also genius in my mind, because with the temperate rain forest we often have the challenge of mold and damp spaces, so completely enclosing this space would mean a very limited lifespan of the wood to build it.For those readers who don’t camp often, or may not have much knowledge or working understanding of sustainable living, let me tell you now that having hot water for any sort of bathing is nothing to take for granted, and having somewhere to soak in it is absolutely priceless!
The Black Cabin is definitely my favorite of the spaces available for rest and relaxation. You can tell Jim and Primrose put knowledge, patience, and lots of effort into the construction of the building. I was particularly joyous as Primrose explained how one window was salvaged from an old garage door, and much of the wood was refuse from a local place in Gatlinburg when they did a big remodel. The loft bedroom has it’s own little sitting balcony, and the entire cabin fills with sunlight during the day. It feels so spacious and inviting!!
When I inquired about amenities that are part of their “glamping” services, Primrose explained that each guest is given at least farm fresh eggs, fresh bread, and an assortment of teas and coffee so that upon rising in the morning, they can participate in their camping experience and create a rustic, healthy, satisfying breakfast in their lodgings (or whatever else they might like to cook).
Each space is stocked with a way to cook, cooking utensils, and everything needed for preparing food and beverage. I particularly liked this feature because it gives the guest an opportunity to truly experience their surroundings for a day, to live simply and to avoid the disposable breakfast “bad” habits of vacationing. It adds a well-rounded activity to the conscious traveler’s visit to our mountains, and conveys the message of many of us who live here all the time ~ slow down and help co-create your own experiences, one that includes a smaller footprint and the satisfaction of doing so.
It was a lot of fun bouncing between Primrose and Jim for the “nickel tour”. Hearing the different perspectives, seeing the different skills and projects they brought together, and experiencing Camp G.R.I.T.S. with the hosts gave me a full understanding of what a “Superhost” is supposed to be on Air bnb. Their son is also a good indicator of the tranquility found in their little paradise. He is 6, and an absolutely amazing child. His interests, his inquisitiveness, and his intelligence are all clearly being fostered in love and with a freedom not found for so many children in this society. It was a lot of fun watching him exploring his every day surroundings with a keen eye and find new discoveries every step of the way.
After our visit to Camp G.R.I.T.S. we poked around on the internet and were not surprised to find they are highly rated and written about positively in several places by travelers who discovered their little home away from home. They stay booked, so this isn't an easy spot to grab a last-minute booking at!
Since Primrose’s mother is visiting from England currently, I have made plans to return tomorrow for a proper English tea ~ bringing @cassidydawn along makes it a cultural field trip for home school! Being a connoisseur of teas and also a lover of the British traditions, I am particularly excited about our upcoming excursion. I will make sure to tell you all about it later this week!
Primrose showing me a wooden cigarette box from her collection of random vintage items. The bird actually can pick the cigarettes up out of the box with a few turns!! (Please note that Primrose does NOT endorse smoking, she is simply a collector of lovely unique items)
If you would like to know more about this fabulous getaway in the Great Smoky Mountains, here are some links. They are located just a few miles from the park border and a short drive to all of the tourist locations you might like to check out while you are here ~ and just a few miles from our little homestead as well. I would highly recommend this place for worldschoolers as well along with the joyful traveler.
I have also now added Camp G.R.I.T.S. to @steemitworldmap [//]:# (!steemitworldmap 35.814108 lat -83.292067 long Camp G.R.I.T.S. Air BnB (Sustainable Travel Lodgings) d3scr) Hopefully I did this correctly, if anyone knows I did it wrong please tell me in the comments!