Hard Goodbye in K-town!

Ashley Longnecker Ashley Longnecker / October 27, 2015
Vol park

We got to Knoxville a day early. After our 17 mile ride in Abingdon we decided to head on to K-town so that Jon could have a full day of work Tuesday. Jon’s brother and sister knew that we were coming early but his parents had no idea. I planned a family cookout at the campground and we were able to get Dan and Cheryll there without them knowing what was going on...until they pulled into the campground!

We had a nice dinner and got to catch up with family that night. It was good to see everyone and we were able to tell Dan and Cheryll that we were actually staying in K-town for a whole month

By the way, we choose to stay at Volunteer Park Family Campground due to thier cheap monthly rate.

Now, why a whole month? Good question. We had a lot of things to do!

Lets start with decluttering our trailer. Turns out, we didn’t need as many things as we thought. I didn’t think we loaded our new house on wheels with anything extra but...turns out you don’t really know what you need until you are on the road. We had several empty drawers/cabinets after a couple runs to storage and Goodwill. It was a good feeling for awhile. They got filled with other things that will be more useful on the road.

We traded out our huge zero gravity chairs for bag style chairs in order to free up some space in the basement. I was able to get rid of a few more things in the basement so that we could store our bike trailer in there. 

We had a goal to get rid of the bike rack on the back of the RV since it’s not supposed to be back there anyway. In order to take the rack off of the back, we needed to get Jett a bigger bike with 20” tires so that we could rack his bike on top of the truck with ours and Adali’s bike. We also sold Ada’s Strider bike since she picked up riding two wheels in no time. Now her bike can be stored in the basement as well instead of the back of the RV. For now, the bike rack is in our storage unit until we figure out if we will need it again or not.

My parents! My parents were able to come down from Indiana and brought my sister and her 3 boys too! It was SO great to see them. Even though it rained the whole time they were here, the kids were still able to play outside since our neighbor had left and his lot has a large cover over the lot. My nephews brought their skateboards and showed off some of their new tricks. They also brought their guitars and it was so nice for Jonathan to have people to jam with. Can you believe that we had 12 people in our house at one time and no one got angry?!?! It was so awesome to have a house full of people I love. I am so thankful that they were all able to get down here for a weekend. 

One more thing that we wanted to accomplish is getting our kids Passports. We opted for the books on the off chance that we will get the opportunity to fly to another country. We know that we will be visiting Mexico and Canada in the next year, but that will be via land, not air. We hope that we will be able to have the Passports in hand by December.

Jon had a conference for mid October and I was lucky enough to get to go and tag along. We were in San Antonio from Wednesday until Sunday. Yes, this is all our luggage :) We have learned how to pack light! 


It was nice to get to have some alone time, but also really weird since we have been with our kids 24/7 for the last 5 months! Many thanks to Dan and Cheryll who were able to take off work to be with our kids while we were away. It was so nice to not have to worry about them. We knew they would have a blast and I’m not sure they were ready to come home with us after having SO MUCH fun with Mimi and Papa.

The end of December we planned a camping trip at the Dry Tortugas National Park. We will be dry camping for 2 nights at Fort Jefferson. If you don’t know about this park, check it out hereWe are so excited about this camping trip, but didn’t have much gear for dry camping. While in Knoxville we purchased sleeping mats for everyone, which lay flat under our mattresses for storage. We also got everyone a nice sleeping bag. We already have a tent so now the main thing we need for this trip is a cooler that will hold ice for 3 days and a plan of what to take as far as food/water goes. This will be our first dry camping trip since the time we drove to Panama City Beach and camped at St. Andrews State Park last September. Although I am not looking forward to the 2.5 hour ferry ride out to the island, I think once we get there it will be amazing. Just praying for good weather at this point.

It was also really nice to catch up with a few close friends while in town. I planned a campfire for people to come hang out with us, check out our house and eat my homemade marshmallows and s’mores. It was so fun to get to see everyone. We even got to meet up with 2 other full-time families who were in the area that evening. If you’d like to make your own homemade marshmallows, check out this video tutorial.

Something else we did in K-town to make our lives easier is installing this new 5th wheel tailgate. Some people don’t like them, but so far it’s been a great purchase. It’s so much easier for us to hook up the trailer and not worry about the old tailgate banging into the trailer.


While in town, we were so busy catching up with friends and family that we were longing for an adventure. We found out that the Museum of Appalachia was having their Homecoming weekend while we were in town so we asked Dan and Cheryll if they would like to go with us. It was neat to get to see the different crafts that people were doing and listen to the music. We all had a good time that night and it was so good to get out and learn new things.

Museum of Appalachia

We were also dying to get back out to House Mountain. It was our first family hike before we started traveling full time and we really wanted to hike it again. This time we would bring our hammock to enjoy the view from the top. It was much easier to hike up this time and we were so glad we decided to go again. 

Jax apple

We had a few things that we needed to get fixed on the truck before we hit the road. A lock on one of the doors not working, new shocks, new steering box, alignment, drivers door was loose, a couple lights out, new windshield wipers and an oil change. We left the truck before we headed out to the conference and picked it up a week later with all of our issues addressed. It was so nice to have that taken care of while we were out of town. We only had to borrow a car for 3 days but we were all glad to have our trusty Beebop back :)

Jet truck

We also had an appointment to finally get the grey tank fixed at Tennessee RV. They had ordered our tank (actually ended up with two after a miscommunication with the manufacturer) and we were ready to get that fixed along with the bathroom fan that stopped working. We dropped it off on a Thursday morning (we were leaving town the following Saturday) and we called Thursday evening to make sure it went smoothly. Turns out neither of the tanks were the ones that matched the part that they ordered. So, they were only able to patch the tank instead of a full replacement. We will have to figure out when to get that fixed another time. They were supposed to also fix the fan in our bathroom but hadn’t done that either. They tried to replace the motor in it (which was approved by the manufacturer) but that didn’t do anything. It still did not work. We went to pick it up and saw that they had not sprayed the foam insulation around our water lines in the underbelly so we told them we were not taking our RV until it was fixed and our fan was working. We left it that night in hopes that we would have our house back Friday sometime. Guess what, they totally delivered. They installed a brand new fan (that we didn’t have to pay for) and they sealed up the underbelly. Everyone there was really nice. I just wish we had been able to get our tank replaced like we were supposed to. I’m still not sure if that’s Tennessee RV’s fault or the manufacturer (Grand Design RV).

Since we didn’t have a house to sleep in Thursday night, we were able to sleep at Jonathan’s parents. It worked out well and the kids were able to squeeze in one more sleepover at Mimi and Papa’s! 

With all this time spent with Jon’s parents I knew the kids would have a hard time leaving. What I didn’t know is just how hard it would be on them, and us. 


Our last night in K-town we went to dinner with Dan and Cheryll and Sarah (Jon’s sister). I just had to get in one more dinner at our all time favorite restaurant Chez Guavera. We then went back to their house so we could meet up with Jason (Jon’s brother) and his family to say goodbye. 

We tried our best to keep the goodbyes upbeat but as soon as I asked the kids to get their shoes on the mood shifted and they knew that it was coming. We tried our best to laugh and keep it happy but Jax...he got really quiet. Then he lost it. And once he lost it, we all lost it. There were so many tears, so many hugs and so many half hearted laughs while trying to lighten the mood but it was just the process we had to go through. We tried to not rush the kids, letting them take as much time as they needed to say their goodbyes, but the longer we stayed, the worse it got. We finally made it out to our car and it was the longest ride back to our home. At one point I looked back at Jett with his head in his hands crying and I just couldn’t hold it in anymore. This was a different goodbye since we knew that it would be a much longer time away than the first trip. 

Change is hard - really hard sometimes. Nights like this make us ask if we made the right choice to leave our hometown and go adventuring all over the country. We know that the greater the discomfort, the bigger the opportunity for adventure and change. That doesn’t make it any easier, though. We hope that the people met, places visited and situations encountered result in lifelong lessons that are worth the temporary goodbyes (because we’ll always go back to Knoxville). Until next time K-town...you’ve been awesome!

Locations in this post


House Mountain

House Mountain, Corryton, TN 37721


Museum of Appalachia

2819 Andersonville Hwy, Clinton, TN 37716


Chez Geuvara

8025 Kingston Pike Knoxville, TN 37919


VolPark Family Campground

9514 Diggs Gap Rd, Heiskell, TN 37754

Ashley Longnecker

About the Author

Ashley Longnecker is the fiercely independent tattooed and dreaded half of Tiny Shiny Home. She's a woodworker, photographer and maker of delicious baked goods. She loathes schedules and makes every day an adventure.

follow Ashley: facebook instagram pinterest

comments powered by Disqus

Want to peek behind the scenes?

We'll send you weekly newsletters with stories, thoughts, and tips you can't find anywhere else. Just enter your email address below and hit subscribe!