We spent a lovely week catching up with friends we’d made at last year’s HDT National Rally, and meeting new folks. Shawn took a much-deserved week off of work to participate in the seminars, talk trucks with like-minded men, and make some needed repairs and improvements to the Volvo.

From what I could glean, the rally originated on the east coast, but has been held at this more centrally located resort for several years. The resort owners have recently added a large number of sites capable of handling our big rigs, doubling the number of potential attendees.

Looking down the main loop. I believe 67 campsites were occupied for the rally.


Deer Run in Crossville, TN is a lovely resort. There’s a very large lake, acres of mature trees, and solid infrastructure. You can breathe deeply here of the clean country air.

Looking across the lake. The first few days it rained 90% of the time. It made for some beautiful cloud formations!

With all this space, we also had no problem finding areas to play ball with Elvis. We even got him to swim in the lake a little bit – admittedly, only to find his ball. *grin*

We were a little frustrated that the distance from the entrance of the park to the camping area is a 3-mile drive (at a 10 mph speed limit). Other than that small gripe, this is an awesome campground.

The national rally is primarily focused on technology and seminars, with a secondary emphasis on networking and social events. The ECR flips that, focusing more on the social aspects but with a solid dose of seminars and question-and-answer sessions.

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Early on the first evening’s welcome and kick-off. The room was filled to capacity — standing room only — 20 minutes after I took this photo.

There are also events just for the ladies, including opportunities to drive a truck, ask truck and RV-related questions, share crafts and hobbies, and simply socialize.

We played Chinese bingo, participated in potlucks and happy hours, attended a terrific performance of Million Dollar Quartet at a local venue that had people dancing in the aisles, went to a ladies’ lunch and shopping day (Andrea only) and generally were pretty exhausted at the end of the day.

Million Dollar Quartet is a musical focused on a singular night in 1956 when Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins all jammed together at Sun Records. Amazing performance at a community theatre. I couldn’t stop singing Ring of Fire for days!

A bulletin board outside the tent allows folks to ask for help or offer expertise. Our neighbor Ken performed a small welding operation on our 5th wheel hitch for us. Our friend Dave helped Shawn with a tricky headlight installation. And Shawn helped our neighbor John with his handheld ham radio. Every day you’d see guys gathered around one truck or another, examining hitches, talking bed construction, or wrenching on engines.

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There’s such a sense of goodwill and camaraderie at these rallies. There’s good-natured ribbing, fun and games, and generosity from all involved. Having an opportunity to talk with such a diverse group provided us with lots of valuable insight, especially from those who have been full-timing for years.

This is not a money-making enterprise. It’s an annual 10-month labor of love by the volunteer organizers, Carl and Donna Lewis, and their loyal henchmen, David Dixon and Gregg Shields. We’re truly grateful that these wonderful folks expend their energy to bring us all together.


Our reservations back in Michigan don’t start until May 14. So with 2 weeks to fill, we moved east to another gorgeous park, Honeysuckle Meadows, just outside of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.

Most spacious campsite we’ve had so far! The drive to get here was a bit nerve-wracking for Shawn, with a very curvy 2-line highway lacking in shoulder or guardrails. But worth it!

Oh my goodness, this area is waaaay beyond the tourist trap and schlock of Niagara Falls. There are a ridiculous number of shops, “museums”, rides, amusement parks, themed restaurants, and other endeavors designed to part a person from their money. I can only imagine how much cash the average family of 4 spends on vacation here! We’re going to focus our attention as much as possible on the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and possibly attend a small-town festival on the weekend.