It's been a month now since we bought 5 acres of property in Middle Tennessee and already our plans for a private RV campsite are shaping up.
In fact, we spent most of last week on the land, overseeing the construction of a circular driveway and the first of what we think will be three private RV campsites.
The land we bought, part of a 1,500-acre mountaintop estate being sold off in multi-acre parcels not far from the town of Linden, TN, is known as the Woodlands at Buffalo River and located in a beautiful natural area abounding with great camping, hiking, and recreational opportunities.
Since we purchased this land shortly before Thanksgiving, we've been giving it a lot of thought and making lots of plans. There is no HOA here and we can do pretty much whatever we want. It's our land and we can choose to develop it our way.
In fact, the only use restriction I've seen is a prohibition of single-wide mobile home-type trailers.
Camping trailers, motorhomes, fifth wheels, toy haulers, and even park models are perfectly okay. So too are houses, barns, garages, and – something we are seriously considering someday – a barnominium.
But for right now, our plans are to develop this into our own private RV campsite so that no matter how crowded commercial and state, county, or national campgrounds may get around the country, we always have a tranquil, wilderness retreat where we can go and where we can stay as long as we want.
And we have enough room to invite friends to camp with us.
The first phase: Making a driveway for our private RV campsite
Our five acres is heavily forested and when we bought it, we tramped all over, identifying the spot where we wanted to set up an open area for our RV. We found the spot a hundred or so yards in. But there was no way to get there. The trees in that area, predominantly 20-to-30-foot high Loblolly pines, were just too close together.
We needed a driveway.
And that's what we carved out and got installed last week.
The firm we hired for the job is Philipi Excavating of nearby Waverly, TN. We couldn't be more pleased,
Click the video below to see how they cleared and mulched trees, bulldozed a flat area, and then dumped nine truckloads of crushed rock and gravel to make a permanent surface for the driveway. The first of the 20-by-30-foot RV pads were also put in.
Our first official stay on our private RV campsite
Once the trees were cut and mulched and the drive leveled with a dozer, we couldn't resist spending the night.
The driveway is circular, about 600 feet long.
On the night before we bought the property in November, we stayed in our RV just off the country road that fronts it, parking off the shoulder in between two trees. It was the quiet of the land that won us over.
So, just as soon as the dozer left for the day and before the crushed rock and gravel was put down the next morning, we cautiously drove our all-wheel-drive Class B motorhome onto the site, being sure to set out a ground cover so we would not be tracking in dirt.
This overnight was special. Now we were camping on our own land.
It was a perfect night. Clear and still. About 10 PM, we went out and walked the driveway. A gazillion stars shone brightly in a black velvet sky. There was absolutely no light pollution to dim their sparkle.
Then came the driveway's final touch
We were up at first light and moved out of our campsite back on the shoulder of the road. That's because we had to make way for the gravel trucks. For several hours three of them went back and forth to the gravel pit about a half-hour away. Nine loads were required before Jonathan Stacy from the excavating company signaled they were done.
Jonathan then spent the rest of the afternoon pushing it around and leveling it, using a laser for the RV pad area, making it so flat we didn't even need to put down the levelers when we parked for the night.
By the time he finished mid-afternoon, we still had a few hours before full-on dark.
Using an awesome app called Guru Maps Pro, loaded with a file of the development, we set off with Bo to more completely explore our five acres. We hiked to the side and back boundaries, tracking our progress on the map, noting the ridges and hollows – the locals call 'em “hollers” – of the gently rolling land.
Then, back at our private RV campsite, I used a rake to smooth out a pile of crushed rock Jonathan put down for me to make an area for a campfire. I set up the campfire ring we had bought from Amazon and we had our first campfire on our new land.
Communication and connectivity on our private RV campsite
The next morning, I flew my drone to get a view of our campsite and the terrain from a couple of hundred feet above the trees. As far as the drone camera viewed were trees. The countryside is beautiful wilderness.
But it is well connected.
On our phones, we had between two and three bars with Verizon.
My Pepwave hotspot and Internet router gave me solid broadband-speed connectivity for remote work from our private RV campsite.
And I loaded my ham radio transceiver with the frequencies of amateur radio repeaters in Linden and nearby Lobelville and Hohenwald, TN.
Nearby Linden has all we need
We did some more exploring of nearby Linden, a five-mile drive from our property. We have enjoyed the town (population 900) before, but this time, with our property purchased and the deed filed with the country, we introduced ourselves to several merchants, meeting Kevin and Renee of Dimples Coffee Shop, visiting the local pharmacy, the very well stocked hardware store, the supermarket, and even the Linden Medical Clinic.
We found a local vet in case we need one and Jennifer did a workout at the local Gym and Fitness Center.
We are very quickly feeling very much at home in Linden.
We spent Thursday night on Main street attending the charming Linden Christmas parade, meeting even more people.
On Friday, we had dinner and hung out at the Commodore Hotel, lovingly restored to its 1939 glory (but with modern amenities), by Mike and Kathy Dumont, a Rhode Island couple who fell in love with the area and now live in Linden full-time.
In fact, we spent Friday night at the hotel because an outbreak of severe weather was predicted with high winds and possible tornadoes. We felt it prudent to leave the woods instead of spending the night there in our RV surrounded by trees.
The next morning, back on our property, a trail cam we set out to capture any wildlife that wandered by instead showed wind-whipped debris and twigs from the trees that would have made for a very noisy night if we had stayed, as well as what would surely have been some chips and scrapes on the paint.
We even had a meet-up on the property
We told our various online communities of our plans to be on the property and invited anyone who wanted to come by to visit on Saturday,
A dozen did!
Several were there as part of an open house and tour organized by Tennessee Land and Lakes, the company that is developing the Woodlands at Buffalo River.
Jennifer and I were encouraged to hear that there was a lot of interest in what we were doing as we develop our private RV campsite. We net couples from Washington state, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas who either already bought or are interested in doing so.
The trend of owning your own RV spot seems to be growing, and no wonder in these days of crowded campgrounds where you have to make reservations a year in advance.
And we've received lots of emails and online comments asking us to thoroughly document the process, which we'll do from time to time as we complete various phases like we just did with the driveway.
What's next for us there?
Everything has slowed down as we publish this a week before Christmas 2021. But we have several things we hope to get done over the next few weeks.
We have already applied for and received permits for septic, water, and electric hookups.
Here's what we plan next and hope to see done in the next couple of months or so:
- A concrete pad
We thought that we could get by with the crushed rock and gravel for the RV sites. But for at least the main one – ours – we decided we want a concrete pad. Depending on the cost, we may pour concrete for the guest pads, too. We'll see how it works out.
We have the permit and the drain field laid out. We decided to go with a tank big enough or a three bedroom home. While we are unsure when, or if, we will build a permanent homesite, we want that option available and now is the time to put in the septic. Besides, we'll immediately be able to use it with our private RV campsite.
- More trees cleared
We want to open the view a bit more towards the back of the property so we can see the hardwoods and the mountaitops around us. One of our followers has suggested we have a chainsaw party when we're ready to do so. That could be fun.
Perry County is installing poles and electric along the country road we front. As soon as they get to our spot, we'll run underground connections to our RV sites.
City water also runs right past us along the country road right of way. We'll soon tap in and have frost-free water connections available on the RV campsites.
It has been strongly suggested that we install some sort of gate across our driveway, especially after we get the RV hookups. We're somewhat conflicted about it. We hate the “keep out” look a gate presents. But we also don't want our site trashed. We're still thinking about it.
- Fiber Optic Internet
This, too, will run right down the road in front of us. As soon as it is in, expected in the next few months, we'll sign up. That fiber optic connection will give me blazingly fast speeds to work remotely.
Owning our own private RV campsite is so much fun
We're clearly not the only folks buying property there. Since we've started reporting on this project, I've heard from several other buyers who are now neighbors. I know parcels at the Woodlands have been selling really fast. The best source for information is their website at https://MyRVLand.com
We will return to the property as the next phases of the amenities and improvements are done on our five acres, hopefully by late January or early February. It will probably take until summer for everything to be in.
While we love boondocking and are very comfortable off-grid, the possibility of having full hookups in a wilderness area like this seems almost too good to be true. We can't wait till the hookups get installed.
The peace of mind we now have in owning our own private RV campsite has excited us so that we are also considering finding some similar property in Northern Michigan so that we have our Tennessee property to camp on from late fall until spring and Michigan for spring and summer.
It's no secret that many campgrounds in popular destinations are pretty much all sold out for 2022. As a result, even finding boondocking spots is getting harder.
Owning our own land eliminates those problems for us.
Besides, developing it and dreaming about what can be done with our private RV campsite is very exciting. We all need dreams and this land we found at the Woodlands has sure given us a new excitement about the RV Lifestyle.
As if we needed more!