Travel America – Hit the Road

It’s been almost eight years since our last road trip, and I’ve been itching to hit the road again ever since. After much debate, we decided to visit our nation’s capitol and see what we could of the northeast. Over the last few months, we amassed gift cards, maps, Groupon deals, and reservations. Between end-of-school and beginning-of-summer activities, we got packed and ready to go. Of course, you know what they say about the best-laid plans…

 

We had a great plan to leave from marching band kickoff, pick up Thom (who would be home from work), and hit the road Friday night. However, Thom’s employer had other plans—they scheduled a late job that ended up falling apart in most every way.  Let’s just say it included equipment that wouldn’t fit through a door, electrical outlets that weren’t powered, and some ensuing chaos. He finally made it home and we hit the road when we should’ve been hitting the pillow.

 

Luckily, our first stop was my parents’ place in Sky Valley and they had everything ready for us to just roll into the bed. The next morning came way too early, but we enjoyed a mountain breakfast before heading out. We headed along the Nantahala River first, into Cherokee NC, and just had to take a picture with one of the (many) kitschy painted black bears. We chose a patriotic bear since that seemed to fit the theme of our trip.

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From Cherokee, we hit the beginning of the Blue Ridge Parkway. While we only took the BRP from Cherokee to Asheville, it was an amazing drive. There were more scenic overlooks than we could count, with each one seemingly more beautiful than the last. We did count sixteen tunnels along the way, which was a surprising bonus. We saw wild turkeys along the side of the road, a multitude of birds soaring at great heights, and tons of colorful blooms (including mountain laurel, rhododendron, and an unknown misty blue flower). It was the perfect day with a mix of sun and clouds (except for one brief shower) and temps in the upper 60s. We rode with the sunroof open and the windows down, enjoying the nice breeze and the smells of the mountain.

 

After Asheville, we got serious about getting to our final destination and hopped off the BRP and onto the big roads. Eastern North Carolina was, unfortunately, just as I recalled—filled with construction. As we entered Virginia, everyone was intrigued by the signs “speed is enforced by aircraft,” and we wondered how the aircraft would pull you over.  😉  The only unusual site in Virginia was a giant cigarette in front of the Marlboro plant.  We had a few mishaps finding a good dinner spot (one place had bad reviews in the location near us, and another placed was closed two hours before the posted closing time)…so we landed at the predictable but good Olive Garden.

 

From there it was smooth sailing to our hotel, where we promptly unpacked and rested up for the first phase of our adventure. It was a great first day (or day plus) of our travels, with everyone enjoying the time in the car through sightseeing, reading, coloring (Lizzy), movies (Brandon), and music. As always, our music was varied and included Nine Inch Nails, Journey, Soul Coughing, Foo Fighters, Front 242, Jim Croce, Michael Jackson, and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin.

Reflections: While you obviously have my perspective, I wanted to share the takeaways from the rest of the fam. Here’s everyone else’s fav memories from the day–Brandon loved our roadside picnic towards the end of the BRP, Lizzy loved the magnitude of the overlooks, Alex enjoyed going through the tunnels (especially when one car in our “line” set their car alarm off each time to hear the echos), and Thom felt like he would forever see the mountain views and feel the windows down when listening to Pretty Hate Machine in the future (it was just one of those moments that will forever be with you).

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