Out in the Woods

View from the Blue Ridge Parkway

We’ve been on the road for six days already and I haven’t posted a single update. My intention was to post something daily, but that’s just not happening.

I accept some blame for this dismal showing because I didn’t plan as thoroughly as I could have, but I’ll pass part of the blame onto the back roads of Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee. These remote routes and campsites along the way have no wi-fi or (GASP!) cell reception! That’s a minor annoyance though because what this area lacks in wireless, it makes up for in magnificence.

On Days 4, 5 and 6, we have been driving uphill and down and along steep, spindly roads that barely cling to the edges of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Great Smokies. The land is so breathtakingly beautiful here that it’s easy to let your eyes wander out into the panorama and take in scenes that look like forever. The peaks and valleys of the Blue Ridge form an enormous, hypnotic sea of mountains that rise and fall until they finally fade out hundreds of miles in the distance into a blue haze.

I thought of Thelma and Louise a few too many times as I jerked the wheel to keep from going over the edge. I stayed on the road though, and we ended up last night at the Elkmont Campground in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The campground was an easy find, right at the Tennessee edge of the Park. It was also a lucky find because, 1) they had space for us, and 2) The Little River, which follows all of Route 441 through the Smokies, runs directly through the campground. During our stay, the river was running high and the white water rushing over the rocks was a perfect camp-side soundtrack.

After last night’s relaxation, I vowed today that I would find wi-fi so I could write and post. I must say, the quiet, civilized hotel room where I sit and write this blog is lovely, but it doesn’t compare to sitting river-side, sharing a bottle with my sweetie, and watching the campfire. Duty calls, though, and my duty these days is to write … write and not drive off the edge of a mountain.

So that brings me to the activities of the past six days. We’ve done a good bit of driving, but didn’t hit the 1000 mile mark until today. Despite the mileage, we’re still in the East … or, I should say the Eastern Time Zone, and we probably will be for the next few days. I’m eager to get some westward-ho underway, and we probably would if there weren’t so many interesting things to see around here!

Day One: Leaving Baltimore

When we left on July 29, we tried to mad dash out of Baltimore so that we could get to Yorktown, VA, in time to do some sightseeing. Unfortunately, the movers came late and heavy traffic/rain slowed us down too much. We drove through Yorktown after dark and didn’t see a thing.

Day Two: America’s Historic Triangle

We got an early start and spent the morning at Colonial Williamsburg. I had heard raves about the place for so long and was looking forward to seeing what all the commotion was about. Colonial Williamsburg, the former capital of Virginia, is a huge living history site depicting life in early America. It is filled with authentic and replicated buildings; interpreters dressed in the clothing of the time interact with guests to share history, one-on-one.

The experience was better than I expected in the end, but at first I was put off by the immediate and blatant attempts to get visitors to $pend-$pend-$pend. Walking through the front doors of the visitor’s center, you’re flanked by two jumbo gift shops and an information booth, not about Colonial Williamsburg, but about getting reservations at the restaurants and inns in Colonial Williamsburg. My first impression was: Whoa! Too Disney-esque, but the site provides such a rich experience that it was easy to forget the commercialism. We only spent one day, but there is so much to see and do, it could easily have been stretched into a few more.

Williamsburg is part of an area called America’s Historic Triangle, which also includes Jamestown, the first English settlement and Yorktown, the site of the final battle of the Revolutionary War. We didn’t get to Jamestown, but we did visit the Yorktown Victory Monument, a 98-foot statue memorializing the surrender of General Cornwallis to George Washington. The monument sits alone overlooking the York River. For all the grandeur of the monument itself and the importance of that final victory, in an unexpected and quiet way, its solitude is touching.

We ended Day 2 about 200 miles away, camping along the James River at the Wilderness Canoe Company in Natural Bridge Station, VA. It’s a tiny campground and only one other site was taken, so it was a very quiet relaxing night, made even more relaxing by the huge thunderstorm that rolled in right around bed time.

There’s no thunderstorm tonight, but it’s time for bed anyway. I’ll continue tomorrow with info on Day 3 and beyond.

To see photos that accompany this blog, please visit my shutterfly share site at http://awaywithwords.shutterfly.com/


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