Monday, 30 April 2012

Yikes...Eight Month Journey Almost Done......

Leaving Red Bay we cut east into Mississippi to pick up a southern leg of the famous Natchez Trace, a turn of the century route between Nashville and Louisiana now a smallish paved highway. We followed it north a hundred miles or so and cut east on 72. It was a gorgeous day, with a picnic in the mountains where blue and turquoise butterflies erratically fluttered along the hiking trail. Camped in the Tim's Ford State Park TN, for a few days where cardinals, mockingbirds and robins were plentiful. Hiked under some unique White Oak and Yellow Tulip Poplar trees whose fallen blossoms decorated the trails. Great wide river with cool. fossil-filled rocky beaches. Dixie enjoyed daily swims while I did some rock hunting. Where do you see cactus and iris side by side?

Toe-tapped through an evening of "Pickin n Grinnin" a fantastic bluegrass and country show at the park recreation centre. There were 26 local musicians singing and pickin' their guitars, dulcimers, mandolins, banjos and ripping out tunes on harmonica and fiddles! Fabulous and free!
April 15, we headed for Lynchburg TN for a tour of the Jack Daniels Distillery. We drove along winding roads past "hillbilly-homes" and gorgeous barns with shaggy chickens, goats and horses in the yard. Took Dixie for a stroll through the historic town of Lynchburg. The town is filled with restaurants and gift shops arranged around the old town hall. The Harley Davidson Shop seems to be a magnet for bikers on Sundays and the square was lined with an array of shiny "hogs".

Packed Dixie into the car with her water, bone and windows open and went off for our tour of the Jack Daniels Distillery. Saw the charcoal production yard, produced for filtering; the hot and musky yeast tanks where the barley, rice and corn start their transformation (with crazy humongous computer-control room) the filtration tanks room; the barrel warehouse for the important aging and the bottling area where one barrel is bottled at a time for quality control! JD actually starts out as a bourbon but the charcoal filtering changes it to a Tennessee sippin' whiskey. Back in the tasting room we enjoyed a small glass of lemonade...rats!!!!!
Lynchburg is in a dry county!

 A couple of days later, we had a wonderful camping and touring experience at Great Smoky Mountains NP. Even though the weather was overcast, foggy and often drizzling, we had a superb self guided tour of Cades Cove. It boasts a great collection of a preserved turn of the century community at the base of a mountain. Buildings such as the mill, pioneer cabins, white clapboard homes and Methodist and Baptist Churches with picturesque old cemeteries lined with  flowering dogwood. Around the buildings and barns were great pieces of farm machinery and incredible rail fences. Many deer and wild turkeys wandered through the grassy fields in the park. We enjoyed a porch- performance by a friendly musician playing the country dulcimer and banjo while his daughter tapped her boots and played tambourine.
 It's an idyllic place and easy to see why folks would settle there.

By April 18, we were heading into Virginia, enjoying the expansive views of farm country across the hills. Spring was not as far along and many trees were just beginning to leaf out. We ventured along "Skyline Drive" where we stopped at many of the overlooks of spectacular mountains in spring bloom and fresh leaf.  Set up camp in the beautiful woods of "Big Meadows Campground" Spent a couple of great days there enjoying hikes along the Appalachian Trail, some campfires and foggy walks in the woods!

Next stop Washington DC. On the way we stopped in the rain at Virginia's Manassas National Battlefield Park, also know as Bull Run, where we toured their museum and were informed by a park ranger about the details of the important first battle of the American Civil War. What staggering statistics of lives lost!

Leaving nature, we drove up to Virginia where we immersed ourselves in the Washington DC sites for a few days. Staying at Cherry Hill Park, we were close to the city where we spent our first rainy day exploring two of the incredible Smithsonian's. We were able to tackle the Air and Space and the Natural History extravaganzas, ultra awe-inspiring!

 We spent most of the following day at the incredible Arlington Cemetery. Among the remarkable number of standard white gravestones were some amazing tributes to military,civilian and political heroes. Dixie came with us and behaved with the respect we'd hoped for.

We also toured the important DC hot spots: The Washington Monument, Lincoln's Statue, The White House and The Mall (which was chewed up with construction) World War II Memorials and The Vietnam War Memorial. These sights were all very overwhelming and evocative.

Driving into Pennsylvania, we entered the agricultural rolling hills and pastures of scenic farmland and quaint practices of the Amish people. We passed a few carriages along the highway, a barn raising, a few ploughs being towed by teams of mules or horses and gardens being planted beside lines of clothes, by women decked out in long dresses and bonnets. I have a curious interest and respect for the Amish and Mennonite folks. We camped in the Cabella's parking lot aside a few other motor homes for two nights. We had a great view of the hills and handy access to all our camper needs and wants.

Heading north again, we drove into New York where we stayed at a couple of State Parks.We sat on a bright grassy hill in the setting sun, overlooking a sparkling pond and listening to spring peepers and birds bedding down for the night. Reflecting on our eight month journey,we cannot begin to to take it all in. We look forward to seeing our family and friends and begin planning for our next adventure.
We return to Canada today, April 30, 2012.  We'll camp for short time here at Albion Hills Recreation Area.


  1. yyyaaaaaayyyyy!!! i was hoping for a final entry..the photos are just spectacular..sadness mixed with excitement, am are soo lucky to have had these opportunities...shades of summers as a kid, likely, Care? soo envious happy for you both...good on ya mates!..aaand see you soon...thank you for this

  2. Looks like we almost crossed paths. We were in the Smokies about a week after you; your image of the Gregg-Cable House in the mist is eerily beautiful. And then, you came through our neck of the woods, while we were out gallivanting in the Phaeton. I was especially surprised that you mentioned camping at Big Meadows. Remind me, if you would, of the length of your Allegro Red. We've talked about going to BM, but have been concerned about our 40-foot length.

  3. SO mad that we didn't get to catch up with you guys!!! Chris, the photo of the flags in D.C is amazing - so well composed! Glad that you had a great time and excited for you to spend some time with Dani and Al soon!