Road Trip!

For the first two weeks of our trip, we’re driving. We flew to Atlanta and rented a car, and now we get to drive. Believe me, coming from an island with a small road system, that’s a joy (and another example of how something you do every day and complain about becomes a treat when it’s no longer your norm…I posted about driving here).

Growing up I did a lot of road trips. My mom and dad were the king and queen of long cross-country drives, and like many kids of my generation, I put in a lot of hours in a station wagon filled to the brim with parents, children, all the stuff needed for summer car trips, food, and our assorted souvenirs. Then, it was just the way we traveled. I was along for the ride, often with my face buried in a book, I’m sorry to say. It was great for the reader in me, not so good for the views and scenery I missed.

However, I grew up and grew wiser, and now, I hardly ever read when we drive. I don’t want to miss anything, or if I do, it’s because Rob is driving and I’ve been lulled to sleep by the motion of the car, my second favorite way to nap (first favorite being curled up in front of a fire).

We drove up through Georgia, cut across North Carolina, and into Tennessee. We’re spending a few days between family visits nestled into a lodge in the Smoky Mountains. This is part vacation, part retreat for us.

This is not the most scenic time of year to visit this region of the country, and yet it is beautiful too.

It is quieter than summer, when tourists are everywhere. The mountains are softer, rounder, and more thickly covered than the Rockies where we lived for so many years. The winding roads are well maintained, with frequent pull outs for photo taking opportunities and vista viewing. There are picnic spots and trailheads inviting us to get out of the car and explore. The weather warms up enough by afternoon to make this enjoyable. Old homesteads and relics of the past tell the story of the native Americans and early pioneers who made a home in these mountains. The place names are lyrical: Cades Cove and Cataloochee Valley; Clingmans Dome and Newfound Gap. My favorite thing is spotting something intriguing as we drive, feeling the compulsion to pull over, check it out. Sometimes you hit the jackpot, sometimes not. It’s the surprise factor that adds the most fun.

We divide our days between drives, and time spent almost exclusively snug inside our retreat. We have a condo at a lodge, and with a fireplace, internet access, a king-size bed, and simple food, we don’t have to go out, unless we choose to. The person checking us in was eager to share information about tourist attractions in the area. I had a hard time containing myself, listening politely as I thought, “You don’t know who you’re dealing with here!” We are not tourists looking for the latest attractions. No, we like natural or historic settings best, and those are the ones we’ll stop for, or go looking for. Otherwise, we’re perfectly content to just be.

These are our gifts to ourselves…driving, toward a destination, or wandering aimlessly, allowing for the serendipitious…and time…no schedule to meet, no projects to mind, no commitments to fulfill.

Can’t think of a better way to vacation!

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16 thoughts on “Road Trip!

    • Yes, although there were people around, it was nothing like the summer season. I enjoyed the quieter experience! The only drawback, if you like all the tourist activities, is that some attractions were not open, or only open on a limited schedule. But as we didn’t go for the tourist attractions, that wasn’t a loss to us.
      Glad you stopped by, I’ll be by to check out your site! Just getting back online after being out of pocket for a while. ~ Sheila

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  1. Great post, Sheila! I love the way you describe this road trip as I felt like I was there with you. I love the road trip in the US because there are so many nature areas which are just so stunning. šŸ˜‰

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    • Thank you! Yes, I have a renewed appreciation for road trips! Fortunately, our driving is largely not time pressured, which I think is the key to actually enjoying a drive. If you have time to ramble a bit, it makes all the difference.

      Sheila

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    • Thank you, we have enjoyed being in the park, especially in this season. This is the first time I have ever been here that I have been able to see through the trees. Looks very different without all the green and undergrowth! I’m glad that I’ve seen the mountains in their quiet season. Beautiful, but different! ~ Sheila

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    • Thank you! The only thing that would make it better is if we were getting paid to be on the road! But you can’t have everything! And I’ll take time over money, at this stage in my life!

      Sheila

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