Monday, March 30, 2015

Over the Hills and Through the Woods

The Civil War Trail, Kentucky

For the past 2 weeks we have been wandering through the mountains of North Carolina; the rolling hills and hollows of Tennessee and the rocky cliffs and blue grass hills of Kentucky. Our favorite so far has been North Carolina, probably because we could see the Smokies and the Blue Ridge Mountains on any given day.  We pretty much have committed to avoiding the interstates and sometimes that adds hours to our journey, but after all we have nothing but time.  Today was the first day we entered the interstate and we were in traffic shock !  We took I75 north from London,KY to Berea,KY.

I love taking the road less traveled.  You see old farmhouses from the 1800's; ancient run down cabins from the pioneer days; fields of daffodils and wild creeks cascading along the roadway. Today as we left Tennessee we took what they had labeled as the Civil War trail.  We were a little edgy because before we came upon the road we passed house after house with the Confederate Flag displayed.

Then we stopped at a little market and when walked in the flag was all over the store for sale.  We didn't stay too long,being Yankees and liberal ones at that ! So when we took the road we both had some slight anxiety,especially after passing the warning " Caution, very narrow road with hairpin curves and no guard rails".  But it was so beautiful,it was narrow and a water delivery truck almost ran us off the cliff on a blind curve.  Once we caught our breath we continued on enjoying the beauty.  I think I told you once how I like to imagine the occupants of the houses and farms we pass and wonder who they are and what they are doing.  Today, with the sun shining quite a few people were outside getting the ground ready for their gardens or just cutting grass. The road was up and down and very winding but oh so pretty.  It started out as Tennessee Route 28 and then turned into Kentucky 200.  If you get a change take the route-but don't expect a welcome to Kentucky sign when you cross the border !

When we lift Symmes Chapel two weeks ago we stopped off at Dupont Recreation Area on the advice of Bob and Tracy who we met at the chapel. If you enjoy hiking (not killer strenuous but a good workout) stop and do the hike to the falls.  The water is beautiful even with the starkness of the bare trees.

From there we were headed to Davidson River State Park where Jim had planned on doing some fishing.  The park was nothing like I imagined-more of a fish camp which is okay for fisherman I suppose. And the funny thing was (not so funny for Jim) he was getting his equipment ready for fishing so he could get an early start when he discovered he had left his waders in storage in Florida !  And since we were basically in the middle of nowhere he had no place to go to buy a replacement pair.  Of course I had to gently remind him that my obsessiveness with list making didn't look so terrible now did it ? It pretty much rained the entire 4 days at Davidson for us and really poor Internet reception , even with the booster so we caught up on reading.  I've gone through about 12 of Michel Connelly's books and I feel like a partner already to his Harry Bosch character!

Our spot at Bear Creek
From Davidson we made a quick stop in Asheville at the Bear Creek RV park.  We caught up on emails and laundry !

Then we journeyed to Huntersville to meet some Roadtrek friends in person that we had met on line. Well I have to tell you, I felt like I met a true soul sister !  Yvette was even more warm and welcoming in person and her husband Paul was too.  We just clicked.  Of course we have so much in common-art,good food,music, adventure and traveling.  Yvette is a talented artist and just a bundle of energy.  She kept us enthralled with stories of Canada and her family and her adventures.  She has brought to life so many of the places we plan on visiting.  And I know I have a friend for life.
It was sad to say goodbye but I know we will see them in Ottawa during our travels.

 From Huntersville we headed to New River State Park in North Carolina.  We both fell in love with this campground. So beautiful and well taken care of.  We hiked a great deal down to the New River, the second oldest river in the world according to locals.  And they are quite proud of it and their efforts to keep it clean and pristine.

The park has a wonderful visitor center and one of the trails-the Dogwood Trail ends at an overlook where you can sit and watch the deer come out in the valley in the evening.  The ranger told us that in Spring you can go at sunrise or sunset and watch the mating flight and listen to the songs of the woodcock. We tried, but alas, it was too early to see any this time of year.

 But we did find wild onions and grilled them with our steaks for our goodbye dinner and they were delicious !
Our view downriver from our "premium" riverfront site

From New River we headed towards Knoxville with a TVA camp in mind-Douglas Dam.  We had heard that TVA campsites were pretty nice and not expensive.  We camped at the Tailwaters (there is also a headwaters camp) and we paid premium for a riverfront site-still only 18$ per night with the Access Senior discount. It's not a campground I would want to spend a week at, but it's a nice place for a 2 day layover R & R.

 The water was extremely low, normally that bank on the right is covered

 The lodge restaurant at Cumberland-was doing a booming business on Sunday and smelled so good !

If you Google Cumberland Mountain State Park you will see the difference in water levels, this is usually a gorgeous river shot but alas the water was too low.

We decided we really weren't ready for the big city so we chose not to go to Nashville, maybe on the return trip through the South. Instead we thought that the Cumberland Mountain State Park looked interesting.  It was also in the middle of nowhere-not a park you would choose for a quick overnighter because of the challenge of getting there-you know us we love those back roads. All the way up the curvy mountain road we kept seeing huge trees uprooted and tons of broken branches and couldn't imagine what had caused all of that damage. We quickly learned that they had a horrible ice storm followed by snow and more ice at the end of February-power was out for 19000 people and the kids were out of school for 2 weeks.  The park has just begun to clean up-the trails were still blocked by large downed trees and there were large branches still dangling in trees.  I just prayed that no heavy winds would come and cause those to crash down on us.  We escaped safely .

And now here we are in Berea Kentucky planning our walking tour of the Artisan area tomorrow. I'm so looking forward to it. From there we will head back into the wilderness of the Daniel Boone National Forest.

My favorite moment of this trip came to me one night while looking out the rear window of Ruby up at the stars.  It was so dark and so quiet and at that moment I felt a contentment so deep and so strong . I felt like the sky was my blanket and the twinkley stars were my nightlights and felt that all was good in the world and that I couldn't be more content.  I wish all of you this feeling at least once in your lifetime-I will cherish that moment.

Happy Trails my friends and wanderers and Safe Travels.


  1. I know that contented feeling of which you speak. It's profound and addictive. Lovely photos! I've been on a Michael Connelly binge too - just finished "A Darkness More Than Night", one of my favorites so far.