Wednesday morning the rain finally came…at least there was some thunder and lightning to go with it! We were tempted to just pack up in the rain around 5am, since we were wide awake, but Patrick assured me that sleeping another hour and waiting it out would be best. Sure enough, the rain let up and we were able to pack up…Turtle (our tent) kept us dry! We were on the road by 7:00, stopped for some gas and headed up the mountains toward Shenandoah National Park.
We drove the 105 miles of Skyline Drive along the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The views were incredible, even though it was cloudy and rainy – we can only imagine what it must be like on a clear day! At one of the first scenic overlooks we stopped for breakfast: a nice juicy peach!
We decided to drive through one of the National Park Campgrounds and we were greeted by a “Bear Country” sign. They weren’t kidding. Less than 2 minutes farther along Skyline Drive we had our first bear sighting; a black bear crossing the road at 8:45 am! We could not believe we had actually seen a live bear, in the wild! (I’m glad we didn’t camp in the mountains!) We laughed in disbelief of what we had seen. And then, would you believe it…45 minutes later, we saw another one! A second black bear, crossing the street – we even have proof!
In addition to the bears we saw, we came across about a dozen white tailed fawns throughout our day. We thought about making it a true nature-filled day by gathering sumac berries to make some “Smackade” (thinking of you, Mike Mosher!).
By 11 we were ready for lunch! (Wow, getting on the road early was great!) We stopped at a scenic overlook about 100 miles in and set up for lunch. Ham sandwiches and iced tea was a perfect lunch looking out over the mountains. We exited Shenandoah and decided against continuing the scenic route through the Blue Ridge Parkway…35 mph speed limits for 100+ miles was enough for us! A few hours on the highway and we were almost through Tennessee when once again, we were ready for another meal. We pulled over at a scenic overlook off the highway and set up the grill – peanut butter and jelly on toasted cinnamon raisin bread. Yum!
After Tennessee, we entered North Carolina and continued to Arden, which is just south of Asheville. Lucky for us, Ally’s cousin Josh and his wife Heather moved to Arden last week! Unfortunately Heather and the kids were down in Tampa visiting her family so we weren’t able to see them, but we were able to hang out with Josh and enjoy a nice clean shower! Also, bunk beds provide a great night’s sleep, especially compared to camping in the rain!) Thanks so much Heather & Josh! Before heading to bed we were able to lay out our tent to dry, truly wash some dishes and rearrange the truck (after 3 days it needed some organizing!)
Tomorrow’s adventure, well, we’ll have to figure that out tomorrow…
Front Royal, VA to Arden, NC – 460 miles
– Ally and Patrick