A few weeks ago, Siobhan and I finished all our chores to shut down our New Hampshire summer house, packed up some stuff from there for our upcoming RV Adventure and hit the road – Southbound!
We brought camping gear so we could check out a couple of National Parks along the way. We figured this would really, kinda, be starting our 2017 NP Tour early and get us stoked for the big trip. Since we plan to use our Jeep as our tow vehicle when we head out on the tour next year, this was a great way to see a couple of parks while getting the Jeep to FL.
Good plan, right? We had our tent, sleeping bags, crash pads, camp stove, dried food (just add water), flashlights, headlamps, camp chairs. You know, everything seasoned tent campers would need for a week of camping. Well, almost everything. After a late start and driving about 500 miles, we rolled into Locust Lake State Park, south of Wilkes-Barre, PA, just before dark. It had been fifteen years since we’d camped so it took us a while to figure out how to do “late registration”, choose a campsite that was not already reserved and locate it. By that time, it was dark, pitch dark. Setting up the tent was getting to be a challenge. Luckily for us, a nearby camper felt badly for us and brought over an extra spotlight. That helped a lot! After we figured out how to set up the *#^% tent, it was time to start a campfire and the stove to make some dinner….thats when we realized it sure would have been nice to have some matches!
Ok, so, we were too embarrassed to ask the other campers for matches….they had already provided us with a light since we didn’t bother bringing our propane lantern. Just couldn’t do it. And neither of us know how to start a fire by rubbing sticks together so it was PB&J for dinner and an early nights sleep.
With our first night in a tent under our belts, we got back on the road Thursday morning bound for the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. We made a quick stop at the closest Dollar General for some matches (and a few other important things we forgot – like a hatchet to bang in the tent spikes – broke three rocks trying to hammer those bad boys in the night before…). We arrived in VA early enough to take a tour through the Luray Caverns, a cool (literally and figuratively) place. Then a ride on Skyline Drive to the campground. Setting up in the daylight was way easier, for sure.
Friday morning we headed out toward the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, enjoying a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We decided to stop just before Gatlinburg, TN where we learned that October is the busiest tourist time of the year in this area. We started checking for campsites only to learn that the first four we tried were full. We grabbed a spot at the next one, an RV Park right on the main road. Oh well, it was a place to stay. After a hot shower and a decent nights sleep, we set out for the park, driving through Gatlinburg, TN before arriving at the Visitor’s Center on an absolutely gorgeous, warm, sunny day.
We scored a 2-night tent site at the Deep Creek campground on the south side of the park and were really excited about staying in one spot for a couple of days. We got in a couple of nice hikes, one including a small portion of the Appalachian Trail on our way to see Clingman’s Dome.
Monday morning we got on the road early, bound for Mount Dora, FL to visit my Dad for a couple days. Then, finally, back to Fort Myers on Wednesday afternoon.
Long drive, great trip! Now, more than before, we are really looking forward to the luxuries of our new motorhome. Cant wait to take it for our first excursion.