Driving the USA on a Solo Cross Country Road Trip

 

Open Road to Where My Heart Desires
Open Road to Where My Heart Desires

Hello Road.  We haven’t been very close these past few years. I used to do California Road Trips – Giant Sequoia and Redwood trees, Big Bear, San Francisco, San Diego – but my tolerance for driving distances crashed and burned a few years ago.  With the exception of Las Vegas and Tucson, I haven’t driven much.  My 2014 car which had 12 miles when I purchased it in July 2014 has 6,650 miles 2 years later.  I know – why do I have a car?

I left my job of 7 years in February and one of my To Do before I started a new ‘real’ job was to drive cross-country. The last time I drove across country was in November 1991 when I moved from Orlando Florida to Los Angeles California.  It was 3 days – 2 of them in Texas (!), with stops to eat, use the bathroom and fill up.  It wasn’t a journey; it was a drive to reach a destination.

This time I want a journey – a solo Thelma and Louise, if you will, with a happy ending.  Hence my road trip adventure!  Me, my car – newly detailed and windows tinted for heat protection – and 3-4 weeks.

Road Trip across these good ole United States
Road Trip across these good ole United States

Starting Point: Los Angeles, California    Ending Point:  Bethesda Maryland

I’m not taking the same route on the both legs of the road trip but I’m not venturing too far north. It’s August, I know, but I’m not chancing freak severe fall/winter weather.   And, in full disclosure, I don’t want mountain driving.  I like looking at them, living close to them, even visiting them but I’m not keen on high elevations and winding roads. I guess I’d rather take my chances with tornadoes and heat.

Eastbound Trip:

Leaving LA heading to Washington DC
Leaving LA heading to Washington DC

My stops have a rhyme and reason that only I understand yet seem to fit into one of these categories.

  • Air and Space Museums
  • Caves, Caverns and Natural Wonders
  • Paranormal attractions
  • Civil Rights and American History sites

Granted, there is a side road trip to Ohio on the westbound trip to visit Amish country. Just because.  I also imagine I’ll be diverting to small towns along the way to check out vintage and/or antique stores.  Unlike airplane travel, my shopping is only limited by the empty space in my car!

Starting in Bethesday Maryland heading back to Los Angeles
Starting in Bethesda Maryland heading back to Los Angeles

(Source: https://roadtrippers.com)

There’s so much beauty to see, plenty of good food to eat and, most important, lots of people to meet.  This should be a well documented road trip.  I have multiple cameras and an iPhone!

I know I’ve over –planned and that’s ok.  If I decide I don’t want to see something, I won’t; if I decide to modify my route, I will and if I decide I’ve had enough, I’ll turn around and come home.  This is MY journey, after all.

4th of July – Part 2

Fireworks, watermelon and wine …. Good 4th of July in Asheville.  While driving around Asheville, I noticed signs for the Blue Ridge Parkway.  After watching the fireworks, I logged on to learn more about the Blue Ridge Parkway while trying one of the bottles of wine.

“The Blue Ridge Parkway is more than a road – it’s a beautiful journey that entices visitors to explore a 469-mile gateway to America’s rich cultural heritage including Cherokee traditions, music, crafts, agriculture and nature. ”

Wine wasn’t worth a 2nd glass.  Down the drain it went.

But the Blue Ridge Parkway!  Suddenly my next day’s route was planned.  More watermelon and I was ready for bed.

Rise and shine and I was off ….. I did stop at the local supermarket for a ice chest, ice and water!  The front desk staff at my hotel were super — they had so many places for me to see, my head was swimming.  I opted to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway to Brevard because there’s a beautiful waterfall near Brevard.

Oh my, I was not prepared for the drive.

Blue Ridge Parkway Welcome
The Valley
Chestnut Cove sign

 

Early Morning at Chestnut Cove

Having been in Wyoming in late May where I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, I was unprepared for the similar feeling of overwhelmed I had while driving the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The western US with its rugged, sharp peaks is masculine while the eastern US has verdant round rolling mountains, feminine in my mind.  There’s no way to compare the 2 sides just like it’s impossible to compare man to woman.

 

 

 

Cradle of Forestry Overlook

Guess I didn’t get a photo when I reached 6000 foot elevation.  Probably because at that point I realized that I was 1) climbing higher and higher on a mountain road and 2) driving along the tops of the mountains.   eek …..

About the time, my nerves started getting the best of me, I exited to head down (yup, approximately 34 miles downhill on winding roads) to Brevard, on the hunt for the water falls.

I was relieved to head down from the Parkway but at some point during the 34-miles, I realized I had no reception on either phone  and no one knew where I was.  DOH!   Maybe I didn’t need to continue at 45 mph.

Aha, the falls!

Looking Glass Waterfall

Looking Glass Waterfall

Looking Glass Waterfalls

It was a nice refreshing stop along the way to Brevard — a short hike around the falls, in the woods.  After seeing the falls, I didn’t need to go to Brevard … except I had to pee.

Peeing played a big part in my trip.  There were a lot of unplanned stops to take care of that basic need.  I wish I could say I only peed in toilets … but no.  There were several moments I had to pull off the road and head into the woods.  Oh well.

Back on the road again.  Turns out the best way to get to Great Smoky Mountains National Park was to go back on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Deep breath and my big girl pants and I was climbing up again.

 

Appalachian Trail

Loved this!  It was a very rewarding 4 mile hike just before I crossed over to Tennessee.

NC-TN State Line

Weird observation: North Carolina has barriers on the Parkway, Tennessee does not.