Over the next few months, a short weekend trip to Nashville mutated into a two week odyssey through the southern Appalachian Mountains.
“How did this happen?” you ask. Simple. I looked at a map. “The route is lined with National Parks!” I said. “How could I be so close and not visit them – all of them?”
“What could go wrong?”
Famous last words from a road-trip neophyte. Not knowing any better, I hatched a plan that Don charitably termed “ambitious.” He threw caution to the wind, however, and joined me on the road. Luckily for me, he single-handedly rescued the trip from the brink of disaster. The expedition turned out to be challenging and rewarding, full to the brim of new vistas and new adventures.
In the coming weeks, the Wild Edge will explore our unlikely little junket in depth. For now, some highlights:
Don and I drove 2,396.9 miles through five states in 15 days.
I visited with 10 relatives, and finally saw my cousin Ted perform.
Don proudly ushered me through the ancient Greek Parthenon – in Nashville.
We visited three National Parks in as many states.
We saw six waterfalls and countless wildflowers.
We toured a Cherokee museum and a casino, and walked across a dam.
We hiked through old growth forests, grassy balds and boreal forests.
We walked to the summits of the two highest peaks east of the Mississippi.
We observed 3 salamanders, 11 elk and (Yes! FINALLY!) 5 black bears.
We got rained on for nine of the fifteen days. And don’t even get me started about the fog.
We came home tired of cars, tired of fast food, tired of hotels, and just plain tired. The weather was a disappointment, the trees weren’t green yet, and the bears weren’t close enough. I’d set my expectations way too high, and things didn’t always go according to plan.
But in the process, Don and I learned a lot about the Appalachian Mountains, I learned a lot about myself, and we came home with lots of good memories.
And you can’t ask for anything more than that.