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Road Trip Recap: Appalachian Adventure

Road Trip Recap Appalachian Adventure

I love posting these recaps of our trips because it’s such a fun way to look back on our adventures and see all the ground we’ve covered. This trip definitely looks different from some of our previous trips — more on that below!

Appalachian Adventure By the Numbers:

Total travel days: 41 (September 6 – October 17)
States visited: 7 (Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Indiana, Kentucky)
Nights camping: 41
Nights in hotels or with family: 0 (!)
Campgrounds visited: 12

First of all — this trip was fun. In some ways it was more mellow than other trips we’ve done (no crazy off-roading, lots of KOAs) but in some ways, it was definitely an adventure (all the whitewater and all.the.bourbon). We definitely enjoyed getting to know a part of the country we’ve neglected. And we picked a great time of year to do it — let me tell you, West Virginia, Tennesee, and Kentucky in fall are gorgeous. The trip was also a study in contrasts; we stayed at both the swankiest campground we’ve ever visited (Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg KOA) and the sketchiest (Camp on the Kentucky RV Park). We spent quality time in four states, and traveled through three more.

Every extended trip we take, it seems like we experience something new — and this trip was no different. This was the first extended road trip we’ve taken where we pulled the camper with us, and it was pretty eye-opening. First, we learned that it’s a lot easier to be lazy with a camper than when car camping; this trip definitely saw us doing a lot more TV watching and lounging indoors than we’ve done on previous trips. We also learned that pulling the camper is a little bit stressful, slows you way down, wreaks havoc on your gas mileage, and puts a major damper on spontaneity. Yikes! This trip was a bit of a test run, as we’re planning some pretty extended on-the-road time for 2017, and it was certainly instructive. So we’re taking it as a lesson to figure out how to improve for the future.

Traveling with the camper definitely changed our travel style. In the past we’ve often rolled into off-the-beaten path campgrounds, cooked dinner over the fire, went to bed early, and rolled out with the sunrise. This trip we averaged 3.5 nights per campground — unheard of for us! — and definitely traveled more slowly. We actually spent six nights each at two different campgrounds. Now, I know that for many full-time travelers that’s nothing, but for us, that’s the definition of S-L-O-W travel, which definitely had its pros and cons. (One thing that hasn’t changed: we’re still terrible at making reservations in advance. We actually got turned away from our very first full-to-capacity campground on this trip! I guess after 18 months on the road, it was bound to happen eventually.)

Now, without further ado — here is the official link roundup/recap of our Appalachian Adventure! We loved our time in the mid-Atlantic mountains, and we hope you enjoy reading about it, too.

Car trouble, camping in Coopers Rock State Forest, and excellent beer! (Morgantown, West Virginia)

Whitewater, whitewater, whitewater! (#GauleySeason kickoff weekend)

Books and burritos in West Virginia’s capital city! (Charleston, West Virginia)

Our new favorite West Virginia state park! (Pipestem Resort State Park)

Yeah, we’d like to be a guest of the Vanderbilts … (Asheville, North Carolina & the Biltmore Estate)

It’s America’s most-visited national park for a reason … (Great Smoky Mountains National Park)

Celebrating Ryan’s birthday in “The Gateway to the South” (Chattanooga, Tennessee)

One night in Nashville + our new favorite campground! (Nashville, Tennessee)

Caves for days! (Mammoth Cave National Park)

Three days. So much bourbon. (The Kentucky Bourbon Trail)

We didn’t jump off a bridge — but other people did. (Bridge Day, Fayetteville, West Virginia)

If you’re interested in reading more of our road trip adventures, check out our 2015 Road Trip recap here (where we travel from the East Coast to the West Coast and back) and our 2016 Road Trip recap here (also known as our Great Southwest Adventure)!

My Birthday Week in Chattanooga

After an awesome time exploring Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we headed south towards Chattanooga, Tennessee — the southernmost point on our itinerary. We arrived on a sleepy overcast Sunday afternoon, and set up shop at Harrison Bay State Park. Not wanting to waste an afternoon, we drove into downtown to poke around and give ourselves the walking tour. We expected everything to open and hopping — it was a balmy Sunday afternoon with no rain in the forecast — but the town was basically dead. We walked five blocks of downtown before we even saw another person!

After heading back towards the river, we stumbled upon this beautiful water feature cascading down towards the bank. This waterfall is called “The Passage,” and it marks the beginning of the Trail of Tears — the journey of the forced removal of the Cherokee people from Chattanooga to Oklahoma.

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The seven, six-foot ceramic disks on the wall tell the story of the Cherokee Nation from hundreds of years of Native American habitation in the southeast. And a ‘weeping wall’ represents the tears shed by the Cherokee as they were driven from their homes and around 4,000 of them died on the Trail of Tears. It was a beautiful and thoughtful monument to the Cherokee tribes!

After spending a while exploring the waterfront and the interesting parks surrounding the riverfront Tennessee Aquarium, we headed back to camp for a quiet evening. The next day though, it was adventure time: we were headed to Ruby Falls — an underground waterfall in a cave system inside of Lookout Mountain, which faces commands a tremendous view of Chattanooga.

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Rebecca had done all the research on this one, and she was quiet excited. As it turns out — her anticipation was well-placed. This place was SWEET. And not only that — they had UNDERGROUND WIFI. But not content to have the deepest underground wifi short of NORAD, they even got punny with the motto. “SmartCave: Connect on a Deeper Level.” **Cue rimshot**

We signed up for a tour, and were lucky to get one of the smallest tour groups of the day — about 10 of us with a very fast-moving tour guide …

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… so fast, in fact, that after asking us not to straggle behind the group, she promptly lost me as I tried to get pictures of the formations she was showing us. Eventually I stopped rushing and just went at my own pace. There was some cool stuff down there!

One of my favorites was the one shown in the picture below — the Niagara Falls formation. Rebecca and I had just visited Niagara Falls in June for our anniversary, and and it was neat how much the formation looked just like the falls!

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We saw a number of other formations, including the “tobacco leaves.” Unlike Carlsbad Caverns and Mammoth Cave, which are both owned by the NPS, Ruby Falls is privately owned and operated, and they have no issues using colored lights to jazz up the caves. Personally, I feel like it made the amazing landscape even more dreamlike and otherworldly, and we enjoyed the theatrics.

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Nothing, however, came even close to matching the grandeur and magnificence of Ruby Falls itself. Towering at 145 feet tall, this is the tallest subterranean waterfall in America, and it was awesome.

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Here the lights and sounds had been put to work again. When you enter the chamber, it is completely dark. The music starts, and the lighting slowly comes on around you as the music builds. As it reaches its crescendo, the falls are suddenly illuminated, and it is nothing short of stunning. (And with the underground wifi, you can Instagram it immediately!) You get about 15 minutes to enjoy the falls and take pictures, and we enjoyed every minute.

We emerged blinking into a beautiful sunny afternoon, and decided to drive up to the top of the mountain to explore the views. At the very crown of the mountain, we found Point Park, guarded by a beautiful castle gateway.

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Point Park is part of the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, managed by the national park service. Chickamauga & Chattanooga NMP is a sprawling park site encompassing at least four different sites (we’re still not totally sure!) — and this was the first time we felt let down by a national park website. There was no clear list of the sites, or what to do there, although this map was the best resource we could find.

Anyway, Rebecca actually discovered Point Park online when researching Ruby Falls and its sister attraction, Rock City. Rock City is famous for its beautiful “Lover’s Leap” waterfall, and its panoramic “See 7 States” view. But at $20/ticket, it seemed a little pricey for a view. During her online research, Rebecca discovered a mention on Trip Advisor about Point Park, which several locals recommended as having views just as good as Rock City — without the crowds and pricey admission. We decided to give it a try, and simultaneously check a national park off our list.

There was a $5 fee to enter (or free with your America the Beautiful national park pass!), payable on the honor system at a kiosk inside the gates. Unfortunately since we arrived after hours, the little visitor’s center across the street was closed — so no passport stamp for us. We headed into the park to explore  — and we certainly found the views we’d hoped for!

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This was a historically significant spot, as it was a military dream, controlling the river and overlooking the city. After the Civil War, it had also helped start the tourism industry in Chattanooga, as painters would bring their subjects to the point and paint or sketch them.

The highway Rebecca and I have driven for years to visit my family in Louisiana runs right alongside the river, and it was fun to marvel at how many amazing things we had been driving right past for years, completely unwittingly.

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One more recommendation on visiting Point Park. Inside the park is a 2 mile round trip hike to Sunset Rock, which is apparently a perfect spot to — you guessed it — catch the sunset. We got there too early (and too hungry) to wait for sunset, but I’d definitely love to check it out in the future! The only caveat is that the park technically closes at sunset, so you have to hustle back to your car to leave before the park rangers show up.

The next day was a special day for me — my birthday! I spent a sunny morning relaxing and enjoying Rebecca’s apple cinnamon pancakes. She had a few work items to take care of, but once that was finished, we headed into town to celebrate the day with some indoor climbing at High Point Climbing Gym!  Rebecca isn’t much for heights, but after some birthday pleading, she agreed to give it a try with me.

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I had done some climbing in high school, but not since. I was excited to see if I was in any kind of shape — rafting and climbing work very different muscle groups!

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High Point was an awesome facility, and if we lived nearby, they would definitely be my gym. They had a ton of walls (including some outdoors), areas for bouldering, and they offered yoga classes and childcare! High Point even had a traditional weights gym available as part of your membership or day pass! We had a fantastic time, and would definitely go back.

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We capped off the day with dinner at the Big River Grille and Brewing Works across the street from High Point, and headed back to the campground. Thanks Chattanooga for a great birthday!

If you’re interested in more of Chattanooga, we’ d highly recommend checking out the Chattanooga Visitor’s Bureau suggested itineraries. They’ve got recommendations for everything from week long family vacations to weekend girls’ getaways. We know one thing: we only scratched the surface of everything Chattanooga has to offer! Tell us in the comments: what’s your Chattanooga must do/see/eat?

National Parks & Fall Foliage in Northern New Jersey

Our week-long visit to New Jersey ended up being a fun opportunity to “play tourist” in the state where Ryan grew up! In addition to showing me some of his favorite spots, we also planned to check out the national park sites, just like we do in every other state we visit.

Thoughtful consultation of the National Park Passport — my constant travel companion — showed four national park sites in New Jersey: Morristown National Historical Park, Gateway National Recreation Area, Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park, and Thomas Edison National Historical Park.

Ever the greedy park collector, my heart sang when a quick Google search revealed all four were in northern New Jersey, and laid out in a convenient, scenic four-hour round trip loop.

Northern New Jersey National Park Sites Map Our Streamlined Life

Tragically, my hopes of visiting all four would soon be dashed by New Jersey traffic, although it would have been possible if we’d gotten an earlier start and reversed the direction we drove the loop. (Read through to the end of my post for my tips on how to collect all four New Jersey national park passport stamps in one day!)

Morristown National Historical Park was our first stop of the day, and rewarded us with a dose of American Revolution-era history and plenty of gorgeous fall foliage.

Morristown National Battlefield 3 Our Streamlined Life

I thought it was just a battlefield, but Morristown is actually an expansive national park that encompasses three sites commemorating General Washington and the Continental army’s encampment of December 1779 to June 1780, where they survived the coldest winter in recorded history.

We started our visit to Morristown at the Jockey Hollow Visitor Center. We watched a short video about Jockey Hollow, its role in the American Revolution, and the frigid, snowy winter George Washington’s men spent there.

Morristown National Battlefield 1 Our Streamlined Life

The visitor’s center also had a staged, cross-cut reproduction of one of the huts the soldiers built to survive the snow and cold. George Washington ordered the building of a “log-house city” and somewhere between 1,000-1,200 of these huts were built in the rolling hills.

After touring the visitor’s center we proceeded to the Cemetery Road driving loop to see the encampment site. The burnished fall colors were out in full force, and I couldn’t help but think the Continental Army soldiers might have had a very different opinion of New Jersey if they’d been there in the fall instead of winter!

Morristown National Battlefield 2 Our Streamlined Life

On the side of the hill were more cabin reproductions, which we also wandered through.

Morristown National Battlefield 4 Our Streamlined Life

After driving through Jockey Hollow we considered visiting the Ford Mansion, also part of Morristown, which served as Washington’s Headquarters during the encampment. Unfortunately we had just missed a scheduled tour, and didn’t want to wait another hour to catch the next one. But if we’re in the area again I’d love to visit the Ford Mansion and Fort Nonsense, the other two sites in Morristown National Park.

Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park 1 Our Streamlined Life

Our next stop, after grabbing some hot chocolate for the drive, was Paterson Great Falls National Park. We had no idea what to expect, but were decidedly underwhelmed when we arrived a small “park” at the top of the falls. (I put “park” in quotes because, while there was a sign announcing “Mary Ellen Kramer Park,” it seemed to be just a parking lot surrounded by abandoned buildings.) While Ryan locked the doors and forbade me from getting out of the car, I double-checked my Google directions. It turned out they’d brought us to the top of the falls, while the visitor’s center was across the street at the bottom of the falls.

A half-mile spin around the block brought us to the visitor’s center and a much-improved neighborhood. (If you decide to visit, you’re looking for the The Great Falls Historic District Visitors & Cultural Center at 65 McBride Ave, Paterson, NJ 07501.)

A trip into the small visitor’s center yielded a display about the history of the falls, an orientation video set to music from Hamilton, and a staff member who seemed to know just about everything about the history of Paterson.

Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park 2 Our Streamlined Life

The short version is that Paterson was founded in 1791 — heavily influenced by Alexander Hamilton — around the Great Falls, which plunge 77 feet over a basalt shelf. Industry powered by the falls earned the town the nickname “Silk City,” and Samuel Colt even began his firearms production in the small town. But in more recent years drugs, crime, and unemployment have plagued the city, and the falls have been something of a well-kept secret — even after the national park site was established in 2009.

The park service is working hard to make improvements to the area, including this colorful mural below the steps leading to the falls view.

Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park Centennial Mural Our Streamlined Life

A few flights of stairs took us from the visitor’s center to a prime viewing location. Northern New Jersey is currently in a mild drought, so the falls weren’t running heavily, but the fall colors more than made up for the diminished water levels. The view was stunning, and it was hard to believe we were standing in the heart of the third largest city in New Jersey!

Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park 4 Our Streamlined Life

After visiting Great Falls, we made a detour on a suggestion from the staff member we’d chatted with in the visitor’s center. A ten-minute drive brought us to the Lambert Castle Observation Tower.

Lambert Castle Our Streamlined Life

Built in 1892, the castle itself was the home of Catholina Lambert, the owner of a prominent silk mill in the City of Paterson. The observation tower sits on the hill above the castle, and offers a panoramic view of New York and New Jersey. It was a cloudy day, but we could still see the outline of the Manhattan skyline in the distance.

Lambert Castle Observation Tower Our Streamlined Life

By this time traffic was starting to pick up, but we were determined to make one more stop: Thomas Edison National Historical Park.

Thomas Edison National Historical Park Our Streamlined Life

I’d been excited for this stop all day, but sadly it was not to be. We arrived half an hour before the site closed (what’s up with national parks that close at 4:00pm, by the way?) and didn’t want to rush through it. It has been added to the list for another day, because seriously, this place — which includes Thomas Edison’s home and laboratories — looks awesome.

Tips for Collecting All Four New Jersey National Park Passport Stamps in One Day

As promised, I have a few tips for collecting all four New Jersey national park passport stamps in one day — learned from experience after I was unable to do it myself!

  • Start with Gateway NRA and travel counter-clockwise. My understanding is that passport stamps are available at the Sandy Hook Lighthouse Keepers Visitor Center, which opens at 9:00am. Don’t save Gateway for last or you’ll never get through NYC traffic in time to make all four stops!
  • Start your day early. We didn’t leave the house until after 10:00am. I just figured we’d have enough time because the stops were so close to each other. I didn’t account for traffic, and I definitely underestimated how much there was to do at each of these “small” parks.
  • Plan around tour times. While you could just tour all these parks on your own (like we did), a little planning will allow you to experience everything the parks have to offer. Ford Mansion at Morristown offers regular tours; Paterson Great Falls offers guided walking tours, and at Thomas Edison there are tours of his home and programs in the laboratory complex.
  • Don’t try to do it in one day. Okay, this tip is totally cheating! But we could easily have spent at least 3-4 hours at each of these spots, and if you can extend your trip you definitely should. We stayed with friends so I can’t personally vouch for any area campgrounds, but Stephens State Park would be a pleasant drive from Morristown or Paterson.

As always, I’d recommend using your America the Beautiful national parks pass. But if you don’t have a pass, you’re in luck on this trip: many of these stops are free! As of October 2016, Gateway is free (there’s a beach parking fee from Memorial Day to Labor Day). There’s a $7/person fee at Morristown, but if you skip Washington’s Headquarters (like we did) it’s free. Paterson Great Falls is free. Thomas Edison is $10/person.

Our Fall Foliage Drive through Northern NJ (And Down Memory Lane)

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On Monday the 17th, we concluded our six-week exploration of West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky, which we’ll be writing about starting next week. We ended our trip back in Harpers Ferry, and the next day, started north towards New Hampshire, where we’ll be parked at Rebecca’s parents house through the New Year. On the way up, we stopped off in my old stomping grounds, New Jersey, to visit friends and enjoy the fabulous weather.

Since fall is our favorite time of year, and the colors were in absolute peak when we arrived, we decided to revive one of my favorite traditions growing up: the annual fall foliage drive around northern New Jersey. I thought this would also be a fun time to show Rebecca around some of my old haunts, including the Delaware Water Gap, where I’d done a lot of hiking with the Boy Scouts; my favorite state park in New Jersey, Stokes State Forest; and my all-time favorite spot, Kittatinny Mountain Scout Reservation, the Boy Scout summer camp I grew up attending.

We planned a loose circle (which kind of turned into a figure 8), and hit the road on a clear and unseasonably warm Wednesday.

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We drove north, and headed through the Water Gap, towards the only park visitor center that had not closed for the season. Honestly, the good views of the gap are almost all facing south from the Pennsylvania side, so I don’t think Rebecca was overly impressed as we drove through. However, the sun was shining and gold and orange leaves were fairly glowing, and I was having a great time cruising down memory lane.

We crossed the river into Pennsylvania and headed towards the visitor center, and ran unexpectedly across Shawnee Mountain, which I thought was much further north. This small ski mountain was the place my brother and dad and I all learned how to ski or snowboard over the several years we were part of our homeschool group’s ski club. I was excited to see it, and see what it looked like when it wasn’t covered in snow. Rebecca also reminded me that she had actually gone up there with my family over Christmas break when we were first dating back in 2005!

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The “visitor center” turned out to just be the administrative offices for the park, with no displays or much worth sticking around for, and so we jumped back in the truck and headed back towards the Water Gap, intent on finding some of the great overlooks and views I knew were there.

We passed through a tiny town on our way towards an overlook and were quickly waylaid by a small market advertising fresh apples and pumpkins, apple cider, and most importantly, fresh-baked apple pies. We grabbed one for dessert that night, along with some tiny pumpkins and gourds to decorate the camper, and continued on.

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We drove down the shore road and visited Resort Point Overlook, Point of Gap Overlook, and Arrow Island Overlook, which all had nice views, but I was convinced there was a killer view somewhere else. Looking at the map, we guestimated where the best view SHOULD be, and were excited to find out that back on the Jersey side, there was a visitor center right where that view should be. We headed over there, and were not disappointed.

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My inner Lord of the Rings nerd was looking for the city of Lorien.

The trees all around the visitor center were absolutely on fire with yellows and golds and oranges, and sure enough, I found the view I was looking for — the absolute best view of Delaware Water Gap.

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We strolled around for a while, enjoying the views and the weather, then mounted back up and headed towards Stokes and KMSR. We took a route I’d never driven before, and to get back across the river, we got to (had to?) take a tiny two-lane bridge with a tiny man who had to be pushing 90 collecting the tolls for both directions. Sadly, we were both too surprised to take a picture.

We came to the camp entrance before we hit the entrance to Stokes (they’re within a mile of each other), so we turned in there and drove in. As we drove in, everything looked exactly like I remembered it, and I was thrilled to see it again … right up to the point when we got to the parking lot. Where the old welcome sign had been, with a rustic wooden map of the camp, there were two wooden posts, roughly cut off near to the ground, and when I looked around, there were signs stapled to trees all around proclaiming the land not as Boy Scout property, but as state park property.

Rebecca grabbed her phone, and found that my beloved camp had closed due to insolvency in 2010, and sold to the state park system. As we walked around, everything looked the same as I remembered it — except most of the buildings were completely gone, including the camp store, the first aid building, and the giant dining hall. Growing up really sucks sometimes.

However, the property was every bit as beautiful as I remembered, and we spent an hour walking around so I could show Rebecca where some of my fondest memories had taken place.

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I showed her where we’d had flag ceremonies every morning and evening, where the inter-troop competition, the vaunted Tin Man Race, had taken place, where I’d learned lifesaving and canoeing and sailing and archery, and where my favorite campsite had been.

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The tents and platforms were all gone, but the campsite was otherwise just how I remembered, and just as beautiful. I was sad that the camp was no longer in operation, but found it comforting to know that, since it was now state park property, I’d likely always be able to come and visit, and hopefully one day show our kids where their dad learned to love the great outdoors.

The sun was starting to set, so we decided to skip Stokes, and head towards another Memory Lane highlight: Spruce Run Recreation Area, the very first place a four-year-old Ryan ever went camping. The last time I was there I was only six years old, but this place, like KMSR, lived up to my memories. Unlike KMSR, it was still open and operating as a campground and park, and I was pleased to find I remembered enough to find our old campsites and hangouts. I didn’t remember everything, though: I had completely forgotten about the BATHROOM FORT.

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This majestic castle overlooks the lake, and has amenities for both men and women — a true revelation. The ladder to the overlook at the top had been removed, but I didn’t let that small setback stop me from clambering up the rough stone walls and checking out the view.

Right across from the bathroom (fortroom? bathfort? outfort?) was this beautiful but boarded up house facing the lake. Rebecca and I immediately began questioning whether perhaps the park needed a year-round full-time caretaker or two who could live there.

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And the view from the porch certainly wasn’t shabby.

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We finished our driving loop through the park, seeing over 2 dozen deer, including this very unafraid little family.

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The sun was setting, and we were all thinking about dinner (and that amazing-smelling pie in the backseat), so we hit the road, happy it was fall, and even more excited to get to New England than we already had been.

Planning is Half the Fun: September 2016

As I write this, we’ve been parked in Virginia for over three months — and 100% feeling the itch to get back on the road! Because planning is half the fun, I’ve been spending plenty of time with my nose in travel brochures, figuring out where we’re going to stay, eat, and play in September.

Headed For Appalachia | Our Streamlined Life

This trip is going to look a little different than some of our past adventures. Instead of a more traditional road trip, this one is all about whitewater! Our travels will center around Gauley Season; we’ll be spending at least three of these six weekends hitting the river. In between we’ll be roaming West Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

Last time we posted an overview/planning post like this, we got some terrific suggestions from you guys here and on Instagram.  So I’m counting on you to come through for us again. Comment, email, Instagram us … we’d love suggestions on camping, hiking, eating, and drinking!

On more note — it’s as yet TBD if we’ll be taking the camper or once again hitting the road with just the Tahoe and a prayer. Is it weird that after three months of all the creature comforts of our turtle house, I’m kind of longing for the simplicity of car camping? Ryan seems less convinced, but I’ll work on that 😉

Week 1 (September 5 – 11)

  • Because we have a gap between the end of our Maine camping reservation (August 27) and our first day of rafting (September 10), I’m not sure exactly when we’ll head towards West Virginia. But my first planned stop is Charleston, West Virginia — the capital city priding itself on “small town charm and a progressive attitude.”
  • I have my eye on camping in the Kanawha State Forest just outside the city. On the food front, I’d love to check out MoxxeeBluegrass Kitchen, and Taylor Books Café.
  • Because I love spooky stuff, I’m dying to check out the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum north of the city. Their tours look creepy and amazing.
  • By the weekend, we’ll be headed to Fayetteville! We have camping and rafting reservations at Cantrell Ultimate Rafting and are ready for a weekend of crazy water! Ryan has rafted the Gauley River before, but it will be my first time; we’ll be doing the Upper Gauley one day and the Lower Gauley or the New River the next. This is the only river trip with set dates, as we’ll also be joined by Ryan’s world-travelling cousin Barry!

Week 2 (September 12 – 18)

Week 3 (September 19- 25)

  • The next planned stop is a little further — I’m still dying to get to Asheville, North Carolina. It’s about four hours from Fayetteville … unless you take the scenic route and make a stop at the Hatfield & McCoy Moonshine Distillery — which, let’s be real, sounds totally worth the extra two hours.
  • I have my eye on a bunch of campgrounds in the Asheville area, from the Mount Pisgah Campground (a NPS campground off the Blue Ridge Parkway) to the Twin Falls Resort State Park to the Lake Powhatan Recreation Area.
  • I’ve heard the food in Asheville is amazing, but I haven’t scoped out anything specific yet. I do know we’ll go the Biltmore and I can’t wait to visit Battery Park Book Exchange.
  • Depending when Ryan’s next weekend back on the Gauley happens, we may be returning to Fayetteville from Asheville. If so, I’d love to take the scenic route, traveling up the Blue Ridge Parkway (great suggestion, Cat!).

Week 4 (September 26 – October 2)

  • Our next destination is Knoxville, Tennessee. I’m excited to visit, and I’ve heard that #KNOXROCKS, but I don’t have any specifics planned out yet. Apparently they have a brand new ale trail and 4,500 acres of green and open spaces, so I’m sure we’ll manage 😉 I’ll be contacting Visit Knoxville soon to get some suggestions.
  • I’m looking at camping at Panther Creek State Park and the Knoxville KOA.

Week 5 (October 3 – October 9)

  • It didn’t make my 2016 National Parks Wish List, but I’m still dying to check out Great Smoky Mountains National Park — so that’s where we’re headed next, either two hours from Asheville or four hours from Fayetteville.
  • I definitely want to camp in the park and I’m in desperate need of some hiking suggestions! Rainbow Falls and Charlies Bunion both look like great options — and maybe we’ll even do a little backpacking!

Week 6 (October 10 – October 16)

  • The western- and southernmost point of our trip will be Chattanooga, Tennessee, another city I’ve been wanting to get to for a while. I’ve heard it’s beautiful and outdoorsy and I can’t wait to check out their 13-mile riverwalk and get in some history.
  • For camping, I’m looking at Harrison Bay State Park. It’s about 25 minutes from downtown and looks super pretty.
  • Before we head to New England, I’d love to finish off our trip with my first half marathon since last September: the Four Bridges Half Marathon, through downtown and across the river.

Ready to Hit the Road | Our Streamlined Life

So: Where should we go? What can’t we miss in West Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennesee? And if you live on our route … can we camp in your yard? 😉