I have to be at campgrounds more than expected because my solar panels don’t work with my new solar pack and I can’t go more than a couple of days without plugging in at a campground (to recharge the solar pack).
At this point, I’m just dealing with it because I’m contemplating making some changes in the near future that may (or may not) affect it.
But more on that issue later.
The Week of October 19, 2020
I spent a couple of days at a campground in Tennessee located somewhere between Crossville and Crab Orchard.
It was purely a country setting.
A wooden fence separated me from my neighbors (2 ponies) who came to their side of the fence whenever I stepped foot outside the van. I think they wanted to see if I had any goodies for them.
T’was a nice couple of days to relax and regroup. I really need more time where I’m not driving aimlessly about.
When I hit the road in 2015 I put many, many miles on the van. I loved being in a new place every day or every few days. This time around (version 2.0), my goal is to have a better balance between driving and staying put… once I figure out what a good balance is!
Leaving The Crossville – Crab Orchard Area
On my final day in Crossville – Crab Orchard I had 3 things planned for the day:
- Get my Walmart grocery pickup.
- Go to Ozone Falls (in Tennessee).
- Find a place to spend the night.
My Walmart pickup went very smoothly. The pickup area was clearly marked and the Associate who brought my order out was very courteous. I also got everything I ordered (or a suitable substitute).
I headed to Ozone Falls where I was going to spend a few minutes putting my groceries away and, then, hike to the falls.
According to Google, it’s a short hike to the falls. I’d really like to get back into hiking and I thought this would be a perfect re-start.
About My Hiking: I’ve had back problems since I was a child but a car accident (when I was 18) caused issues that have progressed over the years. So, I look for short, easy trails to hike (or beaches to walk) that still challenge me.
I drove to the falls but there’s not much parking and all parking spots were full. So, I drove the backroads a while, admiring the scenery and headed back to the falls a little later.
There was still no where to park.
When things don’t go as planned… just keep going. There just might be something much better waiting for you down the road.
I Had No Idea What Was Waiting For Me
Number 2 on my To Do List still needed to be checked off but I needed a replacement. So… I just started driving east!
Around 1:15 pm, I entered the Smoky Mountains National Park. I’d been here before and really wasn’t planning on seeing it again but, sometimes, you just have to go where the road takes you.
Related Post: Great Smoky Mountains National Park Adventure!
As I enter the park and rounded the corner I had no idea that this time would be so much more amazing than the last time I was here.
This time, fall was at it’s peak.
The vibrant colors of autumn were E V E R Y W H E R E… around every corner… along every stretch… to be seen from every angle.
I see a parking spot and pull over. Everyone there is endlessly snapping pictures of the beautiful landscape before them.
As I snapped my own wonderous pictures, I turned around and saw something that no one was taking a picture of.
There, in all it’s glory, the rocky mountain spewed forth it’s own rendition of magnificent fall colors.
“Snap, snap” went my phone (all my pictures are taken with my phone). I’m sure I’ve got a good picture in there somewhere!
I hop back in the van and continue driving. The park was very busy and, sometimes, I didn’t get to pull over and see what I wanted to see (the parking spaces were full).
Towards the top of the next mountain I happened to see an almost empty parking lot!
I park the van, look up… and the view was simply awe inspiring!
There was no reason to hurry so I sat there, mesmerized for an unknown amount of time.
There are many waterfalls in the Smoky Mountain National Park but the parking lots there were full. My day just wasn’t going to be complete until I got a waterfall or babbling brook picture!
Towards the end of the park there was an empty spot to pull over.
And there it was! The babbling brook picture I needed to be happy and content (ok, I was already happy and content but I still needed my picture!).
I left the park around 4:15. As I drove through the exit I saw the line of vehicles waiting to get in to the park.
The line was several miles long (yes… MILES!). The line stretched from the entrance to the park all the way to town.
Finding A Place To Spend The Night
It’s time to check number 3 off of today’s To Do List and find a place to spend the night.
I found a Walmart about 40 minutes away (in Waynesville, NC) that allowed overnight parking.
It was still early and, when I’m just sleeping there, I don’t like getting to Walmart too early. I also didn’t feel like cooking!
I rarely eat fast food or anything I don’t cook myself but I went to Taco Bell to get some supper.
Not wanting to cook was enough of an excuse for me so, I used the Taco Bell app to customize my order (removing and replacing everything I’m allergic or sensitive to). Then, I head to the drive-thru, tell them my name and they make my order.
Using the app sure beat trying to explain it all at the drive-thru speaker.
Heading back to Walmart with my supper in tow, I find a level spot to spend the night and, then, get busy eating supper!
Time Zone Confusion
I finally figured out I crossed a time zone. I knew there was a time zone somewhere in there but never looked to see where time zone changed.
It’s later than I thought so, once supper is done and cleaned up I make sure my doors are locked and head to bed.
Next Morning – Oh Crap!
The next morning I awoke, got ready for the day and hopped in the driver’s seat to head to a nearby park where I was going to make breakfast and plan my day.
I put the key in the ignition, turn it… and nothing happens!
So… because it was certainly going to make a difference… I frantically jiggle the key in the ignition… then, I turn it off and on several more times… but my efforts were rewarded with dead silence.
It seems that a certain someone didn’t remember to turn her headlights off before she went to bed last night.
Had that certain someone gotten out of the van (or at least opened the door), her van would have kindly beeped at her, telling her to turn her headlights off.
AAA To The Rescue
I’ve had AAA for many years and it comes in quite handy whether I’m traveling across the United States or staying in The Homeland.
Someone was there fairly quickly to jump start Bella. She was good to go but she needed to run a while to recharge her battery.
I could still go to the park and plan my day but I’d have to leave the van run.
That Makes No Sense!
Why sit there burning gas when I can drive the North Carolina backroads and see the fall landscape!?!?!
There will be time for figuring out a plan later. For now, it’s scenery seeing time!
Autumn In North Carolina
I came across a little town called Maggie Valley, North Carolina. Apparently it’s a well known town but I’ve never heard of it – until now.
Driving through town I notice the fall decorations. It looks like a combination of Halloween and Thanksgiving.
It’s still early but there are people everywhere!
There were places serving breakfast outside and there must have been a car show or rally going on. There were lines of unique looking cars along the sides of the street and in parking lots.
Reaching the end of town I head up a mountain.
As I approach the mountain I see the wonders of fall. So many cool, bright, iridescent colors – holy moly!
I begin my ascent up the mountain and around all the twists and turns.
Up, up, up I go!
Fall is everywhere! There’s no possible way to miss it.
I’m not sure how far up the mountain I was but I noticed a sign that said “Most Photographed View”.
I’d already gone past the sign but decided to turn back and see what it was all about.
Can you say A… A… A… mazing!?
I’m so glad I decided to come this direction (albeit unintentionally). It seems mid-late October is the prime time to see the amazing fall landscapes in eastern Tennessee / western North Carolina.
My only true plan from here is to continue moving forward as I figure out life again.
But adventure can happen when we least expect it!