We did escape
Mich. before the next wave of snow and ice. Many cool/cold nights on the road. We abandoned the planned Walmart stop in Athens OH as it had little space, was very insecure looking and was a pre-turkey day pandemonium.
So we continued another 1.5 hours south and tried a Cracker Barrel for the first time. Not bad. The next day we were heading to a planned stop at a KOA in Virginia but decided since we had 2 days before we could check in at Huntington Beach State Park Sat. and were just approaching an intersection of Interstate HWYS we would jump off and head west to Gatlinburg to visit the Great Smoky Mountains, National Park. Spontaneous can be good while traveling. Or not
OMG! you would have thought we were looking for the proverbial manger at Christmas time. ALL RV parks were either closed for the season (after Halloween) or filled to overflow. We drove around and tried 5 places for about 1.5 hours. RVParky was useful, however, the app did not indicate which were closed for the season. Finally, the "Small is beautiful" mantra paid off and we found one RV resort further north at Pigeon Forge that had a slot for our 16' Scamp
for 2 nights.
WOW, it was a postage stamp spot but we fit. The woman at the front desk indicated there was a 3 night minimum for weekend bookings. I told her we only needed 2 nights and since no other rig on the road other than a small FG or perhaps a tiny pop up could fit it was better to have gotten 2 nights of revenue than leave it vacant. None of the 30' ++ land yachts looking for space would have fit on the site any case.
The NP was wonderful, albeit bumper to bumper traffic through the park was a bit much even sans Scamp
. There were two trails where dogs were allowed to be on so we did get our 10K Fitbit steps for the day after several days of <5K sitting while driving and rest stops.
Heading to Huntington Beach from Pigeon Forge was not uneventful
Our Ford Flex GPS/navigation took us south through Gatlinburg then east on Tn 321 as I saw on the AAA and RVParky maps and that seemed good. Our route was then to be an easy on to I-40 then head south to Asheville N.C. then to I-26 then I-20 then east towards Myrtle Beach then south to Huntington Beach. Easy No Tru?
Confidently following the nav we were directed onto a road that rapidly became very narrow that went up and up and up over the eastern end of the mountains. Scenic but no place to turn around or stop.
Flexi, our navigation voice continued to tell us to "Turn left here" but each of the smaller mountain tracks suggested were very steep dirt tracks down the side of the mountain to what appeared to be driveways and or one case a cemetery. One larger paved road to the east down another very steep track where we had the vocal suggestion to "Turn left now" on saw 3, we counted three HUGE red signs that stated, "GPS is WRONG do not enter this road."
We continued on slowly winding up the mountain then down then up then down at 5-8 MPH. For the first 45 minutes, we saw no vehicles or buildings along the extremely steep slopes. Then we passed a small very rural farm-like set of buildings perched on a ledge-like bit of land with a pick-em-up truck parked in front of a small place with wood smoke trailing up to the sky. They had hand painted on a large flat rock this sign... "All who are lost end up here" I almost chuckled at our temporary new reality. However, at the moment, I was working to keep the right Scamp
wheel on the narrow pavement strip as there was no shoulder, and +/- 18" ditch at the edge.
Further on we came to a sign that told us the pavement ends in 100 yards!
Oh, Joy. Serious Boon docking anyone?
There was a "large" space more or less at the sign to turn around and we decided we might be better off back-tracking as the NAV map still showed I-40 far far to the east and miles and miles away from us.
Of course, every few moments we had Flexi's admonishment belted out "Map data incomplete... Proceed with Caution!"
It was still too narrow to simply turn around in one smooth arc so as I was backing up a bit to continue pulling forward to complete the turn the first vehicle we had seen the entire 50 minutes stopped to let me continue. Well, I was blocking the road in any case.
I then flashed my lights
and the PU truck stopped and I asked the fellow about access to I-40. With a heavy Appalachian accent, he told me if I just turn around the gravel section was only about a mile long and when we hit pavement again a small access road to the left would take us east to I-40.
So I thanked him and backed down the road a bit and did another 3 point K turn.
At the next crest of the gravel road in .5 miles we came to, we saw 3 vehicles pulled off to one side. Then Carolyn noted WOW! there was a sign indicating the Appalachian Trail
was crossing this point. So the cars were hikers. We had always thought traveling part of that trail would be fun... but perhaps not in a Scamp.
We did find the pavement and made it to I-40 after a very slow "Scenic route" that cost us close to an hour in travel time I merged onto I-40 South.
As we approached Columbia S.C. we encountered bumper to bumper traffic on the Interstate for an apparent Feet Ball game. This we deduced from all the flags flying and various decorations like helmets etc. on the cars, trucks etc.
We pealed off north of Columbia and headed east on I-20. WOW the west bound traffic on I-20 was backed up for > 5 miles at a crawl. Phew glad we did not need to pass through Columbia.
All in our our various road events took nearly 2 hours more than we planned. We did get into Huntington Beach SP. and our friends we were meeting indicated that had been waiting most of the afternoon.
OH well the Zen of travel... It is what it is.
So from here on out we should be good on our travels.
In any case WE LOVE being in places where the temperatures are higher than the speedlimts.