Friday, June 17, 2011

South-East Tour Day 8 - Nashville to Smoky Mountains


This morning Kim and I woke to the 7:30 alarm we set on her phone.  We immediately began packing and gradually got the girls up, dressed and fed.
There was a pretty heavy overcast, but we were going to try and get a dip in the lake before we left.  However, as soon as we got fully packed up and down to the lake it began to pour and thunder.  The swim was going to act as our final "bath" before we headed to the Smokys, as there are no showing facilities there.  Since the lake wasn't going to happen, we drove up to the bath house and took proper showers. 
We were scheduled to turn in our rental car today, which meant the GPS had to go with it.  We couldn't find our Tennessee map, so we decided to meet somewhere dry to figure out what to do next.  Kim led us I.to a McDonald's/gas station that had free wireless.  There we filled up our tanks, ate brunch, and pulled up directions on our Chrome laptop, which I copied onto paper.
We returned the rental at the airport, which we are hoping will be alright.  We were supposed to turn it in in Tallahassee.
From the airport we all loaded up in the van and headed East on I-40.  The drive was absolutely magnificent.  I don't try to drive very fast, usually going between 55 & 65 mph.  I only went 70 - 75 on long downhill stretches.  Once I could only push 35, during a long uphill stretch.  Fortunately there were 3 semis in front of me doing the same thing, so I don't think I stuck out too much.
Once we got off the Interstate we entered a little town.  There we ate and picked up groceries.
A few times we thought we may have missed a turn and a few other we almost did.  Driving with just maps and directions, we did have our Smoky Mountains map, is much more nerve racking that the comfort at a GPS guiding you through every turn.  Each time we were sure we were going the wrong way and was about stop, our turn would immediately show up.  Kim and I took this as a sign we should give up quicker if we wanted our turns to show up quicker.  In the park the roads were often completely unmarked which made things really fun.  And what should be only a mile drive seems much longer when you are only going 30 - 35 through winding roads.  My odometer is broken so we couldn't use that to judge distance traveled.
We finally made it into the campground in our site.  It is right next to a little stream.  There is also a full river very close by, which makes for a very comforting background noise.  Kim setup the tens while I played with the kids in the stream, and walked around the campgrounds with them.  We used Katie's tent to store our stuff, and I will be sleeping with Athena and Arianna in our tent.  Kim and Aurora will sleep in the camper, which I set up.
The weather here is very great.  A heavy overdraft, coupled with occasional light sprinkles means we never sweat no matter how much we work or play.  It also provides a gorgeous fog.
Occasionally we'll hear thunder from far off in the distance, but rarely do we actually see the lightning.
We are very low on clean laundry and there are no laundering facilities, so I washed our clothes in the stream and hung them on bungee chords and ropes I attached to some trees.  We'll see if they'll be dry in two days.  We've got our undergarments hanging in the camper, so if nothing else, we should have clean dry undies, which is the most important.
The girls wanted smores, so I tried to get a fire going, but anything I could find for starter was too damp. Everyone got too anxious and just had "row" smores.  Just as everyone else was ready to turn in, and with the help of lighter fluid, Kim's insistence, I got the fire started.  So I was the only one to get hot smores.
Eating the smores was the last thing I did before writing this.  Since the laptop is dead, and there is no Internet for the Chrome-book, I am writing this on notebook paper to type in later.  In fact, my last two entries are in a text document on the laptop, waiting to be pasted in the online blog when I can provide both power and Internet to it.
Now I'm off to bed, and if the weather gets too bad, the lightning is getting closer, the girls and I will move to the van too.