We woke up refreshed, ate breakfast and cleaned up camp while some deer munched on the surrounding trees. Next we did a short hike with some rock scrambling and breathtaking views. The temperature was perfect and everyone enjoyed the outing. We even crossed the Appalachian Trail. Once back in the car, we drove the famous Skyline Drive for about 10 miles. The road was quite twisty, so we distributed the barf bags that were swiped from airplanes by some thoughtful relatives. Despite the frequent curves, the road was truly beautiful. When we were perched on a high rock during our hike, Christine commented that it looked as if she could jump down and have a soft landing on the tops of the fluffy looking tree tops.
|Our home in Shenandoah|
|Shenandoah, the view from the top of our hike|
This ended the good part of our day. After we exited the park, we realized our drive to the Smoky Mountains was two hours longer than we expected. That would put us there after 8:00, with no stops. So, we decided to rely on our snack supply and not stop for lunch. We pressed on. It became obvious we were in the Bible belt because of the religious-themed road signs and advertisements for churches everywhere. One sign read, “Jesus is Lord, buy guns here.” It was atop a camouflage painted building.
There was a town about two miles from our campsite and we were planning to stop for firewood and dinner supplies. Then, when we arrived at our spot, James was going to quickly put up the tent and I would make the fire before it got dark. That was the simple plan, but that is not how it went. Everyone was hungry and therefore grumpy. The town didn’t have a grocery store, but rather a quick stop (my worst food nightmare), which closed 3 minutes before we arrived. We had to drive a few miles farther down the road for another gross quick stop that was opened. Meanwhile, the sun was sinking fast and people getting grumpier. The store had hot dogs with five thousand nasty ingredients, and that was the best thing there. We bought them and some firewood then got out quickly. The tent went up just before it got too dark, but the fire would not start. The kids were moaning and groaning in hunger (hunger which, apparently renders them helpless). They were suggesting that we just go to the next campsite over and ask if we could borrow their fire just long enough to cook our disgusting hot dogs. This plan was vetoed as we continued to attempt to light the fire. The wood was wet, it was dark, and I was convinced that we might lose at least one family member to hunger if we didn’t do something fast. We got out the propane burner and cooked our dogs over that flame. Is that OK?? It turns out we all lived through it and we managed to clean up dinner in the dark then went soundly to sleep.
Tip of the day: Expect some hard days, then go to sleep and wake up happy for the new day. Try not to do or say anything on the hard day that you might regret in the morning.