Road Trip of a Lifetime

Published: November 25th 2010
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The next leg of our journey could not have been more different from our previous stretch of city hopping. In Washington DC, Ben and I hired a car for 10 days in order that we may drive through the Appalachian Mountains and down some of the east coast. We hopped into our VW Beatle (which I aptly named Ringo!) with great enthusiasm and set off on our journey. We began by driving the Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park. This was a 105 mile drive, which redefined our idea of 'scenic route'. We were constantly treated to spectacular views and this was arguably the most impressive 'scenic drive' we have ever completed. We were immediately forced to test out our brakes when two deer innocently wandered across the road. The leaves burnt bright red and orange, the sun was shining and picnics were in abundance.... i.e. I was in my element!

Not wanting to part with nature just yet, we decided to continue our journey along the Blue Ridge Parkway which immediately followed on from the Skyline Drive. This road was just as pretty and ran all the way down to North Carolina's Great Smoky Mountains.This 469 mile bendy and slow-going drive was well worth the car sickness! In between the driving and taking in the scenery, we made the most of the numerous hikes which were on offer. On our first hike, we were immediately faced with a sign stating 'Bear Country'..... eeeek! Ben thought that it would be hilariously funny to make sporadic bear noises behind me. Bearing in mind (pardon the pun!) that there was not another soul in sight due to us being 'out of season', this was probably the scariest walk that I have ever been on... not helped by Ben of course! One particularly scary moment was when we saw a deer carcass and Ben commented that "it was probably eaten by a bear!" About 10 seconds later, a sudden and very loud noise came from the bush right next to me. I screamed at the top of my lungs but soon realised that we had only frightened a deer! To say that I wet my pants would be an understatement!

The following day (having recovered from my ordeal) and imposing a ban on the word 'bear), we decided to do a hike up Mount Mitchell, the highest peak in Eastern USA. It was another glorious day and we thoroughly enjoyed our climb to the summit along meandering paths which ran through dense and slightly spooky woodland. At the summit, we had sensational panoramic views with excellent visibility. It was completely silent up there too which was awesome.

Shortly after returning to our car and whilst finishing our picnic, we got talking to a friendly American couple (Betsy and Charlie) who seemed to have a soft spot for 'the Brits'! To cut a long story short, they ended up inviting us to stay with them that night in Charlotte, North Carolina. Being the poor travellers that we are, such an offer could not be refused! Their house was enormous and we were given the run of the entire upper floor. We had a wondferful evening with great food (Steak- so Ben was happy!), political debate and copious amounts of red wine. Betsy and Charlie treated us like royalty during our short stay with them and they are truly a lovely couple.

With a very sore head, we continued our road trip across to the east coast where we stayed nights in Wilmington, Charleston and Savannah respectively. We particularly enjoyed our stay in St Augustine, despite an unseasonal downpour. We strolled the ancient streets and hopped between the various sweet and ice cream shops to take shelter... what a shame! This village screamed 'hey everyone, look how quaint I am!' and coupled with the fact that it was drenched in history, we only touched the surface. Imagine how frustrated Ben the history buff was... ha ha!

Now on to Orlando to see Mickey Mouse and Harry Potter.... no bears thank Goodness! x

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