Monday, June 21, 2021

The Great Getting Out Of The House Southeast USA Vacation Of 2021 - Days 1 Thru 3

On the first of June we loaded our stuff in the car and headed out on the road like our butts were on fire.  It was our first multiday vacation out of the house since Patagonia in 2019 and to say we were eager to go out into the world, fully vaccinated of course, would be an understatement.  Anticipation for this vacation predates the pandemic as it was originally going to be our summer 2020 trip so by the time it looked safe to leave the confines of our bubble we could taste it.

Our travels would take us to the southeast region of the country.  We would explore nature, history, civil rights, and American literature.  We first headed east driving through Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia on our way to my small personal contribution to our itinerary, Shenandoah National Park.

It took us two days - nineteen hours of driving more or less - to get to the park.  Ever since I hiked this park during my Appalachian Trail (AT) hike in 2019 I'd wanted to drive Skyline drive (the road follows the original AT path through the park) and the Blueridge Parkway to the south of the park.  Our stop on the second day was the Big Meadow Lodge.  We spent the night in the lodge and we watched hikers come in to get food and enjoyed the views from the lodge.

The view from one of Skyline Drive's many turnouts.

On our third day we drove south on the Skyline drive and the Blueridge Parkway.  These roads follow the heavily forested ridgeline passing multiple turnouts where you can see for miles on a clear day.  As I drove south I remembered my hike north through this section.  The AT crosses the road over twenty times in the park and I watched for crossing points and saw a few AT blazes marking the trail.  The memories flooded back as the road winded south.  I couldn't remember how long it took me to hike the park (it was seven days) and along the way I tried to calculate how many days.  I think the curvy road messed with my calculations.  I was off by two days.  I think I talked the Wife's ear off about my AT memories though I think we've been married long enough that she's learned how to tune me out.

After leaving the parkway we drove the highway south and I kept seeing exits to towns I'd zeroed in - Waynesboro, Buena Vista, Daleville, Pearisburg, Marion, Damascus.  Every name has a thousand memories attached to them.  We ended the day in Erwin, TN.  We'd driven in one day what took me thirty-eight days to hike.  It felt surreal.  We drove by Uncle Johnny's Nolichucky Hostel where I'd stayed when I was in Erwin.  This was the end of my AT remembrance.  Tomorrow we would leave the AT and head southeast to North Carolina.

Photos can be found in my 2021-06 Southeast USA Google Photos album.

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