When traveling, I am equally as proud to tell folks that I'm from Kentucky as I am East Tennessee. The more places I go, the more my southeastern pride grows. The more excited I am to go home, and the more excited I am to go on more adventures.
Funny how that works.
Whether the readers of this blog (few though they will be, I'm sure) are familiar with home, I hope the photos and sketches prove to be entertaining in the least. Maybe it will even be useful to someone looking to span such an excursion.
TLDR; I'm going on a road trip from North Carolina to California. It's based on an off-road motorcycle trip called the TAT. I'm going with my dad. He'll be on a motorcycle, I'll be in my 4runner. Sometimes other people will be there. Sometimes I'll stop and ride my bicycle.
In our messy shed that looks up at the Smokies, I watch my dad stuff gear into his saddlebags, thinking about this ridiculous adventure we're about to stumble into. I look down to see the messy concrete signatures from my brother and I, circa 2003.
PLANNING A ROAD TRIP LIKE THIS IS LIKE TRYING TO HIT A MOVING TARGET WITH YOUR EYES CLOSED WHILE SPINNING IN CIRCLES.
what's the tat?
The TAT is a 5,000 mile off-road trail for motorcycles.I don't ride motorcycles, but my dad does. So does my boyfriend. I like off-road stuff. I've never seen the Grand Canyon. And I'm pretty sure I can ride my gravel bike on anything a motorcycle can ride on. So here I am, 6 months later with a 4runner full of climbing gear, bicycles, and some canned wine in the back. Let's do it.
here's something like a schedule.
Here's my packing list
OCRACOKE, NC ----> HECTOR, AK
HOW DOES THIS BLOG WORK?
I'm going to insert snippets from my journal. If you don't want to read my ramblings, don't open these accordions.
There's a TLDR; section at the bottom of the accordion. It will catch you up on anything you've missed.
DAY 3 BOONE, NC ----> SEYMOUR, TN
[Insert long intro about leaving Boone: the boys had an early start so they could do some more difficult off-road riding that the 4runner couldn't do, I decided to do a hike and meet them in Seymour that evening to have dinner and ready the troops for the rest of the trip.]
...Anywho, so I showed up to Danial Boone Scout Trail, which ended up only being a few minutes from the Irwin's house. Sunscreen. Bug spray. Map. Camera. They said the hike up to Calloway Point was rather strenuous, so I elected to just do a loop with a few tangental views. On the way up I thought about he following things:
The views on teh way up the loop were really lovely. Pure Blue-Ridge-Mountain-Feels-Like-Home kind of views. Such a different feeling than the Alps, or the Rockies.
Nostalgia. I guess they give me nostalgia. For what, I'm not sure.
When I got to the turning point of the loop, I still had a decent chuck of time left, so I didn't turn back. I'm glad I pushed on, in retrospect. It wasn't difficult at all. I think I need to work on my topo line reading skills. (Confession: I don't really know how they work.)
Anywho, so I turned up onto the trail that would eventually take me up to Calloway Point. Even though at the beginning of the year I had been running 13+ miles in the woods by myself, the fact that this was my first solo-hike made me excited and nervous. The closer I got to the top, the more freaked out I got about not being able to get back (even though the trail was perfectly well marked.) It's always the pre-mature nerves that get me.
You have to climb ladders to get to the peak. I sat up there for a while until I started to hear thunder, then started back down. It took me a little while, but I finally calmed down about being lost. It's such a horrible feeling, being lost. Feels the same now as it did when I felt lost on bike tour in France. The pit of your stomach upside down horrible-ness. I doubt I'll ever get used to it.
Once that was out of the way I started thinking about all the other stuff that's been on my mind that I haven't had time to think about:
I made it down just in time for the rain to hit. Stretched in the rain. Started the journey home. The drive wasn't bad, save the intense thunderstorm I drove through for a few minutes. I wondered if the boys were going through the same storm. I've driven almost 700 miles now and it's really starting to hit me as to how big this country is. How many little back roads there are. How many people in all the houses on all the little back roads.
I grabbed some food on the way home to make dinner for us. Got to the house. Opened a beer. Found Stripey. Waited for the boys. They finally came in around 7:30, soaking wet and buzzing with excitement. Jimmy was full of descriptions of the off-roading they had done, Dad couldn't stop running around doing more planning for tomorrow. We ate some pasta on the porch and bustled back into packing and laundry. Tomorrow was the real start. No turning back or second chances after tomorrow.
Day 6: Counce, tn ----> mississippi state park
I am currently sitting on a warm rock on a fake beach that lines a very still lake- much unlike the one from this morning. There are no boats. There are no mayflies. There are birds and a centipede that just crawled into the grass. There was a truck parked behind me, but it just roared off into the distance, much more loudly and quickly than was needed.
Across the lake there is a couple that is perhaps bbq-ing. I can't quite hear their words, but their voices are audible from my warm rock.
Other than that, the park is completely empty now. Earlier an old man rode up to me on his scooter and said it looked like I was living the life of Riley. I've hear that expression before, but I don't really know what it means. He asked where I was from and warned me that there are lots of 'dopeheads' that come up to the park at night.
I don't like Helena very much. (That's the closest town to where we are.) I stopped there to get gas earlier. It's a sad little town with a lot of closed-down buildings and cracked pavement. There was only one decent gas station. It made me uncomfortable.
Today was rather uneventful. I left the lake this morning after having a swim and taking a shower. I did some yoga. The drive took me much longer than it should have- almost 6 hours. I keep finding myself frustrated, feeling like I'm wasting time. Maybe that feeling will subside.
I wish I could camp by this lake instead of in the woods with the mosquitos. My book (Girls) is very good. Jimmy is flying to Canada tomorrow to buy a bus.
TLDR; STAGE 1 HIGHLIGHTS
CLIMBING IN HORSESHOE CANYON
Content coming soon!
THE FRONT RANGE
Content coming soon!