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week 1: southbound: blue ridge mountains, kentucky, nashville

bill /amy

day iii/ii/i: ottawa/brockville

overwhelmingly stressful days packing up our whole lives, cleaning our whole apartment, loading up the van, and saying a million goodbyes to our family, friends, cat, apartment, and lives. goodbyes are hard.

....harder than chipping the half-inch of ice off our windshield to leave!!! Twas a bittersweet few days with lots of emotions (and a stress bellyache), but we're as ready as we'll ever be. Time to hit the road.

one last louie's for the road

day 1: driving

new york state/pennsylvania, finally on the road, stoke levels rising

We crossed the border at Thousand Islands without issue (phew!) and put in 6-7 hours of driving. We landed in Hershey, PA and slept the night at a rest stop (which was very convenient - washrooms and water!). Long day, but worth it because there is NO SNOW!

day 2: west virginia

drove to our first target destination: shenandoah national park. found a hike on the section that was open - mary's rock, quick 6km/369m hike. there was a quick class 2 scramble to get to the true summit which was not all that worth it, but it was nice scrambling on solid rock after our trip in the rockies. drove the section of skyline drive that was open, probably the coolest place you can drive a car, basically a road that rides the summit ridge of the blue ridge mountains, very beautiful lookouts around every turn. would be worth coming back with a motorcycle in warmer weather. very good day, finally feel like we're doing it.

We passed through Maryland and West Virginia today (yes we played John Denver's 'Take me home, country roads') before landing in Shenandoah National Park. We pulled off at nearly every lookout on Skyline Drive- each one had a different panoramic view of the mountains. We chose our favourite and watched the sun disappear in an orange blaze over the indigo hills of Appalachia. 10/10 sunset. We drove the winding roads out of the park before it got too dark, and had Velveeta mac and cheese for dinner. A perfect start to our adventure!

view from mary's rock

scramble to the summit block

sunset from skyline drive

road beers are legal in west virginia

day 3: virginia

did one of the most famous hikes on the east coast: mcafee knob, a 12km/500m hike, took about 3 hours. the hike is a part of the appalachian trail, which runs 3500km from georgia to maine, it also connects with mary's rock from yesterday. very good views of the blue ridge mountains, very cool rock feature. continuing on to the red river gorge to do some climbing, drove through the night through a lot of sketchy mountainous rural kentucky roads, it cannot be overstated how poor and rough rural kentucky is.

We had read a lot about McAfee Knob - a hidden gem and 'must-see' in Virginia - and it did not disappoint! We met some friendly locals on the trail who told us snippets of history about the surrounding area. We didn't intend to make it to our next destination (the Red River Gorge in Kentucky), but Bill pushed through and drove through the night to get us to a safe place to camp. Oh, and we passed a police chase on the highway.

mccafe knob

pic some nice folks took for us

looking over west virginia

kentucky in a nutshell

day 4: red river gorge, kentucky

stayed at miguel's pizza, a famous pizza shop/campground for climbers in the red river gorge area. rainy morning. climbed at the gorge all afternoon. the RRG is probably one of the most famous sport climbing areas in north america, it has very cool rock. we are used to climbing rocks that have been pushed up out of the earth, not worn down into the earth by water, and so there were all kinds of cool pockets, jugs, and huecos that we have never seen before, it seems that this is what every gym is trying to emulate. realized on our way there that our windshield wipers had stopped working, spent the night troubleshooting and eating pizza.

We had a great day climbing in the Muir Valley of Red River. This area alone had about 20 climbing walls, each with dozens of routes! We chose one wall (Bruise Brothers) and climbed a bunch of easy lead routes (5.7s, 8s and 9s). It was very cool sedimentary rock pockmarked with circular patterns of erosion - some handholds were great, others were deceivingly terrible. We hiked out by dusk, and ran into a couple folks in the parking lot who gave us a tip to fix our windshield wipers: "ya got two shoelaces? Hillbilly rig it!". That tip saved our butt on our way to Nashville!

amy climbing


day 5: kentucky to nashville

was supposed to be rain all day and without windshield wipers we were fully expecting to take a 0 and just stay at miguel's all day, but woke in the morning to find it wasn't raining so we started to make our wake to tennessee. shoelace power worked until it didnt. landed in murfreesboro, stayed at lori and visited with stef and the kids.

If you want to have a shower at Miguels in the winter...don't. I was nearly boiled alive by their scalding water! But it was nice to be somewhat clean again. We took turns driving, and thankfully the wipers started working again after tugging on them with our shoelace contraption. Made it safe and sound to Murfeesboro, Tennessee - thank goodness! Excited to explore Nashville next.

our hillbilly rig

day 6: murfeesboro

ordered a new wiper motor, took everything apart only to learn that the ground for the motor isn't in the cables (which is why the voltimeter wasn't giving a reading between the pins), it is a bolt to the frame which had corroded to the point of not working, picked up $1 of steel wool and got the old motor working again.

cleaning up the corrosion

Helped Bill fix the windshield wipers, and then we ate an awesome southern-style lunch at Puckett's in downtown Murfeesboro. The mac and cheese was out of this world! With full bellies, we decided to wander around the courthouse - a historic building turned museum in the town's centre. We ended the day with a family dinner and playtime with the kiddos.

day 7: nashville

nashville is a mess. a sea of day drunk americans. went to the country music hall of fame, saw chris stapleton's cooler.


waited an hour in line for a hot chicken sandwich, well worth it, very hot. tried the hottest spice level, almost died. popped from bar to bar watching the bands, found some canadians and immediately got into a fight about vaccines. got pretty drunk, had a good time.

Nashville is a wild place! Everyone is drunk and wearing cowboy hats. We wandered around the strip before deciding to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, and see the Grand Ole Opry building - the 'church of country music'. Then, starved, we waited in line for the iconic Hattie B's fried chicken. It did not disappoint! And I got bacon cheddar grits on the side - also very tasty. I had a blast dancing with random Americans and singing along to Chicken Fried, featuring an electric guitar solo of the Star Spangled Banner.

Grand Ole Opry, Ryman auditorium

electric star spangled banner

broadway ave

Day 8: naptime

had a nap at lori's, driving to chattanooga tonight

2 comentarios

17 ene 2023

Yeah, you shoulda asked me about the wiper motor. I coulda told ya. LOL.

Great trip blog! Thanks much!

Me gusta

Daniel Boutin
Daniel Boutin
15 ene 2023

I love that picture of the both of you sitting at McAfee Knob! The view is amazing! :)

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