Well, we saw some fantastic sights today, we made it into Tennesee, but we blew the camping and tonight we are in a motel back in North Carolina. Here's the story.
Our plan for the day was to drive NW to the Blue Ridge Highway, then south to Indian Banner Camp near the Smokey Mountains. We found neat secondary roads where we could drive 45 mph without bothering anyone, and to see the small towns. We made t to the mountains, and up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, but it was 1500 before we got there. Late. We decided to stay in Blowing Rock Campground instead.
Blowing Rock Campground was closed. Oh we'll, we headed south. The scenery and the parkway were very beautiful.
Soon we figured that we would arrive too late at Indian Boundary, so we sought an intermediate spot. Then we came to a sign, Parkway Closed Detour. Uh oh. We got off at Spruce Pine, 50 miles south of Blowing Rock. Libby located Roan Mountain State Park as a compromise campground, but it was an hour away and now it was 1630. We saw a sign for Spruce Pine Campground, and we turned but we couldn't find it. Later we saw a sign for Shining Water Campground, and we went there. Alas, we arrived at 1705 and their office closed at 1700. Onward.
Roan Mountain turned out to be a real mountain. I got worried going up this long long mountain road because the car was sucking gas and we had only 3/8 of a tank left, and it seemed many miles to a gas station. Eventually we hit the summit at 5500 feet (hooray, that's the height of Mount Mansfield. It has been 15 years since Libby has been that high, and 3 years for me.).
Eventually, after 1800 we arrived at Roan Mountain State Park. Then, shock and horror, a big sign said self contained camping only, no tenting allowed. Oh no, it was much too let to look for a 6th camp sight today. We surrendered, and no we are in a motel. We traveled 50 miles south on the parkway then we had to backtrack 55 miles north again to find this motel. Our grade for navigation and planning F.
Chalk it up to inexperience as campers. We will ha ego learn to do better. We may even have to pick tomorrow's site in the morning and phone ahead to check availability, That is counter to our cruising style, but we may have to live with it. Finding campgrounds is not as easy as finding anchorages or finding motels.
We are not whining. A benefit of our wanderings is that we saw mountain roads and mountain communities that are far more dramatic than anything in New York or Vermont.