Saturday, December 12, 2009

1800 miles,8 States in 8 days..oh and one new Alternator

Florida, Georgia,South Carolina (SC) , North Carolina (NC), Tennesee,Alabama,Mississippi,Louisiana.

So we finally left Florida..As you can see , our departure was commemorated by a storm which did not let up all the way through Georgia ( nice people by the way) until South Carolina which was our first night stop in the van. Old "Chevy Cheeze-it" (as the van has been named for it's stirling work getting us well on our way) was quite a warm bed for the night and Joss grew particulary fond of the van floor inbetween the chairs as no sooner had his head hit the pillow did the snoring occur..(sorry... heavy breathing !!)

The ext moring we were greeted by gorgeous sunshine if not the temperatures we had expected! and so decided to take the Scenic route following the Savannah River all the way up to Franklin (NC) where we were to stay with family friends Virinder and Carolyn on the Sunday.

Lego man and Crabby did enjoy the ride as we passed through many small villages and towns .At last some vistas and in the distace some rolling hills which were the first real signs of things to come.
Our Second night we rocked up to the Calhoun Falls National Park around 5 pm to get a campsite for the night.
The Park Warden was so agast at our willingness to camp (on the coldest night she had seen up there in years) she gave us the spot for free telling us that we should leave before ayone noticed in the morning.
Little did we know how cold it would be..
It was all worth it though when we woke up to the foggy and slightly etheral Richard B. Russell Lake sprawling out infront of us with it's tree lined shores and glassy stillness.

Without further Brass monkeys (yes it was cold and we'll keep reminding you of how cold as time goes on..what of don't know coz you weren't there!!!!!) we climbed aboard old Chevy and hit the road to Walhalla to cross the first mountain pass to Franklin.

Crabby and Lego man decided to stop ad take in the view ....but what a shock when the van wouldn't start again!!!!!
So there we were half way up the mountain with no jump leads (these were supposed to be in the battery pack we bought in Florida!!!) no mobile phone and no Alternator.
Flagging down cars to help was not a problem . Finding one with Jump leads was.
Evetually as man of the woods (complete with several guns, ammo and dogs) came to our rescue.
without the boring commentary got us to the top of the mountain only 20 miles from our final destination.
What a bloke!!! never did tell us his name tho...(spooky)
Having contacted Virinder we waited whilst the cavalry arrived to tow us down to Franklin.
Virinder and Carolyn ensured we had showers, food (including a Bear meat and rice dish uber tasty BTW) and warm beds until we got the van back on the road.
If we could have wished for anywhere in the world to be stranded it would be's beautiful. in the foot hills of the Great Smokey Mountains surrounded by forests and rolling hills. With a distinct lack of the tackiness on wonton display in other areas we have been and will experience.
We extend great thanks to all who helped us again through this tricky time.

Whilst waiting for the van we were able to head off into the hills for a short jaunt into the NC countryside..encountering numerous waterfalls and great scenery as well as nice burgers and freindly folk.

Our next leg would take us over the Smokey Mountain into Tennesee and on to Nashville where we hoped to get a handle on the music and culture that made this areas name.

After the amazing sights following the Newfound gap over the Smokeys we decended into what can only be described as Blackpool-by-Hill..How can NC get it so right and Tennesee fall so short of the mark..the road through Gatlinberg and Pidgeon Forge was lined by Naff theme parks (cheers Dolly) and more malls than we had seen since Florida..Once again we were blocked by the weather as we had intended to check out Cades Cove which looked realy nice. But the road up there was closed...Instead of hanging around in this hellish place we put the foot down and did not stop until Nashville that evening.

Sadly another strong dissapointment. Unless you wanted to buy 2 for 1 cowboy boots or a stetson to camoflage you for your one night out in country musicville..there were ot many options...but to get hideously drunk and laugh at "city of broken dreams" (Joss dec 2009)...we did well at the latter.. After eventually finding a bar with an average age of less than 60 and minus the young country singer pimping herself out for $2 tips from middle aged men (we did feel quite dirty..infact should really have gone to the titty bar the taxi driver recommended to feel that wrong). We discovered PBR....DO NOT DRINK THIS BEER...Whilst it was the cheapest thing we could find it brought on sever nausia and a headache like only Stella can deliver..

Over our last of many drinks we met Tom.. a local..ish with a lot to say. including the classic.
"I try not be a racist", "Guatamala's great ..I bought my wife there" and finally.."If your going to Mexico get a gun and be prepared to use it"..If by gun he means spud gun. I'm all for it, but Joss says I missed the point.

Nursing the hangovers from hell and missng the fact we could have had an extra hour in bed due to the timeline we crossed we made the executive decision to get the hell outta Nashville by the quietist road we could find..The Natchez Trace Parkway..Hmmm..Lush...
And that is the problem with Tennesee..gorgeous countryside with Naff indistinct towns.
The Natchez Trace Pkwy is a crazy road, winding 435 miles south through Alabama (if very briefly) to Natchez Mississippi.
No-one uses's slow so perfect hangover material and looks great..More trees that we have ever seen.
As it is so slow we took 2 days over it.. stopping in Tupelo Mississpi (still unbale to camp due to the freak COLD weather) ..We were very surprised to discover that this was the town where Elvis was born..
Still .Great Fried Chicken and biscuits (first of our trip). We were treated like local celebrities as all the kitchen staff came out to oggle the first white guys to enter there establishment since the KKK..

After completing the entire length of the Natchez Trace Pkwy. We had a meeting by the Banks of the Mississppi to decide our next was still too cold to camp and our budget doesn't stretch to a new hotel every evening.
After checking the all Knowing BBC weather website..we were still no closer to a decision as the entire USA is under a cloud of Cold front and Storms..What were we to do?
Nothing for it..New Orleans only 150 miles.!!
Even if it was going to be cruddy weather the temperatures meant we could stay in the Van.
The heavens opened just before we got to Baton Rouge (Above) which looks crazy..Oil refineries and industry as far as we could see. ..if the weather improves we might go check it out properly.
The weather finally broke as we entered New Orleans..A quick scoot around the French Quater set our minds at rest that this was a good place to be and we set about finding a place to park up for the night.
After several attempts to find a sutable spot (the first few efforst we thwarted by gangs of nogoodnicks hanging around) we eventually found a nice little spot on a quiet residential street where we holed up for the night..really good nights sleep too.
This morning we had the impetus to get things sorted so set about trying to find a weeks accommodation for a reasonable price..again this was fruitless until came across an RV park.we have power, showers,toilets and a shuttle bus which will take us into for the next week here we are New Orleans..will update more as we get it.
Our only worries at the moment are: Will we be washed away by the Tropical Thunderstom we are writting this in .and. How did Crabby and Lego man find the Gideons and why do they look so happy about it..?!
Egg-o-meter: swinging wildly from plus to minus in moments with the weather conditions.


  1. I'm loving the blog - gis a map i wana see it/ it's your job not mine.

    love grund

  2. Sounds like your having fun.. keep on truckin!