This is long overdue, I apologize. And I can not believe that this vacation was over a month ago! Time surely does fly. Although it’s not fresh in my mind, I’ll share with you all of the little details I can remember of our great escape from Bonnaroo.
If you remember, it was the beau’s birthday the day we decided to pack up and leave. We were outta there before nine a.m. and hit the road searching for a diner… and settled on Sonic. Afterall, if that’s what the birthday boy wanted, that’s what he got. Bonus for me: I had never been! This surely was an experience speaking to someone on an intercom with a thick Southern accent. Did you know that they serve tater tots?! I do believe we ordered the chicken strips, tots, jalapeno cheddah bites and a breakfast burrito with hash browns… not too sure about the hash browns but I’m pretty sure he had a potato of some sort. Quick bathroom break and we were back on the road, with no plans at all.
Because we had two extra days to get home (four days total before our expected return home), we decided to wing it and see where the road would take us. First stop: Kingsport Tennessee. But before we settled in, I must share our experience about half way through this day when I decided I wanted to bungee jump. You know, hurl myself over a cliff. I pulled off the next exit and we found a welcome center with a kind woman with her little accent all excited to help me. Yes, she said, there’s bungee jumping and handed us the simple directions. After about thirty minutes of driving, we rolled into what is known as Pigeon Forge. Google it. Now. It was like Vegas for kids on crack. The “bungee” jumping she suggested was a mini theme park and only about 50 feet high. Yeah, right lady. We laughed. We stared. We got out to eat an apple at some outlets. And then got back on the road. (FYI if you are a fan of The Bachelorette, you may remember that she brought Arie to Pigeon Forge to Dollywood. Now imagine that.)
After finding a state park, setting up and hitting up a local man for firewood (he delivered right to our site free of charge), we found ourselves at a local market picking up the camping essentials: hotdogs, buns, corn on the cob, a block of cheese, mustard,and most importantly, beer. See, this state park was a dry state park and this just wasn’t going to work for the birthday boy. So, we recycled and reused the massive plastic soda cup from Sonic and took turns running back to the car to refill. Problem solved. We got the fire going nicely and I decided to make the hotdog stick when the following words escaped my mouth, “I wish I had a pocketknife.” And then immediately thought, “damn, my dad would be proud.” Hot dogs are perfect cooked over an open flame.
I had planned long before we left for Bonnaroo what I would do to celebrate his birthday on the road. I wrapped his gift with recycled papers from around the apartment and “hid” it in the back of the car (“hid” meaning in a paper bag hoping he’d never check it. He never did but later assumed it was his because I hadn’t yet opened it for food or clothes). I knew I couldn’t bake a cake that would last that long so I thought, why not a watermelon? When the time came, I ran back to the car, shoved the appropriate number of candles into the watermelon using my trusty key chain, lit them and blasted the Beatles’ birthday song on the iPhone. He was surprised for sure and couldn’t stop smiling. Life on the road: zero. Jona: one.
Day two we slept in a little later than expected, took a solar shower for all to see (yes, the neighbors were very confused seeing as their were nasty public showers available for all to use- gross) and hit the road to continue north. For lunch, we ended up stopping in Roanoke; I needed a little break because I was a little grouchy and needed a stretch. We ate at this fabulous place called Thelma’s Chicken and Waffles, that had homestyle cooking and the best fried green tomatoes a girl could ever have. Please, don’t compare these with Dino BBQ’s.
The beau got the fried catfish with mashed potatoes and I got a breakfast sammy with a side of homefries. Hit. The. Spot.
Back on the road we decided that we would spend the night in the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. I slept for the majority of the ride. I know, I know. I’m a horrible girlfriend who instantly falls asleep when put in the passenger seat. But before I knew it, we were in the beautiful mountains of the Appalachian Trail! This was by far my most favorite part of the trip. The drive into the park was gorgeous- so secluded, so untouched, so quiet and peaceful. We were told that bears frequent the area and to keep all food safe in a vehicle (they didn’t have boxes) and to watch out for poisonous snakes– this was the kind of camping I enjoy.
Once again, we set up the tent (we were pros by then), started a warm fire, and dug into some MRE’s. If you don’t know what they are, Google it. They impressed me when in action. With a full belly, we greeted a guy on a bike who rode in from Ohio- who had seen a bear on his ride in. P.s… those hills were no joke entering that park. That man hustled his way in and then to see a bear, I would have fainted. I suggested that he leave his belongings in my car and for that I could tell he was grateful.
The only animal sightings we saw were of these giant black birds that sounded like pterodactyls. And while the sun was coming up, we heard some rustling near the tent… but it was only two deer; not a bear. And for that I was grateful. We ate breakfast on the road that morning, luna bars and fruit, and set our sights on Washington D.C..