Trip to the South – Back to D.C.

Trip Dates: October 12-14, 2019

After two weeks on the road we were ready to get back home; but we still had a bit of a journey in front of us. It’s over 500 miles from Bryson City, North Carolina back to Washington DC where we’d catch our plane. Originally we had planned to do the drive on October 12 which would give us a day and a half to visit Washington DC. But with all those miles behind us we opted to take two nights to get back to Washington DC.

Our first stop would be Asheville, North Carolina – not a long drive. We started off on the Blue Ridge Parkway to get more views of the Great Smoky Mountains. When we stopped at a scenic view point a couple of hours into the drive we realized we had left something back in the AirBnB in Bryson City. We started back and made some calls to our hosts to arrange for the pick up. Thankfully the cleaning people were there and gave us the missing piece of luggage. Back on the road, but now without time for another trip along the Parkway, so we hustled down US 74.

We got into Asheville mid afternoon not leaving a lot of time for sightseeing. Talking with the folks at the Asheville Visitor Center we learned that traffic through the tourist area was “adventurous” so we opted for the on-and-off tourist bus. The problem was that we didn’t have much time for the on-and-off part. Well, we’d at least to get to see the city. After seeing Thomas Wolfe’s house – where Linda got a picture for her son who is a big fan – we got off at a stop that promised good barbecue. There would be a final pick up bus in an hour or so and if we missed that we could Lyft or Uber back to the visitor center to get our car. The stop was a light industrial area with some artist lofts and galleries. Well, once we got off we discovered the restaurant was closed. We found a pizza place nearby and had pies and salad.

But I did get to see a local freight train! (I was in a safe place – I zoomed in for the picture)

WAMX local in Asheville, North Carolina

We made it back to our hotel and off to sleep. The next morning we headed north on I-81 toward Charlottesville, Virginia. Along the way we passed through the northeast corner of Tennessee. This is the state where Linda was born when her – and Carla’s – dad was practicing medicine in Harlan County, Kentucky. We stopped at a nice rest area where we got a picture proving Linda was back in her birthstate.

Linda’s Birthstate: Tennesse

Se even struck up a conversation with another Tennessean.

Linda chatting with another Tennessee native

Later on the drive somewhere in Virginia we had another stop where we were treated to a lovely view.

View from the roadside near I-81 in Virgina

We finally made it to Charlottesville. After checking in to our hotel we headed to the downtown area where they’ve blocked off traffic to make a nice pedestrian-friendly mall.

Shopping area, Charlotsville, Virgina

Being Sunday evening there weren’t a lot of choices but we settled on a Korean restaurant. What an experience. The hostess ignored us for a few minutes and wasn’t at all friendly at all when we asked for a table. The hotel was busy but she finally seated us in a back room where she would also be our wait person. We could tell she wasn’t really unfriendly as much as extremely stressed. It turned out to be her first day. It took FOREVER to get menus. Finally, a more seasoned wait person took over and were served. There were four other parties in the back room and two of them never were served – they ended up leaving.

After dinner it was dark and we had some trouble navigating back to the hotel. The exit we wanted was blocked and we got kinda lost. I think we went through the same section of freeway three times. Finally, I just got off the freeway where there was a shopping mall and we took a look at the map and finally got back to the hotel on surface streets. It was an aggravating evening.

Carla is not a fan of Thomas Jefferson – at all – but being so close to Monticello she had to see it. Our flight home was in the evening which gave us barely enough time to see it. She and Linda were there when it opened while I slept in and had a leisurely breakfast.

Monticello. Not exactly as depicted on the back of a Nickel.
Enslaved peoples home at Monticello

It wasn’t long before we were caught up in the craziness that is Washington D.C. traffic. We were thankful it was a Federal holiday and traffic was relatively light. We made it back to E & L’s house in Maryland in the late afternoon with just enough time to pick up some things we had left there then fight the traffic back to the airport.

We had a long adventure, covering more than 1,700 miles in 17 days.

A rough approximation of our trip. Image from Google Maps

As fun as it was, it was a trial at times. Carla and I had both been very sick leading up to the trip. I suffered a flare of my COPD for over a month and Carla had a bad bug for at least two weeks. That meant we didn’t do a lot of walking leading up to the trip and as a result we were out of shape. Just two days before leaving we thought about cancelling. Linda, who went to Brooklyn, New York before meeting us in DC, caught a bug along the way. Carla and I slowly got better as the trip went on. I took most of the morning tourist trips off so I could sleep.

But Linda was sick with a cough through the whole trip. She is a trooper. Every night she’d say “We need to take it easy tomorrow”; then every morning she’d say “I think it’s breaking up”, and off we’d go on a full day of adventures. I had a hard time keeping up with her when she is sick. I’m usually lost in the dust when she’s healthy. She went to the doctor when we got home and got some medicine for her secondary infections.

We travelled through six states and the District of Columbia. We bit off a bit more than we could chew, but since we likely won’t be back anytime soon, we are glad we took it all in.

Thanks for following along!

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