Who’d ever thought that thirty-two years ago Hali and I were at this luau in Maui for our honeymoon. It’s true! Well, it was just a week in Hawaii then a two week road trip from Chicago through Wisconsin up to the Boundary Waters of Minnesota in a French built Le Car. The breakdown along the highway in that car was more memorable than the last two weeks of our honeymoon. We had a better nickname for that car, Le Mon.
Maui was cool and the road to Hana exciting as we’ve always enjoyed a good road trip. Since then we’ve taken many more road trips and are also celebrating our one year anniversary on the road. But it wasn’t until Asheville NC that we took an unplanned detour along Blue Ridge Parkway. Maybe the most picturesque stretch of road we’ve ever driven. Rivals the HWY 1 through Big Sur.
Tonight on our 32nd wedding anniversary we are camping on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is a 470 mile two-lane road through the Appalachias that connects the Great Smokey Mts. in the south to the Shenandoah National Park in the north. No stop lights, no bill boards, no strip malls or drive-throughs. A speed limit of 45 mph with most of it in the 35 mph range. Thor loves it, slow and steady.
This is a designated “Road Trip USA” byway maintained by National Parks Service, which by the way is celebrating 100 years. It’s gorgeous especially this time of year. Flowering shrubs put on a springtime show that is equally beautiful as the trees in fall foliage. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a masterpiece of design blending natural architecture into the scenic landscape. Dogwood, wild rhododendron, lupine, trillium, line the road which cross-crosses the Appalchian Trail at several points. Surprise after surprise around every bend, gap, knob, or rock formation. Forget the GPS, on the map it’s a straight line from south to north with numerous sites measured by mileposts.
So we geared up for a few nights of roughing it. We covered 300 miles, in three different campgrounds, in three days. Stopping every 15 minutes or so to take in what we would have missed by taking the interstate (we wanted to see BLUE not BLUR), including stops at the Folk Art Center and Blue Ridge Music Center. Even caught a FREE noon concert of Appalachian Music that’s been passed on for generations.
Our last milepost and camp was set up at Peaks of Otter.
This campground has these amenities: flush toilets, picnic table, fire ring. That’s it! No wi-fi, no showers, no electric, no ranger nature talks, no camp store. With the exception of flush toilets it’s what us seasoned campers call primitive at the primal price of $16 a night.
But what this campground offers far exceeds its amenities. Vistas over the Blue Ridge Mountains as far west as Tennessee and north to Virginia. Huge campsites, songbirds, miles of hiking trails, spring wildflowers, no traffic noise or yahoos in the site across the way. There’s even a small lake Carlos can wade in.
Best of all it’s just me and Hali on the back loop of this campground. Oh yeah, and Carlos is grillin’ up some dinner. Tonight it’s a lobster tail, chicken, corn on the cob, fresh pasta, and a rocket salad.
Our Anniversary, the first AND the thirty-second. The dog is tucked in the van, the fire’s a blazin’, and we can hear the call of the cardinals back and forth between the empty campsites beside us.