The Smoky Mountains

On the last day of August, as the sun had just begun to rise over the shadowy tops of the trees, my family and I departed for a two-week adventure: our second ever road trip to Florida!

Unfortunately, Day One of our adventure did not go quite as planned. We tried to get a prepaid phone plan in the US, but it was a four-hour ordeal that ended in two of our phones unable to be unlocked; we were unable to call Canada despite being told we could; and we quickly discovered that although we could text to Canada, no one from Canada could text us without being charged. The good thing was that, even though only two of our four American SIM cards could be used at a time, we did have 4GB of data to last us the duration of the trip (spent mainly on navigating and finding food and ice cream through Google Maps), so it worked out in the end. Mostly.

With our spirits still high, we managed to travel through four states that day: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Mom and Dad fell asleep in the backseat while I drove, and Mal and I made some joke about watching out for caterpillars when we saw a sign that said “Keep your eyes on the road.” Then we started actually seeing lots of little fuzzy black and orange caterpillars crossing the highway! I tried to steer away from the little blobs inching across the road. So, then of course we had to joke around about if I were to accidentally swerve off the road into the ditch trying not to hit the caterpillars, and that when Mom and Dad woke up, the conversation would go something like this:


My thoughts exactly! We went to the Olive Garden for supper. Their “forks” only had 3 prongs!

Them: What happened?
Mal: There was a wildlife and we swerved to avoid it.
Them: What kind of wildlife? How big was it?
Mal: Uh…not that big. It was…a caterpillar…

We didn’t swerve by the way. I’m not that dumb. But then we ended up having a 23km range left on the gas tank, with (according to the GPS) 27 km to the nearest gas station. It’s not my fault!!! My mom’s car has some sort of fancy technology that I don’t know how to use. xD We made it though.

We spent our first night in Connecticut at a lovely Holiday Inn. They had the most amazing cinnamon buns for breakfast! We drove all day on Day Two, passing through five more states–New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia. We went to one of our favorite American restaurants, Denny’s, for supper, and it was attached to a little convenience store. I started talking to Mal about the taffy sitting on one of the shelves, but when I turned around it was someone else standing behind me, and he had wandered away. xD So I guess I talk to myself now, and people think I’m crazy. Oh well, I always wanted to be a fruit loop in a bowl of cheerios!

On Day Three, September 2nd, we crossed the Tennessee border for the first time ever! We drove to Gatlinburg and stopped at an information center, where I bought a Smoky Mountains postcard and decided to start a collection of postcards; I’ll get one everywhere we go and put them all in a book!

We drove along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail toward the Smoky Mountains. It was a beautiful road, surrounded by trees with little glimmers of sunlight flickering through the bright green leaves. We stopped at a walking trail called the Rainbow Falls trail. We contemplated whether we had enough time before dark to walk the trail, because it was 5.2 miles round trip and it was getting late, but in the end we decided to do it. We saw some lovely views of waterfalls, the mountains through the trees, and paths that went along the edges of hills. It turned out that we were actually climbing the whole way up the trail, but the waterfall at the top was beautiful and shimmered in the glow of the departing sun, and the climb was really fun and definitely worth it! We made it back to the car just as the sun was setting—I think it took us 2.5 hours total.

From there, we drove toward Nashville but stopped for the night about an hour away in Cookeville. We decided that Mom must be really tired, because we had this conversation on the way and she almost died laughing!

Mom: Shouldn’t you be in the other lane?
Mal: Well, I was passing that guy.
Mom: What guy? That guy way up there, directly in front of you?
Mal: Yeah, but then he noticed me. You have to be sneaky when you pass people, or they’re like ‘Oh no, I’m gonna lose the race! I better floor it. Then I’ll put my brakes on when I’m ahead because I don’t want to go TOO fast!’

The worst thing is, that happened way too often!! I am starting to appreciate Canadian drivers, and we all know what goes on on Canadian roads from watching Canada’s Worst Driver…right? Well, American drivers might be worse…yee. (No offense if you are a driver in either of our countries. I’m sure all you guys out there are awesome drivers who would never intentionally go faster while someone is trying to pass you, move over into the passing lane right in front of him, and then brake while staying in the passing lane, even though there are no other vehicles around for miles!)

And there ends the first chapter of our perfect trip. Road trips with family are the best—tons of road trip snacks, listening to good music, laughing about dumb stuff, and getting so tired you laugh about even more dumb stuff! What more could one ask for?

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