Wernersville, PA to Tigerville, SC: 626 miles, drive time 10 hours, 37 minutes.
Potty Breaks: 4; Gummies: Just one more, man; Tears: none (yes, nearly 11 hours in the car and hardly a tear - I have the best kid on the planet); Exercise: plyometrics, push-ups & crunches @ 10:00PM.
For all intents and purposes, Thursday marked the last day of our journey together. I could not be a happier or prouder Mama that my little girl put up with me, the car, and a different bed almost every night. I knew I was a little crazy to embark on this road trip with her, and I worried about half-way through as she sleepily told me one night, "I don't want the hotel! I wanna go HOME!" that I was doing a number on my child. But when she woke up the next day, eager as ever to eat waffles and fruit loops (you gotta let some things slide when you're traveling), I knew she'd be OK.
We started off our day with our last taste of Pennsylvania. I'm pretty sure the blueberries were not actually local, but I know the black cherries were. I forgot how much I love them... and how much they stain my fingers when I try to cut out the pit for my daughter!
This plus a cup of coffee had me brimming with antioxidants and ready to go. (Not pictured: the cider donut I wolfed down before even sitting at the kitchen table).
We slowed down for a couple more pictures of the beautiful PA-Dutch landscapes we'd be leaving behind; another reason why I know I want to drive back.
Sadly, we did not actually see any Amish people in carriages, but the signs to watch out for them crossing or traveling the road were everywhere.
Onward, down through Virginia for what felt like years. This is by far the longest stretch that anyone traveling north to south or vice-versa must endure. Interstate 81 can be quick enough (the speed limit is 70mph), but it's also just two lanes in either direction, meaning if you get stuck by a truck driver who thinks he's going fast enough to pass another truck, but then they both hit a hill and slow to a crawl at 45mph... you're gonna be there for a while. And when you can finally pass, you have to make sure the cops don't catch you flooring it as you impatiently try to get by.
Finally, our first sign of the south:
I've never actually eaten in a Shoney's, have you?
By this point, the head index was well over 100, I imagined, so we pulled off at a gas station thinking we could find a spot in the shop to sit down and eat yogurt and Goldfish. Their two dingy booths were covered with boxes and trash... classy. So it was time for another car picnic, only this time, with the engine running and the AC on. I hate to do that, and I hate when I see other people do it, but if you've ever tried to drink milk on a really hot day, you'd understand why we hid in my car with the sun shades up.
After what felt like eons on the road, we finally crossed the Virginia border into Tennessee and were promptly greeted with rain squalls. This was a welcome relief from the heat, as well as a nice little bath to clean off the bug graveyard that the grill and hood of my car had become.
Around 6:00 PM I started to look out for a place to stop for dinner. This would be the one stop of our whole trip that I was going to eat - and allow my daughter to eat - whatever we wanted with no regard to sugar, fat, or staying within the recommended food groups. Of course, there are some compromises I will not make, but the only signs I saw for restaurants near the highway were for McDonald's or Cracker Barrel. McD's is absolute crap and I won't eat anything from there, no matter what. While I've eaten at Cracker Barrel before, I never enjoyed anything I've eaten there and was not in the mood to try to get a toddler through the gift shop without breaking anything or accidentally shop-lifting.
So I found the next best thing, given the area we were in:
What can I say? I love pork. And while BBQ is not something I typically gravitate toward or even crave, this place smelled AWESOME coming off the interstate. We pulled up not even 15 minutes before they closed, so I took our good timing as a sign that this was the place to eat. And I have to say, since this was probably the least healthy meal we had all week, we still didn't do half-bad with smoked pulled pork (protein), baked beans (fiber) and macaroni salad (uh... I think I saw one piece of diced bell pepper in there somewhere...) Whatever, I don't have to justify myself. We were in Tennessee!
And most importantly, someone else loved it.
The last leg of our trip took us through the breathtaking scenery of the Cherokee National Forest and then down through the Blue Ridge Mountains that run from North Carolina down into South Carolina. I wished I could have snapped more pictures, but there was that whole driving thing I was supposed to be paying attention to.
I was able to get one good shot, though, which my camera does not give justice too, but it was beautiful, regardless. We were coming down I26 toward Asheville when I just had to slow down to try to capture this:
We had a beautiful, scenic, and most importantly happy and tantrum-free ride for the entire day. I can't wait to do it again.
|Thanks, little travel buddy. You're the best!|
2,268 mi, 40 hours
Ok.... maybe next time we'll just fly!