USA 54, 9th November 2006

It was still raining, but on the way to Bill's I saw a turn off, signed overlook, Mt Roosevelt. I thought I'd have a look see. The road climbed up and up. At the top it was a complete whiteout. I could see the road but that was about it. I was in the clouds. I've been in cloud a few times in the balloon, accidentally of course, and it was a little like that. Except in this case I was on firm ground so it was probably a touch safer. In the balloon less chance of bumping another balloon than another car on the ground, but more chance of hitting a spiky mountain.

I found Bill's house without problem, we went Mexican for dinner, thanks Bill. We spent the next day exchanging family tree infos, looking at a film of some old family members, and visiting the local museum. The night was cold, hitting 22F (-6C), I left the heater running, but with the thermostat turned low, so I didn't notice the cold, just the all white frost in the morning. I really must try to hasten my flight to the south.

In spite of my plan to hurry I saw a sign to Lost Lake, checked it out on the internet and found it was a large underground lake. I retraced my steps a few miles and explored. It was a big cavern, and there was a big lake. We took a boat trip around the lake. Interesting.

During prohibition they used to make hooch down here, and had a sort of speakeasy in one of the caves. Here's one of the original stills sadly without any hooch.

I noticed the Cherohala Skyway marked on the map but I first followed the River Tellico for a while. It's a gorgeous river, tumbling all the while over rocky ledges.

The Bald River Falls.

I checked at the local Ranger station, they told me there was a free camp site a little further up river, just past Baby Falls.

This was the view from my parking spot. Oh eat your heart out you people who need to stay in big luxury hotels, you don't get scenery like this from your bedroom window.

I heard some scuffling outside in the dark, bumping against the van. I shone my torch under the van, there was a white dog. I gave him (her?) my scraps from dinner, he approached very tentatively, then let me scratch his head. In the morning I looked outside, there were two of them, curled up asleep by the van.

They seemed pretty independent but friendly so I rubbed both their heads and said goodbye. They didn't seem to mind, I suspect they've been living here a while. But if I wanted a dog or two these would have footed the bill nicely. I guess they would have liked a real home, regular food etc.

I continued up the valley, first following this valley, then a tributary, the North River. It was beautiful

The road continued along for about 10 miles, first alongside the river, then climbing to over 5,000 ft to join the Skyway.

Here's the view from the Skyway. Here all the leaves have gone from the trees. The views were rather similar to the Blue Ridge Parkway, but without the leaves.

After Franklin I followed another beautiful river.

There were waterfalls.

Here they are called Dry Falls. You can walk around under the falls - note the people on the path.

At Bridal Falls the road used to run under the falls but a big chunk of rock fell off and blocked the road, so it had to be re routed in front of the falls.

I've been getting occasional sort of spam, to an address I rarely use, from a place called The Mountain Retreat & Learning Centers at nearby Highlands. They gave an address so I went to look at it. A very impressive place. I decided that they weren't sending spam as we know it, but probably following up an enquiry from someone who had mistyped their address as mine.

The scenery got better and better.

I really had no idea that this little area, at the end of the Appalachian hills, where they touch into Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, existed at all, never mind that it could all be so pretty.

I was heading to Lavonia, just on the border of Georgia and South Carolina, to visit with Robert Willbanks. He'd told me he would by flying some passengers, I wanted to get there about the time he would have finished his flight, and I was a little late. So while I had time to admire the scenery, I didn't have time to stop and take photos. Sorry!

Robert and Caroline and the passengers were close to saying goodbye when I arrived, there was an empty bottle of champagne, and glasses, on the table. Darn! I really was just a few minutes too late!

We headed off to Anderson in South Carolina to shop. Robert is making his acting debut soon, and needed some clothing suitable for his role of a taxi driver in the 1950's. There's a nice Irish pub in the town, we had a good meal, thanks Bob.

I parked by his workshop, for another cold and frosty night, but again with the heater running on low. It's a propane heater, but uses an electric fan for air circulation, so when I run the heater in this way I prefer if I can be plugged into the mains supply - as I was then. As I've mentioned, I've two batteries, everything in the living part of the van runs off the second battery, so I always have a good battery to start the engine, but if that second battery goes flat then I don't have heating any more!

After morning coffee I left for Marietta, in the north of Atlanta, to visit Jane Koenig, who had emailed me and said she had enjoyed reading all my travel reports. All of them, on my web site. Wow! We headed off to a restaurant for dinner, on me this time, and I parked just outside. Next day Jane wouldn't let me leaving without buying breakfast, that's OK with me, thanks Jane.

Next call was south of Atlanta, Fayetteville, to see Dave Sullivan. We swapped a chunk of information, I enjoyed a nice spaghetti dinner with them all, Dave is heavily outnumbered with a wife and 2 daughters but seems to thrive on it, as they do, then I headed of to the Walmart round the corner. It rained but hopefully will be OK tomorrow when I plan to head off in the general direction of Texas. I've really no idea how far it is, I guess I really ought to find out. I have in mind to catch the Natchez Trace Parkway for at least part of the journey.

Best regards

David Barker

Walmarting again

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