Day five of our Pandemic Road Trip had us waking up once again in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It still was nice waking up in the same place twice but today we were getting ready to hit the road once again. Today’s trip would take us along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Caroline till we found a campground.
First things first I had to watch the news and check the weather. Well, there was some storms moving in from the west. They weren’t expecting thunderstorms in the area but they were expecting a decent amount of rain.
Just like on our first day I didn’t want to camp in the rain. I don’t think my daughter would mind too much and I wouldn’t either but packing up wet gear in the morning is just no fun. So I started looking for hotels somewhere near the Virginia boarder that we could spend the night.
I was having trouble finding one that I liked so I waited till my daughter got up so she could help pick. Now I just recently changed my hours at my job and I wake up at 4 am everyday for work. On my days off I can’t sleep past 05:30 am. On vacation it was no different. Everyday on this trip I was up no later than 05:30 am.
Even when I was staying in the Central time zone I was waking up at 04:30 am. My daughter on the other hand was waking up at 7 or 8 am everyday. Probably would’ve slept until 9 if I let her but we had places to go and things to see.
Anyway waiting for her to wake up today felt like forever. I just wanted to have a small little plan in place so I had an idea of where we were heading. Originally, our Covid Road Trip was going to be 11 days long ending in Suffolk, Va. This was just the morning of day 5 and I already spent more on hotels than I wanted to at this point.
Two or three of these days we should have been camping which would have saved a ton of money. Most of the campgrounds on National Park land cost $20 a night. Instead, we were staying at hotels that run on average $80 a night. The thing that really stinks is the car is packed with all of our camping gear.
Since this was our Covid road trip I figured it would be better to camp more. Unfortunately, it appears many other people had the same idea. If you plan on taking a road trip during the Covid-19 Pandemic make sure you plan well.
Well it was finally that time when my daughter was waking up. So I asked for her input on which hotel to stay at. She didn’t want to stay at a hotel she wanted to go home and see her guinea pigs.
Boy was she dead set on going home. I showed her some really nice hotels. Hotels with really nice pools too. It didn’t matter she wanted to get home and see her pigs.
Now I caved and decided we could go home today but first we were still going to drive a little bit of the Blue Ridge Parkway. After all, that was one of the main reasons for coming down here. I didn’t want to miss my chance at driving through that.
So we packed the car and got ready to head out. First I needed to get google maps up and get the directions on where we were going to go first. Now I knew I wanted to hit up the visitor center. One of the main ones is outside of Asheville, North Carolina.
However, if we left now we would get there 45 minutes before they opened. During this coronavirus pandemic the visitor center doesn’t open until 10am. So I looked on google maps scrolling along the Blue Ridge Parkway looking for another place to stop that was north of Asheville.
I came across Linville Falls Visitor Center. I put it in google maps and it said we would arrive at 10:15. That was perfect since the visitor center opens at 10. Here I could get my pin for my board and maybe a sticker for the car (new thing I started to do on this trip).
The destination was set. Car was packed. Now we just needed to grab some breakfast and hit the road.
Leaving Gatlinburg and heading towards Linville Falls was a nice drive through mostly back roads and some highways. The views of the surrounding mountains were spectacular. It really made that two and a half/three-hour drive feel really quick.
When we arrived at Linville Falls there were a lot of cars in the parking lot. However, when we first walked up the visitor center there weren’t many people around. When we came back from our little hike it was a little busier.
I must say I didn’t know about this place till about three hours ago. It was really nice and I wish I would’ve spent just a little long here. Traveling around and doing my little Coronavirus Road Trip has gotten me to see some really beautiful parts of America. I mean just look at the picture below.
Isn’t it beautiful. Pictures don’t do this place any justice. You have to see this one in person. Hearing the rushing waters. Taking in the great 360 degree view. Even reading the story behind the name.
The story behind the name is a little sad. Basically, the Linville Hunting party got attacked by some Native Americans (forget which tribe) and they were all killed. At least that’s what I remember reading.
The sounds of the rushing water made it so relaxing to me. I probably could have sat out here for hours. But we had a few more places to go while we continued back towards Pennsylvania.
The hike to and from Linville Falls from the visitor center isn’t very difficult at all. There are a few slight uphills you will have to do but overall they aren’t really steep. There are three different trails from the visitor center. One is said to be very difficult. Just beware. The main path to Linville Falls is nice and easy to follow.
The path is pretty wide too. This makes it easy to maintain your distance from other groups around you. However, when you do get closer to the falls the pathway does get a little tighter.
Most people would wait for one group to pass before they would move along. Plus I did see a lot of people wearing mask on the trail. I was a little shocked I must say.
I think there had to be about 70% of the people we past had there mask on. And they had it on correctly. Covering their mouth and nose. I wasn’t really expecting to see that on the trails.
Near the visitor center sure. But out on a hike in the middle of the woods. Not at all. Of course, a group of teenagers didn’t have a mask on. I pretty sure none of them even had a mask when they at the visitor center either. One of the kids walked in to the gift shop without one on.
They did ask him to put one on or leave and the teen did follow the rules without any problem.
My daughter and I did check out the gift shop before we left. We go our National Park Passport book stamped. Picked up a Blue Ridge Mountain Map. A BRM sticker for my car and of course, I picked up a Linville Falls and Blue Ridge Parkway pin for my board.
Linville Falls was a nice little stop we made. We both enjoyed the hike to see the falls and we both enjoyed the falls. My daughter wanted to take a tube over the falls and around the rushing water. She thought that would be fun.
I agree it probably would be fun. Unfortunately, it is not allowed.
Blue Ridge Parkway North
We exited the Linville Falls Visitor Center area and headed back towards the Blue Ridge Parkway. Now it was time to make a decision. Do I head south and add a few more days to the trip. Or head North and start heading home.
Well I made the right and started to head home. However, I wasn’t just heading straight home. I was going to be making stops along the way. I didn’t come this far to only drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway for a couple of miles.
It was going to add an hour or longer to our trip but I wanted to see those mountains. I wanted to get that inner peace feeling as you look out and see the epic landscapes. I was really hoping for some foggy areas that would make a really great photo.
I figured we might be able to see some fog as the storms moved in. Now I am not sure if it rained that night along the mountains or not. I do know that the hour or two I spent driving the parkway it didn’t rain at all.
We had bright blue skies.
On this section of the Blue Ridge Parkway there was plenty of overlooks. At least one every 2 miles or so. It felt that way to me at least.
Some of the views were better than others. Some of the overlooks had huge parking lots while others looked more like a fast food drive thru. They were long and narrow.
I’m not sure how long it would take you to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway if you stopped for 5 minutes at each overlook. I can say it would make for a pretty amazing road trip with some epic views. I really think I will be taking a trip down here in the fall.
Could you imagine how amazing the views would be with all the reds, oranges, and yellows? I can and it would be so beautiful. Pack the cooler with lunch and dinner. Pack a blanket to sit down on and relax. Maybe even watch the sun set or rise with these epic views.
For me, I have a decision to make. Do I take a road trip to New England this fall or do I come back down to North Carolina? Too early to tell which way I will go.
Not only are the overlooks pretty amazing. Just driving along is pretty great too. Driving along side of mountains. Pass under stone bridges. You never know what you will encounter over the next few miles.
Anyway, we continued on the parkway for about 60 or 70 miles. I wanted to keep going but I knew my daughter missed her grandpa and her guinea pigs. Looking at the estimated time I knew we wouldn’t get home till around 09:30 pm so I pulled off the Blue Ridge Parkway and headed towards 81.
Interstate 81 heads through North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and into Pennsylvania. From there we would jump on the PA turnpike and be home. It was going to take us another 8 hours or so but we would talk.
Play games, she would watch movies, I would listen to music. All the while we watch the Mountains turn into hills into nothing. Then the nothing would turn back into hills.
The rest of our journey was uneventful. We stopped for gas. We stopped for food. We stopped to use the bathroom. No other places to stop just home.
Now it never did rain today. I was expecting most of my drive home to be in the rain. I’m glad it wasn’t. Just makes me wonder if I could have camped somewhere for the night.
Not gonna lie I was a little bummed we didn’t get to camp on this trip. I would have had so much more room in the car if it wasn’t packed for camping. Oh well, you live and you learn.
After all, isn’t that what road trips should be all about. Living and learning? For me it is anyway.
I hope you enjoyed following along with us while we traveled through some of the US during the coronavirus outbreak. Our Pandemic Road Trip was a lot of fun for my daughter and me.
We ended up driving through 8 states (PA, MD, WV, KY, TN, GA, NC, VA), spent 4 nights away from home and 5 days on the road and traveled over 2,000 miles. It was a lot of fun and we learned a lot. From little tid bits of info here and there. To how the southern part of the country is dealing with social distancing and wearing a mask.
In PA we have been doing that since April. Some of the areas we visited just started wearing a mask the end of July. Overall, I felt pretty safe everywhere I went. Some areas even surprised me. Were I would think that no one would even consider wearing a mask everyone was.
Are you planning on doing your own covid road trip? Does the current pandemic scare you and make you want to stay home? Have you already taken your own Coronavirus Road Trip? Let us know in the comments below.
If you do decide to travel anytime this year or even next just remember to be safe. Remain 6 feet from people who are not in your group. If a company or place has a mask requirement follow it. Don’t fight or argue with the kid telling you to put your mask on. They or just doing what the bosses are telling them to do.
Let’s make it through this the best way that we can. Let’s not fight each other. Let’s go out and enjoy life and this beautiful country of ours.
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