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Thread: South to the Mountians...East to the Sea: Mr and Mrs Haggis tour the Mid-South

  1. #1
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    Default South to the Mountians...East to the Sea: Mr and Mrs Haggis tour the Mid-South

    Here in unfolds the tale of how Mr. and Mrs. Haggis abandoned their everyday responsibilities, dumped their teenage offspring off at Grandma’s house and became itinerant vagabonds if only for a week all in the name of celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary. So please get comfortable as a tale unfolds with a passage from Mountains to Shore to Mountains once again all the while two happy campers celebrate their wedded bliss.

    From when first we met Michelle and I have had the urge to explore the next valley together. Almost all of our travels have involved seeking new sights beyond those outside our own everyday world and those travels have been the source of many happy memories together. But it’s lately been a bit frantic around the hold since my lovely wife Michelle started back to college to further her nursing career. With Michelle working full time while doing the online college thing, time for travel and even just getting away has been limited. I don’t feel right trekking out on my own and leaving my best travel buddy behind so I haven’t been out much myself even. Being home bound drags us both down somewhat, but you gotta do what you gotta do. So when we were deciding on how to mark our 20th we decided to do some travelling like we have done so many times together…with a loaded truck, lots of food, a barely conceived plan and our sights set on what’s over the next hill.

    With an upcoming break between classes the start of May we decide to head south in search of warmer weather. So on the last Friday of April, with the snow blowing around the clan hold, we went chasing the greening foliage of places south. Our plan was to head straight down to Cape Lookout on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, spend a few days getting sand in our shorts and then head over to the highlands of western North Carolina. We ain’t ever been in them mountains before, so we were rearin’ to go. The plan got modified when Michelle got her current course done early and we had an extra day free to run. With two days instead of one to get to the Ferry in Davis, NC I suggested another route to replace the cannonball run we had planned. We gathered the gear, loaded up some new kit and dumped them teenagers off at Grandmas and pointed our Tundra Fafhrd South.

    What I had proposed was to detour to Skyline Drive in Virginia as it was a trip Michelle and I had done 21 years ago. Yeah, it’s a slow driving blacktop, but there are some great views and some nice hiking trails along its path and for us it would be a traverse down memory lane. Michelle started off driving while she was bright eyed and bushytailed as the wooded foothills of Pennsylvania rolled by.


    A few hours later we were climbing the foothills of Front Royal Virginia as we started up Skyline Drive. My memories of this route were one of overwhelming cars but that last trip so many years ago took place in the midst of summer, this time it was pretty empty of folks and many of the areas were still closed up for the season. We drove the twisting tarmac, pulling over at any overlook that drew our attention. On occasion we would step out in the chilly brisk winds and hike a trail that seemed to head somewhere. We love the Appalachians and the rolling hills always beckon us forward to see more…






  2. #2
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    Michelle likes to hike but more so when there’s a destination at the end of the trail, especially if there’s a waterfall at the end of the path…



    As we progressed southwardly down the Drive the temps got warmer and the foliage got greener. Stopping at one campground to check on sites further south one of the workers informed us the southern campgrounds on Skyline were closed (there is no dispersed sites here in the Shenandoah Nation Park by the way) but just a ways down on the Blue Ridge Parkway there was a nice commercial campground we could set-up in. “It’s a great campground!” he said “Right next to a stream and a waterfall!” As it was only 3:00 in the afternoon we weren’t ready to quit the road yet, we thought we’d try the gent’s suggestion for overnight accommodations and continue on continuing on.

    Soon we found ourselves on the northern most portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. The scenery was getting even better as the elevation climbed.





    Fafhrd on the BRP…


    Soon it was getting late in the afternoon and we came to the turn out for the road to the suggested campground. We found ourselves on a very twisty mountian road running next to a roaring trout stream frothing along the boulders. And then we hit the midge hatch, our poor Tundra was lathered in the grisly remains of thousand of insects. But worse was yet to come…we found the campground…a run down establishment perched precariously in the narrow holler of the road and the crick. Sites were cramped literally side by side as the owners tried to squeeze as many parking spaces as possible out of really limited available land. Not over an acre big there were forty camp sites swarming with dogs running loose, children clambering everywhere, loud generators and/or radios in the back of jacked up pickups and a horde of sex crazed insects. This lovely piece of heaven would only cost us $30 bucks for the night. Ahhh..no thanks…I could already see the bruwhaha that was eventually going to be unleashed and we left before the choas started. Heading back up towards the Parkway, the old GPS was no help in the search for another commercial campsite. We hit the BRP again hoping we could find a spur road into the surrounding George Washington National Forest but all the two tracks leading off were plaster in no trespassing signs. Checking the maps we picked up there was no sign of any campgrounds. So finally after dark had set in and the trafiic all dissapeared off the Parkway we found an overlook back off the highway and set up the Maggiliona RTT for the night. We warmed up the meatloaf and scalloped potato left overs from the prior nights and spent the first night in our new RTT boondocking in a creekside overlook.

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    We got up early the next morning, put the Maggie down as the dawn came, threw down some breakfast and hit the road south again. And three miles down the road we found an official campground that wasn’t on the damn map…oh well, no harm no foul and we know it’s there now. But as the sun rose the scenery got the better of us and we enjoyed the views out the window and the trails under our hiking shoes.




    Down here we found some forest road loops to explore. They are your basic graveled road but with tight turns and steep drop offs.


    Just a bit east of Roanoke we left the Parkway as we made our way south and east to meet up with our ferry ride the following morning. We found ourselves travelling two-lane asphalt as we rolled through rural farmlands. Than we were in mid and eastern North Carolina and the monotony of running three lane freeways got to us. Eastern NC doesn’t have a lot to offer to the eye when you’re rolling down I-40 and US-70 and we were beginning to wonder why we left the mountains. But with memories of our previous trip to Cape Lookout still bubbling in our minds eye we kept pushing on.

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    Late in the afternoon we arrived in Davis and with a little exploring found a campsite at Cedar Creek Marina and Campground and even though they weren’t really open for the season the folks there let us stay out on the quay next to the boat launch. We found ourselves surrounded by water on three sides and in the company of hundreds of waterfowl and shore birds…




    All set up for the night I cooked up some sweet Italian sausages and stir-fried peppers and onions for dinner. The mosquitos came out in droves as the sun set and Michelle and I retreated to the Maggie, fired up the portable DVD player and had a drive in movie night…


    Up and running the next morning we jotted down south back to Davis to hook up with the fine folks at the Davis Shore Ferry service. As we got there an hour early for our appointed crossing, we ended up crossing sooner than planned as we rolled up into the smaller of their ferries, the Kathryn J. Beside us as we bobbed along the sound was a Defender 90 along with its owner Michael (a talkative fellow) and his lady Jessica. We'd bumped into them a few times over the next few days.


    And with a wave from the ferry crew and a greeting from the Park Rangers we were on a beach again and all the travel weariness faded away…

    Last edited by Haggis; 05-06-2012 at 05:18 AM.

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    Once off the ferry we made our way through the fishing cabins and unto the beach. The wind was gusting and the skies were overcast but we were on a beach. The dunes sure have changed since we were last here but we found a spot about a half mile above our last campsite. We set up camp, just an easy up and a latrine tent really, parked the truck and proceeded to take it easy…


    Michelle set up on the beach to do some reading…


    The view from our Loft…


  6. #6
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    Strolling the beach, wading the surf and an occasional nap were the ways we passed the time. Here are some random shots of our days on the Cape…







    Michelle likes her new accommodations…


    The Maggiolina RTT was a new addition for us and bought specifically for this trip. We weren’t real sure if we would like travelling with an RTT but we were real pleased with the results. On cold evenings in the mountains the tent stayed a good 20 degrees or more warmer than the outside temps. This was the first trip ever that I saw Michelle sleeping with just a fleece cover instead of buried in every blanket/bag available to keep warm. But the most impressive thing about the Maggie was the way it handled the wind. On the Cape there was a steady 20 to 30 mph wind with gusts to maybe 40 mph or more. You would never have known it if you had stayed in the tent the whole time. The only reaction to the wind was the soft jingle of the zipper pulls against the tent fabric. My only real complaint is that the mattress is a bit too soft but still much better than a sleeping pad on the ground.

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    The sunset on the second night was spectacular as it bathed the shore in purple and pink light…


    West towards shore a storm cell rotated over the mainland but the steady winds of the ocean kept the rain over the other side of the Sound and our campsite dry. Warm and comfy in the tent we drifted off to sleep.

    The last day on the Cape we broke down camp in a morning lull in the wind and made our way down south towards the ferry landing. As we had plenty of time before we had to meet the ferry we decide to head south towards the lighthouse and wander the sand a bit…








    Than it was over to meet the ferry, load up on the Captain Algers, and sail back across the Sound…


    Michelle snuck in some study for her next course as we rode along with the Captain…


    Once off the boat we pointed Fafhrd west and headed back towards the mountains, though we took a bunch of the beach with us with all the sand and grit in all the gear.

  8. #8
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    Great trip Mark...that purple sunset pic is awesome. Let me be the first to say "congrats" on your anniversary. We had our 20th 2 years ago - we spent it in AC.
    That was a different kinda nice. We'll catch up in a couple of weeks @ the little J trip. I'm praying for nice weather - if we get it, it will be my wife's first "real" camping
    trip - EVER.
    Proud member of the Appalachian Ridgerunner Supreme Expedition Squad.
    Jeep Liberty KJ + Outlander Sherpa II Trailer

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    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBernal View Post
    Great trip Mark...that purple sunset pic is awesome. Let me be the first to say "congrats" on your anniversary. We had our 20th 2 years ago - we spent it in AC.
    That was a different kinda nice. We'll catch up in a couple of weeks @ the little J trip. I'm praying for nice weather - if we get it, it will be my wife's first "real" camping
    trip - EVER.
    Thanks Ed! Looking forward to see you ins here in the next couple of weeks.

    O.K....on with the tale...

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    Back on the mainland, we retraced our steps as we were heading towards Asheville, NC. We were heading over to visit our good friends Jay (mtnbike28 here on the Portal) and his wife Debbie. We’ve been on many adventures together but haven’t got to see them since they moved south. So after another boring drive, sitting in a traffic jam outside Raleigh, and bad lunch break we arrived at Jay and Debbie’s home. It was a real pleasure to share some time with them and the homemade spaghetti for supper and waffles and bacon for breakfast were an extra bonus. Jay moved his Tacoma out of the carport as it was going to rain so we could set-up the Maggie under cover, but Tacos giving way to Tundras is the natural order of things anyway…



    The next day we parted ways with our friends though with hopes they’ll make it to the ARSES Float in a couple of weeks. We had no real set plans for destinations after Jay’s “Bed and Breakfast” place. Jay gave Michelle and I a bunch of maps and guide books and suggested we take a tour of the Jocassee Gorge just across the line in South Carolina. So we pointed the truck in that direction and rolled on out. We didn’t get far we stumbled upon an interesting Army surplus store. We spent some time wandering its well-stocked shelves but resisted the urge to buy stuff.


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