As one would expect while sitting in Paradise, Colette’s gypsy blood has started churning, and that can only mean one thing – time to either pack up and move, or spend a long vacation somewhere.  Since I’m currently pretty happy with fishing, diving and boating, that means vacation is on the horizon.

Purple Mountains

We have discovered throughout our travels that our two happy places are water and mountains.  Since we wake up every morning looking out at turquoise blue water from our bedroom, that means it’s mountain time.  We’ve been talking about the Smoky Mountains for a while now, and since it’s the closest mountain range to the Keys (all relative), it’s next on the list.

Our initial discussions were around renting a Sprinter-based RV and doing a road trip, but that didn’t pan out.  The reasons were two-fold:  Get plenty of campground time in, and test out a Sprinter to see if it’ll work for us when we finally return to full-time RVing.  While we loved living the luxury lifestyle in Bighaus, it was simply too big to get into a lot of the off-the-beaten-path places we wanted to go, and screamed ‘money’ when we were boondocking – not great when Colette was staying there by herself and I was gone for work.  With retirement looming, we won’t need space for two offices like we had in Bighaus and a Sprinter should fit the bill nicely.  Right now we’re leaning towards the Mercedes/Winnebago View 24G, but we have a lot of research and time before we have to write that check.

Alas, not a single rental Sprinter to be found in Florida or along our route, so Plan B turned into renting 2 cottages in the Smokies and renting a big SUV to road trip up in.  One week just outside Bryson City, the North Carolina gateway to the Smokies, a night in Townsend TN to hit the Cades Cove area of the park, then a week east of Asheville to the Black Mountain area.

15 hours of drive time split over two days makes for a pretty easy road trip, and our rental Expedition makes a wonderful interstate cruiser while gobbing up the miles – and the fuel.  One of the great things about road-tripping is the option to see something on the map and make a detour – like our stop at Tallulah Falls on the way up.

Hurricane Falls

Normally we overanalyze, over-prepare, and over-research everything we do, and other than lodging this trip pretty much fell through the cracks.  We knew that there was a National Park, some mountains, and knew we’d find some hiking.  Other than that, last-minute research has been the name of the game.

Our cabin outside Bryson City is wonderful – nothing fancy, small and cozy, high in the mountains with a fast-running stream in the backyard providing loud “white noise” for your listening pleasure.  Rumor has it that there are brook trout so I brought my lightest rod and reel and maybe I’ll find some time to sit by the stream and do nothing with a beer in one hand and a pole in the other.

Welcome to vacation.