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Old 08-06-2014, 09:40 PM   #181
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Thursday July 10th/ Day 40

We had a short one hour drive to the Smoky Mountains this morning.

After enjoying the hotel’s breakfast, we packed up and headed toward the Smokey’s.

A large part of this drive was on the Blue Ridge Parkway which made for a breathtaking, scenic drive. We stopped at some overlooks on the way into the park.

Once inside the park, we stopped at a visitor center to pick up Junior Ranger booklets and get my passport book stamped.

I was surprised this visitor center didn’t have a film given this park is so large.

We went to a ranger led program about bird watching that was very interesting and hands on.

We went down a short river trail that was lovely as well.

There was a trail to Indian tribal grounds that I really wish we would have taken… I think we meant to, but got side tracked with a little nearby farm and then forgot until we had left the area…

We had a campground booked here for two nights. When we arrived at our campground, everything was soaked! The other campers said the storm last night (I remember hearing it inside our hotel) truly flooded everything! All the campers just looked soaked! Every single camper had strings and rope hung up trying to dry all their things out.

I am so thankful that we hadn’t camped the night before and that we have been so blessed this trip and have had zero rain on any of our camping days.

Our campground site literally had standing water. We certainly weren’t going to set up tents on top of the standing water. So, we just pulled out some of our camping gear including our chairs so that we could put together some sandwiches for lunch.

After lunch, the little boys had finished their junior ranger books and they got sworn in as junior rangers.
After that we went to see an old running grist mill in the park that was very cool and interesting!

We also took a scenic drive down one of the park roads and stopped for some pictures at overlooks along the way.

There were several more things we wanted to do in this park. But given the weather situation (the campground was soaked and it was calling for more storms)- we decided to head home.

We had a short 2.5 hour drive home. About an hour into our drive, it down poured and I felt so bad for the folks back at camp with all their things hanging out to dry, now getting drenched again! This storm validated my decision to head home early…. Camping in the rain is not very fun…
We were able to get home well before dark, so we were easily able to unpack the van and put everything away! It’s nice to be back home, but I’m already planning next summer’s tripJ.

I will come back with final thoughts…


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C83uw8disII



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Old 08-06-2014, 10:54 PM   #182
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What a trip you had and so many thanks for sharing the details and videos with us! I watched every one of those! I can't believe the amount of real estate you covered and was well planned out with just a few hiccups along in due course, but that is expected!

Sorry, to hear about the monsoon rains on the last night, but at least you were covered! I can't believe the amount of miles covered in 42 days at 4.934 miles. That's like NY-LA and perhaps back from LA to Chicago or more. Wow!

Glad everyone enjoyed it and you saw and did so much. How many Six Flags parks did you hit? I think it may have been five? Great going having the two youngest being sworn in and enjoying the Junior Ranger experience, that is offered by the National Parks Service! Imagine the look you would have gotten, if you had attempted to have Dillon and Wesley sworn in for this. Probably, being that not only being too old for this, but the fact of the two of them possibly towering over those who would swear them in!

Anyway, I really enjoyed this TR and look forward to your next family adventure as I know you want to complete your tour of the continental USA in the next year or so, before Wesley graduates! Good luck and hope you can fulfill this!
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Old 08-07-2014, 01:55 AM   #183
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Sounds like you definitely made the right decision to head home, rather than deal with that standing water and the possibility of more rain. It's a shame your trip ended like that, but you're right, you were certainly lucky with the weather during your travels. Thanks so much for sharing this trip with us - like the others, I've really enjoyed reading it and what an amazing time you had.
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Old 08-07-2014, 08:13 AM   #184
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That was a lot of rain at the campsite! Beautiful area, but the right decision to head home. Another great road trip. I look forward to your trips every summer.
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Old 08-07-2014, 12:09 PM   #185
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You definitely made the right decision to head home. Camping in the rain would be no fun!
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Old 08-07-2014, 03:23 PM   #186
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Sorry the rain cut your trip a wee bit short, but it does sound like you made the wise choice to head on home.
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Old 08-07-2014, 07:59 PM   #187
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Sounds like you made the right decision to not camp the last couple of nights and get soaked, especially being so close to home! Looking forward to your final thoughts!
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Old 08-08-2014, 12:10 AM   #188
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It stinks you had to cut the trip a bit short with the weather elements ......but overall, you had a great trip and I'm certainly in awe of the 42 day trip you were able to experience! Hope all is well and looking forward to Road Trip IV!
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Old 11-23-2014, 09:04 AM   #189
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**I have had these final thoughts typed out forever.... And I had the final video 99% done forever ago also.... But for whatever reason, I never posted it (which is very un-like me). So- here it is the final video and final thoughts....


Final Thoughts: (In no order)
It was a great trip!

I feel very blessed to be able to take these trips and I am so thankful that despite driving an older vehicle, we had zero car trouble; I am also thankful that we had zero rain while camping.

Congaree was a great place for canoeing and made me realize how much I enjoy canoeing; I hope to start doing it more often.

Myrtle Beach was wonderful. I highly recommend parasailing!

Shenandoah National Park was beautiful!

This was my second time visiting Washington, DC and despite Wesley getting lost- we really enjoyed it. I highly recommend this for a family or adults vacationing on a budget as there are countless things to do and they are all free!

We visited four Six Flags over the trip (Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts) and enjoyed them all. Six Flags isn’t really my favorite thing to do, but the kids really enjoy going and our passes get us in for free admission and parking- so it’s a really nice way to do something different on the trip.

Fort McHenry National Monument was so wonderful! It was a pleasant surprise! I wasn’t expecting much from this pit stop, but I truly enjoyed it as did the kids!

The court house at the First State National Monument in Delaware was surprisingly a wealth of information as well! I’m so glad they had a tour guide, as I’m not sure we would have gotten much out of it on our own. One thing about Delaware though, I forgot to get a postcard here and I’m still disappointedL. I always get a postcard in every state we visit as a souvenir…. So, hopefully I’ll get to return here one day and get one…

Philadelphia- this place was left out of our initial itinerary as I simply hadn’t thought about it. I’m so glad we added it in! I was really excited to see the Liberty Bell. There is soooo much to do in this area, we really could have spent a week here…

New York. I’m really glad we went here. I was super-duper excited to see the Statue of Liberty! But, if I’m being honest- I’m in no rush to return here. We went to Carlo’s Bakery just outside of the city and that was a highlight for my daughter. We were all thrilled to see Lady Liberty… I really enjoyed Ellis Ilsand and wish we would have spent a little more time there… I’m disappointed we skipped out on the 9/11 Memorial… As for the Empire State Building, I’m glad I can say we went and the view was cool- but it wasn’t as spectacular as I had anticipated and I think it’s because it’s in with all these other huge buildings (I expected it to “stand out”)… Grand Central Terminal was beautiful and grand- so glad we went there… Central Park was a bit of a letdown as well; it had the potential to be great but I found the navigation of the park impossible… Times Square- again, glad we can say we’ve been there, but…

Gillette Castle- Amazing!!! If you are ever in the Connecticut area, give this place a go!

Rose Island Light House in Rhode Island was beautiful and a wealth of history- would love to go here again!

Cape Cod was so beautiful, but the ticks definitely scared us off… The Pilgrim Monument was way cool! And I’m disappointed we skipped out on the Plymouth Plantation….


Boston- this was our favorite of the major cities. We truly had a blast visiting Fenway Park! I’m truly disappointed we didn’t allot more time here… We had plans to visit Freedom Trail, Harvard Square, and the Swan Boats- we skipped out on all three due to a shortage of time and an abundance of heat… I hope to go back one day…

Acadia National Park is stunningly beautiful- a place everyone should visit if they get the chance!

New Hampshire- the moose eluded me and I was truly disappointed that we didn’t see any…. but despite the lack of moose, I found NH to be gorgeous! I hate that I didn’t plan better with the Mount Washington Auto Road as I really think I would have enjoyed it!

Vermont- I highly recommend visiting Sugar Bush Farm! It is free and it’s a wealth of information and history.

Niagara Falls- we loved it, despite being deported from Canada . Seriously, Niagara Falls is beautiful! Everyone should see it and take the steps down under the falls! Everyone!

Centralia, Pennsylvania- It was cool to see the abandoned town and fires burning underground… I was appreciative of our “tour guide” and glad we took the time to check out this neat place.

West Virginia- It was neat to show the kids the home we once lived in.

Biltmore Estates- Loved it! Beautiful home and a wealth of history!! Wish we would have spent more time exploring the “yard”.

Smoky Mountains- We need to return here. Our time was too short…. But what we seen of it, was beautiful!

Time- Time is always a concern when planning these trips. Unfortunately, my time is limited. We really need to be back by the second week of July. Starting the third week in July the older kids have marching band camp every year and the last week of July each year I usually have pre planning and training. We can’t leave any earlier due to school…. So we really can’t be gone for more than about forty days…. So, when planning I really struggle with how much time to allot at each destination…. But we had a few places this trip that were truly too short on time, so I’m going to try to plan better next year (as best I can with my limitations). Ideally we would have a minimum of two nights at every single place. But like, I said we have overall time limits that hinder that sometimes…


Camping- I got burned out on camping by the end of this trip… And it’s because of one thing- the cold! I really don’t mind setting up and taking down camp. It’s not exactly fun, but I don’t mind. I really don’t mind sleeping on an air mattress; it’s perfectly comfortable to me. I really don’t mind being outdoors; as a matter of fact I really find that camping for my family is the best way to experience the National Parks. But what I do mind is sleeping in cold weather! I now realize that if it gets much below 60 at night, it is just too cold for me.

When I first got home, I seriously looked into not camping next summer. But we will be visiting a LOT of National Parks next year. Plus camping is part of what makes our trips so affordable, it seriously cuts the lodging costs way down…

So, we will almost certainly be camping next year. But, I’m going to purchase us mummy sleeping bags! I’m waiting about another month or so till the end of summer when camping gear gets marked down and I am purchasing all six of us mummy sleeping bags…. And hopefully that will keep us warm next year .

We are down to eleven states left to visit. Next summer, we will be visiting nine of those remaining statesJ! We will head to the North West and most of our time will be spent in National Parks. I expect it to be an absolute blast!

Thanks for following along everyone, I really enjoyed sharing!

Road Trip III - YouTube


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Old 11-23-2014, 09:34 AM   #190
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What a treat to see this! I forgot you hadn't added the final thoughts. It really was an amazing trip. This past summer was an unusually cool one for New England, so I'm not surprised you found camping uncomfortable at times. I think, considering the time constraints, you packed an enormous amount in, with a good variety of activities. I kind of agree with you about NYC. I've spent a lot of time in the city over many years and visited last March for the first time in a few years. I found it very changed in an intangible way. I used to enjoy the bustle and the tall buildings, but this visit I just found it unpleasantly crowded and dirty and confusing! And I know the city quite well-- lived just outside the city for years. Sorry, New York, maybe it was just my mood, but I am not planning a return visit. The final video is wonderful. Do you ever watch the videos from past trips? Must be fun for you to watch the kids grow up over the years. I know it's fun for me and I'm looking forward to next summer's trip to a very beautiful part of the country!
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Old 11-23-2014, 11:06 AM   #191
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lauriep View Post
What a treat to see this! I forgot you hadn't added the final thoughts. It really was an amazing trip. This past summer was an unusually cool one for New England, so I'm not surprised you found camping uncomfortable at times. I think, considering the time constraints, you packed an enormous amount in, with a good variety of activities. I kind of agree with you about NYC. I've spent a lot of time in the city over many years and visited last March for the first time in a few years. I found it very changed in an intangible way. I used to enjoy the bustle and the tall buildings, but this visit I just found it unpleasantly crowded and dirty and confusing! And I know the city quite well-- lived just outside the city for years. Sorry, New York, maybe it was just my mood, but I am not planning a return visit. The final video is wonderful. Do you ever watch the videos from past trips? Must be fun for you to watch the kids grow up over the years. I know it's fun for me and I'm looking forward to next summer's trip to a very beautiful part of the country!
I don't know why I waited so long to post it..... But I'm glad it's complete now!

Glad to hear I'm not the only one not rushing back to NY.... I'm very, very glad we went (lots of cool and historic things to see first hand) and we did enjoy our time there- I'm just not rushing back...

I do watch our videos from previous trips every once in a while! Even if I didn't post the video's for others, I would continue to make them for me because I like being able to look at them myself!

I'm very excited for next summer..... and I already know the upcoming states will bring our coldest overnight temps yet.....
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Old 11-23-2014, 01:39 PM   #192
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Great wrap-up to a wonderful trip report - I always love reading about your trips, as they're so long and varied and you get to see so much of the country and we get to experience with you along the way. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.
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My Previous Trips21 trips to WDW, 6 to Disneyland in California, 9 to Disneyland Paris, 1 to Hong Kong Disneyland, 1 to Tokyo Disney, 1 to Aulani, 1 to Hilton Head, 2 to Vero Beach and 13 Disney cruises on the Magic, Wonder, Dream and Fantasy
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Old 11-23-2014, 03:35 PM   #193
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Great conclusion! for sharing your wide travels with us.
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My Previous TripsAKL Jambo April/May 2017--SSR/OKW Sept/Oct 2016 --AKL Kidani May 2016 -- Polynesian Village Resort May 2015 -- OKW/Magic December 2014 -- AKL Jambo House October 2014 -- VWL May 2014--SSR October 2013--AKL/Kidani June 2013--CBR October 2012--BWI June 2012--AKV Jambo House/Kidani Village June 2011 -- November 2010 Beach Club -- June 2010 Beach Club -- October 2009 CBR and Gaylord Palms -- June 2009 AKV/Kidani Village -- June 2008 VWL --June 2007 OKW--June 2006 Disney Wonder/SSR -- June 2005 SSR -- June 2004 VWL -- June 2003 AKL -- August 1997 Off Property -- March 1980 Cocoa Beach
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Old 11-24-2014, 07:31 AM   #194
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Great wrap up! Boston is my favorite city on the East Coast -glad you enjoyed it. Hope you get to return someday soon. I haven't been to Gillette's Castle in years, but we enjoyed family reunion picnics there every summer for years. I'll have to plan a visit soon.

I'm looking forward to hearing about your next trip.
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My Previous TripsWDW May 1995 ASSports, WDW Oct. 2005 ASMovies, WDW Aug. 2007 Pop, WDW April 2009 WL, WDW Aug. 2010 WL, DCL August 2011 Alaska, WDW April 2012 AKL-Jambo, WDW August 2012 Beach Club, WDW April 2013 AKL- Kidani, August 2013 AKL-Kidani, August 2013 DCL Western Caribbean on the Fantasy, December 2013 WL, April 2015 OKW, July 2015 Grand Californian DLR, August 2016 BWV
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Old 11-24-2014, 08:39 AM   #195
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Great finish Brandi! I'm always amazed at how much you get done and how far you travel! Amazing, and what an experience for your kids (and you too)! Thanks so much for taking us along for the ride! I've definitely added some things to our "to do" list from places that you've gone!
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