As fun as Nashville was, we were both ready to return to a slower pace. We had five days to get to the coast of South Carolina.
We wanted to drive through the Smoky Mountains on the way. Since we only like to drive a few hours at a time, we didn't make it there the first night. We stopped at Cumberland Mountain State park, about the halfway point from Nashville to The Smoky's. We got there just in time. There was a big thunderstorm with a tornado watch heading our way. It was really loud, but at least the winds weren't too strong.
Knoxville was a little out of our way, but we decided to swing through there to go to a Trader Joe's market. We haven't seen one since we left San Diego. I went a little overboard, so the fridge and cupboards were packed! We finally got to the Smoky Mountain National Park, to find that the first campground we chose was full. Ok, the next one was only about ten miles away. The road was really narrow and twisty, with huge rocks jutting out from the side of the mountain. I'm glad Paul isn't bothered driving the camper in those conditions. If I were driving, my butt would have torn a hole in the seat, (what Paul and Dustin call sucking cotton!) and we'd be missing a side mirror and air conditioner!
When we got to the next campground, a couple was just leaving the office. I found out that they got the last available camping site. Well, gawd damn! At least I had my Trader Joe's treasures, I say, well worth it! The next campground inside the park was a long winding drive away. We decided to scrap the Smoky Mountain adventure and head to a private park in Gatlinburg, TN.
I had been told that Gatlinburg was a tourist trap, with horrible traffic, but didn't really believe it until I saw it. It was Easter weekend to boot. I was amazed at the amount of people walking around downtown! We stayed at a quiet park just outside of town for a couple of days to let the hoards of spring breakers pass. That only gave us two nights on the road from there to our reserved site on the coast of South Carolina.
I try to pick places on the water, whether it's a stream, river, lake, or ocean. The first night we found a site in The Pisgah National Forest campground called Davidson River, in North Carolina.
The next night we stopped at Wateree Lake State Recreation Area in South Carolina. The drive into that one was questionable. Luckily, when we got there the park was nice. We had a spot right on the water. There was another thunderstorm that night, the strongest we've ever seen! Both of those places would have been nice places to spend more time in, maybe some other trip.
Finally, we were back on the coast. Huntington Beach State Park, in Murrells Inlet, is just below Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The park had a man made salt marsh, full of alligators, on one side, and a small marshy area, then sandy beach on the other. Besides the bugs eating us alive and the humidity, it was a great place to stay.
After that stop, we had reservations to visit Ocracoke Island. We decided to break up the drive and make a couple of stops on the way there. We found private parks along the way. Tonight we are at Cedar Creek Campground, on Cedar Island, NC.
Tomorrow. we board a ferry to Ocracoke Island, on the outer banks of North Carolina.