Thursday, October 11, 2018

#GCFallBreakExtravaganza2018





From the time I was able to write, I have been journaling the many vacations my family took throughout my childhood and into adulthood.  My brothers had to be forced to write every night, but I could easily fill up page after page at the end of each day (though most of it described what we ate...some things never change!).  As an adult, the desire to write while I travel hasn't changed either.  I love to write and I love to travel and explore so it makes sense that I would put these two things together when I can (hence the original birth of this blog).

You can find my previous travel posts here, including some flashback posts that include my childhood journal entries (still working on getting a lot of these posted). Continue reading for a look into our quick little fall break trip!






Day 1 - Friday, October 5, 2018 - Johnson City, Tennessee

I called home right after school on Friday to let my mom know they finally caught the crazy murderer that had been hiding out in the woods nearby for the last week.  My dad answered the phone and asked me if I was on my way to Johnson City yet. "No," I told him, "I'm going home to pack right now." His response was, "you haven't packed yet? that doesn't sound like you..." (#TypeAProblems) "Yeah, I know," I told him. "I haven't been home a single night for the past week, I haven't had time to pack." "Yeah, that sounds more like you." he replied. He knows me.

Our intention was to leave right after school on Friday, but my aforementioned inability to spend a night at home slightly delayed these plans. Luckily, my school gets out earlier than Caitlin's, so I was able to be semi-packed up before she arrived.  By the time we had everything ready to go (including our necessary road trip Sonic waters!) it was 5PM before we hit the road.  After crawling through Nashville traffic on I-40, and having to slow down in Knoxville due to traffic, we finally made it to Johnson City around 11PM.


Day 2 - Saturday, October 6, 2018 - Asheville, North Carolina

Between the time change and the slight altitude shift, I could already tell it was going to be a headache day, so I began implementing my headache prevention strategies before I even got out of bed. We took our time getting up and getting ready (or in my case, reading Harry Potter for an hour), grabbed cheesy potato poofs from Pals for breakfast *insert heart eyes emoji x5 here*, and didn't leave for Asheville until around noon.

We had a hard time finding new things to do that we hadn't already all done.  If you haven't yet been to Asheville, I highly recommend touring Biltmore Estates!  The home and the grounds are beautiful, though the ticket is pricey.  We'd all toured the house before and only wanted to tour the gardens this go-round, but unfortunately there is no partial ticket, so we ended up going mural hunting instead.

The River Arts District of Asheville isn't the cleanest part of town, but it has been overtaken with art, both internally and externally.  Some are intentional murals, others are just strategically placed (and probably intentional) graffiti which was still really cool!






   









We stopped by The Montford Rooftop Bar for late afternoon beverages and food.  Tori had a flatbread pizza that looked delicious, Caitlin got the local cheese plate, and I had apple pie and ice cream. (Not the most conventional dinner, but headaches limit the things my stomach can tolerate. Its weird, I am aware.)

I struggle to get more than 5-6 hours of sleep as it is, but after spending the day in the mountains, I barely managed four.  I love the mountains, but they do not like me! Altitude change has a crazy effect on my body, and I never know if/how I'm going to react until it hits.






Day 3 - Sunday, October 7, 2018 - Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Dollywood!! Despite all the traveling I've done in this area, both as a child and now as an adult, I had never been to Dollywood until this day. I'm really glad we went, but honestly it was kind of a let down. There were only like seven roller coasters to go on, and once you've been to Disney, Six Flags, Cedar Point, etc. its hard to be excited about the minimal attractions (yes, I recognize my privilege).  Lucky for me, I can (and do!) get excited over just about anything, and it turned out seven rides turned out to be kind of perfect for the day.

We got there around 11AM and started on the rides right away.  One coaster in and I was already in need of some Tylenol! Somehow I managed to only have a headache while we were actually ON a ride, and was fine once we were off of them.  Being a Sunday, the lines were pretty short and we didn't wait more than 25 minutes for any ride.  The only one we didn't go on was the water ride, because even though it was pushing 90 degrees, there is nothing enjoyable about walking around all afternoon in wet clothes. The park was covered in pumpkins and other Halloween decor in celebration of fall and their Great Pumpkin LumiNights experience. My favorite roller coaster was the Eagle because your feet dangle and you never know if you're upside down or right side up! The only down side is the uber-tight chest strap that is comforting when you're twirling in circles, but panic-inducing once you've stopped and realized its cutting off the air circulation to you lungs.

                          

Prior to leaving at the end of the afternoon, we stopped at a shop within the grounds to get some sugary sweet cinnamon bread as a snack for the ride home.  Our car also just happened to pull into the Russell Stover parking lot, where we had no choice but to get caramel apples. What can you do?! 

Day 4 - Monday, October 8, 2018 - Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia

Tori had to work today, so Caitlin and I set off for Bristol, the city where some of the first recordings of country music came from. Bristol is on the state line of Tennessee and Virginia; in fact, you can stand in the middle of main street and be in both states at once.


There isn't a ton to do in Bristol, but it was a neat little area.  According to a local, the nightlife is semi-enjoyable, but otherwise the town lacks in things to do. We wandered down main street, Tennessee on one side, Virginia on the other, and browsed the little shops before stopping in Burger Bar for lunch.  The legend is that Burger Bar was the last place that Hank Williams was seen alive prior his to pronounced death in West Virginia. We definitely stood out as outsiders, and after getting hit on by a man in his 60s, we knew it was time to leave!


















If you're in the area, a few attractions include the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, the Bristol Speedway, and the Bristol Caverns.

Day 5 - Tuesday, October 9, 2018 - Home bound

I got up Tuesday morning and finished my book/began another as I waited for Caitlin to get up.  We left Johnson City a little before 9 and made it home around 1...at which time Caitlin realized that she had left her car and house keys in Johnson City! Luckily I had a spare to her apartment and she had a spare car key there as well.

Overall, it was a good trip.  I wish I had put a little more planning time into it, but honestly I just haven't had the free time available to do that. I would have liked to do some hiking, though my reaction to altitude change makes that wish difficult.

It was great to get away for a few days, but I'm happy to be home and actually do some relaxing (HA!) and others things around here before schools starts again on Monday.

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