After another cold but very peaceful night we awoke to a lovely bright sunny morning with clear skies. There were no facilities within the campground and so we showered in the RV. This morning we intended to come off the Parkway, down the mountain and make our way to Roanoke to find a campground selling LPG as we were getting low and were increasingly relying on it for central heating and to heat our hot water. We also needed to top up with fresh water as we were down to 1/3 tank.
We had no luck at all in Roanoke and so made our way further down US11 South having had enough for now of the Blue Ridge Parkway it’s nothing like as good as the Skyline Drive which had been a pleasure to drive. The overlooks were large enough to take the RV as well as cars, the road was winding, yet wide enough to allow safe sideways glances by the driver, whereas the Blue Ridge Parkway is a bit of a rollercoaster ride. They really could have done a better job of building it. The vehicle is continually climbing then dropping, taking left and right hand bends, many of which were very sharp with dreadful cambers, sometimes I hadn’t dared to take my eyes off the road for fear of going over the edge, when we were near it that is, for much of the time the only views we had were of trees either side of us. I had hoped to be able to travel the whole 460 mile length of the parkway but the road was nothing like I expected and so we decided to mix and match, a bit of Parkway and a bit of US11 South which ran parallel.
Soon after topping up with fuel we passed a hardware store coming out of Christiansburg and there on the forecourt was an LPG dispenser. I’d been busy scanning both sides of the road for mile after mile in the hope I could find some and avoid the need to find a campground to buy it, and the effort had paid off. With the LPG tank topped up all we needed then was water, but we were not to find a tap anywhere for the rest of the journey. I recall having the same problem once before, just nobody has a water tap available for use. Not to worry we had enough with us to last another 24 hours or so.
We eventually found somewhere suitable to pull over for lunch during which we discussed the options and decided not to bother with any more of the Blue Ridge Parkway, it was no pleasure, just hard work for both me and the vehicle and we weren’t even getting the views. We decided to make for a place called Bland which is off the I77 North on the way to Bluefield. The reason being that the Appalachian Trail passes very close to there and we thought we’d find a campground close by or somewhere to dry camp and walk some of the trail tomorrow. On arrival it was like reaching the edge of the known world, Bland by name and bland by nature, I even had to back all the way down a road because it suddenly narrowed and came to a dead end with nowhere to turn round.
Enough was enough and we decided to make for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee & North Carolina. We could if we so wished, enjoy a few days there to go hiking etc. We had spent far too much time in the cab driving the highways and byways and we needed to get out and do things, which is what it’s supposed to be about.
After another long journey we arrived at the Wal-Mart store in Newport, Tennessee. Good old Wal-Mart, they’ve saved our bacon again. In the morning we will make for a campground with full facilities so that we can get up to date with the internet, laundry etc and prepare ourselves for hopefully, a few pleasant days in the Smoky Mountain National Park. We’ll probably take a full 50 gallon tank of water with us as the State Park campgrounds tend to be very cheap and basic which suits us just fine.
LOCATION TONIGHT: Wal-Mart Superstore, 1075 Cosby Hwy, Newport, TN 37821 (GPS: N35.943895 W83.209949).