The first big stop on our trip north was Maggie Valley, NC, but before we got there we had two stops to make. The first was in Fort Benning, GA. We stayed at the MWR Campgrounds available to military personnel on the Alabama side of Fort Benning in Fort Mitchell. The name of the campground is Uchee Creek Army Campground and Marina. It was a gorgeous place to stay. We enjoyed our evenings sitting out in front of the RV watching the deer eat. They would wonder throughout the park all day and night.
Our site was number 404, which was right off a great parking area where we could watch the paratroopers do jump maneuvers. Being that both my husband and son were both in Fort Benning, it made this stop very emotional. My husband went through basic training and Ranger School at Fort Benning back in 1984 and my son went through basic and Airborne School here in 2009. We spent time driving through the base seeing what had changed since Greg was here 32 years ago. We saw lots of soldiers going through obstacle courses and range practice. Another highlight of the trip was going through the National Infantry Museum. Although I had toured the museum back in 2009, it was special to get to share this with my husband who had more knowledge to share of the different things to be seen. Of course anybody military related knows that you don’t go near a base without going to the PX and Commissary. This was my first time at a PX like this and boy was I surprised by all the things you could buy.
Paratroopers doing jumps
Our last day here we sat and watched the paratroopers do several jumps. I can’t believe my son was doing jumps like this just a few short years ago. It amazes me what these soldiers go through to train to protect our freedom. Each night as we sat in the RV chilling from the day, we could hear C-130’s fly over our house. We speculated that they were doing night jumps as that is also part of the training.
The second stopover was in Cumming, GA at Bald Ridge Creek Lake on Lake Lanier. I had hoped we would be able to get in some fishing on the full day we had here, but unfortunately I wasn’t feeling very well, so I spent the day recuperating, so I would be more than ready for our time in Maggie Valley.
Our stay in Maggie Valley started on Friday the 15th of July having arrived around 2:30 pm. We enjoyed dinner at a local restaurant the first evening, Garrett’s. I had trout for the first time and didn’t realize it taste and looked a lot like salmon. It was great.
On Saturday we took off for Cherokee, NC to see the Oconaluftee Indian Village, the Qualla Arts and Craft Mutual, Inc. and the Museum of the Cherokee Indians. Everywhere we went we learned more and more about the way of the Cherokee.
Of course a trip to Cherokee would not be complete without seeing waterfalls and we saw two of them. The first was Mingo Falls, which is actually in Cherokee. You have to walk .04 miles to get to it, but it is so worth it. There is a platform to stand on and see the falls from the top, but you can also go down the mountain to get to the bottom. I wasn’t brave enough to go all the way to the bottom, but we did make our way about half way down.
Since it was raining on our way back to Maggie Valley, we postponed seeing the second waterfall until Sunday morning as it is actually closer to Maggie Valley than Cherokee. You could hear the roar of the falls as soon as you get out of your vehicle. The walk is not that far and the beauty of the falls is grand. My pictures don’t do it justice.
On Sunday afternoon, with our two dogs in the backseat, we headed for Cataloochee Valley hoping to see Elk. After waiting for what seemed like all day, finally after a few rain showers the Elk started coming out of the woods. At the first location we were at we saw a total of 8, which included two babies. They were totally adorable running and playing together just like children. At one point, a mommy and baby drifted from the rest of the herd and made their way to where a couple trucks were sitting just below us. Although the baby laid down in the grass, the mommy kept drifting until she ended up crossing the road to the creek. After about 45 minutes or so of viewing these magnificent creatures we started our trek out of there. Greg was disappointed that we didn’t see any bulls, but we weren’t down the mountain yet. Sure enough we came upon another open field to several cars sitting still on the side of the road and sure enough there were 6 more cows (females) and 2 bulls (males). While Greg drove along ever so slowly I jumped on the back of the truck for better photo opportunities. I’m sure I looked crazy to the other viewers, but it was worth it for these up close pics. In addition to the elk, we also saw twelve turkeys.
The scariest part of this trip was the ride up the side of the mountain and back down. I was totally wishing I had a brake on my side of the truck because the road was very narrow and at some points there was only one lane and you could not see around the corner, so you had to pray there was not another car coming at you.
Wheels Through Time
Our visit through Maggie Valley included a fantastic museum devoted to motorcycles called Wheels Through Time. There are over 300 bikes including a double bicycle from 1896 to motorcycles in the early 1900’s. If you’re a lover of motorcycles, especially Harley’s then you would love to tour this museum. In addition to the motorcycles, there are automobiles from the early 1900’s as well as lots of memorabilia that was very impressive to be seen.
Our last day was filled with a trip to Asheville for a trolley ride. We started at the visitor’s center and done the hop on hop off trip that included 10 stops throughout Asheville. The driver was very informative and he shared a lot of information about the city. The one thing that stood out the most was when we drove past a McDonald’s and the driver said it was the swankiest McDonald’s you would ever see as it has a piano and marble columns. Made me want to jump off the trolley and see for myself, but instead I just took his word for it.
The first leg may be over, but we still have lots of miles to cover before this 4 month adventure is over. Our next big stop will be in Ohio with a couple stops on the way. Hope you will continue to follow our trip and see where we end up.
For more photos from each of our stops click on the links below: