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Jack Daniels Distillery - Lynchburg - Tennessee
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Waynesville

Waynesville in North Carolina is a perfect place to stay if you want to visit the Great Smokey Mountains. We are staying with boondockers host John. John has fun tips and one of them is Jake Junaluska.

This beautiful lake and all the buildings around it were originally part of the United Methodist Church, but has been open to the public for many years. Anyone who wants to take a nice walk around the lake or relax in one of the houses or hotels is welcome.

Waynesville Tennessee
Waynesville Tennessee
Great Smokey Mountains National Park

In 2014, we visited this park for the first time. We remember finding it beautiful, but not as spectacular as the other parks in this great country. We spend the night this time at Smokemont Campground. As soon as we drive into the park, we all see deer in the river. That's already off to a good start!

Our camping spot is on the Bradley Fork River and the sound is wonderful to fall asleep to. Deer regularly wander the campground, really nice! The campground has restrooms and a facility to dump sewage, but no showers.

At most national parks, upon entry, there is a gate where you must show your national parks pass or pay an entrance fee. At Great Smokey Mountains, this is not the case. They have figured out there, that you can drive through the park for free, but as soon as you stop you have to buy a parking pass. This pass costs $5 for one day and can be purchased at the visitor center.

The next day we took the New Found Gap road that takes you from the town of Cherokee (North Carolina) all the way north into Gatlinburg Tennessee. The spring blooms are already starting to show color, but in many cases the trees still have their “winter coat.” Along the way there are many places to stop and take walks.

Tip: There are not many parking options for an RV, get there as early as possible!

Blue Ridge Parkway

Despite having already seen much of beautiful nature in Canada and America, we have high hopes for this tourist route. The road is referred to in many blogs as the most beautiful in America. The 469 miles (755km) long road starts in the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee and ends in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. There are many tunnels and it is smart to check in advance that the height of the RV is not going to cause problems. On the website, of this route you can also find which sections are closed.

A day before our drive, we get in touch with several people who have driven the road. They tell us that the first 100 miles from Cherokee is the best. We are curious! It is very quiet on this route and there are many viewpoints. The route is beautiful, but we still decide not to drive the full 755km. We are probably spoiled by the many other nicer routes we have driven.

Having no idea what our follow-up trip will be, we decide after a few days to return to boondocker host John in Waynesville.

Do we travel eastward or westward further?

Na onze aankomst in Houston -afgelopen februari- zijn we richting het mooie weer in Florida gereden. Op dit moment zijn we in de staat North Carolina en kunnen verder reizen richting het noordoosten van Amerika of we gaan alvast richting het westen. We hebben er voor gekozen om richting het noordwesten te gaan rijden.

First, because we are going to pick up our son Mike and daughter-in-law Sanne in Calgary in August. Second, because we don't feel like winter temperatures. Finally, the deciding factor was that we will probably ship the motorhome back from Halifax and then still visit the Northeast. 

Now that we have chosen the West, we think it would be great fun to travel through Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas. 

Tennessee

Our first stop in the state of Tennessee is with boondockers host Scott. He calls his place “Heavens view” and we understand very well why. To get there we have to climb a 14% incline after a short turn. The camper is doing fine, but we are glad to get there and enjoy the beautiful view.

It might get a little boring to mention....but this host is also so friendly!

Heavens View - Cosby - Tennessee
Heavens View - Cosby - Tennessee
World's largest gas station: Buc-ee's in Sevierville Tennessee

We have been tipped a few times to go to Buc-ee's. Buc-ee's is an American chain of gas stations with low fuel prices, a great selection of food, car washes, merchandise and world records. They have won many awards with the cleanest restrooms and are also the world record holder with the largest gas station in Sevierville-Tennesse. And we are going to visit that one!

It is mega crowded there! For trucks it is forbidden access and for campers and cars with caravans it is difficult to park. They haven't made special spots for that. Many visitors leave the car at the pump and then visit the store. We first fill up at one of the 264 (!) pumps for only ? 0.83 liters/diesel and then find a parking space. 

The store at the gas station is not a size Walmart, but it is bigger than what you normally encounter. It's all about the marketing! A Buc-ee's mascot walks through the store and you can buy so many products Buc-ee's branded items. In terms of food, we find it just like any other fast food store: lots, greasy, sweet and expensive. You can't find anything at these kinds of stores that is “just” found in nature ? It is a nice experience to visit Buc-ee's though.

Continuing westward

Walnut Springs -Tennessee

After Buc-ee's we drive to our place to spend the night. This time that is a winery: Walnut Springs in Strawberry Plains - Tennesse. We are not wine drinkers, but they make everything here themselves and decide to do a tasting of sweet wines. Really so much fun and even delicious! We take a bottle home with us. Special flavors, nice conversations with the owners and a very nice place to sleep. Again, highly recommended!

Walnut Springs
Walnut Springs

Maryville – Tennessee

We drive to Maryville the next day. We spend the night through Boondockers Welcome at a host in a quiet residential neighborhood. When we arrive, no one is home. Robert calls the host and he tells him not to come home tonight. We may use electricity (we never need it) and water and pitch however we like.

The property is adjacent to a beautiful park. When we go for a walk later, we see free-to-use tennis courts, basketball courts, an athletic track and a nice place where all families gather to play games, have parties and/or barbecue. The sun is shining, all the trees are blossoming and the place is nice and busy.

Tullahoma – Tennessee

We visited the Jack Daniels distillery in 2014 and it was such a fun experience. We think it would be fun to visit this attraction again. We spend the night with Pamela & Phil - a retired couple - in the driveway. We are also allowed to use electricity and water again, and there is even a place to dump sewage. After we are in our spot, they would like to take a look at our camper. That is always possible!

In the evening it rains so hard....we are curious to see if it gets better during the day, as the eclipse should be easy to see from here.

We have in Tullahoma also the tastiest sushi ever eaten. Thank you Mike & Sanne and Carmen & Lorenzo for this wonderful birthday gift!

We stay 2 nights and after Phil (who became a pastor later in life) pronounces a blessing for us at his request, we hit the road again. We do stop once more at the Sushi restaurant ?

Tullahoma - Tennessee
Tullahoma - Tennessee

Bucks Ranch -Tennessee

The last stop in Tennessee is at Bucks Ranch in Waynesboro. As soon as we leave the highway, we drive through a hilly area with narrow and winding roads. When we arrive - in the middle of nowhere - the gate is closed and everything is deserted. We call the host, who tells us to open the gate ourselves and pick a spot.

It is always nice when it is very dark and quiet in the evening, but are glad when we leave the next morning. It is quite a nice place, but due to the rain of the previous day, it is a wet mess and on top of that all the ducks and the loose donkeys defecate everything.

Bucks Ranch
Bucks Ranch

Oak Lane – Hernando – Mississippi

It's fun to explore nice places along the way, but sometimes in this huge country it's just kilometers (miles) away. We spend the night tonight in Simon's stately oak tree-lined driveway. Simon is a purple heart veteran. Purple heart is a military award given in the name of the president to those who have been wounded or killed while serving in the U.S. Army. Simon talked a lot about it, really intense! 

This place is located in northern Mississippi about 20 minutes from Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley. Nice to visit once, we did this in 2014!

Oak Lane - Hernando - Mississippi
Oak Lane - Hernando - Mississippi
Tour of Jack Daniels factory in Lynchburg

This is one of those nice tour! You start with a short bus tour of the grounds, then walk through all the “parts” of making whiskey. Everyone knows each other! The father and uncle of our guide worked there and his daughter works there now. We also remembered that from the previous tour in 2014. The grounds are so beautifully cared for and the flower beds are full of flowering shrubs.For a factory, that immediately gives a cozy feeling. You are explained the entire process of making the whiskey and making the barrels. You walk through the factories and eventually get to the tasting room.

The funny thing is that the county (=county) of Moore, of which Lynchburg is a part, is a dry county. That means no alcohol can be sold and served in this county! Only in the Jack Daniels factory store.

As we wait to begin the tour, we watch from the Jack Daniels parking lot, a clear blue sky with a nearly full eclipse. The tour price is from $25 per person and RV parking is available in the parking lot.

Next stop Arkansas

We usually check in the evening whether we want to stay at our last destination or move on again. We are in no hurry, we know we will fly back to the Netherlands in June. We just don't know from which place yet, nor have we found a storage place for the RV. We have never been to Arkansas before and traveling through this state still gives many options to choose a direction to a great place for flying back.

 

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Jack Daniels - Lynchburg - Tennessee
Jack Daniels - Lynchburg - Tennessee
Jack Daniels - Lynchburg - Tennessee
Jack Daniels - Lynchburg - Tennessee