We arrived in Asheville hoping to spend a few days hanging out, connecting with like minded folk and it didn’t quite turn out that way. Apparently, we are not cool enough to stand out in Asheville. Don’t get me wrong, we enjoyed our time there and definitely would like to go back and visit but it live up to our expectations for what were hoping for on this trip. Before our arrival we had gotten advice on some places to check out for food and beer. Apparently, like Portland Asheville is known for its breweries. When we arrived in the mid-afternoon we thought we would grab some lunch at one of the breweries that was recommended to us. However, parking a bus in a city is as difficult as you would think and we weren’t able to find a good spot. Google however directed us to Wedge Brewery in the River Arts District. It had a huge parking lot for us to park in. It turned out not to have food, just beer. But while we drank our beer we exchanged stories with the bartender about his experience in a veggie oil bus on tour. Somehow, it didn’t come across as excited but more of a been there done that kind of thing. He did recommended we try 12 Bones for some BBQ in walking distance. And best yet, he told us we could park the bus in their parking lot over night. Later that day we met up Amy and Elliot, a couple who had volunteered with us on Ometepe. They told us that there were many converted school buses in the Asheville area, which explained the kind of blase response we were getting. In the end we decided to head out in the morning and aim for Atlanta.
We had planned our route along the Appalachian Trail hoping to be take scenic mountain roads. When we were in Virginia Skyline Drive was closed because of weather and we encounter the same thing in North Carolina. The Blue Ridge Parkway was closed due to ice and weather, so we hugged the outskirts of the mountains on our way out instead. Even though it wasn’t the “scenic route” it was certainly pretty scenic. We stopped at the Eastern Continental Divide and crossed into South Carolina on a mountain road.
We stopped in South Carolina to hit a grocery store and pick up some little things in a hardware store. The response we got from the people there was much more what we had been hoping for in Asheville. People wanted to know all about the bus and our journey. We even picked up a new facebook follower from that stop. Our goal had been to try and head all the way to Atlanta that day but we stopped about two hours out at Victoria Bryant State Park, not to far over the Georgia line. We found the peace and quiet of nature refreshing after the stay the night before in the parking lot and decided we’ll aim for state parks, national parks and wooded campsites in the future.
Victoria Bryant State Park
Next stop was Atlanta, where we were going to visit our friend Laura, whom we had met in Guatemala about a week after Trevor and I met. Her friends Stuart and Ashely were kind enough to offer to open their home to us so we didn’t have try and navigate the bus in and out of the city. On our way we met a guy driving another skoolie (converted school bus). I took some photos and he took some photos. He, like everyone else, had a bunch of questions about the solar array. It was nice to see someone else driving in their skoolie as well.
We got to Ashley and Stuart’s house in the afternoon. We were joined by Laura’s friend Daniel, who we had met when we met Laura. He has recently returned from several years working as a dive instructor on Utila, Honduras. Finding our selves all kindred spirits we stayed up much later than any of us should have but in the end had a wonderful night. The next day Laura took us around Atlanta and to the Decatur International Farmers Market. We returned to spend another night with Ashley and Stuart before we continued on our journey. They have a son, who is two and a half, and he took a liking to Trevor but was never able to remember his name. So he simply called him “the man on the bus.” The warmth and hospitality they showed us was beyond anything we expected and we are beyond pleased to have met such kindhearted people and now call them friends.
Yesterday, it was time to move on. So we got up in the morning and were all set to be on the road by 9:30 am. Unfortunately, the ground where we had parked the bus was wet and muddy and we couldn’t get enough traction to get up the driveway. Luckily this was a situation where brains rather than brawn was needed to get us out. The bus weighs 25,000 lbs so there was no way Laura, Ashley and I were going to push it out. After only 30 minutes we came up with a solution and were again on our way.
Ashley gave us some great travel advice and our goal for the day was Gulf Shores, AL. As is often the case, we fell a bit short of that goal. We stopped for the night at Magnolia Branch Wildlife Refuge instead. I’m getting better at finding good camp grounds for us to stay in and this was one of the best so far.
When we woke up this morning it was 54 degrees which was a nice change from the below freezing temperatures we had been dealing with before. Across from our camp site was a small pond, and around the corner a creek. We lingered a bit this morning before we got on the road again. Tonight’s goal is a state park just outside of New Orleans. We figure we’ll get up in the morning and head into the city, get some breakfast and maybe wander a bit. Then the next goal is Texas- which is HUGE and then across our first border.