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I'm somewhere in Tennessee, regrouping for the next section of my journey.

Texas, here I come!

I DID IT!!! It's a satisfying feeling to be pleased with yourself. :) I'm so happy I did not bail out on this experience; that I did not let all the anxious feelings, I had before stop me from spending my week in the Smoky.

The first two days, the temperature was in the mid-60's during the day and mid-40's at night. But then it drops to the mid-50's and at night mid-20's. It was hard. Most of it was a mental challenge. I could fall asleep because I turned my heat on for a bit, but that didn't last long. I put on many layers, my fleece blanket, and my sleeping bag, but I was shivering by the early morning hours. Where are the hot flashes when you need them? Every time I've proven myself through an experience that I thought was impossible, it just makes me a bit stronger and more confident in my abilities. It's a fantastic feeling.

I know it seems like I am a strong woman. Maybe I am?! You might be surprised to know that I was a very timid little girl even up to my early 40's. I was so afraid of my own shadow. You needed a flashlight to find my confidence and my self-esteem. Trying to survive my physically and emotionally abusive childhood with my dad left me weak, but through small steps, I prevailed. It's impossible even to recognize the person I used to be.

Remember, small steps forward.

I left Brevard on Saturday morning, finishing the last part of the Blue Ridge. Unfortunately, the way I got a campsite reservation wasn't what I had planned. My first two nights were at Cades Cove campground in Tennessee, and then I had a reservation for four nights at Smokemont campground In North Carolina. So I went forward to go backward. Again, I was proven wrong, and the "unfortunately" became a great way to view the scenic road in the Smoky Mountains from two different views.

I'm trying not to repeat the same mistake and I got up early to get a parking spot at the head trail of Abrams Falls. It's Sunday, and if yesterday's traffic in the park indicates the number of people visiting Smoky NP, then I better start very early. The gate to Cades Cove scenic road opens at 7:30. I'm camping just outside the gate. At 7:40, I'm at the gate with millions of other cars.

Oh wow, I didn't think it would be so packed early in the morning. So, of course, I'm a bit annoyed. My plans are being manipulated, which is not how I would like them to be. The fastest I go is 5 miles per hour, so I am annoyed even more. But what happened next surprised me. My attitude shifted, and I realized if I went any faster, I would miss all the small details this beautiful road had to offer. If anything has happened in the last three weeks, it is that my perspective is changing, and I LOVE IT!

It's Tuesday morning. It's been raining all night. Nevertheless, I was able to get ready in the morning between the drops. My trees and my earth need water, so whom am I to complain? Driving in the Smoky on a rainy day presents beautiful colors of foliage. The sun is trying to come out between the clouds, and the ray of light creates a stunning canvas.

Tips from my experience.

  • I take two to three over-the-door bathroom hooks to the campground bathroom, so I have a place where I can hang my clothes or any other bags I don't want to put on the ground.

  • I was in a "no service" mood on my phone most of the time. Luckily, I downloaded the area ahead of time on google maps.

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