Thick Fog, Red Hot Brakes and Bear Bait

I have not done justice to the northeastern United States, only moaned about their traffic. Looking back over previous blog posts, I’ve not even written a travelogue just a catalogue of disasters, idle musings and rants. Oh well.

We left northern Tennessee, having timed a four week visit to the UK perfectly to miss the whole of autumn; all the glorious fall color of the Cumberland Mountains, the Smokies, the Appalachians and the Blue Ridge Mountains came and went. It was a good one by all accounts.

The Smoky Mountains doing their thing. Looking smoky!
The Smoky Mountains doing their thing. Looking smoky!

Our trek towards Chattanooga would have been a pretty drive with a few spots of color clinging tenaciously to the trees but for rain completely obscuring the views. Clouds hung in wisps on the forested hillsides so it did have some appeal in a gray and dreary sort of way.

There was no entertainment value in the thick fog we encountered. Visibility was zero so road signs and cars would pop up out of nowhere making me jump and grab the armrests, like a baby grabs a teddy or pops his thumb in his mouth when startled. I would like to have done all three with the aid of a teddy and a third arm.

An car from time to time gave us tail lights to follow at an almost safe distance and we relaxed until it turned off. When we were leader of the pack we were driving into a white wall leaning as far forward as our seatbelts would allow as if that extra foot would make a difference.

English: Clouds blanket the Forney Ridge Parki...
Boo! I’m a tree! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At junctions the road lines would disappear and I was convinced we were going to fall off the edge of the earth. Each time it happened, I took a deep, last breath only letting it out in tiny increments, making myself dizzy. The whole experience was made more exciting by towing our heavy trailer and knowing that we couldn’t stop as quickly as I would have liked despite the extra pressure I constantly applied to the floor mats on my side.

The descent into Chattanooga was a roller coaster of steep twists and bends in the road but as we dropped out of the cloud cover and the road ahead appeared clearly, Jimmy relaxed and took the car out of low gear. We could see Chattanooga.

Low on fuel Jimmy pulled into the first gas station we came to, both of us fortunately too wound up by our narrow escape from imagined disaster to notice the bold OPENING SOON sign. Jimmy was puzzled as to why his credit card wouldn’t work in the gas pump and I complained to him about the lack of toilet paper and paper towels in the restrooms until it was pointed out to us that the garage was still under construction.

It was a lucky oversight as we then noticed that our brakes were smoking furiously so we took the opportunity to have our lunch in the charming surroundings of the garage forecourt while they cooled down.

Our first night of this leg was spent at Fort Mountain State Park, Georgia, a seven mile zig zag course up a mountainside and another slow crawl ensued, but worth it as the picturesque state park was thickly wooded and carpeted with newly fallen leaves. The trailer was parked on level ground but our car, still hitched up to the trailer, sat nose up at a jaunty angle.

091203TennKeys 003
There we are! All alone in the woods.

The woodland setting called to us and we had arrived in time to walk around the nearby lake just before dark.

As we relaxed afterward with a glass of wine in our cozy trailer, Jimmy read out the campground information, “Campers are advised to put all trash in the designated containers before 3 p.m. each day due to increased black bear activity in the area.”

This suggests to me that bears get the munchies after 3 p.m.

Our trailer is just across the lake. Can bears swim? Yes they can!
Our trailer is just across the lake. Can bears swim? Yes they can!

There we were tramping hand in hand, kicking crispy leaves and filling our lungs with pine forest scent, carefree and oblivious, and what were we?


25 thoughts on “Thick Fog, Red Hot Brakes and Bear Bait

  1. Did you see the Chattanooga choochoo??? I loooove that song. Feel for you with the fog issue – driving in the fog gives me the willies. I’m glad you didn’t finish up ad bear bait – the most exotic thing that ever went through my dustbin was a racoon in Florida.


    1. We didn’t see the Chattanooga choochoo but we did go way down upon the Suwannee River! I know raccoons are a pest but I think they are cute. We were drinking wine and eating corn chips around the campfire once and a raccoon came to within six feet of us, stood up and put his little paws out as if to say, “Can I please have one?” Awww.


      1. Oh, we shared with racoons too, in Florida – it’s true that they are cute. But I saw them raid my bin as a gang – it was the Italian Mafia with stripey fur coats.
        When the midwide suggested that we bury the placenta in the garden and plant a tree on top (but that’s another story), I had images of the racoon squad dragging it down the road like one of those anti-fur coat campaigns.


  2. I saw the most adorable/deadly bear swimming at the zoo this summer so yes– they definitely can swim! Your pictures are lovely and I happen to be a fan of blogs that are”a catalogue of disasters, idle musings and rants” so I think we shall get along well.


  3. I would have put a hole through the floor of the car with all my imaginary breaking. Drives my husband nuts.
    The area does look really beautiful, but I can see how the drive would take years off your life. Glad you made it safe. And that you weren’t eaten by bears.


  4. It is a great recount of the trip.. and I can picture you both, eyeballs to the windscreen peering into the clouds… done that myself so I can say eyeballs to the windscreen… as for Bear Bait… hubby wasn’t worried, he can probably run faster than you…


      1. I was chased by an elephant once, there were three of us… I came second made sure I could out run at least one of the others… he discarded his shirt which distracted the elllie and we were all safe… but now at this stage I just have to outrun Linda… but I have a better solution now, I don’t get out of the car and I know it can out run all animals… so the answer, don’t go walk about in the wrong areas… lol


  5. Great story. I too have one of those imaginary brake pedals on the passenger side of our truck. I know how scary drives like that are. Does look like a great campsite 🙂


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