Here’s where our 2017 summer journey begins…
“Mom, I got a job in Austin, Texas but only have one day between jobs. I’ll need to fly there to start on time, but I need my car.”
That was the phone call I got back in June from my youngest, Katie. Now, we could’ve shipped the car. But luckily, Katie has parents who love a good road trip, so, without an ounce of hesitation, I said, “Dad and I will drive it out.”
The best way to get a sense of a place is by driving through it. You get the lay of the land, a glimpse of an area’s historic sites you didn’t know existed, an idea about the people who live there (I need to stop every two hours for a bathroom break), and even get to sample where the locals might eat.
Bill and I scoured the map, marking the trail from Connecticut to Texas and then finding landmarks to visit–even if they were a little out of our way.
The first landmark we detoured to see after an overnight in Blacksburg, VA (where we were wowed by a quick tour of Virginia Tech!) was the infamous Cumberland Mountain Gap. A little history:
The Cumberland Gap is nature’s passage through the Cumberland Mountains between Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. One of three natural breaks in the rugged Appalachian Mountain range, it served as a gateway in prehistoric times, when Native Americans used it as a footpath and buffalo used it to seek greener pastures.
In 1769, Daniel Boone explored the area and in 1775 he blazed the 200-mile trail known as Boone’s Path or Boone’s Road. The trail, beginning at the Gap, passed through Virginia to Kentucky’s Bluegrass Region.
After a beautiful drive headed west, we reached the western tip of Virginia and crossed into Kentucky. Soon we reached the Cumberland Gap State Park, where a drive filled with twists and turns led us to to the pinnacle, an overlook into the path used by the settlers after Daniel Boone blazed the trail. Please note our GPS, a Dramamine inducing sight for me.
There’s even a spot up here where a short hike lands you in the exact spot where the Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee all meet! So, technically, you could stand in three states at once.
The gap was a detour from Nashville–a more direct drive to our final destination of Texas. But it was well worth a few extra hours of driving. Besides gorgeous views, this area has a rich history that includes many Civil War stories.
In short, these two history buffs loved every second of our visit to the Cumberland Gap. Here are a few pictures from our day, but they don’t do justice to the beauty we saw through our very own eyes.
Our next stop will be Nashville. Has anybody else been to the gap? I’d love to hear from you.
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Sharon’s travels to Europe have inspired her latest women’s fiction series. The first is The Sweet Life, set in Tuscany, a place near and dear to her heart…
In Italy, the best attractions are always off the beaten path . . .
Mamie Weber doesn’t know why she survived that terrible car accident five years ago. Physically, she has only a slight reminder—but emotionally, the pain is still fresh. Deep down she knows her husband would have wanted her to embrace life again. Now she has an opportunity to do just that, spending two weeks in Tuscany reviewing a tour company for her employer’s popular travel guide series. The warmth of the sun, the centuries-old art, a villa on the Umbrian border—it could be just the adventure she needs.
But with adventure comes the unexpected . . . like discovering that her entire tour group is made up of aging ex-hippies reminiscing about their Woodstock days. Or finding herself drawn to the guide, Julian, who is secretly haunted by a tragedy of his own, and seems to disapprove any time she tries something remotely risky—like an impromptu scooter ride with a local man.
As they explore the hilltop towns of Tuscany, Mamie knows that when this blissful excursion is over, she’ll have to return to reality. But when you let yourself wander, life can take some interesting detours . . .
For more visit her website.