Up around 7.30am as we are off white water rafting today on the Upper Nolichucky. That sounds rather like something you would need to visit the doctor with.
‘Ive got this itch on my Nolichucky’
‘Upper or Lower?’
‘Rub this ointment in twice a day’

We have a quick breakfast and are on the road by 8.25am. We have to be at the white water rafting place by 9.45am, so this should be plenty of time.
As we are driving along it is very quiet on the roads. All of a sudden Tam shouts and I slam on the brakes as a deer leaps out in front of us and bounds across the road. We see it disappear up the bank on the other side, little white tail bobbing in the morning sunshine.

The map we have is very rudimentary and we are going by place names and signs. We know we have to pass through Elizabethton and so when we come to a T-junction we head in the direction of the sign. Bad mistake. 20 miles up the road we enter Mountain City. Now I’m sure that Mountain City is a perfectly lovely place and the good folks there welcome strangers with open arms, but it happens to be in the opposite direction to the one we should be going in.

We turn around and head back the way we have just come. It is becoming pretty clear that we are not going to make our appointed time for the rafting and Tam is nearly in tears as this is something she booked months ago and was one of the main things she wanted to do on this holiday. A few minutes later I am nearly in tears as she tells me that, if we don’t turn up, they keep our money!

We find a phone and Tam rings the white water rafting people while I quietly curse the sign positioning department of the Tennessee roads division.
Luckily Cherokee Adventures (the white water rafting people) are very good about the whole thing and switch our booking to tomorrow. We decide to drive up to the place anyway just so we know where it is. On the way we drive through Johnson City, which makes me smirk, as I know a little about American slang. I shan’t explain, just use your imagination.

We arrive at Cherokee Adventures and there is a restaurant next door so we stop for a drink happy in the knowledge that surely nothing can go wrong for tomorrow’s trip, can it?

Back on the road we travel down the 19W, which is an incredibly windy little road that follows the path of a river along the valley floor. It goes on for miles and miles and at such a slow pace that it takes an hour, but this is not a problem as it is beautiful.

We pass through meadows and forests and along the way are many lovely little houses and farms. They say every cloud has a silver lining and this has been ours. We may have missed the rafting, but if we hadn’t we wouldn’t have seen all of this.

We are now getting rather hungry, so before we get back on the Blue Ridge Parkway we look for somewhere to eat. I rather fancy chicken so we look for a chicken type restaurant, but not KFC. We pass loads of churches along with the usual ranks of McDonalds, Burger King and Pizza Hut, but no chicken joints. The good people of Tennessee have no shortage of places to go to satisfy their spiritual and fast food needs, but when it comes to chicken, their cup runneth dry.

We get fed up eventually and stop at a place called Western Sizzlin. This turns out to be quite fortuitous. Tam and I both have the Philly Chicken Sandwich, India has the Philly Steak Sandwich and Georgia has a hamburger. You get a choice of fries or baked potato or baked sweet potato with it. You can also have your choice of bread and desserts as well. With 4 cokes (refills free) the entire bill comes to $28.64! For less than 15 we have fed and watered 4 people and the ladies didn’t hold back on the dessert bar either. Ok, it’s not sophisticated food, but for value for money this place just can’t be beaten.

After eating we continue on to the Blue Ridge Parkway and drive along it northwards enjoying the scenery until we come to Linville Falls. This is pleasant enough, but after the monsters we saw in Yosemite a couple of years ago, these falls are in the minor leagues. Still, there is something about running water on a hot day that helps cool the soul. The couple of miles walk to get to the falls also helps burn off a few of the calories from the meal.

Back onto the Parkway and we cross Linville Cove Viaduct, which is very impressive and snakes round the side of the mountain while offering marvellous views of the surrounding mountains. Tam is trying to video as I drive and hangs her head out of the window like an old labrador. I can’t quite see, but I’m pretty sure her tongue is flapping about in the wind.

After being on the road since 8.30am, it’s about time to return to Majestic Manor. On the way we stop off at Food Lion (hooray!) and bypass Walmart (boo!) to get a few bits and pieces including a corkscrew, we’re not having a repeat of last night’s debacle.
We finally arrive back at 5.45pm. It’s been a lot of driving, but we’ve seen many parts of Tennessee and North Carolina we wouldn’t have otherwise seen.

I have a couple of beers and write up my trip report, Tam reads and the girls play pool. They are really enjoying being able to play as often as they like and Georgia in particular is happy to be getting better and is currently winning 5-4 in the battle with her sister.


Click the film strip above to see a video of our stay in Majestic Manor

After showers we enjoy a late dinner of shrimp cooked in garlic butter, salad and bread. It’s a simple meal, but is no less enjoyable than some of the more expensive meals we’ve eaten. The relatively healthy aspects of the meal are somewhat spoiled by the cookie dough ice cream and assorted chocolate goodies that are eaten for dessert.

After the meal there are several shrimp left over and the girls want to find the cats. There is a mother cat with a broken leg and 4 kittens that seem to have attached themselves to the house. Whether they belong here or not I don’t know, but there are many tins of cat food around, so the girls have been feeding them.
India says she feels good for giving the cats shrimp; it’s her good deed for the day. I point out that this might not be such a good deed when the place becomes infested with feral cats. This falls on deaf ears.

At this point Tam decides she must get in the hot tub as she wants to do it in the dark. Don’t ask me why, she’s just strange. The girls come running up giggling to tell me she is in the nude. Well, I do what any good husband would do on such an occasion and attempt to video her through the cracks in the balcony above. Such footage is invaluable for future blackmail.

Kev: ‘Shall we buy that rather lovely statue of Jessica Rabbit I’ve always wanted?’
Tam: ‘No’
Kev: ‘Ok. I’m just off to post that nude hot tub video of you on Youtube’

Unfortunately the footage is not clear enough to identify the offending body and all potential blackmail has failed.

A few games of pool round off the evening. In the last frame Georgia and India beat me and Tam. I slink off to bed blaming my partner.