Posted by: carogouin | August 11, 2009

our first summit

From Damascus, Virginia we spent 3 hours driving through Tennessee. It looks strikingly similar to Maryland, with lush foliage on either side of the highway – until we hit an over developed mess called Pigeon Forge, which we aptly named Vegas of the East. Now I haven’t been to Vegas, but I can imagine with the many hotels, motels, Titanic replicas, upside down buildings and other kitschy attractions – we had hit the tourist promise land. Pat and I quickly drove through to avoid tainting our new simplistic lifestyle. We finally arrived at our destination: Cosby Campground in the Smoky Mountains National Park.

Our home in its element

Our home in its element

Although there were sadly no showers, the campground was very well structured and maintained. The next day we went on a long hike up to Mount Cammerer – 3,000 feet of climbing and 12-mile round trip. The trail itself was pretty steep, but we paced ourselves and even managed to see 2 black bears along the way! One female (we only caught a glimpse) and one big male high on the ridge who stared right at us. Unfortunately, these moments were quite fleeting and we didn’t have time to take pictures. Two bear sightings on day # 3 – not bad at all. When we finally reached the top, there was an old fire look-out with a 360 degree view of the Smokies – breathtaking! We ate our much deserved lunch, enjoyed the views, signed the guest book and headed back down. See below some pictures from the hike.

Hiking up towards the AT

Hiking up towards the AT

The trail crossed a beautiful stream, in which we dunked ourselves after the hike to cool off.

The trail crossed a beautiful stream, in which we dunked ourselves after the hike to cool off.

Caro looking out for fires

Caro looking out for fires

The Mt. Cammerer lookout

The Mt. Cammerer lookout

hike slow and you'll be amazed what you find

Hike slow and you'll be amazed what you find

All packed up and ready to go.

All packed up and ready to go.



  1. The car tent is awesome!

  2. Hi Pat and Caroline! Thanks for the eMail with the link to the blog. I want to follow your journey, I’m envious!

  3. What the heck is that tent! Amazing that someone even thought of that. Hope you all are doing well and enjoying the trip. Don’t forget Graceland in Memphis!

  4. The smokies are great place, especially on the Townsend side of the park. It is funny you say Piegon Forge looks like Vagas because Lindsay and I thought the same thing when we went a few years ago. Have Fun!!!

  5. It’s great to be able to follow your journeys. Thanks for staying in touch as you are on the road.

  6. Caroline it looks like an awesome trip already!!! And sadly, yes Pigeon Forge is like a mini vegas! Good thing you didn’t go all the way to Gatlinburg, it gets worse. Enjoy your trip 🙂

  7. So glad to see you are blogging! Luke asked if he could take a nap in Uncle Pat’s tent after reading your post.

  8. Sweet. Keep the post coming!

  9. Viva Tejas! Hey ya’ll. I was wondering how you were going to make it from Tennessee to Austin so quickly on bicycles! Looks like you’re starting off well on a grand adventure. Can’t wait to see you this weekend.

  10. I love the tent of top of the jeep. I’ve been back for less than a month and already I feel like getting back on the road. I’ll be living ‘through’ your adventure this year, you inspired me for my first trip… who knows, maybe I’ll take on South America next. Take care, safe travels.

  11. Great to see you are off to a good start. We look forward to keeping track of you!

  12. We are with you in spirit. Keep the details coming!


  13. Congrats on the start of your long awaited trip. We were sorry not to have been able to say goodbye. Loving the posts and pics already…keep em coming!
    Lots of love wherever you happen to be right now.

  14. The roof tent looks totally at home in the Smoky Mountains! So excited the adventure has begun! Love the snail and please be careful of the bears. Update us again soon!


  15. Another travel blog. I love it!. Anyhoo, Smokey Mountains is awesome. It’s one of my favorite travel destinations. If you have a chance, stop in Pigeon Forge. It’s Ocean City in the mountains.

    Keep them pics comin!

  16. Hey guys!
    Glad to see you are off to a great start in banjo country!I see that your ‘tree house” is already a real hit! I passed your blog site to all my brothers and sisters, and even to Jeff, your former landlord who was asking about you two this morning at Rotary. Watch for the bear and stay cool while Mom and I are babystting Alexandre over the weekend!

  17. Hey guys, thanks for sending the blog our way. Hope your having a great time and we’ll definitely be checking your progress and interested in the updates. If your course ends up veering closer to the Pacific let us know!

    Terry and Ashley

  18. I’ll be looking forward to reading of your unfolding adventures, I’m on board for the ride. Car looks awesome, and I notice you’ve “reconsidered” driving the Panama Canal…

  19. Hi guys! Thanks for forwarding the blog. I am excited to follow your journey. Be safe and have fun! I’ll be checking back frequently, so keep the info and pics coming!

  20. I’m happy your blog is off and running! I’m looking forward to following you two! I couldn’t help red penning a few things while I read, though. Tsk, tsk, Caro. 🙂
    We’re off to our little vacation, probably the complete opposite of yours! A nice break among all the house hunting and perhaps a last little hurrah before the big purchase… It may be sooner than we thought. I’ll keep you posted.
    Bon voyage!

  21. All right!!! I bet that limo made you guys jealous. You could probably fit the Jeep with mirrors and christmas lights all over the inside to make it more posh…

    Are you still in Cosby? There is a mexican restaurant there called The Front Porch that is BYOB and there is rowdy bluegrass on Saturday nights. Not sketchy; mostly river guides and younger local people.

  22. Hi guys! Thanks for the great blog to follow as you journey across the US and then south. Be safe and have a wonderful time. I look forward to checking in frequently! 🙂

  23. Loving the blog! Thanks for letting us experience the trip with you. We were disappointed that we couldn’t make the send off, but glad that we will be able to keep up to date with what you’re up to. At some point can you explain how that tent works? It looks like a major balancing act! 🙂

  24. Salut Caro et Patrick!
    Discovering the blog. It is fantastic to be able to follow your adventure. I believed that mom should have a computer to be able to benefit from your trip. When Louis went to Europe, in 1966, she followed the trip with needles on a map. I will suggest to Suzanne to show her your blog. This tent on the top of the car… what to say!? Caro, it is a pleasure to read what you write, it is well written. Keep notes, you never know. I helped an individual, in 1999, to write his trip around the world, on a bike, and the editor was looking for feelings and soul. Hugs and kisses from Ottawa xx

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