Atlantic – Appalachian Mountains

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The time of waiting was long despite a varied program in Atlantic City and the surrounding area. It was also the time when we could think about our “company” and again and again the question arose whether it was right to go on such a journey with an older “lady” – our jeep.

Finally it was Monday afternoon and we could take our jeep back into our possession. The Jeep workshop had dismantled the entire interior of the front axle, the defective parts – now the interior of the front axle should support our progress for the next X- thousand kilometres. When we picked them up, the mechanic in charge made it clear to us that some important part had been incorrectly assembled in the last workshop. Whew, we were lucky and we learned: Next time we’ll go to the right workshop immediately!

By the time all the paperwork was done, it was dark already, so that we searched again for our night’s rest in the nearby park, in order to leave early the following day; tomorrow we absolutely want to set up our night’s camp further south.

So we roamed in a zigzag the remaining kilometres in New Jersey, through farm areas, followed by wide forests and marshlands.

The Cape May is close to the coast again in the grip of the recreation-seeking people and the wonderful holiday residences occupy the whole landscape in the shore area.

At the ferry port we were a bit jagged and already we had our tickets in our hands for the next crossing to Lewes/Delaware. Actually there would have been this and that to admire here, but – we wanted to go south into the warmth.

In about 2 hours we stood at the pier of a new state and the USA is not always the same as the USA. Each state has its own characteristics, but also different shopping possibilities and other food chains. Also with the goods other tax rates apply everywhere. In Delaware there is no VAT on products and services, which leads to a certain amount of shopping tourism from neighbouring countries. Our car repair would also have been a few hundred dollars cheaper.

In the dunes of Cape Honolpen we enjoyed the last night at the Atlantic, listened to the wind blowing through the open pine forest and the surf of the nearby Atlantic, until someday our dreams caught up with us.

After a short farewell round to the sea we left the coastal region, headed westwards, wandered through wide fields and saw huge chicken farms where apparently all our appetite for chicken is satisfied.

Delaware is the second smallest federal state, so we drove through it very fast and already we were in Maryland. Neither landscape nor farm business changed anything; flat, wide fields with correspondingly large farm buildings and machines, but also smaller settlements and wide forest areas belong to the landscape.

We crossed the Chesapeake Bay – a huge bay that stretches far inland – over a gigantic bridge, which can probably only be experienced in the New World.

As soon as we had reached the “mainland”, we did not follow the fastest, but the pleasure route through the hilly hinterland to Washington D.C.

First there were very lovely areas with fields, wooded valley incisions, followed by more and more noble residential areas and – the closer we approached the capital – more and more administration buildings.

Due to a mutual misunderstanding we erroneously drove to the center of Washington D.C. and around the White House, fought our way out of this traffic chaos by the evening rush hour into a park, where we could finally put down our “house” for the next days late in the evening.

Probably Washington’s visit to the Europeans is not the first priority. But this city is always worth a visit and offers something for all interests.

The whole complex from the Lincoln Memorial over the White House up to the Capitol, which was built after the French model, overwhelmed us totally. Beside many memorials that should remind the humanity of less glorious times, one finds along the Mall X any museums that can offer something for every taste.

We (or only Thomas. Chantal waited outside with his big pocket knife, which he mistakenly had in his trouser pocket and didn’t get through the entrance control!) spent a lot of time in the Space Museum, but also in the Indian Museum (…Chantal was there again!), where there were some “aha” on our side.

After so many centres and museums, we soon noticed the urban exodus again and longed for more quiet areas. Soon our things were packed and we fled westwards through the northern bacon belt of Washington D.C. into more rural areas until the last villas in the rear-view mirror disappeared and followed the Potomac River to the northwest.

The clouds were already very low when we drove up the eastern ridge of the Appalachian Mountains and reached the Shenandoah-Nat. park. Whether it was rain or fog, we saw almost nothing from the first kilometers of the Skyline-Drive! So we stopped our trip at the next campground at 850m.a.s.l. and prepared ourselves for the night in pouring rain. And, we trembled like little lapdogs towards the next morning; it was really freezing cold and we already had a bad foreboding that the following morning snow could lie in front of our mobile home.

Thank God there was no snow yet, but it continued to rain and meanwhile everything was somehow damp or wet. I brewed us another coffee; we somehow packed our seven things into the jeep and with full heating power we continued over the Skyline-Drive.

The warmth and the comfort returned slowly and already the sun looked out sparsely behind the clouds. The cloud cover lifted more and more and made the view over the western as well as eastern landscape clear. And, the further we drove over this “sky way”, which was put on between 1933 – 1942 by the American Kriesenprogramm, the more impressive the whole spectacle became. At the many vantage points, one could hardly get enough of the vastness and nature, already the next scenic attraction followed.

The skyline is followed by the Blue Ridge Drive, which forms a kind of Vorsetzung and continues over the Appalachian mountain ranges in a southwesterly direction. We experienced the whole thing as a kind of mixture of Black Forest, Vosges and Jura, only that everything is much further and endlessly big.

And again and again unexpected things appeared, which we hardly suspected here and old museums, which are lovingly maintained by volunteers. And, for animal surprises one had to be ready at all times, whether during the day or at night, there was always something moving.

The weather: The longer we drove over the ridges, the more it showed its best side.
Since the rainy start into the Appalachian Mountains we covered almost 800 kilometres and up to the Smoky Nat. park we saw neither a traffic light nor a stop – a crazy thing!

We drove through Smoky Nat Park on an ordinary Wednesday, but there was a lot going on on-road, as if it was the last day before the big snow. We climbed the Clingmans Dome with its proud 2012m.a.s.l. in dense fog and without any possibility to see the unique view. But there was an afternoon traffic jam at the Cades-Cove and instead of animals standing somewhere in the wide fields, the brake lights of the man in front had to be noticed. Interestingly, the Americans take it very easy and sneak through nature. We are not allowed to complain on our part, because we want to do it like them and experience nature from the tin can.

In the state triangle North-Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia there are, besides the Smoky-Nat-Park, several large forest areas, which belong to the national forests and offer almost even bigger leisure possibilities than the Smoky-Nat-Park.

After many crossings, long valleys and endless curves, the rainy weather and lower temperatures caught up with us again.

Some Friday afternoon we were standing in the bacon belt of Atlanta and – the windscreen wipers were wiping at maximum speed – we were looking for a place to stay for the next night.
But here in Georgia we found the sign “closed” in front of every possible place to stay; apparently all campground attendants have already gone into hibernation!


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