Limping out of the Jiffy Lube, we were forced to slowly drive through the lush, green hillsides of the Smokey Mountains. Slowly is the way to drive, but slowly while nervously waiting for a wheel to fall off makes the drive a bit more stressful. We resigned ourselves to the idea that we were probably okay to make it to Chattanooga, so we kept it below 40 and prayed.
The Great Smokey Mountains of North Carolina
Like every trip, we wished for more time here. Especially here, however, as the drive from Murphy, NC on 74 East features scenic treat after scenic treat. The road winds between two high hill ranges (sorry, I’m from the NW and those were not mountains) as it follows a river towards it’s source. The rough water have made this area prime whitewater rafting territory, so we gazed upon rafters and their buses for long stretches of the road, while at other times saw nothing but old rope-bridges and scenic pathways.
Make it to Chattanooga we did, however. Our AirBnb was on top of a hill of all things, so the last little bit really caused us to lose some centimeters of fingernail. We arrived in fine form with a mobile vehicle, however, so all was good.
Our AirBnb was North of downtown close to the river, so we parked in a grocery store to check out the river before picking up food and checking in. This gave us our first taste of Chattanooga, a city that offers a lot more than one might originally think. The entrance to the park was our first hint: hard to catch at first, this funky alley led to a series of features and small shops that make a pleasant afternoon.
At the park we found one of my favorite memories from Chattanooga. For many decades the park has had a really neat, $1 carousel that is just a bunch of fun. Fin absolutely loved it and Shiz and I adored the individual animals and all the pipe organs on display. It’s so well worth the visit.
Sadly, this was about as much of Chattanooga as I was able to see. Be it due to stress, too much driving, or a combination thereof, the Achilles’ tendon on my right foot inflamed and kept me at home for most of our time here. The only respite from the house I received was by driving the car around looking for mechanics (of which there were none who wanted to work on a Westfalia).
Shiz and Fin of course went out to explore and found some truly wonderful street art, a neat walking bridge over the river, and lots of little gems all around the city. I stayed at home and discovered that Chattanooga is home of Moon Pies and watch Netflix’s GLOW (it’s really good).
In the end we were not able to fix the Westy here, but we did learn that the transaxle was shot. That’s a 2-3 week job minimum and we were 3 days away from the Solar Eclipse and AirBnb reservations in Nashville that we somehow found for less than $100 per day, so we bit the bullet and towed the Westy to Nashville.
We didn’t have a lot of money to do so, and long haul tow trucks were quoting over $800, so we found the best solution we could think of:
Off to Nashville!!