We started our year long trip, Travels in Liberty, on June 3rd, 2017. Our starting mileage was 231,423. Let’s see if she can last us the whole year and how many miles we put on her before we finish the trip.

After packing up our apartment on May 31st, we spent a couple nights with Francis’s mom so we could put the last minute touches on the car and tie up a few loose ends.

Finally, Saturday morning, we were ready to get on the road. We had to make one last stop at Harbor Freight for something to secure our step ladder to our roof rack. A quick trip through the McDonald’s drive through for coffee and we were on our way.

Our first destination was the Smoky Mountains. In all our travels, we had never made it to the national park closest to home. We put on the audio book we had been listening to on our last trip and enjoyed the scenic drive. We drove a good portion on the Blue Ridge Parkway. As much as we love the west, North Carolina is really a beautiful state.

We had found a place with free dispersed camping in the Pisgah National Forest and planned to spend our first night there. Apparently we were not the only ones with that idea. When we made it to Yellow Gap Road, there were a number of really nice campsites with tent pads, fire rings, and picnic tables. Sadly, every one of them were taken. After a lengthy drive, we found a primitive spot tucked in the trees. No tent pad, or picnic table but it would have to do as it was getting late.

The ground was too wet for the tent so we opted to spend our first night sleeping in the jeep. We had it reconfigured for this trip, so this was our first time sleeping in the new design. The bed is lower but more narrow. As usual, the amount of gear we carry requires moving things into the front seat to make space to sleep. Finding the ideal arrangement is always a work in progress. After a quick dinner of protein bars, it was time for bed. Only 364 days left to go.