This is our first mini adventure in the USS Land Yacht (The Van)! I went home to Roanoke VA to visit my father for fathers day the week prior to the real fathers day because I had a long weekend off work. On the day I returned he mentioned I should take the Van in the chance that maybe we could take some small mini trips in it. To give some details, the van is an old high top conversion van that we have done some work to so that you can sleep in the van, store food, etc.
So Kristen and I took the van over to the Roan Highlands in western NC for the weekend to do some hiking around Carvers Gap. We planned on spending the evening there and then waking up the next morning to do some hiking before heading back home. We were also going to meet my dad in the same location so we could still do some fathers day activities with him although the plans changed once we made it to our destination.
![blogPics](/static/img/165/van.jpg "Van Life")
Upon arriving to the carvers gap parking area, we quickly discovered that the rest of NC must have had the same idea because the parking area was PACKED. We had a difficult time trying to find a place to park in general. And once we say the start of the hike, we had concerns for hiking as this was still in the middle of the corona virus outbreak and the area seemed it would be hard to social distance. On thinking this, my dad ate lunch with us in the van a ways away from the start of the hike and decided to head back home in hopes to avoid any additional risk. We weren't super comfortable going out in to the crowd of people either, but we took our chances and did our best to stay as far away from folks as we could.
![blogPics](/static/img/165/forest.jpg "Cool trees")
The hike itself was a really beautiful hike. There were some wildflowers popping up over the highlands and the fields were absolutely stunning to look at. You get excellent panoramic views as you pass over the balds on the way. It would be a beautiful spot to day camp.
![blogPics](/static/img/165/view.jpg "Blue Ridge Views")
As we headed back we also tried to get in a quick visit to Roan High Knob which is the home of the highest shelter on the Appalachian trail. It sits about a.3 miles from the parking area and give you great wooded views as you hike between the spruce-fir forests of the highlands. We've been in this environment before while at the Grayson Highlands but this area of Appalachia are a globally rare ecosystem which is neat to go through.
After we finished hiking, we made our way to our campsite. We ended up staying at a real campsite to make sure we could get showers as the van doesn't have that convenience yet. And once we got there and cleaned up, we made some dinner over the jet-boil and did some reading of Harry Potter before getting comfy in our beds in the van and getting to sleep. Kristen didn't even have to break her ice cream addiction as we remembered to pack freeze dried ice cream sandwiches!
![blogPics](/static/img/165/icecream.jpg "Ice cream sandwich")
The next morning we woke up bright and early to make it over to Hawksbill Mountain to get in a quick sunrise hike (only about a 1 miles hike). Unfortunately we were about 5 minutes to late to catch the sunrise at the peak of the mountain but we did get to see it on our way up and it was a beautiful site. We enjoyed a nice oatmeal breakfast at the top as the sun continued to rise.
![blogPics](/static/img/165/sunrise.jpg "sunrise hike")
The views at the top were amazing - especially given that it was a relatively short hike!
![blogPics](/static/img/165/hawksbill.jpg "View from the top")
Once we made it down we decided to do one last hike before heading home - so we headed over to Linville Gorge (where Kristen had just visited a few months back). Here we did some hiking to see the Linville Falls which was a beautiful view. We then hiked down towards the river to get a bottom view and it was so peaceful there we decided to lay on the rocks and take a nap.
![blogPics](/static/img/165/falls.jpg "Linville Falls")
Our last bit of adventure for the day was trying to get some lunch on our way home. We stopped at Rascal Jacks Sandwich Shack and I had a Cuban sandwich while Kristen had a Southwest Turkey sandwich. It was so good AND the cooks had back Mango Muffins to give out to their customers. It was Excellent and the smoked pork on my Cuban was soo good! I would definitely recommend them if you can find them!
![blogPics](/static/img/165/lunch.jpg "sandwich shack")