Side Trip to the East Tennessee North Carolina

July Travels – Side Trip to the East

Last we left off, I was just getting into Colorado a the end of June. I went to Grand Junction and was trying to get my bearings on where I should go in Colorado. I got some maps, and a book, and was about to start looking and planning.  I called my dad for input. He’s been around a lot of parts of Colorado. He gave me some input on where to go and then said “you should just come out to Denver and come along with me to Tennessee. I’m leaving in a week.” So, how about a little side trip to the east?

Why Go? 

I’ve been to a lot of parts of the U.S., but I haven’t spent much time in the southeast. I’ve seen how cheap houses can be in the there – like $80k for a decent-looking house that’s too big for me – and I’d been wanting to see if I thought I might like to live there some day.

As I was building my van, I assumed I’d venture out through the southeast. But I’ve gotten to enjoy moving slowly, and the idea of driving my van all the way out there hasn’t seemed too exciting. But now I had a free ride. My dad was going out there to spend time in the northeast part of Tennessee to check if he’d like to move there. My brother and his girlfriend were already out just a few hours from there, near the middle of North Carolina, looking for a house to buy. My Brother in law and nephew would be coming out as well. My Aunt might be coming out. Plus, on the way back, my BIL would be stopping for a few days at my Mom and Step Dad’s house. I’d also of course, see my sister who lives in Denver. So… just for driving to Denver, I could tag along out to the east, and I could see ALL of my immediate family in one trip. This was a no brainer. So I left the van at my Dad’s house in Denver and tagged along.

Map of travels


What Northeast Tennessee Seems Like

  • Lots of serious Christians (I learned that it’s a thing in the southwest to put a Jesus sign in your yard. They are like the signs people put for politicians, but they say “Jesus” or “Thank you Jesus”.  In my 35 years of life, I don’t recall ever seeing a sign like that. These kinds of little oddities fascinate me)
  • Decent place. Most people take pretty good care of their homes and stuff
  • Lots of young Christian single mothers
  • Lots of people without a lot of money
  • Really nice place to go for bike rides
  • Quite a lot of nice waterfalls


What Northwest N.C. Seems Like

  • Patchwork of some areas with very serious Christians, and some areas with young/hipster/earthy people (like Asheville), and of course, lots of normal seeming places.
  • Homes and stuff area little bit nicer than northeast TN
  • Very humid down at low elevation in the middle of the state.
  • Also seems like a nice place to bicycle and also has nice waterfalls
  • People told me there are some areas northwest of Asheville that have small home communities, very outdoorsy people, maybe some communes or something, and generally a lot of people that would probably like me.



Family Stories

Ice Cream!

My nephew really seems to like ice cream. One day, in Asheville, we stopped at a little store and his dad bought him some ice cream. Then as we were walking, we passed an ice cream store and saw a picture of the ice cream they serve – which looked like a large serving. My nephew got disappointed that he’d gotten the small ice cream when there was this bigger better ice cream nearby. He was really pissed off about it for a moment. His Dad and I got a good laugh out of the worst thing happening in this kid’s entire day being that the ice cream he did have wasn’t quite as large as is served somewhere else. After this, we had a sort of “what is your worst first-world problem today?” game with the nephew each day.

We also started a practice of buying ice cream on each day that the temperature outside went over 90 degrees. We had ice cream every day for the rest of the trip.

Nephew and brother in law. The nephew had summer homework books to do. I taught him how to count in sevens to help with his math (and to count in other numbers, forwards and backwards). It took a lot of practice and I’m pretty sure he hated me at the end of it   😀

I’m not an animal!

After my Dad and I initially arrived at the place he rented in Tennessee, I was heading out to the grocery store. My Dad asked what I was going to get. I said “ahhhhh, some vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, some fruit, a chicken, …” he interrupted me saying “I’m not an animal! I don’t want all this vegetable crap. I want some real food! Hamburger, chips, buns, eggs, and bacon.”. I got a big kick out of this because my Dad has a nice garden and really enjoys eating the vegetables from it.

I’m writing this about three weeks after the fact and now I’ve forgotten the other funny family stories.


We went on a couple hikes. It rained like CRAZY on one of them. I mean full on serious  rain forrest torrential downpour kind of rain. Some other hiker fell and broke a rib and had to be rescued from the trail.

My nephew is quite good at finding and even sometimes recognizing plants. He found some edible plants when we went to the botanical garden, and a lot of mushrooms on one hike. His dad teaches him this stuff.

Big views like this are hard to come by up in the Appalachians. There are so many trees that you can rarely see far away.


While visiting my Mom and Stepdad, we went fishing one day. As you can clearly see, we are serious champion-level fishermen.

We did all catch at least one fish each, and they were all about this size. I took this picture below in a way to make the fish appear as big as possible, but I think you can still tell it’s not so big. We let them all back in the pond.


Back In Denver

After we got back to Denver, I spent a week or two hanging around the city. I’d taken so many pictures in Utah that it was a lot of work to sort through all of them and edit the better ones.  You still haven’t seen all of them. I’m going to take it a bit easier on the pictures for the next month or so. I did so much in Utah that I need a bit of a break from it. I basically just bummed around town, hung out with some women, ate ice cream, and helped my dad fix his tiller. We also had a pizza party. Yeah buddy!

One night, my dad and I watched some UFC fights, and then right after they ended, we heard a weird noise outside. It was his trash can falling over. It was a raccoon! My dad has a sort of ongoing war with raccoons. They come eat his trash often, and a raccoon family tried to move into his attic, which can really mess the place up.

My dad yelled out”Get the .22!” as if I knew where he stores it. His .22 rifle is an antique. I remember shooting it some 20 years ago and it was less powerful than a BB gun. I shot at pop cans and the .22 bullet would bounce off the can rather than going through. I don’t think he fixed it in any in-depth way, so I’m confused about how it works well enough to kill animals now… It does though. He used it to take out the raccoon that moved into his attic. He also has chickens, and raccoons love eating chickens.

So he went and got the gun while I stood outside and looked at the raccoon. It looked back at me for a while and then with no care in the world it started checking out the trash.

Dad came out with the gun, took aim, and BANG! The raccoon growled at us. My dad pumped the gun and said “shit! I need bullets”. He went inside to get some.  I heard the raccoon’s little claws on the concrete as he scurried off into the night.  The gun doesn’t reload properly so it took a while to reload it and by then the raccoon seemed long gone. We searched for a blood trail or the raccoon and didn’t find a thing. We initially thought he hit it, but now we weren’t so sure. I think that little guy will be back again.


What’s in store for August?

Colorado Mountains! Here we go!





    Oh man. Great post and photos!

    My wife and I are Californians born-and-bred, but we’ve considered settling in the south for the same (cheap housing) reason you mention. We’re both pretty conservative (libertarian really, but it’s close enough to be unpopular in CA), but being “pretty conservative” out here might still make for a pretty big wake up call in the SE. I think it’s maybe a “spend a few months RVing down there before we make up our mind” type situation.

    Love the land out there, can’t believe how nice it looks compared to the Riverside County desert.

    Thanks Brent.

    Yeah, there are a lot of very conservative folks out there. But when you’re looking at different areas and different cities, there are wide varieties, and I believe some left/liberal/progressive places too (like Asheville, Durham/Chapel Hill, and I’m sure others).

    I think that’s a good strategy to spend a few months there to see how you like it.

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