You don’t see America if you stick to the Interstates. Interstates are for getting from point A to point B as efficiently as possible, and they serve their purpose well. In fact, on this day – driving from North Carolina to Memphis, by far our longest drive yet, we really appreciate the Interstates. But we will get off the beaten path too since part of our goal for the SILKRoadTrip is to see America.

We began our day early – 5:30 am early – to see if we could get a good 3 hour chunk of driving done while the kids slept. It worked.

In time for breakfast, we found the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center in Asheville, NC to have a picnic breakfast and visit the visitor center for a little education and getting the wiggles out. As an aside, they have an amazing interactive display that allows you to slide a vertical screen along a map of the Parkway. The display provides information on the Parkway depending on where you are on the map.

The day got interesting, though, as we rolled through Tennessee on I-40. I decided to try out the Roadtrippers app (more on Roadtrippers later) to see what interesting stops might be ahead, timed with a picnic lunch.

What did I find, but something called the Treehouse Church, and it wasn’t far off the Interstate. And it was free. How can you say no to that? So, we set our navigation and anxiously awaited our adventure. Traveling down a dirt road (see above video), we found a few cars of college-aged roadtrippers and this sign.

Treehouse church no trespassing sign

We obeyed the sign (we were the only ones), and admired this slice of American ingenuity from afar – something we wouldn’t have experience if we didn’t get off the beaten path.

Kids hugging stuffed ottersNearby is the Crossville-Cumberland County Visitor’s Center, a new building with nice restrooms, displays of native wildlife, live fish, and a very comfortable sitting area with a TV. And the staff exuded Southern hospitality. It was a perfect roadside stop for our picnic lunch and to stretch our legs. The kids loved it, including the collection of kid’s sized carved otters.

We headed out, arriving in Memphis in time for dinner.