Yesterday we began our trip up to our destination for a week long vacation, a week in the mountains of North Carolina at the lovely Snowbird Lodge set on the peak of a mountain, overlooking the vast smokey valleys below it. The trip began with the car thermometer reading 99, a relatively cool day, compared to the recent ones of August. We traveled along the interstate until finally reaching the point where civilization gives way to less inhabited areas of smaller roads and nondescript towns, small farms tucked into grassy coves and tiny brooks meandering thru the shadows of the overhanging trees.
Along with the lovely and the quaint came an awareness of the weight that has come from economic struggle in the world and its effect to an area which had been riding a bubble of development. Scattered along these roads were subdivision gates and their overgrown garden entrances, ghost towns who had never seen inhabitants, full of hope and promise of prosperity that never got the chance. There were abandoned restaurants and shiny strip centers all poised to scrape up the gravy. One such place was an apparent former dining establishment. It stood on top of a hill, vines now covering the facade, with a sign in the front facing the road that said for all to see that this was a ”proven location”. The claim was certainly dubious at any time, but its proven track record of failure was a grisly, and somehow humorous fact, to be claiming now.
Finally we reached mountains, the temps cooled but not to the 70’s or less that we had expected, but they hovered sluggishly in the mid 80’s. Temps much nicer than where we had just come from, perhaps another sign of the pendulum swing of the changing climate, it was a bit sad to think of this Mecca as ever being anything but cool and pleasant. Despite the warmth, it was so nice to breathe a different air. Dinner at the lodge was excellent, shared with friends we had met here last year, and so we resumed where we had left off, sipping our pre dinner martinis and laughing a lot.
This morning begins Mark’s gig teaching whoever wants some help with cameras, and what to do with a photo once you take it. I am sitting on the front porch of this massive lodge and listen to the chirps and whistles of the golden finches as they flit around the various feeders. Butterfly bushes cascade down the lawn in front of me, and they are covered with many bouncing varieties of boldly striped swallow tails, and tiny periwinkles. There is an unhappy dog barking somewhere far away, hummingbirds hover in front of my face and cicadas buzz in the trees. The sound is concentrated and thick.
Somewhere far below in the valley I also hear the rumble of groups Harley’s and their not so quiet sound systems, with their predominately graying riders, they are here to slay the famous Dragon. Highway 129, which winds its way thru some of these western hills, lives up to its fame by whipping its riders thru wicked hairpins and steep inclines. There are photographers set along the road to catch these ambitious actions for these seeking a spot of immortality and the right to say “I did it”. There are t-shirts for sale at the end, and there are ambulances on call for the ones who don’t judge the turns well enough.
To vacate, to leave. Leaving the farm always fills me with such anxiety. My first action this morning was to try to check messages back home to see if all was ok. There were a few questions from my invaluable substitute “me” there to take care of all the animals, which I answered. I keep my fingers crossed that all will be fine, no emergencies, and time will pass as quietly there for them as it,hopefully, will here for me. I know all too well how a pleasant day can be ruined with the look of an ill horse and what that could mean if not caught soon enough. I do appreciate the willingness on the part of my friend to take on this responsibility in my vacancy from the farm.
Getting away is important tho. I do need the break from the daily grind, the patterns. It is good to see new faces, and new places, eat someone else’s fine meals, and to relax. My brain is always sharper for the changes, and the spirit is brightened., and I certainly hope to achieve these things on this trip. Maybe we will go hike to a waterfall today or a lake. There are many lovely ones near here. As warm as it is I may get in for a dip. There is no script and nothing written in stone about the day, my plan is to try to fall thru the week like water down a mountain stream, do some writing, do some catch up on my painting, and simply recharge.