It was just supposed to be a week-long vacation, an introduction to something new. Growing up in a dirty city that is planted in the middle of a thousand corn fields, the world’s beauty was only something I’d seen in pictures and on TV. I had no idea when I ventured off that September, that my whole perspective on life would change.
Our destination, as we set out on that 10 hour drive, was Asheville, North Carolina. Somewhere in Kentucky, I fell asleep. When I awoke, the view was something out of a painting. The sun was creating colors I’d never seen behind dark ridges that jolted between them. My first mountain sunrise, I was hooked.
We crossed the gorge into North Carolina, and it just kept getting more and more beautiful. I couldn’t believe it was real. How had I never known things like this existed? I had always been a lover of nature, of being outside and trying to find the splendor of the world, but found it difficult back home to appreciate something that hardly was.
“It’s so green here!” I can’t begin to tell you how many times I said this. Every road was surrounded by trees, grass or bamboo. Yes, bamboo. The Blue Ridge Parkway held so many amazing things. In that first week I saw my first waterfall, Looking Glass Falls, and was awed all over again. My daughter and I played on the rocks below it, feeling the mist spray up.
In the end, my “week-long vacation” turned into a year and a half long residency. In that time, I was able to experience so many new things. Weekends were filled with waterfalls, tourist trails, and hidden “treasures”.
We explored Graveyard fields, complete with hiking the three or so miles to see both parts of the waterfall, the bottom of which I took a dive into the fall itself. We hiked to the top of Devil’s Courthouse and watched the sunset over the valley below.
We sat 6053 feet above sea level at the highest point of elevation on the Parkway and caught dinner and another sunset overlooking the ridges below the summit of Mount Mitchel State Park.
All it took was an evening picnic at our favorite lookout and any blues or frustrations of the day melted away. Dinner, a short hike and a remarkable sunset and I was ready for face another day of work. Even my hour-long commute to and from work couldn’t phase the exquisite view. Really how could I possibly complain about getting to watch the sunrise and set behind a cascade of mountains every day?
Even the locals are amazing. They are creative and kind. I made some of the best friends I’ve had in my life during my stay on the Blue Ridge.
Now that I’m back in the flat lands, I’m plagued every single day with a desire to flee back to my mountain life and never return. One of these days, I might do just that!