I might have heard the highway calling….

In my mind I’m goin’ to Carolina 
Can’t you see the sunshine 
Can’t you just feel the moonshine 
Ain’t it just like a friend of mine 
To hit me from behind 
Yes I’m goin’ to Carolina in my mind.

Thank you James.  Love you bunches.

Yo, I hear another seat just opened up at the cool kid’s table.  Too bad because this chic has TEQUILA and I’m taking it with me!!!!

And now , since I don’t have to live up to THAT expectation, I thought maybe I’d show another side of my madness, share with you something very dear to my heart, North Carolina.

Before ever visiting, my maternal grandmother awoke my senses to this beautiful place.  Grandma packed up a box filled with plants collected from her own property and the 2 mile loop on the mountain she walked every day.  That box was full of sites and scents I had never known.  Amazing Jack in the pulpits, fragrant dogwoods, the most interesting and disturbing ferns.

My grandmother’s home was in Maggie Valley in Western North Carolina. It was a modern cabin style home that faced the valley, surrounded by evergreens and bordered on one side by a cold mountain stream.  The main floor had a wrap around deck where my grandmother had placed a comfortable settee and  hung plenty of hummingbird feeders.

When not occupied by the adults, that settee was my escape into another world.  I would often bury my nose in a book while wrapped in blanket and sipping my grandmother’s homemade hot chocolate, even in the summer.  As the summers passed and I grew older, I would often leave the book behind and find a calm in the sound of the stream, the knocking of the woodpeckers and the smell of wood burning stoves and fireplaces.  This place, this beautiful piece of heaven on earth, centered me.  

Sitting on that deck, away from the noise of my brothers, the chatter of my mom and her mom, I could just be.  I wasn’t begging for attention.  I wasn’t struggling to be first or to catch up.  I wasn’t in the uncomfortable spotlight.  I could just be.  Breathing in the fresh sweet scent of the pines and the dogwoods, breathing out the anger, frustration and anxiety.

And when I felt refreshed and at ease, it was time to embrace all this place had to offer.  The biting cold of the stream was a wonderful place to find salamanders and pyrite.  A long walk or short ride into town provided plenty of entertainment.  The tiny zoo always had monkeys, one or two sleek big cats and handling of the snakes.   The best little candy store that carried 30 flavors of salt water taffy also introduced me to the WORST flavors of jelly bellies, thanks for that.  There was the Ghost Town in the Sky, horseback riding, the bumper boats and race cars.  And don’t forget the worst thing to come of the south, boiled peanuts.  ICK.

But I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about my favorite NC activity: hiking with my family.  Great Smoky Mountain national park was just a short drive down the mountain and through town.  A picnic lunch of sandwiches on the heartiest 7 grain bread you’ve ever eaten, leftover cold pasta salad and whatever fruit was fresh that morning would be packed.  Little did I know Grandma’ green canteen was filled with Carlo Rossi.  After hiking in, through grassy fields and damp woodlands, we would stop by a creek with huge boulders and devour our lunches.  While the adults enjoyed their wine and cheeses, we kids would splash around in the cool water or hike as far down the trail as we could while staying within hearing distance of the parents.  There were black bears in these woods and we often saw them crossing over the trail.  Those adults were smart peeps.  We ran ourselves ragged on those trails.  Barely a word from us at dinner and off to bed to sleep like the dead.

Hmmm, maybe a hike in the woods is just what this tired mind needs.

North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Smoky Mountains, I love you and you are always on my mind.

6 Responses to I might have heard the highway calling….
  1. Coffeypot
    August 31, 2010 | 3:17 am

    Although being raised in Atlanta, but along the NW edge, there were horses in my back yard when we moved in. The neighbors had cows, chickens and pigs as well as an outhouse. I lived in the woods across the street from my house and ran the banks of the Chattahoochee River all summer long. You post broght back some great memories for me, too. Thanks, hon!

  2. otherworldlyone
    August 31, 2010 | 7:52 am

    Very nice. My grandmother had a cabin in the NC mountains as well. I spent a lot of time having the same kind of fun and quiet you described. There was nothing quite like it.

    I like living in SC though. I'm close enough to the mountains and the beach.

  3. Tee aka The Diva's Thoughts
    August 31, 2010 | 11:10 am

    What a nice post.

  4. magnolia
    August 31, 2010 | 11:30 am

    ah, the blue ridge. i've spent a lot of time in the VA part of the blue ridge, and it's one of my favorite places on earth. after i took the bar exam, i drove back home via route 11 instead of the interstate, and it was just what i needed to decompress. you've really nailed just what it is that makes that whole part of the country special…

  5. Blissed-Out Grandma
    August 31, 2010 | 8:31 pm

    Oh yes, it sounds lovely. Hiking in the woods is a great antidote for all kinds of ills.

  6. Red Shoes
    September 2, 2010 | 4:48 pm

    I LOVE Western North Carolina… beautiful mountains… great white water rivers… heaven… it is…

    … and I LOVE that JT song…


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