Coming Home for the First Time
Image: by D L Ennis, the James River and the Beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains; about 15 minutes from where I live now.
As a child, I lived in eastern Virginia near the ocean and was always fascinated by the oceans infinite appearance. I loved the ocean; I still do. It was beautiful all of the time and looked angry a lot of the time. I could spend hours at a time watching it and thinking of all the people, throughout history, that had sailed it; and of their adventures. However, there were these things called mountains.
Mountains, I had seen them in books and on television and they looked magical, mysterious, mythological…did such a thing really exist? I had to know for sure. The books said they did…my parents said they did, and there they were on television; but, so were cartoons. It all seemed as inexplicable and unreachable as the night sky.
Then, one spring day, late in the school year, I came home and there was a tent set up in the back yard. My Dad bought a tent and set it up in the yard, I guess, to learn how. I ran in the house and asked, “Whose tent?” “Ours!” dad said, “How would you like to go camping…in the mountains…this summer?” I was nine years old and had never been camping and as for mountains, well, I’ve already told you about that.
The first weekend after school ended dad packed the car and at 4am, on a Saturday, he and mom loaded me, my older brother and two younger sisters into the car and we left on our first trip to the mountains.
I want to tell you…I was excited! However, five hours later, excitement was turning into impatience; I had not yet seen the first mountain. Dad always knew where he was going; he just didn’t always know how to get there. But, in fairness to him, there were no interstates back then and it did take quite a bit longer to drive across the state. Mom kept saying, “Why don’t you stop and ask someone?” Dad was about as good at doing that as he was making restroom stops; it was always, “Okay, I’ll stop at the next place on the right side of the road.” He said that every time we passed one…every time.
Finally, around 10:30 am, Mom said, “Look, Mountains!” We all jumped up from our dreadfully frustrated slouches to see the mountains. They looked like clouds on the horizon to me. “They’re not mountains…they’re clouds.” I said. At that point none of us knew whether they were mountains or clouds but as we got closer they got bigger. Oh yes…there they were…the Blue Ridge Mountains!
Image Right: Me, my older brother, and two younger sisters somewhere on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
At first, the grade was slight; you had to look out the back window to even tell that you were going uphill. As we entered the Skyline Drive there was a little shack in the middle of the road where, as we approached, a ranger, hat and all, stuck his head out and motioned for us to stop; I was in awe! I was used to having to stop at little shacks in the middle of the road, but there was always a stern, unfriendly face attached to the guy stopping you; a Marine at a Navy base. This guy was smiling and looked like the ranger on the Yogi Bear cartoons.
As ‘Mr. Ranger Sir’ let us pass it began to feel more and more that we were on a real mountain adventure and I was so overwhelmed by it all, that I had a incurable case of spine tingling chills! I knew that the mountains were where I was supposed to be and one day I was going to live there!
We left the mountains at around noon the next day but the wonder of the mountains went home with me and stayed with me if only in spirit until I was thirty years old and got married. My bride to be had been all over most of the US, as had I by then, but she had never done more than pass through the Blue Ridge Mountains, so, we decided to get married on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We did, and when we returned to the coast it wasn’t two months later that we moved to the mountains!
We’ve lived here for nearly twenty-three years now and there is nothing that could make us leave. We finally moved home to the Blue Ridge and day in and day out it remains as beautiful and mysterious as ever!
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