Notes from the Waxhaws

Through the looking glass

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It’s been another rough week. One day blurring into the next…and going by much too fast. I had been planning all week to take a trip up to the mountains on Saturday, but when I woke up this morning, I had to talk myself into getting out of bed and getting going.  I had planned to be on the road at 6…but instead I was just rolling over and looking at the clock at that time. Well…after a bit of inner dialogue, weighing the pros and cons of actually doing something today, I finally managed to get out of bed, take a shower, take the dogs out, and then hit the road at 7 am. It was a quiet, beautiful, cool morning…the sky filled with puffy cumulus clouds tinged with pink in the early morning light. Twenty minutes down the road…back in semi-civilization, I made a stop at the new Chik-fil-A (For those unfamiliar with this very successful Christian-based restaurant chain, their ads feature cows that encourage people to “Eat more chikin”) to grab a breakfast burrito and a much-needed cup of coffee (since I’d run out at home). When I received my order at the counter, the young guy politely asked if I wanted him to carry the tray to my table. Huh??? Am I still dreaming? As I gathered my wits about me, I replied, “No thanks…I think I can manage that.” Since they just opened last week, I guess they’re still trying to impress their customers. I hope they keep it up…it’s kind of refreshing for a fast food restaurant.

It takes about two hours to get to the mountains from where I live, first skirting around Charlotte and then heading west. There are some outliers just west of Charlotte, like King’s Mountain, but the real mountains start popping up in earnest near Hendersonville. Today, I was heading towards the Pisgah National Forest, located on the eastern flanks of the Great Smokies. I decided to wing it without the use of the GPS, but after getting into somewhat unfamiliar territory, and not sure if I made the right turn at one point, I finally relented and sprung Molly (the Garmin GPS unit) from the glove compartment. She quickly corrected my errant ways and we were back on the road again. I have to say that the word ‘Recalculating’ only came up once during the entire day, with absolutely no hint of exasperation in Molly’s voice.

At one point, there was a long backup on the highway due to an accident up ahead, with cars inching along at a tedious pace. I decided to pick up the phone and check in with Sharon’s mom, who lives down in Florida. It’s got to be very hard on a mom who loses her child. At one point Della (she’s in her eighties) said that she picks up the phone almost every day, meaning to call Sharon, and then realizes that she can’t do that anymore. Well…that did it for me…had to start looking for the kleenex…

Finally…in the mountains again. My first stop was at Looking Glass Falls…

Looking Glass Falls

…on the Looking Glass Creek…which flows from Looking Glass Rock, so named because the rock outcropping freezes with water during the winter, and the sunlight reflects from it. The falls are about 60 feet in height. If you look closely, you can see some children on the opposite bank of the creek. Very beautiful.

From there I drove up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, and then west in a big loop, with astonishing panoramas around every twist and bend in the road. Looking out over these, what seem to be endless, ranges of mountains, veiled in a bluish haze, is like gazing into another world…another time. Something not quite real…

Mountains in the mist

There’s one outcropping of rock on a mountain that’s known as the Devil’s Courthouse. A sign states that…

The bare rock profile named Devil’s Courthouse is sinister in appearance and legend. It’s ‘devilish’ look has contributed to the many folk tales surrounding this mountain. Within the mountain is a cave, where, legend claims, the devil holds court. In Cherokee lore, this cave is the private dancing chamber and dwelling place of the slant-eyed giant, Judaculla.

I like the Cherokee legend a bit better. Hmmm…Judaculla. I do remember driving through Transylvania County on the way here.

Devil's Courthouse

My pictures (taken with my iPhone) simply don’t do justice to these mountains.  I remember telling Sharon that, to me anyway, the mountains out west had a kind of power that you could almost feel being imparted to you….something that revitalizes the spirit.  These ancient mountains on the opposite coast are achingly beautiful…and seemingly timeless…but their other worldly quality is hard to explain. They draw you in as you gaze at them…apprehending  some thing…some time…that’s not quite within one’s grasp..a sad beauty of sorts. But…that might just be me, and my current frame of mind. I spent a lot of time thinking about Sharon today as I was driving through the mountains. Little bits of memories would pop up around every bend. I’m sure this all colors my impressions of everything I see. I wish I could say it’s getting easier…

Ol' Yeller

My trusty steed awaits…and yes…it’s yellow…

Written by Jim

July 2, 2011 at 10:09 pm

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