Legends say magic rises through winter mist; a mist so thick you must hold your hand two inches from your face to see it. The summer feels more like a South Carolina autumn. Humidity stays at the ground level, and river water is cool.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the first roads in the United States made for the sole purpose of a pleasure ride. The road through North Carolina and Virginia was constructed in the Great Depression for travelers who wished to get lost in the mist or dip their feet in the water.
At the rest stop near the Linn Cove Viaduct, my husband, John, and I meet a husband and wife getting out of their 1965 Ford Mustang. I am not sure what to think of the vehicle’s acid green color, but when I look at the owner, his eyes light up. He had bought the Mustang as a teenager. In his early twenties, he sold the automobile.
“He sold it before he met me,” his wife says and laughs.
“Yeah,” he replies.
I think everyone understands what, not who, first stole his heart.
“Luckily, the boy I sold it too kept it in the same [North Carolina] county all these years,” he says. “The car was rotting in the yard. I bought it back.”
In five years, the owner and his brother bought new parts, seats, and material to fix up his Mustang. She rides again on the Parkway.
Since 2009, John and I have escaped or visited the Blue Ridge Parkway and other mountains. We hiked Kings Mountain, and walked parts of the Carolina Thread Trail. Our story goes on like part of the Parkway. Something new is discovered around the next bend in the road.
John and I on the Parkway in September 2009.
Our History of the Blue Ridge
In 2009, I faced challenges in my professional and personal life. I knew what needed to change, but when I wanted to escape John and I returned to the mountains or tracked waterfalls. He introduced me to nature I had never tried to understand. I was always in a hurry to meet a deadline, or get to the next point. When I went away, I visited the beach.
But, much like life, my favorite escape destination changed. When we first hiked to a waterfall, I extended my hand to touch the spray of the water as it trickled over rocks. That September, I put my feet in the water. Toes dug into the sand.
What could replace such simple happiness?
Three Years Later
We pull into a picnic area thirty minutes after Linn Cove. John places our picnic basket on the table. Through tree limbs, I see a boy walk in the river. He wears white rain boots with red, blue and yellow circles. He casts a line. Wait for a pull, he brings it back in and finds a fish has escaped with his bait. The boy puts new bait on the hook. The next time he catches a small fish about the size of the average man’s hand. He throws it back.
Forget flat screen television with live cooking shows. I tune in for the story about a boy trying to catch fish, whether for food or to say, “Hey, I caught a fish.” The boy catches another fish around the time his teenage sister tip toes barefoot in the water and watches.
The perfect breeze. The perfect feeling, and the perfect food. I need nothing else.
From the picnic basket, John pulls out his sandwich favorites: mustard and mayonnaise. I take out my olive oil stored in a tiny bottle from Wal-mart. He cuts up fresh whole and Roma tomatoes. We peel and slice cucumbers. Habanero and soft cheddar cheese, off the wheel, are plated.
As we see other families pull out their boxes of chicken, we put together our sandwiches with our farmers’ market favorites. John puts pepper and salt on his tomatoes, but I prefer mine without extra spice.
We eat in our paradise; the place our hearts never leave.
Roma Tomato and Turkey Sandwich
Whole Wheat Bread
2 slices smoked deli turkey
1 Roma tomato sliced
4 sliced cucumbers
Drizzle of Olive oil.
Place turkey on the bottom piece of bread. Place tomatoes over the turkey. (You may add salt and pepper). Place cucumbers over the tomatoes, and drizzle about 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
Words and Photos By Rebecca T. Dickinson