. The parkway only has a few entrances but thankfully several of them are in the Asheville area. We knew about the one we ended up getting on at because we had accidentally gotten off there! So it worked out and we managed to make the length of the parkway without needing a pit stop. But we though better of trying to make it through the national park road so we got off and drove 24 miles out of our way to find food and a bathroom. Granny’s Restaurant. It was a buffet lunch but it worked…reminded me of PA. Its very sparce out there and unless we wanted Wendy’s again or McDs it was a necessary evil. I was eating a piece of cornbread and put it down saying "I don’t care for that. It doesn’t have any flavor." Jym said “Just like mom used to make.” And reached over and grabbed it and ate it. LOL.
Our drive down the parkway was nice and uneventful. The leaves are changing some but we saw more of that at the higher elevations. It just hasn’t been cold at all so I guess it’s not triggering much change. I am bummed about that since I love fall and hate that I miss it every year. But we had some nice music on my ipod and it was a leisurely drive. We argued over which one of us was the bigger Rick Springfield fan. I let Jym have that one. Marriage is about compromise and picking your battles. So I bowed out on this one
. I’m saving up for something big. LOL
I find that I should blog while I am on the road because I find it so easy to compile my thoughts then and at night when I am exhausted and trying to write it down I find it harder to remember and piece it all together. I think that is what made my blogs in New Zealand so powerful. I would actually type while Jym drove. We would be in the car for most of the day sometimes and a lot of thought pass through my mind. I would say the most profound thing so far this day for me was at a lonely pull off on the Blue Ridge I was thinking how I have seen some amazing mountains in my lifetime and sometimes I find myself comparing their grandeur to the point where I lose appreciation for the small simple things. In my mind beauty has been so vast and so sweeping. I suspect it would take quite a bit to impress me. I hate that I think that way. I was looking at a small dandelion flower in the grass and thinking that in its simplicity and its normalcy…even there, we can see beauty if we know how to look at it. My mind is expanded so much that I lose sight of the little tiny every day beauty and it is that loss that is truly draining my soul on a daily basis. I kept thinking how angry I am at this whole shut down and how it is affecting my vacation. I feel like I work 50 weeks out of the year (not counting nightmares about work which is LIKE working) and I only ask for a few weeks that are my own
. A few weeks of peace and tranquility and I get THIS. Then I thought about why these 2 weeks are so crucial to me…why I am so desperate for relaxation and experiences…and then in turn why they have to be so grand. It’s all because my eyes have stopped being able to see the simple and enjoy it. I know the ability is still there because I see it in small glimpses. Like when I am out with the girls and everyone is talking and laughing and in my mind in those brief moments I can almost step back from the experience and look in on it as if it is frozen in time. Like I am out of my body circling the event in my head seeing every tiny fragment as larger than life…like a photograph in my mind capturing every facial expression, every movement yet still in the moment like in a painting. It is like my soul is saving it for later to saver and take in full and true. To retrieve it at a moments notice. It is in those brief fleeting moments that I see a glimpse of how I should see every day…as if removed from it but connected to it…inside it and immersed fully in it. So I suspect this vacation needs to instead be a lesson to me. To teach my soul to be able to reign in my needs for the grand and hone them so that even the smallest of beauty can be extracted and appreciated in its fullness and so that in the end it is not small at all but all equally grand even when standing next to that enormous mountain in my mind.
I was feeling pretty content when we made the turn onto the 441 Newfound Gap Road which is the shared state road through Smoky Mountain National Park
. Although the road itself was open we were not sure what else would be. I knew the roads were closed off the main drive but wasn’t sure what to expect with the pull offs. Right away we saw deer in a field and everyone pulled over right past the signs saying to keep driving. LOL. As we made our way on through the park I noticed small areas meant for maybe 3 cars to pull over were all coned off! And not like a few cones but like a solid line of cones. Really? So we paid people to go out and cone off an area for people to simply pull over? ON the road. Not at a trail head. What I found most funny was that since people couldn’t pull over where there were designated areas they would simply make their own pull over!! In most cases right NEXT to the ORIGINAL pull over!! Classic. The cones infuriated me so much I considered gathering them up and then distributing them along the way in odd places. I also considered stacking them up and then kicking them off the edge of the ravine. How dare they cone off those areas. I think they are just being complete dicks about it. As we reached the TN/NC border there is a huge overlook and as we passed I saw a sign that read in part “By the Government, For the People…” I think what they meant to say was “For the Government, by the people, to be used against said people as a weapon of politics” The National Park land is not OWNED by the GOVERNMENT of this country. They are merely the caretakers of it via the money we as taxpayers provide and THEY are not doing the job we have entrusted them to do. They have turned our own against us. It is time the people stood up and took back what has always been theirs. I am pretty sure I am not the only one who is fed up with this bullshit. At one point I saw a man trying to single handedly drag a huge plastic barrier away from the road on his own. Loved that. I wanted to stop and clap for him. But there were too many CONES to pull over!!
My concerns over driving the back end of the Blue Ridge with no bathroom availability led me to ask for assistance from the hotel front desk at the Residence Inn. They were very kind to try to get information for me but ended up with no more than I already had. We left for a gas up and a car wash because the sap from Shane's tree and the bug mess was so thick on my car I couldn’t see. Plus I needed a vacuum too. The hotel gave us a lead on one nearby. Although it accomplished a goal I don’t think I have seen more lazy people all in one spot at one time…even at work. It was almost bizarre how slow they were moving and how almost non existent their work was. Then we went to get on the parkway and it was closed off! I remember seeing a news story the night before saying there had been a bridge collapse and they had to shut off part of the parkway but I was just on that part of the parkway that day so surely it wasn’t where we were…WRONG. Apparently it was shut down hours after we drove on it! So we had to maneuver out around the blockage and managed to find a place where we could get back on after about 20 minutes of driving up and down