Ever have one of those days you know you're going to look back on and remember. Yesterday was one of those days - my husband and I took our soon to be college bound son and one of his friends to the NC Mountains. We started with lunch at Louise's Rock House Restaurant in Linville Falls, NC. The food there is always good - we know Louise and all her daughters. Her oldest daughter, Shirley, owns the place now. Just as we got there the bottom fell out of the sky. We sat and ate lunch while the world outside cooled off and had a good long drink. From there we went to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Linville Falls Visitors Center, hiked down to the Upper and Lower Falls. While Louis, Al and Cynthia hiked up to another overlook, I walked back to the parking lot and met a couple from Vail, NC. She was walking with a cane and he was walking very patiently beside her. They are 78 years old and still hiking the NC mountains. Made me think, "That's how I want to be 22 years from now." They told me about hiking up to Table Rock with 5 of their grand-children about 5 years ago. (That's a short but strenuous hike - Moderate Rating) They have 30 in their family now with all their children, grands and great-grands, almost too many to house together on vacation but it sounded like they all get together and still have fun. We shared stories about our grand-children and I'm pretty sure all three of us were grinning pretty big when we came out of those woods. Met up with my guys and we headed to Wiseman's View. (Cynthia had never been to this part of the NC Mountain so we were giving her a mini-tour of some of our favorite places.) Wiseman's as always, did not disappoint. View was clear, humidity was starting to climb again since the rain, which we could see in the distance over Morganton. Just enough of a breeze - I stood still at the bottom of the stairs and couldn't help but think of the cold night we came up there last Fall and watched the Milky Way and more stars than you can imagine. Showed Cynthia the top of Table Rock from there and said, "That's where you're going to be tonight." Her eyes about fell out of her head.
After the walk back out, we drove up to Table Rock while the heavens opened up again. It started to hail HARD just as we came through Gingercake Acres into the trees at the beginning of the dirt road. We waited in the car for a few minutes for the rain to stop, got out and stepped into a luscious, green fresh fragrant world with a few drips from the trees above. I started a charcoal fire in a grill that was still HOT from someone else's lunch (DON'T EVER go off and leave HOT coals in a grill, especially in a National or State Park. Have you seen the damage in Colorado and Utah in the last few weeks???). Tried to start a camp fire as well, but everything was too wet. While I waited for the coals to get red hot, Louis, Al and Cynthia hiked out beyond the chimneys on the other side of the parking lot from Table Rock. Cynthia came back and said she got some great panoramic shots of Linville Gorge and towards the setting sun in the western sky. I forgot plates, of all things, so we used tin foil and ate kosher hot dogs, my homemade potatoe salad and had s'mores as dessert (that's why I was trying to build a camp fire but the charcoal did just fine).
At 8:00, they set off for the summit of Table Rock, one of my favorite places on this Earth! I couldn't go because the last time we were up there, about three weeks ago, I smashed my big toe and still can't wear anything but sandals. So, I waited in the car, crocheting until after 10:00PM. There was enough light from an almost full moon that I didn't need any artificial light. Then I lay back in the seat and watched the stars starting to twinkle between the leaves of the trees above me. Yes, people came and went and I DON'T recommend waiting in a car in a parking lot alone at night anywhere, but I felt very much at peace. There were people camping just beyond the picnic grounds and I knew if anyone bothered me I could make enough noise to get their attention. And, I had the car keys -I'm not beyond moving the car and getting out of there if someone starts something. But everything was quiet and I found myself going over things in my mind that I hadn't thought about for a while. At 10:45PM my guys showed up - the light from the moon was so bright it was like light pollution, but it was beautiful. On their way back down the mountain they helped two other groups of people who had ventured up there without flashlights. I've come down that trail before during a full moon with no flashlights (not recommended), slow going and we had to be careful especially since we had two small children in our group. But it was fun. Everyone piled back into the car, Cynthia went out like a light, and we talked on the way home, watching that bright moon accompany us all the way. A good day, a wonderful 4th of July celebrating some of this country's rich wonders. I love living in North Carolina.