A post about an autumn ramble WAY off our usual beaten paths! Mom & I were returning home after her dream visit to EPCOT. The trip, the memories, writing about it – about as good an example of gifts exchanged between the two of us, of the priceless treasure she left us in her Mindwalker postings. Mom personified legacy building in everything she said did wrote. She was mother & mentor.
Subj: moseying back home
Date: Fri Nov 17 23:08:24 EST 2000
We took sort of a coastal route down to DisneyWorld and ambled our way back home via the Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge. It was loverly.
What a surprise to find that central Florida has a good number of cattle and horse ranches. I felt like we had blinked our eyes and wound up in Texas. It was an unexpected treat.
Elsa had looked forward to showing me Atlanta ever since she first visited there on a business trip when she worked for Prudential. In fact, she made quite a few trips to Atlanta when she worked for Prudential. She made sure a stop over in Atlanta was on our agenda.
We swung by the Prudential HealthCare office – a dramatic all-glass building on a bluff overlooking Vinings (a northwestern suburb). Some of Elsa’s business associates gave us the grand tour, then took us out for a delightful lunch. It was a special reunion with two of them, who’d been to Squirrel Haven for dinner when they were up north for meetings.
Dinner was at the Buckhead Diner, a diner in name only; it is beautifully appointed with lush wood and Art Deco lighting – and the food was out of this world.
We spent our second night in North Carolina’s Maggie Valley, at the eastern edge of the Smokies, at a way high up place called Smoky Mountain View.
Since we arrived long after dark, all we were aware of was the steep drive up and the rustic, comfy lodge. I remember waking up in the morning and looking out into mists. All through breakfast, the mountains were covered by mist (hence the name Smoky). As the morning sun got stronger, we sat out on the long porch and watched – it looked as if Mother Nature was gently lifting a beautiful sheer sheet up and off a quilt of autumn colors. The mountains were as beautiful as I had imagined.
We had lunch at a marvelous little restaurant and shop – Chelsea – in Asheville. I liked Asheville; Elsa completely lost her heart to it and to the region. I think she would move down to North Carolina in an instant if she had the chance. Anyway, it was a marvelous little restaurant and we were silly and had champagne with our lunch. Very festive.
The plan was to take the Blue Ridge Parkway, another treat Elsa had dreamed of ever since Pete and I told tales of taking it many moons ago. We had been driving up and up and up – with no guard rails! – when we turned a corner and Elsa quietly said, “I don’t think so.” I could not see what the big deal way, I could not see anything in front of us.
That, she pointed out, was the problem.
All that there was in front of us was a thick wall of mist.
Well, I remember driving the Blue Ridge in a similar pea soup with Pete – we stayed safe by inching along and following the stripe down the middle of the road – but Elsa was not up for such an adventure. She turned the car around. The next dilemma to be solved was whether to take the central route and take a regular highway to Greenville or head out west to Tennessee and head up from there.
We lit out for the west.
I am forever grateful we did – the autumn colors were more vivid, more beautiful in Tennessee than on any other part of the trip. It was a long and unexpected jog out of our way, but it turned into a blessing.
I am turning in with thoughts of friends, great food, fun times, gracious hospitality and beauty that is forever in my heart.
Love – Nan