Children, Family, travel

Off the Beaten Path

off the beaten pathSometimes you need to get off the beaten path. Get away from the noise and the commotion, the electronics and the hustle of life. This is a concept we always try to instill in our kids, though they don’t always appreciate the simplicity of it.

We love the Blue Ridge Parkway in western North Carolina. It’s our home away from home. We know all the secrets, the best waterfall spots, the hikes and the stories from long ago. It’s truly amazing how quiet the parkway can be. The sounds of nature, of the birds and the animals scurrying about their business.

The silence is loud up there. And it’s a beautiful sound.

Our kids don’t so much appreciate this just yet, but we still encourage them to stop and listen. To smell the air and feel the cold breezes on their faces. And to see the blue that gave the mountains their name. Sometimes, if we are lucky, we get to see the clouds tuck the mountains in like a blanket, with only the mountain peaks sticking out above.

off the beaten pathWe stop for hikes and no one is too little to participate. The hikes leave the familiarity of the parking area and quickly meander around rocks and exposed tree roots. This is where the kids begin to enjoy their visit with the parkway. We see tiny salamanders peeking out of the wet moss along the waterway at Mabry Mill, peregrine falcons guarding their nests around Devil’s Courthouse, a black bear jogging across the parkway, as if to say, “don’t mind me…just passing through!”. Or we find a rushing water cascade at Wilson’s Creek that runs under the parkway and feel clean, cold mountain water.

off the beaten pathWe visit the ranger station at Waterrock Knob and hike under the impressive Linn Cove Viaduct, an engineering feat that kept the parkway road off of the delicate vegetation of Grandfather Mountain. We stop by Moses Cone Manor, walk along his old paths and see the pastures that lead to the family grave stones. Once in awhile we can park the car along an overlook to watch a thunderstorm move across the valley far out in front of us.

You can do all sorts of exciting, fun, busy activities on vacation and we do those things as well. But we always make time to visit our dear friend when we can. The parkway and its beautiful scenery have done so much healing and restoration for us throughout the years. It’s become like medicine for us. We miss it when we are away too long. And we hate to leave when we are there.

Girl child asked me recently why we like to be here so much. I told her that this beautiful place fills up my soul when it gets empty. Some may say that only God can do that, and that’s true. His beauty and His creation fills my soul and revives it when I find that it’s become empty.

off the beaten path