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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Some High Points--Very High Points

Hiking on the Appalachian Trail at Roan Mountain, July 2008.

Our "stay-cation" may have reached its peak, very literally, in mid to late July. We've been exploring our home and close-to-home spots, and I think everyone will say that staying close to home this summer has had more peaks than valleys. Living in the Appalachian Mountains has to help with that.

We visited our favorite blueberry farm in Marion, NC, in mid-July. It was really too early--there were a lot of berries, but we really had to work to get this haul. In another two weeks, our labors would have been much more fruitful. Maybe we'll go again before August gets here, but even if we don't, we had a nice time, enough berries to put some away in our freezer and share a couple of quarts, and four decidedly purple tongues.

Miriam is a diligent berry picker. She filled half a bucket on her own. I was surpised that a 3-year-old could produce as much as she did. Jane really put her all into it also, producing about half a gallon all on her own. Emma is our resident consumer. She had a great time. Jill thought it was hot and was only happy if being fed continously.

That was a high point, but not high enough. While watching the birds from the back deck one morning, Miriam announced "I want to go into the sky!" I understand. I do too.

It became a mantra for her. On the swing: "Push me really high! I want to go into the sky!" When wrestling with her dad: "Pick me up! I want to go into the sky!" And when we took a drive up to Roan Mountain for a day hike and picnic: "Go to the mountain! I want to go into the sky!

So we did. Here are Emma, Jane, and Miriam sitting on the rock wall of an overlook at the former site of the Victorian-era Cloudland Hotel. The 3-story luxury hotel straddled the NC/TN state line and was a popular vacation spot for the affluent from the 1880s to about 1900. People lost interest in the Cloudland Hotel in the early 1900s, though, and it was dismantled. Nothing remains now except a historical marker and this more recently constructed rock wall. It is inhabited by a small brown field mouse.

Bill packing Jill at the Cloudland meadow--a nice picnic spot.

Among the "Ferns" on the Appalachian Trail, Roan Mountain.

And we went "into the sky" at the top of the Cloudland Trail, Roan Mountain. The view from the top is panoramic and dizzying. It is truly unbelievable just how far you can see and how high up you really are. I believe the markers said it was over 6,000 feet. But Miriam was still disappointed. She raised herself up on tiptoes, lifted her little hands toward heaven, and declared, "I want to go INTO THE SKY!"

Thanks to Nathan Brinkerhoff, a friend from church who is also a pilot preparing to take his skills (and his new wife Julia and soon-to-be-born baby son) into the mission field in South America, each of us (except for Jill) were able to go "into the sky" this past Wednesday.

Here's the plane with Bill, Emma, Jane, Miriam, and our "other daughter" Nell before boarding. Nathan offered free plane rides to our church community at a small, private airport in Hendersonville. We all took along picnics, played ball on the grass, and got a bird's-eye view of a good portion of Henderson and Buncombe counties.

Jane and Nell buckled up and ready to go.

Bill, Jane, and Nell are aboard this flight.

Here I am with Miriam in the cockpit, preparing for take-off.

Emma and her friend Alice rode in the back on our flight.

And here's Miriam. Note the view from the window. She truly did get to go
"into the sky!"

Now that's a high point of the summer.

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