I’m finally home — mostly unpacked with loads of laundry running in an endless loop. Our 22-hour drive, while foot and butt numbing, provides hours of time for all sorts of reflections. You may be wondering how we managed to turn the 8 hour drive from Gettysburg to Knoxville into 22 hours. Well, we took the little known shortcut through Connecticut. 🙂
Yet in a delightful change of pace, instead of the straight shot, rocket propelled, get there in as few stops as possible kind of journey we normally make — we meandered. Driving to Connecticut, we cut off the main highway (thank God and traffic) and drove through several wonderful little towns. Torrington, home of John Brown (who knew?) was followed by Granby and its display of painted horses which was giving over to large painted turkeys — definitely an interesting stretch of road. And the tobacco, wow!! When Chris & I were dating, I would show him the vast tobacco fields back home in NC. I thought I was showing him something, or at least I did until we got to the shade fields outside of Hartford. Ambivalence is my name when I think of its final usage, but having grown up where it ruled the economy I can truly appreciate a good growing season.
After a damp and delicious family get together, complete with a phenomenal art display — we got on the road Sunday morning for the trip to Gettysburg (a natural almost halfway point). Having just finished some reading on the Revolution (more about that later), the drive down the Sawmill Parkway, over the Tappan Zee and through NJ was like a field trip! Plus, it didn’t hurt that the bunnies & deer were romping in the woods beside the road.
Then we came back to Gettysburg for one last bittersweet night. I don’t do “waaah, waaah,” so as much as I miss being there on a regular basis — the evening itself was one to treasure. Sharing a meal, traipsing through the National Cemetery sealed the summer. No front porch to end the evening, but we sat poolside watching the girls swim. Early the next day, we did our ritual drive around and said good-bye to “our” spots, then
tearfully (it was allergies) left town.
Again, we deviated from the direct route. We took a little side trip to the Cedar Creek battlefield and while there met a completely wonderful park employee who treated my daughters as the most important visitors she’d seen all week. The countryside was glorious, the horses frisky as I wanted to be out in the pastures with them. For the first time in several years, the upper Shenandoah looked as lush and green as I remember it from childhood. Our next stop was still feeling the effects of last year’s low water — we went to Natural Bridge in Virginia. I know that there’s a hokey element at the park — between the gift shop, the wax museum, the doll factory and all that stuff.
For me, walking down the hill and coming upon that arch stretching across the horizon, knowing its been there forever and a day completely washes all the gimmicks away. For those who’ve never been there the Natural Bridge is an elemental rock formation that has long functioned as a highway. In fact, Rte 11 runs over it to this day. Early settlers were amazed, and it was surveyed by George Washington and owned by Thomas Jefferson. In the years since we’ve visited they’ve added a few cool interpretative features including a Native Mohocan village. There was a guy carving arrowheads, and displaying rock tools and a Native Woman weaving baskets. She was a treasure. She explained the concept of matrilineal descent in the most clear and succinct fashion I’ve ever heard, and explained community in a way the girls “got.”
Finally, and my treat for the day, we came to the waterfall. In a nice call-back from the morning, Lace Falls flows down from Cedar Creek. We sat and enjoyed its beauty for a little while, went back up the hill, had some ice cream and turned the car for Knoxville. Just as an aside, if you’ve never experienced the force, the quiet roar, the wonder and magic of a waterfall — find one. Let yourself experience it with every sense or maybe not — I do like it when they aren’t crowded 🙂
Now home. Get the girls in school, finish the book. Start the new project. Finish the laundry. And look forward to the next drive!
Driving Music: Should I Stay or Should I Go (the Clash); Miles and Miles of Texas (Asleep at the Wheel); 200 More Miles (Cowboy Junkies); Destination Anywhere (Niamh Kavanagh from the Commitments); One Headlight (the Wallflowers); Into the Great Wide Open (Tom Petty); Fill Her Up (Sting — check out the version he does with Earl Scruggs); Steve McQueen (Sheryl Crow); Jump Up Behind Me (James Taylor); Truckin‘ (Grateful Dead); A Girl Named Go (Cory Branan); Further On (Bruce Springsteen); Rainbow’s Cadillac (Bruce Hornsby); Wide Open Spaces (Dixie Chicks); Callin’ Baton Rouge (Garth Brooks); She’s Leaving Home (the Beatles); Homeward Bound (Simon & Garfunkel); Travelin’ Thru (Dolly Parton); Someone to Come Home To (Animal Logic) and Many the Miles (Sara Barielles).
There You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself.
Any direction you choose. –> Dr. Seuss