The call of high places…

What is it about some people that causes them to always try to get to the highest place around? All of my life I have climbed to the top of the highest vantage point (and growing up on the Gulf coast of Texas, that usually meant a tree).

For years and years my favorite trips were to the Texas Hill Country out west of Austin. Even then I was chasing my roots, though at the time I had no clue. Turns out a couple of Generations of my family lived and loved, raised kids (Lord did they raise kids) and buried the loved ones that passed on. And they did it in a part of Texas that actually has topography unlike the counties I spent my growing up years in.

This photo shows Enchanted Rock on the horizon. It is one of my favorite spots in the center of Texas. This is what we here on the Texas Gulf Coast call a mountain…see the house in front, it’s only a mile or so from the base of the Rock.

Other than a car trip in the early ‘60’s to Ohio to visit my dad’s twin sister, I had never really enjoyed mountains. The only tall places I could visit around home were the man-made mountains in downtown Houston. I started visiting the observation deck at the top of the Humble Oil Building in the late ‘60’s and continued to make periodic trips up to see the sites until they closed it when it’s 50+ stories no longer topped the skyline of Houston.

It was on a business trip in early March of 2000 that I had a chance to run up into the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. The first day was a day that most of the people living in the area would recognize; totally fogged in…couldn’t see 50 yards down the road, much less the view from the overlooks. I cruised from Blowing Rock to Little Switzerland and didn’t see a thing. The next day the weather in Charlotte was clear and beautiful so I decided to try again. When I drove up the switchbacks above Lake James and then south down the Blue Ridge Parkway to where the road was closed, I was in awe. I stopped at overlook after overlook and stood in the sun with the icy wind in my face looking at the vistas until my eyes watered from the cold, but still I stared. The one thing that I will never forget was the thrill I got when I rounded the curve and drove out on the Linn Cove Viaduct for the first time. This has to be the most beautiful piece of engineering I have ever seen, and, to this day every time I cross those graceful curves I still feel a thrill.

That trip was the beginning of my love affair with these mountains of North Carolina. I have visited other mountains since, but I am always drawn back to the Blue Ridges that sheltered my ancestors so many years ago, and hopefully, will shelter me and mine in the years ahead…