Have you ever been in that place? The place where everything feels absolutely perfect? That's how our vacation was.
We left for the Smokies on the sixth of October and stayed in Maggie Valley for nearly a week. Granted it rained for a couple days, and I had the quintessential sinus cold from hell, but from beginning to end, it was perfect.
It had been nine years since we took our last real vacation...you know...when you are able to go away somewhere...away from home without it having to do with dead or dying relatives or friends. Five years since we were able to go away for more than overnight. The kids were out of school for Fall Break. Mark took an entire week off.
Now to understand the significance of that you need to know that my darling husband works all the time. He's on call 24/7, literally 365 days a year, and has for 13 1/2 years. Yes, he's been called to work for some problem or other on birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas and all other holidays. Plan is known as the 4-letter P-word around out house. We don't make them, and when we get cocky enough to try...they're almost always ruined by "the call."
But not this time. He left his pager home, programmed his phone not to take any work calls. He relaxed and had fun. It was an amazing sight to behold. Imagine, an entire week of husband smiles. We documented it.
Saturday we got up and decided it would be a great day to take Dusty to this skateboard park in Asheville he and his friends were having fits over. (Kimmy, honey, I wanted to come see you but I was feeling just this side of death and figured the last thing you'd want was my cold. LOL) The park was just as wonderful as he'd heard, and worlds different from any around here. Dusty spent several blissful hours on the verts, hills, bowls and rails while his daddy sat in the "bleachers" and watched, and Courtney and I dozed in the jeep. Occasionally, I'd wake up and watch the storm clouds scamper over the mountains. Two days later, Courtney went on a two-hour horseback ride up the mountain in Maggie Valley. If you're ever in Maggie Valley, Queen's Ranch is the place to go horseback riding. Everyone was great! It was the first time since Courtney'd been able to ride since before she became ill five years ago. I've never seen a smile so big. It was the final verification for her that she is truly well.
We took one trip over the pass to Gatlinburg to the most amazing bead shop, O2 Bead Experience, Inc. If you do any kind of jewelry making or beading, go see Glen. It's so worth the trip. And he mail orders...it's so much nicer to pick up the phone and talk to someone face to face than to order over the internet.
The rest of the time, we spent mostly "looking." Now, I live in Northeast Georgia...well at the foot of the foothills. Let me tell you, beautiful as it is here, there is NOTHING to compare with the real thing. There is magic in those mountains. I'll swear by it well after I die. You can feel it the second you arrive...it's in the strength of the river, the quiet of the roads through the Parkway, the gentle wisdom in the faces of the residents who are never too busy to offer you a smile.
When we arrived, the hillsides were still mostly dressed in their summer greens with a sparse sprinkle here and there of fall jewels. After a day and a half of rain, the kaleidoscopic effect spread into the beginnings of a an amazing Autumn quilt with scarlets, golds, oranges splashed across a myriad of green shades. The view changed daily.
By mid-week, and despite all the clothes we'd packed, the kids' "special" jeans and t's needed washing. I and my pen and notebooks settled into this little room with two washers and two dryers. No chinzy Laundromat here, girls...I washed two loads of clothes on a dollar...and dried them on another dollar! Blue jeans! I digress...I settled into this little room on a comfortable vinyl lawn chair and stared out at the mountain. I came to the conclusion that I could never live there and hope to get anything done. I'd be so busy just WATCHING everything, my pen would never slide across the paper in any controlled way.
Vacation is over now. We came back to the same old house, the same old jobs and schools, the same old bills(and a few new ones) the same old problems(and a few new ones). But we're all a little more rested and a lot less stressed. The kids went back to school and Mark back to work on Monday, and I spent the day sorting all the information I collected for my next novel into some semblance of order. I'm still not over my sinus cold, but I'm better. Less tired, a LOT less stressed and oh so inspired. And it's nice to be home. Though I don't think I'm going to put up with waiting 9 years to go back, even if it's just for a weekend. The holidays, taxes and good old orthodontist visits are all coming up, but you know, something tells me, I might need to go back in the spring for more research. LOL
Hey, come to think of it...my best friend is moving up there in a few months...
Until next week...peace and security.