Late Friday morning this past week, Hubby and I joined another couple for lunch. It had been a while since we spent time with them and we enjoyed a lunch together, catching up and talking. It was wonderful. We had all made plans for the rest of the afternoon when we decided to ditch those plans and head out for a day trip.
This couple often talk about Maggie Valley in North Carolina, it is a place they love to visit and relax. Part of going there is to visit Cataloochee Valley, a historic place in the great Smoky Mountains. We have heard so much about this place, as well as seeing their photos on Facebook, that when it was suggested we drive up after lunch, we readily agreed.
As we headed up the mountains, I thought it was just nice to get away for an afternoon. I didn’t know what awaited me and personally, I didn’t care. It was an adventure that I didn’t know I was in need of. We stopped in Maggie Valley to pick up some snacks to eat when we got to Cataloochee, and after getting back into the car, to me, was when the real adventure started. Up to that point it was usual freeway driving and then onto little country towns, relaxing, but nothing out of the ordinary.
We headed towards Cataloochee and the road delighted my hubby who loves a challenging road. This proved to be the first highlight of his trip. Driving in what was not just an “S” curve, but, actually a long squiggly series of “S” turns, he was smiling with each new turn. The road soon turned to an unpaved road which just added to his glee.
We drove quite a ways, first up a mountain and then headed down into a valley. It seemed to take forever and just added to the anticipation at seeing this place that gives our friends such joy. On the way we were told how elk were brought into the area several years ago and how they have flourished here.
Although I grew up in an area close to Elk county, PA, I confess, I had never seen an elk. There was a part of me that wondered if I would that afternoon. I didn’t need to wonder long, as we came upon a traffic stop. Cars were stopped and people were sticking their heads out of the windows. There in the middle of the road, causing this mini traffic jam was a bull elk. He was slowly sauntering down the road, oblivious to everyone around him. He finally walked over to a field and traffic continued on. With the elk in the field, hubby, as he passed by, rolled down his window and bellowed low out the window. We stopped as we watched the elk. The elk lifted his head as he was trying to listen and then, as if answering my hubby, he bellowed back. The sound was like an old rusty swing on a swing set. It was incredible.
Our first stop in this adventure was at this little church, where we got out and walked around a bit. I kept waiting to see an elk walking around, but, we didn’t. This was such a peaceful place. A stream flowed in front of this building and I could have spent the entire afternoon here and been content.
We drove on and by now, I was so excited! This was an adventure I truly needed. It fed my desire to see new places, and it also fed my spirit which needed to feel some quiet and tranquility.
We continued on our car ride and came to the valley floor. This is an open space with a few structures from long ago. It was crowded as it was a Friday afternoon and weekend travelers were visiting. It did not dampen the excitement for me as in the fields were elk.
We set up a small picnic area near a stream that looked like a perfect place to play in. We munched on our snacks and talked, when across the stream came another bull elk. He took my breath away, actually! We watched as he made his way to the stream, looked around and crossed the stream and headed away from us. Such a majestic animal. So blessed we were to see him so closely!
By then, the afternoon was winding down and storm clouds were forming. Hubby kept a close eye on the sky and we decided to visit a home that remains in the area and is open to view before we headed back home.
This home, so well built, has withstood time and weather, was fascinating. I wish the walls could tell the stories that happened within the walls. As we were leaving the house a cow elk walked into the front yard. She took her time eating the grass and just enjoying the late afternoon sun. There are signs posted everywhere to stay 50 yards away from the elk, so we stayed on the porch watching her. It was captivating, watching her.
As she made her way to the rest of her herd, we made our way to our car. It was a full day. Filled with the beauty of the area, the majestic elk, the peace that resides in the valley, and the company of dear friends. It was a perfect day for us and one that I will cherish in my memory. This impromptu adventure blessed me in ways I was not expecting. I love mountain areas. Given a choice between the coast or mountains, I will always choose mountains. I am always reminded of Psalm 121, which says this, “I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. (New Living Translation). I left that valley full. Full of the peaceful relaxation our friends have talked about. I understood what they meant. I experienced that same refreshment. I am grateful for an unexpected adventure.
Thank you for stopping by today, I hope you have some unexpected adventures yourself that will fill you with peace and refreshing. Cathi (DAF)