Thursday, May 1, 2008

Day +337

Chris and I have returned from the wilds of North Carolina where the climate is confused and the speed limit is a dare, but the scenery is lovely and the elevation is mind boggling. We were visiting his dad, Bob, and stepmother, Suzie, and Fluff the wonder dog. It was a trip that we kept meaning to take and after I got sick it became a trip that we needed to take. We'd put so many important things off for inconsequential reasons for so long and these last 17 months have showed us that you need to make your life a priority and live it like you may lose it tomorrow. Chris and I had hoped to make this trip a part of our East Coast tour last October, but the PTLD intervened and I vacationed in sunny Houston for a month as a VIP guest at MD Anderson. In February we tried again and I was diagnosed with the flu the day before we were to leave.

I'm sure you can all understand my hesitancy in talking about the trip before hand. I felt like I'd jinxed myself both times by getting excited and writing about my anticipation. We left Baton Rouge very early in the morning on Sunday and drove straight through to Highlands, North Carolina. Bob and Suzie live up in the mountains and the only way to reach them is on a narrow one lane road that more closely resembles a rumor littered with gravel. Their house is literally perched on the side of the mountain with an incredible 360 degree view of some of the most beautiful topography. Bears occasionally make themselves comfortable on the attached deck dining on bird seed and wondering why the crazy humans are making so much noise and flapping their arms in aggravation. There are chipmunks, of which I saw none, and many birds like cardinals and finches that perch all around the house.

The satellite navigation system we were using to find our way presented a very unique mystery when we were roughly ten miles from our destination. It kept telling us that we had an hour left before we reached the house, but only had to travel ten miles. We were both skeptical and continued to follow the disembodied voice's directions. Fifteen minutes later Chris's knuckles were pale on the steering wheel and I could hear his teeth grinding together. The road we were using was a ribbon of soft soil and rock with an occasional guard rail. More often than not the only thing keeping us on the road was a healthy respect for gravity and the truck's overworked transmission. Our speed slowed to 10 miles per hour and even then we didn't feel secure negotiating the many hair pin turns and steep slopes. An hour later we met a grinning Bob at the end of his driveway.

The night we arrived I saw a furry brown head pop up above the window sill and slowly disappear from view as my brain scrambled to make connections. I was the only one facing the window and I was so tired from driving all day that I still couldn't tell you if it was an enormous raccoon or a moderately sized bear. By the time my body recognized the message my brain was sending out to me it was too late to get a good look. Bob and Chris went outside with flashlights to check things out while Suzie and I remained in the relative warmth of the living room. I'm sure the raccoon/bear/Bigfoot wasn't disappointed in my absence and I wasn't inclined to go outside to brave the 30 degree mist. 30 degrees in spring. We had dressed warmly by Louisiana standards which meant that our sleeves reached our wrists and we were wearing socks. It wasn't quite adequate.

We spent Monday exploring the town shops of which there are many and they all offer a diverse range of merchandise. It's very reminiscent of a resort town in the midst of a boom. Since we had arrived before the tourist season the streets were relatively empty save for a few locals and the shops were still keeping winter hours. While we were strolling the streets I discovered that I have developed a new super power which does not bode well for my prospects of respectability as an elderly woman. It seemed like every cat within a one mile radius had locked onto my presence and had come to pay homage. It all started with one very well fed calico wearing a red collar and a bell who pranced up and started rubbing her cheek against my ankles. She followed me for a block before handing the torch to a large white cat with gray tabby patches. It went on from there, much to Chris's amusement. I'm fairly certain this means that I'll be the "crazy old lady" with all the cats some years from now.

Tuesday Bob took us on a tour of the Blue Ridge parkway where the views were breath taking and the area is touted as having the most waterfalls in the U.S. per square mile. I can believe it.

Overall we had a very lovely, albeit brief visit. We weren't able to spend more time because Chris had to be back in town to start his new job. Yippee! Life is marching to a more even rhythm and we're starting to think more in terms of everyday things. The next step is getting back in school. I'll start with correspondence classes and I'm hopeful that I'll be able to re-enroll in the fall.

I'll post pictures later tonight since they're all on Chris's phone and he's at work. Monday is a very big day at MD Anderson and it seems like every time I check my schedule it grows to consume another hour.


Susan Carrier said...

Highlands, North Carolina, sounds enchanting! So glad that you and Chris were able to make the visit.

Nancy said...

Trip sounded fantastic... rejuvenating even. Congrats on Chris' new job! Your Monday, sounds like my next Tuesday visit. Labs, Bone Marrow Biopsy, Doctor visit, pantamadine breathing treatment, immunizations... the works... Probably much like yours. This will be my two year appointment. I'm assuming this is your one year appointment. I'll be thinking of you. Good Luck... : )

Tina said...

so happy you had a nice trip. you deserve it. and the pictures are really pretty. and you look really pretty.
what a relief.
i'm a little disappointed they weren't pictures of your visit to Candyland or Mars, but I'll take it.

pj said...

From the looks of those photos, in particular your attire, I was sure you went to Alaska. I'm glad you had a great time. Sounds like life is moving on. Yay!

Wiley said...

Fabulous! I'm delighted that you got to make the trip. The mountains are wonderful this time of year. Life is good!