October 16, 2014
I have lost track of how much time I have spent traveling in the last few days. It has been two days since we left the relentless rain of Alaska's wettest season in 104 years. A late night ferry ride to Juneau, arriving beyond the hour of midnight but in time for gratitude at having a place to land my head before spending the day visiting my dermatologist (who curiously lives in Haines, but only works in Juneau), a bit of shopping before handing my car off to the first of series of repair shops who will pass my car off to subsequent shops for subsequent repairs in my absence over the next ten days. And we are up at the crack of dawn to begin the dosey-doe of airlines to whisk us off to Charlotte North Carolina.
I have lost track of how much time I have spent travelling when I awake at 6:00 a.m. in North Carolina. I have not yet set my watch, which reminds me it would be 2:00 a.m. in my usual reality. I have slept about four hours after travelling four time zones but my body knows when it is time to get moving (curiously I seem to still be in the minority at the Econolodge) and I have woken up sorting through inventory of camera equipment in my mind and working on how to sort/stage/travel with a very modest array (travelling mode) of one camera body, three lenses, five filters, and one tripod.
We never got our usual road trip accomplished this year, so I decided to explore a place I have never been. I lived on the east coast for about twenty-five years and never drove the fabled Blue Ridge Parkway. As is so often the case, we tend to neglect our own backyards, though from my home of New Hampshire, North Carolina did not feel like a backyard, but coming from Alaska, my sense of scale has been redefined. There is a chance for splendid foliage and waterfalls. We missed a large measure of autumn in Alaska this year due to winds and weather stripping the trees as soon as they turned. Most importantly, it is a chance to visit a new best friend. I recently rekindled a close friendship with Elaine at my brother's wedding, where we took great solace in each others company being two of the very few straight people at a gay wedding. (Ironically, this straight fellow was the only guy in a skirt (kilt), too!)
It is exciting to once again follow the lens, and getting the boots on new ground. We have never been to Charlotte, and heading toward Asheville and Brevard is all new terrain to explore. It will be an adventure, which I am always up for, but by definition adventures have no guarantee of success, risk the chance of failure, and entail the possibility of infinite surprises. These things are not on my bucket list, but the list has an uncanny tendency to generate itself. Besides, it is NOT a bucket list, it is living life. (I actually refuse to have a "bucket list". I plan to live forever, and so far, so good.) There was a sense of excitement getting off the plane knowing it is a new airport, even though it looks like a lot of other airports, and bears an uncanny resemblance to LAX.
.... photos shared by Elaine on my timeline in Facebook show swollen and raging falls in the Pisgah National Forest due to recent rains, and foliage in full force at low elevations. Will the rivers be too swollen? Have we overshot the peak time for foliage? Is there a chance of failure?
... at 6 a.m. I am wondering, where is the sun?
... at 7 a.m. I am wondering, where is the sun?
We arrive in Brevard & Elaine's wonderful home in Connesstee Falls. It is fun to see new trees and hear new birds. It is a bit late in the day and we enjoy just sitting down and visiting and catching up, but eventually we get up and out and make a short jaunt to see some of the local sights. We visit Hooker Falls in Dupont State Recreational Forest and Atagahi Lake. I am relieved to see the water is clean and the leaves are colorful. After a wonderful supper, I finally get a full night's sleep.