The adventure has begun. Getting out of Birmingham was stressful, but once we were on the road, our cares seemed to melt away with each mile that passed. Neither of us realized just how much we needed to get away, and the drive itself in Dan’s new Mini Roadster was medicinal. We couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather for traveling, and once we reached the Ocoee in Tennessee, we put the top down so that we could take in the beautiful scenery.
It’s difficult to adequately describe what going to the Nantahala River in the mountains of western North Carolina means to us. It is the place where Dan proposed thirteen years ago on the Solstice, and we married exactly a year later on the same waterfall, a place that literally hums with some ancient energy and power. We have had wonderful adventures here enjoying the beauty of nature with dear friends; whitewater rafting, hiking, zip lining, horseback riding, and tons of great conversations into the night by fires and amazing sunsets.
I feel my heart begin to sing as we see the mountains in the distance, as if they are calling to me on some primal level. The Nantahala Gorge is the place that we would move to in a heartbeat if it was in any way feasible. It is a soul place for us. For now, we will happily settle for our annual visits to reconnect with this special place.
Dan reserved one of the historic rock cabins for us this year, one that is deeper into the woods and away from the other cabins. It is blissfully quiet and peaceful- just what we needed to begin what for us is a complicated process of unwinding from our constantly on-the-go lives. We walked around exploring before cleaning up and walking down to a wonderful dinner at the lodge. Laughter and great conversation ensued, always with a focus on the gratitude we feel for each other and the opportunity to experience this place again together.
We are whitewater rafting this morning after our traditional hearty breakfast at The River’s End. We are hoping that one of my former students from Mars Hill College (now University) will be our rafting guide- yet another layer of connection with the river and this place. After that, no more scheduled activities. Instead, we will follow our hearts and do what feels right in the moment, continuing the work of restoring our peace after what has been a very full year. I already feel the Nantahala working its magic, and I can’t wait to see what adventures await.
Each time I come here I leave a piece of my heart, and when I return I finally feel complete again. How grateful I am to have found this man and this place, both priceless gifts, both forever in my heart.