In recent weeks I’ve had a similar conversation with a few different friends. While talking about what we’ve been doing, or where we’ve been the conversation just led to this topic, and I felt the content of these conversations are worthy of sharing on a blog.
Do the mountains have an “effect” on us? My friends some who have lived here a short time, or others for several years all shared with me that we share similar emotions. We all live in the Spring Creek area and travel to Waynesville for groceries, and other errands, appointments that we need to take care of usually once a week or so. We travel across the mountain known to us locally as Betsy’s Gap that is Hwy. 209 which is a designated scenic highway, so we certainly can enjoy the views along the way (as opposed to driving an interstate or state road in the city). We usually don’t encounter traffic jams, but frequently see wildlife such as deer, turkey, and even an occasional bear. Seeing wildlife can add to the experience of traveling to “town”.
My friends, and I do what we need to do in town, maybe have lunch, and spend a few hours to complete our errands, and business. But, it’s the trip back here that lends itself to the question… “do the mountains have an effect on us”?
Waynesville is not a huge city, but it has everything we need… WalMart, grocery stores, banks, restaurants, medical offices, etc. There’s a point as we travel back towards home northbound on Hwy. 209 where we reach the Ferguson General Store. It is at a “y” intersection in the road, but it’s also here where it begins (certainly this point for me), where we bear right to continue on Hwy. 209, to come back to Spring Creek (beyond it will lead you to Hot Springs, pop. 600+-). It’s at this place where we see cows grazing, old homesteads, gardens boasting brightly colored gladiolas (seasonally, of course), and summer vegetables, and the mountain ridges as we approach Betsy’s Gap again.
It’s hard to describe because I think it’s something that a person just has to experience to understand. For me personally, I feel as though I’m traveling back into a private world that many may pass through, but many fewer exist in. While traveling… in my mind I’ve often thought of my favorite movie “Last of the Dogmen“, where the movie’s characters travel into the secluded mountains of northwest Montana. During their adventure they find an Indian civilization that survived a massacre many years earlier. Spring Creek is by no means exactly the same as the setting of the movie, and we don’t have an Indian civilization here, but it’s the “effect“. As a matter of fact, just talking about the movie reminds me that it’s been awhile since I’ve watched it, and creates the desire to watch it again soon. Driving across the gap has an effect of traveling to somewhere that is on “the road less traveled“, surrounded by the views that although not literally… take your breath away. The wonder of how people lived here 100+ years ago (or even just 60+ years ago when Hwy. 209 in Spring Creek was a dirt road). I feel a greater state of “relaxation” as I travel the 10 miles across the mountain from Fines Creek to “Trust” (yes, that’s the community name; just before reaching it is the community of “Luck”). Windows down breathing fresh mountain air, “tunes-up” (often to the sound of Native American music) enhance this journey home. My friends shared with me that they know what I mean… they share a similar state of mind on the same journey from town. You sort of unknowingly just exhale, and feel re-vitalized after being in the city, even if for a brief time.
Additionally, my friends and I all have grown children and grandchildren. It common to travel to visit them, or leave home on occasion for some other reason. The concensus is as the saying goes… “it’s nice to go away, but it’s always good to be back home”. More true for those of us here in the mountains. I think we have separation anxiety with these mountains, and the lifestyle! So… “do the mountains have an “effect” on us”? It may take you a trip or two here to decide for yourself.