In high school and beyond, I listened to John Denver sing, “Rocky Mountain High,” over and over. I sang along with him and longed for the Rockies with the feeling that that’s where I belonged. Yet, after all these years, I’ve still never seen the Rockies in person.
Living on the east coast for most of my life, I’ve settled for visits to the Appalachians. I love them, because they are mountains. But I’d always felt like they weren’t quite enough. Like they weren’t the real deal, until last weekend.
My friend and I spent Labor Day weekend in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. On the first morning, I woke early to a lovely sunrise.
By mid-day, the sun brightened the crisp blue sky as we hiked a moderately difficult trail on Beech Mountain. The waterfall gleamed like silver flowing over smooth rock and fed a creek who’s cool water tasted cleaner than any I can remember.
Later that day, I shared my longing for the Colorado Rockies with my friend who is well traveled. She talked about how the Rockies don’t have the tree coverage of the Appalachians and about how Colorado had become heavily “developed.” I remembered John Denver singing about “more people, more scars upon the land.”
My friend reminded me that the Appalachian Mountains are much older than the Rockies though they used to be at least as grand. Time has weathered the eastern mountains into gentler slopes covered by a rolling blanket of green and smokey blue.
I started to wonder if maybe these gentle old soul mountains are just as good as the Rockies. They may not be as dramatic, but they sing their own sweet song. My heart sings in their presence, like John Denver sang in “Country Roads,”
“Life is old there, older than the trees…”
On our second evening in the mountains, we went up to Oz.
A prosperous amusement park in the 70s, The Land of Oz is now open for a couple designated weekends in the summer and fall. No one was home, but we peered through a mysterious locked gate at the glowing yellow brick road, and I imagined skipping off to see the wizard, and meeting Glinda, or being Glinda, since I’ve always wanted to play her character.
Then I sat on a hill near the Oz bridge and thought about how there’s no place like home, and how nice it is to live in a state that has mountains on one end and the ocean on the other….
….and I watched the most magnificent sunset I’ve ever seen in my life.
I still want to visit the Rockies, but now I know
I am exactly where I belong.
There’s no place like home.