(This is the very first place we went on our honeymoon 25 years ago—Chestoa View at Milepost 320.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway)

Our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary was last week, so Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man took the week off to celebrate.  The original plan for our 25th was to retrace the steps of our honeymoon, hiking the same trails and staying in the same hotels.  We weren’t able to do that this year, but have definitely put it on our Things-We-Really-Will-Do-Someday-When Life-Isn’t-So-Hectic list.

Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man loves a road trip, though, so we decided to take a daycation or two and follow wherever the road might lead.  He particularly loves a curvy, twisty mountain road that goes up, so up we went into the higher peaks and ridges of the blue and green mountain ranges that surround us.

Instead of detailing our week, though, I’ll post photos of a few of the wonders we saw on our wanders.  And I’ll tell you about the honeymoon we’d originally hoped to re-create—the one we took twenty-five years ago.

(This is the same enchanted trillium forest we saw on our honeymoon 25 years ago)

By the day of our wedding (a courthouse nuptial), we’d saved a little over a hundred dollars between the two of us for our honeymoon.  Now keep in mind that this was in the days before you had to take out a loan to buy a tank of gas.  Nowadays, a hundred bucks would barely get us from Winston-Salem (where we lived then) to the mountains and back, but in 1987, we filled up the tank on our 1967 Volvo 122S and had plenty left over. We had no particular destination in mind—just a yearning for higher ground.  So we headed west with the idea that we’d head home when the money ran out.

I call that honeymoon our Magical Mystery Tour because I honestly cannot remember how it is we managed to travel the entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, stay three nights in hotels, and actually eat on a hundred bucks, but we did.  I do recall that we only ate once in a restaurant and that the hotels were all quite modest.  And also that Tom always smiled his most charming smile, told the hotel clerks that we were on our honeymoon, and asked for (and got!) a discount.   But I don’t recall any more of the practical details than that.

But what I do recall is that I never felt deprived.  I remember thinking that I could not imagine a better four-day honeymoon than this; I could not imagine being happier.  We hiked to mountaintop after mountaintop, fed each other from the grocery bag of snacks we’d brought along, and drank gallons of ice-cold mountain water.

We were so full of hope and faith then—a miracle in itself for me since I’d previously experienced a difficult marriage to an abusive man.  I’ve been thinking this week how fortunate it was that we could not see the hard road that lay ahead of us.   Even if we had, though, I don’t think it would have deterred us.  We strode confidently into the future, hand-in-hand and certain that together, we could handle anything that came our way.

And I suppose you could say we have.  Handled things, that is…but only by the merciful grace of God.  We’ve had a hard time of it, I’m afraid, for most of our twenty-five years—illness, injury, job loss, natural and unnatural disasters, too little money, and worst of all, the loss of so many of those loved ones we held most dear.   There are scars, and sometimes, it’s very hard to feel hopeful, to have faith, to trust.

But broken as we are, we are still walking hand-in-hand.  Not striding so confidently now, I suppose.  Our steps are far more tentative and cautious, and sometimes we falter.  But we’re still climbing upward , vigilant for danger, yes… but for  beauty, too.  And still believing that something splendid, lovely, and worth the long and difficult climb lies ahead, just around the bend.

20 Responses to “Twenty-Five”

  1. Elora Says:

    You’re amazing, girl. Just, simply …amazing.


  2. Sharon Says:

    Hey Beth, How utterly ironic that you posted today. SInce we are new blog friends, I’ve been slowly working my way through your blog from its beginning. And since today is a rest day on our trip, I’ve been reading and I’ve made it up to the end of 2010. So in your current post, I’ve read enough to understand how difficult your road has been. And I’m sorry. You are a gifted writer and although I wasn’t around to share thoughts with you at the time, I’m certainly grateful now for your courage and your willingness to share your life with others. Bill and I will celebrate our 35th next month. We’ve had our share of tough times as well, but then, I can’t imagine anyone sharing lives for these lengths of time without tough times. No glossing over or cliched phrases here – just glad I found you and hope you’ll keep writing. Your pictures (every last one of them) seem like “home” to me. Sharon

  3. betsyfromtennessee Says:

    Hi Beth, You have the best attitude and we all could learn from you. You make the best of all situations… Sounds like, even though your couldn’t totally relive your honeymoon, you had a great time anyhow. That is AWESOME.

    We love to get to the top of mountains and mountain ranges.. There’s something just powerful about being UP there… IF I had another life to live, I would want a little cabin in the mountains —on top of a mountain, and of course, with a waterfall nearby… ha ha

    Happy Anniversary… Hopefully, your life will now just continue to get better and better… Did Benjamin get his job? Has he moved yet? How’s the little married daughter doing?

    God Bless You, Beth….. You are always in my prayers.

  4. Jeff Says:

    In the darkness of the night, only occasionally relieved by glimpses of Nirvana as seen through other people’s windows, wallowing in a morass of self-despair made only more painful by the knowledge that all I am is of my own making …

    When everything around me, even the kitchen ceiling, has collapsed and crumbled without warning. And I am left, standing alive and well, looking up and wondering why and wherefore.

    At a time like this, which exists maybe only for me, but is nonetheless real, if I can communicate, and in the telling and the baring of my soul anything is gained, even though the words which I use are pretentious and make you cringe with embarrassment, let me remind you of the pilgrim who asked for an audience with the Dalai Lama.

    He was told he must first spend five years in contemplation. After the five years, he was ushered into the Dalai Lama’s presence, who said, ‘Well, my son, what do you wish to know?’ So the pilgrim said, ‘I wish to know the meaning of life, father.’

    And the Dalai Lama smiled and said, ‘Well my son, life is like a beanstalk, isn’t it?’

    Held close by that which some despise
    which some call fake, and others lies
    And somewhat small
    for one so tall
    a doubting Thomas who would be?
    It’s written plain for all to see
    for one who I am with no more
    it’s hard at times, it’s awful raw

    They say that Jesus healed the sick and helped the poor
    and those unsure
    believed his eyes
    – a strange disguise
    Still write it down, it might be read
    nothing’s better left unsaid
    only sometimes, still no doubt
    it’s hard to see, it all works out

    From: In Held ‘Twas In I: Glimpses of Nirvana

    Procul Harum

  5. Bonnie Jacobs Says:

    Happy anniversary, dear friend. May the next 25 years be wonderful ones for you.

  6. Chris Says:

    Happy anniversary and best wishes for many more years together.

  7. Darla Says:

    Blessings on your 25th. You said “But what I do recall is that I never felt deprived.” And isn’t it wonderful when we pause in those moments consciously throughout each day? When we pause, close our eyes, breathe in and out, and feel the miracle of existence?

    I was a little saddened, though, when you ended with “And still believing that something splendid, lovely, and worth the long and difficult climb lies ahead, just around the bend.” My heart contracted a bit and I wanted to reach out and hug you, Beth. Peace and love to you, that you know the splendid and lovely worthiness of many moments in the now.


  8. CJ Says:

    Happy Anniversary Beth. And Thank You.

  9. Benjamin Says:

    Happy anniversary. Here’s to a happy twenty-five years to the fiftieth!

  10. Debi Kelly Van Cleave Says:

    That was great Jeff. Love Procul Harem.

    Beth, you can do this. You will turn that corner. If you could make that hundred bucks last on that honeymoon, you can do anything.
    Congratulations! In this day and age, 25 years is a wonderful accomplshment! You have more riches than most.

  11. Plowing Through Life (Martha) Says:

    Happy anniversary, Beth. What a lovely, profound post. No matter what type of road you travel, the trip is always easier when you are with the right person. I wish you many more years together, and I pray that they are good ones.

  12. CountryDew Says:

    Wonderful post! Congratulations, 25 years is quite an accomplishment. I hope that your path grows easier but whatever life brings you, I wish for you the strength to survive it.

  13. Jayne Says:

    I could feel the joy in your words and see it in your views my friend. So glad you got to return to that place and still feel the happiness it brought you those many years ago. Love to you both.

  14. Ana Says:

    I was in the Blue Ridge mountains last year. I was in the state of Georgia though, so so beautiful. Cannot imagine a best place to spend your anniversary. Happy anniversary 🙂

  15. Ana Says:

    Your words are kind and inspiring. Like you I feel very protective of the person I was… I have to start reading your blog from the beginning. You sound like someone who has something important to say.

  16. Bikbik & Roro Says:

    Ah, we must always remain prisoners of hope, dear friend. How blessed you are to be in a strong marriage, and to enjoy such a lavish, breathtaking landscape. Happy happy anniversary!

  17. Jes Says:

    I just got a little teary eyed reading this–what a joy to read about a couple making it 25 years! Your honeymoon sounds like it must have been the most amazing adventure along the parkway–and to be able to drive for a day and see some of the same spots on the anniversary is incredible. Love & thoughts to you & your family–it seems like it’s been rough lately, glad you could take time and enjoy the beauty of the Blue Ridge!

  18. Rider Says:

    I read your posting over and over again, Ms. Blue. I wanted to make certain that I understood it. I wanted to make certain that, for the first time, your posting is more about sadness than joy.

    You used to stop writing in the dark periods. That was a mistake, I thought, and I tried to tell you so. Wisdom isn’t always joyous. Just ask the author of “Ecclesiastes.”

    Anyway, thank you for the very beautiful posting. And congratulations to you and to Mr. Blue on your Silver Wedding Anniversary.

  19. Vicki Lane Says:

    What a lovely post! It sounds like a perfect honeymoon and an equally perfect re-creation.It also sounds like a good strong marriage. Congratulations to both of you.

  20. eemilla Says:

    Congratulations on your milestone! I hope that we’ll be lucky enough to celebrate our twenty-fifth year of marriage.

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