(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.