Roan Mountain. I've always wanted to see it. To hike the famous Cloudland Trail. To look out at the awesome view from Roan High Bluff. To see the rhododendrons in bloom.
On Saturday Lorie and I decided to take a break from packing and head up to Roan Mountain. We drove east to Marion and then north towards the Tennessee border. It was a perfect day--not a cloud in the sky.
Finally we were driving up Highway 261 -- the twisty mountain road that would put us on Roan Mountain. Lorie noticed that the car started to slow down. No problem, she thought. It's just the steep mountain grade.
Finally we were looking at Roan Mountain. It was right in front of us. One, maybe two miles away.
And then the car stopped completely.
And so the rest of our day looked something like this...
So, I still haven't been to Roan Mountain! Although I've seen it from below. From where the car broke down we could actually see people hiking the Cloudland Trail.
But you know, we still had an awful lot to be thankful for...
1- A safe place to stop: It just so happened that when the car lost power we were right beside one of the few turnoffs on that narrow mountain road.
2- A picnic lunch: We had plenty of food, and we even had a picnic blanket to spread out on the ground in the shade.
3- AAA: We've been members for 28 years, and we've used them often. Despite the remote location, they found us and sent help.
4- Friends to share the adventure: We were with our friends Josh and Nicole Ray and their small children Shelby and Jackson. These kinds of mishaps are easier to deal with when you're hanging out with people whose company you enjoy.
5- A flat bed tow truck (and a really nice driver): The driver got there in record time. He shared our picnic while waiting for the battery to recharge. Then he followed us into Spruce Pine to see if we could make it to the garage. As it turned out, the car died again at the bottom of the twisty mountain road, so he loaded it up on the truck and four of us (including the two kids) were able to ride in the car on the truck. Had it been a traditional pull-behind tow truck, we four would have been stranded.
6- Spruce Pine: Once the car was unloaded at the garage, we walked into the charming little town of Spruce Pine. And since Nicole used to work there, she had insider's knowledge of where things are--a coffee shop, an outdoor adventure store, furniture stores, and best of all, a park where the kids could play. We entertained ourselves for hours.
7- Friends to rescue us: Keith and Cynthia Kohatsu, and their children Aaron, Hannah, and Eli, are some of the best neighbors we've ever had. They put their Saturday afternoon plans on hold so that Keith could drive up to Spruce Pine in their mini-van and bring the six of us home. (And then, as if that wasn't enough neighborliness, they had Lorie and me over for dinner the next night!)
8- Cell phones: How did we ever live without them? What would we have done if we'd had no way to call AAA, call Keith, etc.? Or if there were no way for them to call us back?
9- A gorgeous day: Thunderstorms appear suddenly in the mountains. Imagine if we'd had to do all that standing around and walking in a torrential downpour.
10- A sense of humor: Rather than go negative, we all found things to laugh about. And we kept reminding each other: "Some day this is going to make a great story!"
All things considered, it turned out to be a pretty great day!