As the title states, I really want to live in the mountains. I’ve dreamed of it for many years. I can even think back to the moment that started the gears running, driving my aspiration for living in the mountains.
Let me take you back to February, 2003. I had just started dating this hot chick four months prior. I was utterly infatuated with this woman and spent every available moment I had with her and her family. So, just four months into the relationship, she asked me if I wanted to go on a road trip with her mom and step-dad to pick up her sister’s fiance from Fort Eustis, Virginia, as they were set to be married the following month.
I loved to drive, and we didn’t want one fully packed vehicle, so she and I decided to follow her mom and step-dad in my red Pontiac Grand Am. This will be important as you continue the story. Her step-dad was a motorcycle enthusiast from Kentucky, and knew the scenic roads in that part of the country, so he knew which way to take to enjoy the views, not just taking the freeways. He knew the scenic motorcycle routes, and had ridden them before. And so, the adventure began.
We left from Michigan and drove the freeways through northern Ohio and into Pennsylvania, but then we veered south and into West Virginia, then cut east to Virginia The fun began when we hit Route 250, a well known motorcycle scenic route. The views were breathtaking, with mountains on both sides of us. The roads were winding with sharp curves like some of the great kayaking rivers of Michigan. We were able to cruise through a couple of tunnels underneath the mountains and were provided the opportunity to experience a few historic covered bridges. We also drove through some tranquil, winsome mountain towns on our journey.
There was one town in particular that we came upon, that I will never forget the image of in my mind. The name of the town, however, has already escaped my memory. Bummer. I remember driving through the heavily wooded forest, almost to the point where the trees created their own tunnel. When we reached the opening, there it lay; nestled in a deep wood-lined valley with mountains on both sides. The homes were spread apart, with large plots of land for farming or herding. It was like we entered a dreamworld. You could see the rays of sunshine beaming down over the mountain peaks. In one direction, the sky changed colors to a dark grey, and you could see the rain or snow coming down in sheets, but it was just coming over the top of the range, and heading our way. The quaint downtown area as a whole seemed smaller than the individual homeowners’ properties, with only a diner, a post office, a hardware store, a small grocer, and a few other small businesses. A church was set on a hill just above the town, on the outskirts. Any which way you looked, no matter where you stood, you were presented a magnificent, picturesque landscape.
I could only imagine stepping out of the back door of my home in a place like this, and just going for a walk, exploring the backcountry trails in the mountainous terrain. Doing a bit of wandering, hiking, and climbing to find the ideal overlook to sit down with my journal and pen, and just begin writing. I wish I could remember where exactly that little town in West Virginia was, but it was so long ago. That chick I was dating doesn’t even remember where exactly it was, but she said she could picture it perfectly. This was the town that got me to thinking, and desiring to live in the mountains. I wish I had photos of this town.
The road trip continued from here, as we slowly drove through the Monongahela National Forest and Shenandoah National Park. The roads continued to curve sharply and steeply climb as we slowly maneuvered up the mountain roads, but it started to snow…a lot. The snow came quickly, and we were not the slightest bit prepared for the heavy blankets that were being dumped on top of us. The roads grew remarkably slick and we had a tough time getting up the inclines in parts, especially in my Grand Am, and following her parents in their front wheel drive truck. We needed tire chains, but came unprepared. We even got to a point where we became completely stuck, as the tires continued to spin, making a high-pitched whining sound as the rubber of the tires tried to grip the road, but only caught the coat of ice that covered it. The longer and harder we attempted to move, the further off the cement the car went, but luckily to the mountain wall side of the road, and not over the cliff side. We stood by, helpless for nearly an hour, when a tow truck eventually came upon us and helped pull us out, and up the steep incline.
As soon as the opportunity presented itself, we pulled into a small town motel where we could stop for the evening, escape the snowstorm, recharge our batteries, and catch our bearings before we continued on the following morning, after the heavy snowfall dissipated. I distinctly recall the two story motel with white railings. The motel room was plastered with gaudy floral patterned wallpaper lining every inch of the room. The furniture was ancient and extremely beat up. The table had one of those plastic-lined red and white checkered tablecloths on it. It may have been only a one star, but the views were spectacular, and we were not provided a choice of where to stay due to the conditions of the roads and the vehicles we decided to drive. In spite of the conditions of the motel itself, just peering from the room door provided a panoramic view of the mountains just beyond a wide open, flat, undeveloped piece of land with a river running just along the foot of the mountain.
The hot chick and I played cards in the room while taking down a few beers that we were able to acquire at the local gas station just across the road. I distinctly remember listening to John Mayer’s album, Room For Squares, on my small CD player/boombox I had brought with me on the trip. The weather warmed up overnight, and the next morning left clear roads and smooth sailing for us as we continued on our journey.
Okay, now I can’t leave you just hanging here. I’m sure you are sitting there asking just who was that hot chick? Well, I have now known that hot chick for over 15 years. I wake up to her beside me every morning, and I don’t regret a single moment. She has been through absolutely everything with me. She has been by copilot on a multitude of adventures. She has been the most remarkable mother to our two beautiful daughters. She has been the most supportive, genuine, scintillating, loving wife a guy could every dream of having by his side. She is my wife, my lover, my partner, my companion, my everything.
Now…ever since this trip, I have been trying to slate our family vacations closer to nature, and I just can’t seem to stop searching for the home of my dreams on a nice plot of land somewhere at the foot of a mountain with no sweat access to hiking trails, rivers, and a multitude of options to enjoy and explore until my heart is content.
The mountains are where I feel utterly at peace. It makes me grasp the notion of how small I really am among the giants surrounding me. It gives me a much more pure sense of my being, within such a grand world. Sometimes, when I am in my usual daily routine, living and working in a metro area, I seem to forget about the larger picture, and the things that are undoubtedly paramount in my life.
The mountains provide endless opportunities for new and exciting adventures, whether it be climbing, hiking, backpacking, caving, exploring, skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing, just to name a few. I find inspiration when nature is all around me, in full view, fulfilling all of my senses. The smells, the sounds, the sights, to the feel of the rocks, the grass, the trees, the wind, the rain. I want the opportunity to sit and look down upon the world from above to be available to me at a moment’s notice, just an adventurous hike away.
Have you seen all of those Facebook posts with a photo of some quaint, cozy log cabin all alone with a ridiculously gorgeous mountainous backdrop, where the caption states “would you give up social media completely if you had the opportunity to live here?” Well, my answer is an immediate, unequivocal, thunderous “yes, absolutely, without a doubt in my mind.”
My only obstacle is figuring out how I am going to be able to support my family and be able to afford a move like that, and the ability to continue to provide for my amazing family of four, while still having the means to take amazing vacations, and show my kids everything that nature has to offer.
John Muir hit the nail on the head with his quote, “The mountains are calling and I must go.”
To be continued…