Control. Or lack thereof. I am not fond of heights. In my impressionable, pre-teen years, my parents brought my sister and I to Gatlinburg. One of the things we did was a chairlift ride. Over the trees. High. Not strapped in. No seatbelt. Just a bar across our laps and the open sky below our feet. I believe it was that ride that created my fear of heights.
As I write this Steve, Paxton and I are on our second trip today through the Smokey Mountain National Forest in Tennessee. While driving from Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge, we took an unexpected detour. Into the mountains. Yes, I was driving, but we both missed whatever sign told us to turn. They could use better signage here.
I realize now that I am a better driver than passenger. It is all about control. On our first trip into the mountains, I was driving. I had control over the speed. I had control over the physical location of the car in relation to the edge of the road. I was able to hug the yellow center line as I wanted. I had control. I felt safe.
After over an hour of up and down the mountain we are in a small Indian village in Cherokee, North Carolina. We needed gas and stopped at what I believe was the only gas station. We filled up, got snacks and asked for directions only to be told that the only reasonable way back was the way we came. Up again. Over the mountain.
I am now a passenger. Steve is driving. I have no control. I hold my breath on every hairpin turn, fearing the edge of the road, looking out the side window to a view that is breathtaking but also an abyss of treetops.
12 miles left. We have to be on the downward side now. It is better if I do not look. Just type. Eyes on the keyboard. Just. Don’t. Look.
By the time we are out it has been over two and a half hours. Finally Pigeon Forge. The strip. No up. No down. Lights. Civilization. Comfort.