For the first time in over a week my Mountain Boy and I drove slowly through beautiful countryside close to home, with the intent to take our time, stop and take pictures when we wanted to, enjoy the quiet and the company of each other and just relax.
We stopped briefly at a country store just on the other side of the tiny town of Lynchburg, which of course is famous both for its Jack Daniels distillery and the fact that it is a dry county.
Not long after we first arrived back in Tennessee we stopped at this same country store.
We had planned on only buying gum and a drink at the time and then heading immediately out again, but as we wandered through what is in effect an "Odds and Ends" store we realized that they also served food in the back.
When LC asked me if I wanted to eat breakfast there I doubtfully looked around me.
Two middle aged country ladies wearing white t-shirts and jeans working in the kitchen and serving meals.
Four or five fold out tables, complete with plastic chairs, plastic napkin holders, plastic forks and plastic ketchup bottles.
I looked at the menu written in Magic Marker on the white board.
It was late in the morning and the plate lunch of the day was meatloaf and mashed potatoes, with side dishes of macaroni and cheese, pinto beans, okra, coleslaw and cornbread.
I cringed inwardly knowing that LC would love this and that there was no way I could stomach that meal.
Mustering a half-hearted smile I said "Sure!", and asked the ladies if they could make bacon, eggs and toast for me.
When they said that they could I thankfully sat down and waited apprehensively to see what their breakfast looked like.
As we waited I looked around the store some more.
Looking at the advertised odds and ends, looking at the country people who walked into the store wearing their bib overalls and John Deere ball caps, listening to their southern drawl as they talked, I felt completely disoriented.
After being away from Tennessee for almost two years, coming into this small country store put me into a state of complete culture shock.
LC ate his mushy lunch and I ate my breakfast and the food was very good.
After finishing our meal I went to pick up a pack of gum and saw thick plastic see-through containers lying on a shelf and holding blankets with sports logos on them.
Looking at them more closely I was amazed to find a blanket with my oldest sons favorite sports team emblazoned on it.
I walked out of the store that day with a pack of gum and a Toronto Maple Leafs throw.
We have been back to that simple little restaurant in back of the odds and ends store a few more times over the past months, including this morning as we were passing through Lynchburg...............
I know this area very well (including many of the back roads) because I used to live in Moore County when I was married.
I also used to road bike and road run these quiet country roads. A few times every week for years.
For a while when I was house hunting after my divorce I hoped to find a house in Moore County but at that time there were few homes available and they were expensive.
It is expensive because it is not far from Tims Ford State Park and Tims Ford Lake and the historic and touristy town of Lynchburg.
Because many of the farms in Moore County are very large.
Because many people from Huntsville own recreational property out in this area as well as some entertainers (including Little Richard).
It is an area filled with beautiful farmland, endless rolling hills, and a million trees that are all now completely green.
Turning left at the Co-op we found our way onto the two lane paved road extending from Lynchburg to Winchester.
It was a winding, hilly, narrow two lane highway which almost goes without saying because these kinds of back roads in Tennessee are ALL like that.
We had only been driving for a few minutes when I asked LC to stop the truck.
Out in Wyoming stopping the truck was never a big production because the roads were open and quiet and often straight and flat.
On winding country roads in Tennessee (where locals know every bend and curve in the road and they are in a hurry to get to the lake) pulling over is a little more complicated.
It often requires driving beyond the desired stopping place, pulling into someone's driveway, turning around, looking for a slight shoulder on the side road close to where you want to stop, pulling in, and then pulling out and accelerating quickly (just in case someone is speeding around the bend to meet you).
I wanted to take a picture of this barn.
Of the trees and the dusty blue sky and of the field of yellow wild flowers that are now growing everywhere in the county...................
This place was completely lovely...................
LC was parked in the driveway of this home, located across the road from the barn and flowers and fields I had been photographing.
On the spur of the moment I snapped this picture of the house.
A beautiful home backed up to hills and trees and endless green fields...................
LC was born and raised in Tennessee.
He lived briefly in a few states while growing up and served in Vietnam, but for the most part his home has always been in Tennessee.
I have lived all over the world and moved to Tennessee in 1996 - 16 years ago now.
Until I began looking for a new job out west - looking ideally for work in such states as Montana or Wyoming or Colorado - and then getting a job in Juneau Alaska - Tennessee was just where I..........lived without much thought.
After landing unexpectedly in Wyoming LC and I equally unexpectedly began to realize that it was a really outstanding place to live that closely fit our lifestyle, our desire for openess and freedom, our values.
And we loved the Yellowstone, and Shoshone National Forest, and the Big Horns, the Beartooth, the bison and grizzly bears and elk and big horn sheep and black tailed deer.
The quiet. The endless sky and endless open space.
Wyoming is an uninterrupted beige most of the year. The wind blows coldly and hard. It is expensive.
I love my house in Tennessee. It is an older and modest home and I like it very much.
The state is filled with mountains and rivers and lakes and green.
But it is a very busy place.
Too many people, too much traffic, too much commercialism, too much noise, just too much.......
Tennessee is a beautiful, green, lush state.
Maybe because aside from the house and our grown children there is nothing left for us in Tennessee.
So why do we miss Wyoming so much?
We are both beginning to wonder exactly where we are supposed to be.
Part of me says to just stop moving. Just settle and relax and breathe. To just stop.
Part of me wonders if I will ever feel settled again..................
I think that we bought a good truck, and although I miss the red one I like this new white beast.
It is much much better on gas than the red truck, and we sold the red one for enough money to buy this one and pay for a new air conditioning unit for my GMC and buy a new AR-15, with some money left over.
I think that we got a very good deal and LC seems happy with the trade-off he made...............
This stone wall extended from the main road through the entire length of the property, and is one of a great many stone walls that exist in the south.
Built in the 1800's they are known as Slave Walls.
I have heard that they were primarily built by slaves for their plantation owners at the time, and built to border their properties.
I have also heard that these walls were built primarily by Scottish and Irish immigrants with slaves used as helpers.
Regardless, the name seems appropriate.
They are made up entirely of loose rock (with no mortar holding them in place). Supposedly they were to be built high enough to prevent horses from jumping over them but I have rarely seen these walls high enough to meet that criteria.
Also supposedly they were to be settled deep enough into the ground to prevent hogs from rooting and digging at the base of the walls and compromising their structural integrity.
There are many many of these walls throughout the entire south and I see them often.
Some are crumbling and some are beginning to be taken down (much to the consternation of historians who worry that a part of southern history is being torn away).
They are solid and beautiful and artistic and truly regional...............
After stopping and starting and driving for 30 minutes LC and I debated briefly which way to head home.
We could continue straight until reaching Winchester, and then home on the 4 lane through Estill Springs to Tullahoma.
We could turn down where I used to live, cross over the lake and head to Tullahoma on back roads.
Or we could turn towards Tims Ford State Park and head home on still other back roads.
While still debating our options I asked LC to stop when I saw three horses grazing quietly in a field.
One especially caught my eye.
He was standing alone at the top of a hill..................
I was greatly enjoying this quiet drive in the country.
The world is lush and green and very beautiful and for the first time in a while LC and I were taking our time and driving where the mood took us.
We made one last stop before heading home.
My youngest sons favorite fishing spot on the Elk River at Tims Ford Dam.
Another blog for another time....................
To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.................Ralph Waldo Emerson