Saturday, October 20, 2007

Oh, where have the months gone?

I suppose an update is in order. It's been a busy couple months, and, as a result, I've neglected my blog. Since August I've spent much time planning last-minute details for my wedding, getting married, planning and taking the two-week honeymoon, readjusting (barely) to "normal" life, working 55-plus hours a week at the dairy farm--in addition to all the other little things that pop up. Needless to say, downtime is rare these days; today is an odd day where I have found the opportunity to post.

But don't you worry, any of you three out there who might still be checking out this blog every once in a while, for I hope to be taking shorter hiatuses between posts. Really, I mean it this time. Really. Well, as long as I can stay awake past 9 p.m., which has been a struggle lately.

Time has flown. One month ago we were on the road, probably in Charleston, WV, at the conclusion of our honeymoon. It seems so long ago, but not really. We did a Southern road trip of sorts, starting in New Orleans, winding through Savannah and Charleston, SC, and ending in the mountains of NC, VA and WV. I wish I had a laptop so that I could've blogged on the road.

The whole trip was great, but I can't get over those mountains. We camped in Cataloochee in the Smokies (our second visit to the great national park--the first coming a few years back), where we saw the reintroduced elk herd up close and wandered the trails where several thousand people made their homes before the park became a park. Some say Cataloochee is NC's counterpart to Cades Cove, but less crowded and (so the logic goes) more enjoyable. Well, it was substantially less crowded than Cades Cove, utterly beautiful, and filled with intriguing historical remnants, but lacked the sheer, divine power of the Cades Cove landscape. There's a reason Cades Cove is the most visited location in the the most visited national park. That said, Cataloochee was amazing in its own right, and I wish I got to spend more time exploring it.

We also rented a renovated farmhouse near Waynesville, NC that had spectacular mountain views and modern indulgences (like a hot tub on the porch). Loved the view, loved the house, loved Waynesville. But it didn't matter where I was or what I was doing: I just love the mountains, and I can't really put it into words.

All in all, we spent about three days in western North Carolina, partly because we are thinking of relocating to the mountains in the near future. We've spent time on the Tennessee side of the Smokies, which was when we fell in love with the Appalachians, as well as the foothills of Kentucky, and now we've explored parts of NC, West Virginia and southwestern Virginia. Floyd, VA was a very cool little progressive mountain town, population somewheres around 435 (one of the best small towns to raise a family in America, some publication said recently), SW Virginia along the Blue Ridge Parkway was filled with mountain homeyness and a deep, inspiring tradition of American roots music, and everywhere we went in NC was great. West Virginia, while filled with astounding scenery and great nature opportunities, didn't really measure up, though we didn't spend enough time there to really get a feel for it. Let's just say that the state capitol, Charleston, seemed about as lame as cities come. But then again, I'm not a big fan of big cities anyway.

Anyway, the rural and small city areas surrounding Asheville, NC seem like a great place to live (mountain country living and modern, progressive, urban benefits in one area). After descending back to the flatlands I couldn't let go of the feelings I had while being in the mountains--again. Somehow, some undefinable part of me is truly at home in the highlands. When I'm not there I yearn to be there; when I'm there I'm exceedingly inspired.

And sometimes, lately, I seem to lack inspiration. Often, I think I'm just biding my time until I can get home. Then again, sometimes I think I have issues living in the moment and embracing the gifts in front of me, which is probably true. But the awe and excitement I feel when I get to look up and see mountains all around me is impossible to write off as some passing fancy or superficial attraction that will fade with time.

Ever since I left my original home in Illinois, I've thought of myself as a nomad. Place is utterly important to me, hence the current focus of this blog. And central Wisconsin is great and all, but I've always known it would be a temporary place for me. But I'm tired of temporary after all these years, and I want to find a homeplace.

The southeastern mountains are calling me home. The questions is, When can we feasibly make the journey? We need to answer that question very soon.

In the meantime, as I get the opportunity, I plan on changing the focus of this blog because I just don't have the time or passion to do justice to central Wisconsin as a place. Who knows where I'll go with this, but I hope to be able to write something of value, even if it's just random ramblings.