Long ago, Dear Reader, in an economy far, far away… Marie and I made a habit of going out for long drives in the country on Sundays after church. It was one of those simple pleasures in life that we enjoy so much. We would stop off somewhere and pick up sandwiches and drinks and head out on the highways and byways. Mostly the byways. And quite a few back roads, and even a goat path or two.
We loved getting out and seeing what is here and where they keep it. We would generally spend the rest of the day on these joyrides. But things have gotten tight lately and this practice has been pretty much mothballed. Pretty much, but not entirely.
We recently decided to take a Saturday and drive up to the new Highway 25E overlook on Clinch Mountain, near Tazwell Tennessee. It was a beautiful fall day; the sky was clear and azure. Trees were starting to turn color, proudly decked out in the deep red of red oaks, the gold-orange of white oaks, hickories and poplar, the bright red of dogwoods and the vivid orange of maple, creating a tapestry of color draped over the mountains like a quilt against the chilly air. The higher we got the cooler the air became and the more color there was. Clinch Mountain reaches an elevation of 4,000 feet. We didn’t get quite that high, but it was pretty chilly when we got out of the truck just the same.
The overlook offers a view of the Clinch River Valley, Lake Norris and several rows of Appalachian Mountains. It seems like you could see right up into Kentucky on a really clear day!
While we were enjoying the view, a group of motorcyclists decked out in black leather, frayed denim and German WWII style helmets pulled in and started backing their bikes into the spaces near our truck. We weren’t especially worried; these days motorcyclists are rarely the violently dangerous rebels that they were in the 50’s and 60’s. Still I felt what little tension there may have been go away when they started taking off helmets and saw bald heads tattooed not with naked women, Nazi symbols, or such standard “biker” fare but with crosses and “Jesus Saves”, “He is risen” and other Christian mantra.
As it turns out this was a Christian biker group from Knoxville known as The Sons of the Savior and they were on their monthly Charity Ride; a joy ride with a purpose. This month they were raising money to help buy shoes for poor kids in their area. They were nice people and I enjoyed chatting with them.
We had taken the highway to get up to the overlook, going back home we took the “scenic route” by getting off the main road at the first opportunity and seeing what we could find.
Marie makes an excellent navigator. Somehow she always seems to know where we are and in what direction “home” lies. We do pack a collection of maps to help, but they just help her see what roads we might want to use. We spent the rest of the afternoon poking into little towns and along back roads. We saw some gorgeous scenery and a few amazing things in people’s yards.
We got back home just before dark, and our “girls” came trotting out to greet us. We had not gone off on a joy ride for a while, and I think they were getting nervous about whether or not we were coming back to fix their supper.
But all was forgiven now, we were home, they were happy to see us (and eager to get inside to their kibbles and snuggle beds). It was a very pleasant day; we had a lot of fun, saw some new things, met some new people and all for the price of a half-tank of gas and some home-made sandwiches. This is just one of the Simple Pleasures that we enjoy so much about life in the mountains.
Thank you for reading, and until next time; may the Simple Life be yours!
Do you like road trips? If so, please tell us about your most memorable joy ride below.