Following Fall Foliage

Posted on October 29, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

A two-day gap between engagements in the eastern U.S. allowed us to veer our travels off the boring, fast-paced interstate and take the scenic by-ways through the Appalachian Mountains. The graciousness of ministerial discounts at LifeWay’s Ridgecrest Conference Center enabled us to enjoy an overnight in that beautiful setting near Black Mountain, NC. It was a serendipity to see Henry and Marilyn Blackaby after several years who happened to be there leading a prayer conference.

We were blessed with gorgeous sunny weather introduced each by crisp chilly temperatures in the mornings and again in the late afternoon as the sun setting behind distant mountains cast lengthening shadows over our route. Following the Blue Ridge Parkway out of Asheville the vibrant colors were stunning. We drove through canopies of brilliant red, interspersed with vibrant yellow and every conceivable shade of golden orange and brown. Showers of falling leaves swirled over the highway and danced along the shoulder with each passing vehicle.

Around every curve the wooded landscape would immediately vanish as we seemed to be thrust into empty space, hovering over a mountain valley. The walls of the surrounding mountains were an artist’s pallet of hues spreading from one peak to another. At 40 miles per hour traffic quickly collected on the winding parkway, with the convoy of vehicles moving no faster than the lead car. No one would take this route in a hurry to get to their destination, so the only recourse was to enjoy the scenery and hope the slowpokes would pull off at the next overlook.

It had been more than 50 years since I had been to the summit of Mount Mitchell. That was years ago while serving as a camp counselor at nearby Rockmont. At 6684 feet Mt. Mitchell is the highest point in the eastern United States. Other mandatory stops were at Grandfather Mountain, Linville Falls and Blowing Rock. After several hours of following creeping traffic along the winding parkway, we had seen enough and headed to the nearest interstate to get to Richmond before dark.

The purpose of this segment of our journey was to teach at another session of new missionary orientation at the International Mission Board’s Learning Center. An extra day allowed us to visit staff and attend chapel at the downtown offices, greeting and reminiscing with former colleagues. A drive down historic Monument Avenue, including the statue of Stonewall Jackson, and by our former residence brought back pleasant memories but reinforced that these places represented a part of our life that is now past. Down Home in Mississippi is where we belong.

One Comment on “Following Fall Foliage”

  1. Byron Hill

    So glad you guys had a chance to spend the night at Ridgecrest! Thanks for stopping by.

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