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  • April Parrott

Mt. Mitchell? Let's Go!

Have you and your students memorized Mt. Mitchell for Geography, found it on the map, and then wondered about its significance? Well, you are not alone!

Two years ago, our dark gray minivan squealed to a painful halt in the secluded mountains of North Carolina. At night. Panicked, we searched for a local garage, only to realize that most businesses in rural North Carolina close early on Saturday evenings. On a normal weekend, this would be frustrating. On this particular weekend, it was DEVASTATING.

You see, my 2nd daughter, Charity, had been selected to participate in the 1st annual National Memory Masters Competition sponsored by Classical Conversations (Hurray!!), and we were required to be in Florida by 2PM the next day. The contest was to be held on a cruise ship, so we could literally MISS THE BOAT.

Our driving plans had not included a "break down" time cushion, so we whipped into whatever-it-takes mode. We limped to the only car rental agency open (an airport) and rented a new minivan. While I drove the rented van, our own crippled van careened into the nearest, closed, garage parking lot where we scribbled a note pleading for them to fix our van while we would be several states away. We promised to call them on Monday to talk details. We then proceeded to race all through the night in order to arrive in Florida, sleep-deprived and unshowered, before the boat pulled away from the dock. So much for planning ahead!

All of this to say that when the van was not ready one week later after the cruise (WHAT?!?!), we had to drive the rented minivan home to Maryland, then drive back down to North Carolina the following week! Fun! Well, it was fun because we made it fun. :-) God gave us a little unexpected gift called Mt. Mitchell.

What follows is Charity's "Travel Logue", written from her stuffed animal's perspective (Bubba...a well-loved, well-dressed, Webkinz chihuahua), about our unplanned visit to Mt. Mitchell! Who knew it was so close to our break-down site? Charity was in 6th grade at the time, and we were thrilled to be able to visit a "memory work" spot that we may not have taken the time to visit otherwise!

Bubba’s Travel Logue

Episode 1: Mt. Mitchell, NC

Hi! My name is Bubba. My mission? To climb the highest point in North America, east of the Mississippi. Mt. Mitchell!

My mind had 7 hours to imagine the wonders and sights I would discover. Would this famous mountain really overshadow everything in sight? How long would it take us to climb its piney peak? Would the top be freezing, even right before June? All of my questions would soon be answered.

To keep us occupied, we researched facts about Mt. Mitchell during our tedious drive. After exploring the mountain in 1835, Elisha Mitchell determined that Mt. Mitchell towered several hundred feet over Mt. Washington, in New Hampshire. Though eventually proved wrong by Mr. Mitchell, Mt. Washington had been considered the highest mountain in North America, east of the Mississippi, at the time. Imagine everyone’s surprise when this Elisha Mitchell declared otherwise! Tragically, 27 years later, Mitchell plummeted to his death at nearby “Mitchell Falls”. We chose not to visit the falls.

Excitedly peering out of the window as we rolled over the serpentine, tree-shadowed roads in the middle of nowhere, we realized that our car was out of gas! After a few minutes of frantically searching for a gas station, we finally limped into the bumpy parking lot in front of an unremarkable store to purchase overpriced gas. What a good way to make money in the middle of nowhere!

Coniferous trees cleared on the side of the road further up the mountain, revealing stunning landscapes. A breathtaking, violet sunset hovered over everything in sight. Finally, at long last, we reached a parking lot. We all tumbled out of the car, right into a chilling gust of wind! Everyone put on his or her coats, but I had forgotten to bring mine!

We trekked on foot up the narrow, winding path to the summit, the frosty wind whipping at our necks and faces. I have to admit, though we had driven over 90 percent of the way up the mountain, this short, freezing hike felt like miles! However, we were determined to reach the top. We would not give up.

At last, we stepped onto the summit. It was empty, except for two stone benches, detailed drawings of the surrounding areas, copper plaques, and a random guy with an expensive camera.

We gazed off into the distance, towering over everything in the horizon. As night fell, lights peeked out from a few towns in The Great Valley, like faraway stars. After a few peaceful, momentous moments, we silently stepped down from the summit, back to the empty parking lot, and into the nice, warm car.

As my family and I started our 7-hour drive back home to Maryland, I marveled at how, during that precise moment, I, Bubba, had been the highest thing in North America, east of the Mississippi River! It was truly a trip to remember.

Next stop? Niagara Falls!

CCHappyMom's note: If all goes as planned, our trip to Niagara Falls should be posted soon!

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