We were three small children in the 1960's and we had the
yearly trip to the Smoky Mountains to anticipate. We went several
years in a row and it was there that we forged such deep memories that even
today they are in my mind as crisp and fresh as the morning air at Deep Creek
Three small children that my grandfather would kid, saying that he was afraid
we were going to float out of the car with one of the clouds that we were
passing through. The other two would hold me down because everyone was
convinced I would float away. Memories of the tarp stretched across the
camping spot to keep us dry, just in case of a sudden summer downpour and
a place to block the sun if it began to warm up too much.
My Grandfather was a tall man with a booming voice and a great laugh. He would even do fake guffaws for us to make us break into laughter, and break into laughter we would. My sister and I would giggle at the playfulness that the summer trip to the mountains would bring out in him. My mother would sometimes go with us on these vacations. She and my grandmother would make sure there was hot coffee over the campfire and that we children stayed out of it. There is nothing like lukewarm strong coffee on a chilly damp Smoky Mountain morning. My grandfather would assure us that he would know if we took a sip of his coffee because our eyes would turn brown. It was always a concern since I was born with blue eyes and a taste for coffee.
After the breakfast and the morning clean up of the campsite, we were off on some adventure. Swimming suits on underneath our clothing in case we stumbled into a swimming spot that beckoned to us. Walks in the mountains and riding the chair lift up to the top of the mountain where Maggie Valley stood. The amusement park that made you feel like you had stumbled into the old west right in the middle of the Smoky Mountains. I remember the small bear show that sat at the side of the road complete with Native American chiefs that would be happy to have their picture made with small children. These memories come flooding into the front of my mind because it is the 75th anniversary of the Park becoming the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. A park that for seventy-five years has had something of interest for everyone that visits. A park that has bears wandering about and deer cautious but curious and close enough to capture with your camera.
This is the celebration of seventy-five years of nature being protected and a nation protecting a national treasure that is the Smoky Mountains and the history that hides all through the ridges and hollows. A place that Daniel Boone and countless others hiked, explored, and later celebrated in songs by Dolly Parton so that everyone could know the joy of mountain people. The songs and stories tell of the simple Joy that these mountain families had during hard times and their hardscrabble existence.
Happy Anniversary to the most beautiful mountain range I have seen and many more years of protection and preservation.