We first came to the mountains when I was a boy. Floridians then, we camped in Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the way to visit relatives in Chicago. Later, my dad rented a cabin for a few weeks every summer. Back in the day, Floridians rented in Franklin or Highlands because they were the easiest to reach on the bad roads. Later, he rented in Glenville and Black Mountain. He had already started thinking about buying a little piece of property for retirement. My dad was always slow to spend a buck and to make a decision. Before he could pull the trigger he died of complications of leukemia. Only 64.
In 1987 I began renting in the Waynesville area for a few weeks every summer because of its proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Asheville. In 2013 we finally bought a place on the park border. We’re here for a few weeks during the seasons and the rest of the time we rent it. The mountains have always been an especially great summer getaway for Floridians — Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings spent escape-the-heat time here — and on some days I see as many Florida plates as NC plates.
Sometimes I see bears in the backward. From time to time we’re visited by the elk that travel up from Cattaloochee Valley. In the summer our feeders are attacked by greedy hummingbirds. In the morning, I look out the window and see what I show in this photograph.