As my Salmon XA 3D Ultra 2 shoes crunch around on the several inches of well packed snow and ice on the road that ultimately leads to Long Creek Falls and I survey the area around me I realize something… I’m in a bit of a pickle. A very cold pickle.
Let me back up a bit.
Impulsiveness is not in my blood. It’s unfortunate because I feel like people really enjoy being spontaneous. Being impulsive. I mean a lot of the teenage culture that is in the States is about people breaking the status quo, doing something crazy and going and living life in some funky new way.
But it’s just not me. I try to plan everything. Meticulous research and detail. Surprises aren’t really my thing either, so I try to be prepared for any eventualities. Even when I say I’m being spontaneous, there’s been some planning and thought that’s gone into it.
Knowing all of this about me puts into perspective just how interesting my weekend was.
A little more background, first. Lately I’ve felt stuck. Stuck spiritually, stuck relationally, stuck emotionally. As if all my days consist of is going to work, working, coming home, watching something on TV, going to bed. Normal days full of usual sins and nothing extravagant. It’s horrible. And it’s been grating on me.
|Pictured here: my "very cold pickle" finding shoes|
The spiritual part particularly though. Because I’ve felt exactly like those dry bones we always sing about how we don’t want to be like. Distant, empty, hollow… Stuck.
I’ve realized more and more how hard I am on myself when it comes to my walk with Christ. How I punish myself for failing and look to try and fine the right things I can do to become this idealized Godly man. Expectations I set for myself. The works. And no matter how much I know that, that isn’t the way to go about it I can’t seem to believe it.
So in the midst of this dry, stuck, hollow mess of whatever I decided I needed to call an audible. Shake things up a bit. I started looking into places in Northeast Georgia where I could get away for the weekend. Where I could go and find some solitude and see if God would hang out with me. But of course even in my spontaneity I tried to plan out everything and make sure there were things to do and places to see. Make sure everything fell in line with my finances. Make sure this, make sure that. It was very responsible.
After hours of researching and trying to find the perfect thing for the perfect price I remembered the tiny mountain town of Blue Ridge, Georgia. A place my family has been before. Against all of my better judgment I went online, found a good place to stay and booked it for the following day. Saturday.
I didn’t really know what to expect, but on Saturday morning I packed Black Ivan (what I named my black 2009 Toyota Tacoma), and set off on the 2 hour journey North to Blue Ridge. I prayed right as I left that God would meet me up there and that we would hang out and He’d tell me what to do.
The drive was beautiful. Much of the snow from the previous winter storm was still on the ground and it blanketed the rolling hills and mountains. White sheets for miles punctuated by trees of all types. The further I drove the less care I had. I was going to do something. I was going to do it outside. And I was going to enjoy it. That was pretty much it.
Finally I arrived at Blue Ridge and bee lined for the welcome center to see where I could go. A short chat with the woman that ran the welcome desk that day yielded a small mountain of brochures and put me on the trail to Long Creek Falls. A beautiful waterfall about 20 miles South of Blue Ridge. She assured me the waterfall was wonderful and the drive was gorgeous and all of the other things she’s supposed to say.
|A most fateful mountain of brochures|
Good enough for me.
She was right. The drive was gorgeous. The aforementioned snow hugged the hills even better here because it was a less-traveled area. And the body of water somewhere between a creek and a river running along the road made it a perfect scene. Something out of painting. I navigated using one of the brochures and before long I arrived at the road I was looking for. It was an unpaved road just past a bridge that I was supposed to follow for .3 miles and then hang a right.
So I did as I was told, still in awe of the nature around me. Feeling more excited to get out and run around by the minute. Which was when I turned onto the forest road and saw that it was covered in snow.
Admittedly the next bit may be a tad exaggerated simply because I come from the hot, humid, not snowy land of Southern Mississippi. And I really don’t see much snow.
But it was so much snow. Inches and inches. And the road was completely white. I turned into a child. I couldn’t even help it. The chance to get to drive through something straight out of Narnia and the added bit of danger of driving on ice? It was awesome.
|Maybe a more modern Narnia|
So I began to drive. Slowly. And with whatever knowledge I knew of driving on snow (which came from what I know about hydroplaning). Friends, I did well. I would slide a bit every now and then, but Ivan and I were navigating with gusto. Like Antarctic explorers, or hardened Siberian hunters. Or something.
I was enamored with the scenery. Pine trees laden with snow, their boughs bending low under the weight. Snow banks on either side of the narrow road, built up as people had driven through. The Noontootla creek running lazily by on the right side of the road, ice making it’s borders. The odd bird playing around in the trees. It was heaven.
Until I came to The Slope.
One thing you should know about Ivan is that he… Isn’t an all wheel drive vehicle. He tries his best but, like his owner, there’s always room for improvement. The slope was a bit of road about 3 miles in and I could not drive up it. I tried 5 or 6 times, but Ivan frankly wasn’t up for the task. His wheels would spin out and we’d stall and roll slowly back down. I was trying for one more go when a truck came up behind me, wanting to get around. I tried to move out of the way, but it wasn’t quite enough. His truck was wide.
So, I reversed and tried to hug the left side of the road where the hill was coming down. As I was backing up I felt an all too familiar lurch. And suddenly Ivan was at more of a 45º angle than usual. And for some reason, I wasn’t going anywhere anymore. As if my movement was hindered by some unforeseen force. Upon closer inspection I realized I had found something that would alter my day completely…
I had found a ditch.
|My poor, useless tires|