In October 2005, I bought a new Jeep. A few days later, David and I took off on a week-long vacation to the Blue Ridge Mountains. We started our mountain adventure at the northern entrance of Skyline Drive in Front Royal, Virginia, and drove south. Once we drove the entire length of Skyline Drive, we continued onto the Blue Ridge Parkway all the way to a cottage that awaited us in Maggie Valley, NC.
We stopped at all the tourist attractions along the way. Some of the places we visited included, Luray Caverns, Natural Bridge, Blowing Rock, Chimney Rock, and Grandfather Mountain. It was only a week of exploration in the beautiful mountains of Virginia and North Carolina. Little did we know, the mountains were about to start a calling that would just get louder.
For 5 years, we lived in what I referred to as the “Upper-Class Ghetto” of Virginia Beach. I didn’t fear for my life in our neighborhood, but I never let my guard down. We lived in a three bedroom, two and a half bath, 1400 square foot townhouse, with a garage. It was a poorly treated rental property when it was purchased and we worked on it nonstop from the time we moved in. It wasn’t so bad at first, but this place was going to wear us down and test our patience and strength.
We found out pretty quickly that we shared walls with neighbors we didn’t really like. I hated going outside of my house to look at my flowers in the flowerbed. You never knew what you would see.
Maybe it was a half-dressed, drunken neighbor next door greeting me as I came out of the front door.
Maybe it was the two thugs I saw bend over and slash the tires of a neighbors car across the street.
Maybe it was the really screwed up couple that we shared walls with. Maybe it was time we rode our bicycles and had rocks thrown at us.
Maybe it was the traffic, the smog, the sirens, the horns, the talking, the yelling.
Maybe we weren’t supposed to live in the city!
You may wonder what we were doing in the city to start with? Simple answer, we were trying to make a living. I grew up a farmer’s daughter in south-eastern, Virginia. David grew up in a small town in southeastern North Carolina about 45 minutes south of where I grew up.
We both were making our living in the commercial printing business. Back home where we grew up, you were lucky to make minimum wage. You couldn’t make a decent living unless you were in specific lines of work and printing was not one of them. The print shop where David and I met was the only printing company within a 30+ mile radius and it shut its doors not long after David left. You either commuted way into the city or you moved there. That is why we lived in the city, to make a living.
Have you ever heard of John Muir’s quote, “The mountains are calling and I must go.”? That vacation to the mountains stirred something in us. Looking back, I really do believe the mountains were calling us. Some Fridays after work David and I would go home to that townhouse in the “upper-class ghetto” and then just take off westbound for the mountains.
I would tell David: “I want to wake up in the mountains tomorrow morning”.
That’s all it would take for him. We would pack up the Jeep and not even know where we were going to stay the night. We’d drive for at least 4 hours, sometimes longer depending on traffic just to get out of the city and wake up in the mountains.
Time passed and the weight of city life bared down on us. In the summer of 2007, we rented a cottage on the Shenandoah River, near Luray, Virginia. It was that week that finally did us in. Not long after that vacation, David and I were sitting on the couch one night watching television.
I turned, looked at him and said, “Why not live where we vacation?!.”
At that moment, we realized we needed to make a change.
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