Memories of good times shared with loved ones recalled when watching videos

Published 12:17 am Sunday, August 11, 2013

We went to the mountains last week… and we didn’t drive a mile. In fact, we didn’t leave our home. We watched and remembered rather than traveled.

We discovered the Great Smoky Mountains in 1970 when Rob and I, his sister and brother-in-law and our small son visited Rob’s brother in New Jersey.

We drove the scenic route on the way home taking us through the mountains. It was October and our first experience was early one morning when we looked down from the mountains on the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.

Although we haven’t been back to that particular spot, we have been permanently fascinated by the mountains. On that trip home, as we drove through Gatlinburg late one afternoon we knew we wanted to come back to this beautiful area.

The following summer we took our four children to the Smokies.  We stayed in Pigeon Forge at the Forge Motel — it was either the only motel there or one of two. There were also only one or two small restaurants.  Seeing it now, it is hard to believe it was ever so small.

Finding the mountains the most beautiful, peaceful place we had ever been, we have returned just about every year since, sometimes twice a year. I have always been the photographer, recording our adventures. For the first few years, I had only a still camera and took regular photos. Later on I was able to video tape our vacations.   

I was usually met with “why do you have to take all those pictures” when I took out the camera and asked family members to pose. Many strips of tape show only their backs as they walked away from me instead of stopping for a picture.

Most of the time I had both a still camera and a video camera, and while taping I would talk to the video camera recorder so we could recall later where we were and what we were doing. I laughed many times when I shut off the video camera and caught myself talking to the still camera while taking regular photos.

When the family fussed, I would tell them, “One of these days we won’t be able to come to the mountains and we’ll have these pictures and videos to remind us of how much we love it.”  

That time has apparently arrived. Since it doesn’t look like we will be able to go this year and we didn’t go last year, Rob and I pulled out the vacation tapes last week. It was like being there all over again.  

It was amazing to realize how much it has changed and how much the family has changed. As we watched and listened to me talking on the tapes, we recalled many things we had forgotten.  

One year we had both read the book “Christy” and Rob figured about where the setting for the book was located. So one day we decided to see if we could find it. We ended up on a long dirt road leading seemingly to nowhere when we found ourselves in front of an old house. Here the road turned into a crude trail and we had to stop. We were pretty far off the beaten track.

A bunch of people were sitting on the porch and when we talked to one of the men, we said we were apparently on the wrong road and should turn around and go back. The man replied without expression.

“I ’spect so!”  

We were happy to get ourselves back down the mountain and to civilization.

Although I don’t have a tape of that particular adventure, we have been able to relive others that we have thoroughly enjoyed.

Our last visit was in 2010, when Rob, Robin and I made the trip in November. The highlight was Roaring Fork Trail at Gatlinburg. As the road climbed to the higher elevations, it started to snow and the higher we went, the more snow we saw.

The stream was filled with water and really “roared” as it sped on its course, giving the trail its name.  There was still some fall color on the trees and the combination of the color and the snow was breathtaking for Louisiana folks who rarely see snow.

I videotaped the beautiful scenes and as we watched this week, we were able to relive that last trip with our daughter.

We have been in the spring, the summer, autumn and one year we went after Christmas. The mountains are always lovely, whether the beautiful pastel greens of spring, the heat and excitement of summer, the beautiful colors of fall, or in winter with the stark dark limbs of bare trees against the blue, blue sky.

Besides the vacations, we also have enough videos of family events over the years to keep us entertained for a good while.

For us right now, it is memorable and surely beats watching summer reruns on television!

Retired Lifestyle Editor Bob Ann Breland, a resident of Pine, writes a weekly column and may be contacted at bobann_b@ yahoo. com.