West Asheville. Hank Williams, Jr., David Allen Coe and Waylon Jennings.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Parkway & Cherokee

With the recent heavy rains and dense fog we've had in the mountains, one key in traveling smart is being willing to improvise. This day was no exception. Our plan was to go up on the Blue Ridge Parkway and stop at several overlooks before driving to Mount Mitchell, the highest peak in the Eastern United States. We only made it to a couple of overlooks - see the first video - before having to stop at a visitor's center to assess current weather conditions. 

An interesting thing happened at the visitor's center: I saw a gentleman wearing an Auburn cap. After saying our "War Eagles" we talked a bit. Turns out, he was born in Dothan and was a professor at Auburn - now retired. His wife, who was with him, was from Clayton, in Barbour County. She knew of my step-dad's family, and both of them knew of the Espys in Headland. In fact, the man told me he knew Watty Espy. Naturally, we exchanged e-mails, and I told him all about Uncle Watty's death penalty research and where it ended up and how I've been compiling his "life story" on my blog. He walked away with my blog address, and told me he would get up with me later. He, his wife and the group they were with traveled on up the Parkway, and we headed back down south due to the dense fog that had set in for the day. There was no way we'd be able to see the stunning views from Mount Mitchell, and the drive up could be very dangerous.

We then set out for Cherokee, NC, the reservation for the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians. It took us 1 1/2 hours to get there. We stopped off at the casino (Harrah's), and walked around it for a little while. Later, I dropped Mark off at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian while I figured out where some local waterfalls were. I then picked Mark up at a designated time and we went to view the falls. It started raining pretty heavily, but that just made the falls even nicer by the time we reached them. And it certainly neutralized the hot temps we'd been dealing with. Mingo Falls and Soco Falls were both amazing! In fact, I hope to take Kade back to Cherokee one day just to see these falls, if nothing else.

Click here and scroll a bit to see my other postings on Cherokee, NC.  One is of my visit with Kade a couple of years ago, and one is of a family vacation to Cherokee in the mid-70s.

"We have abandoned our own Native Soil, to drive them out, and possess theirs."  John Lawson

When I go out into the incredible natural environment that surrounds me here in Western North Carolina, the historian and humanitarian in me compel me to have great compassion and admiration for the indigenous people who first called this place home.  Out of respect for them, and in light of any blood that was shed and any lands that were forcibly taken or underhandedly taken from them, I ask for forgiveness on behalf of my ancestors and people who might have committed these acts.

The art of asking for - and then perhaps granting/receiving forgiveness - is one of the guiding principles of Jesus in which I was taught to believe.  It's not always easy to operate in this manner, and I personally struggle to live up this to standard.  I can only hope, though, that my generation and future generations can learn something from our history, and do better in the present day and in coming days. 

Two people in my family who have been open about this aspect of our history - open in the sense they didn't give the standard lines - are Uncle Jim (James W. Vann) and my mother.  Mother, a school teacher for 25 years, would say something to this effect:  "Imagine what we did to the Indians, and how bad that was."  So, to my great-uncle and to my mother, I thank you for that example.

Click here for an article in Alabama Pioneers about the removal of Native Americans.

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