It was finally time to take off! I had anticipated this trip south for several weeks now. The last item was packed in the RV and we were ready to hit the road. One of the things I enjoy most is getting off the beaten path and traveling the back-roads. And, we were going to be able to do that on most of this trip. Part of the advantages of traveling the back-roads is being able to take in some fantastic views of this country’s landscape, slowing down our pace enough to enjoy all the “simple pleasures” along the way, and specifically on this trip, enjoying that native “southern” hospitality.
No matter how many times I see them, my heart always perks up when I first see those Blue Ridge mountains. And, it is always an inspirational sight to behold when you see that mist rising in the Smoky Mountains. However, I am just as awe struck by the magnificent views as you wind through the Nantahala in North Carolina. Beautiful rapids and waterfalls are also throughout this National Forest. It is spectacular!
As we made our way further south, crossing over into Georgia, we were greeted by droves of cars parked along the sides of the roads. People were enjoying the simple pleasure of whitewater rafting. However, when you are the one pulling a 35 ft RV maneuvering through those hair-pin turns, trying to avoid the cars on both sides of the road, it doesn’t seem like a pleasure; at least for the moment. Then, in the middle of dodging the cars on the side of the road, a van stopped right in front of us. No kidding, the van stopped in the middle of the lane on a blind curve to let their little boy go to the bathroom. However, as you can well image, there are no bathrooms! Seriously, traffic came to a complete halt in the Chattahoochee River National Park. We had to shake our head and laugh at that one, thankful that no one got hurt! It is at times like this you have to laugh and say, traveling the back-roads is also an adventure!
After that it was smooth sailing. We finished out the last part of our trip driving through a beautiful little college town. The picturesque setting of “Young Harris” is what I love about traveling the back-roads. It takes longer but you gain a glimpse of small town living. And then we pulled into Hiawassee Georgia. A few more turns and we were at our final destination of Riverbend Campground (www.riverbendcamping.com). I was excited to see it was just as I remembered.
The first thing you see upon entering is the camp store. It is a postcard representation of “southern hospitality” with its welcoming front porch and long row of rockers. The porch is the social hub of the campground. Most evenings you will find people strolling over, grabbing an ice cream cone, and visiting in those rocking chairs until well past sundown. Strangers do not stay strangers for long when sitting on a front porch, nor when they begin gathering around campfires. Somehow the mountain air, mixed with the smell of crackling fires encourages people, from different places and backgrounds, to share warmth and fellowship. Such a simple expression of kindness can turn into such a blessing!
This simple pleasure of being warmed around a fire goes back centuries. It reminds me of a time Paul wrote about in the book of Acts. He had just survived being shipwrecked. He and his remaining shipmates had made it to a nearby island called Malta. Can you image the depth of gratitude they felt when they made it safely ashore? You can also imagine how cold and tired they were. So these words from Paul gives us a window in to their hearts. “And the natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all.” (Acts 28:2)
The simple act of being received, of being welcomed, was priceless at that moment. Then to have the warmth of a fire penetrating their cold body was an even greater blessing. How that simple pleasure must have seemed like a precious gift of gold. The people of Malta showed warming kindness as Paul was traveling along his path in life.
And I do think that is the reason, when asked: Why would you want to travel this way, taking the time to travel the back-roads? One of the most important reasons is, it is not always about the final destination. Sometimes in life the journey is as great of a gift as the final destination. You meet people who bless you, and whom hopefully you will bless. And along the way, if you slow down enough, you will get to enjoy the simple pleasures of God’s gift of His magnificent creation, while traveling the back-roads.
“And the natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all.” (Acts 28:2)