On the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving J.R.’s maternal grandfather passed away. His grandfather had been battling cancer as well as diabetes, so his death did not come as a surprise. It has been kind of hard on J.R., however. The last time that J.R. saw his grandfather was at our wedding, nearly one and a half years ago, and we had planned on making the trek to North Carolina for a visit over Thanksgiving. The news came that the funeral was planned for the Monday before Thanksgiving, so less than twenty-four hours after learning that his grandfather had passed away, J.R. and I had packed up Gabriel and our assorted necessities for travel and were on our way. The drive to the small town where much of J.R.’s extended family lives is approximately twelve hours on a good day, assuming all goes well. We made it to West Virginia our first day, approximately eleven hours after we had left home. The following morning we got up, left, and rolled into extremely southern North Carolina shortly before the funeral began in the afternoon. Gabriel was happy to let anyone hold him for the remainder of our visit in NC, J.R. and I reasoned that this was probably due to his having spent a day and a half in the carseat and just being happy to not be confined to it any longer.
Although the drive down went splendidly (taking into consideration the fact that a three and a half month old was on it), the return trip did not go so well. We began our return on Tuesday afternoon, after having visited with J.R.’s sister, who lives in NC, as well as his parents and brother. By the time we reached home on Thanksgiving at around 3:00 in the afternoon, Gabriel had been in “melt down” mode for about a half hour. The moment that we got in the door and I pulled him out of his carseat, however, was a glorious time for him: the crying ceased immediately and he gazed around, with what I presume was immense joy, upon seeing that he was home again.
Of course, the entire trip was not all spent in the car. We visited King’s Mountain National Military Park as well as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The weather included seventy degree days. The trees in the south were in full fall color, making the Appalacian Mountains look exactly like the photographs on postcards. In short, I became a fan of the area. Last February was the first time that I had seen the Appalacians when J.R. and I passed through them on our winter break, and I will admit that I was unimpressed for the most part. I had been spoiled in my past experience with mountains, we went to Glacier National Park for our honeymoon, and the Rocky Mountains as seen on the Going-to-the-Sun Road are the greatest display of the beauty of nature that I have ever beheld.
Without further ado, a few photos from our trip “down South:”
No wonder I think that the Appalacians are beautiful as well now, eh?