Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Cat Went Over the Mountain

Happy Friday! Happy weekend! Boy, did I have an exciting week. I had forgotten that Mom and Dad had promised to take me to the mountains to do research for the Christmas book I’m writing. Ever since my first Christmas with my forever family, I have wondered why and how a tree keeps appearing in our living room for a few weeks around Christmas - then disappears as mysteriously as it appeared! I did a bunch of tippy tapping and found out why, but I also needed to find out where they come from. Turns out that North Carolina is quite the supplier of Christmas trees! My book will have all the cool details about what I found out, but I must tell you about the trip itself.
Now, I know that I have considered the trips that I have taken with my friends as adventures, but I found out what real adventure is this time around. Mom and Dad told me they would drive me the 4 hours to the mountains, but I would not be able to bring any friends along. We would have to be staying a couple of nights at a hotel, and they couldn’t have more than one animal in their room. I said goodbye to my friends, jumped in the car and off we went to the mountains.
I have lived in Fayetteville all my life. I had been to the coast with my friends which was pretty, but I had never been to western North Carolina. It was funny to watch the landscape become more hilly and then mountainous. The mountains are just awe inspiring! One popping up after another – they looked like they went on forever. It was quite cloudy, so the higher up the mountain we drove, the more we seemed to be up in the clouds! We arrived at our hotel in the early evening, which left us just enough time for a nice meal, a soak in the jaccuzzi and a good night’s sleep.
We headed out in search of Christmas tree farms so I could get some pictures showing how the trees are grown. The car zig zagged up the mountain – and I must admit it was a bit scary. They’re not big on guard rails, so you could see down the side of the mountain. There were these big rocks jutting out into the road – they looked like they had faces. This one was one of the biggest.

We were not on any kind of a schedule, so when we passed the entrance to Grandfather Mountain we made an unplanned hard right turn and started the steep climb up the mountain. It was a really big mountain, so I figured surely there were Christmas trees somewhere in this park. The question was where. Who would know better than some of the local animal residents? As we wandered around I saw a small pond with a really big ball floating in it. I went bounding over to it hoping to find someone to play with. As soon as my paws were on the ball, out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of something moving. I looked up and nearly jumped out of my kitty fur!!!! It was a bear!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have heard stories about the black bears that live in the mountains, and I don’t recall any of them being of a positive nature. I smiled and tried to not act scared. From the size of the bear I figured it was a male, so I said “Hello, sir” and quietly prayed there was not an even larger bear behind it, making this bear a “ma’am”! Much to my relief, the bear smiled and tapped his paw in the water to give me a little splash. I giggled and splashed back. We pushed the ball back and forth for a little while. The bear said his name was Kodiak and he has been living on Grandfather Mountain for many years. I told him that I was just visiting in my quest for the elusive Christmas tree. I asked Kodiak if he knew where I could find Christmas trees. He told me there were a lot of trees on the mountain, but he wasn’t sure which one might be the Christmas tree of which I was seeking . I thanked him anyway and said goodbye. As I turned to head back to the safety of my parents, a smaller black bear stepped in front of me and grabbed me.

She thought I must be a friend of Moochie and Oliver, cats who live on the mountain. She thought I was so cute (well, of course – I am!) She also thought it was so great that I wasn’t afraid of bears. I smiled sheepishly, hoping the pretty bear wouldn’t sense my trepidation. I asked her if she knew where I might find some Christmas trees. She looked puzzled and admitted she knew there were lots of tree on the mountain, but she had no idea which ones were Christmas trees. Her friends gave her a call and she told me she had to go. She gave me a big hug before placing me gently on the ground. She patted me on the head and bid me adieu as she lumbered off.
As I headed up the trail, I saw a big bird. She must fly high, I thought, so she would have seen if there were any Christmas trees on the mountain. I went up and said hello, and when she turned to look at me, I was taken aback. I had seen her before - she was that All –American bird – and she was beautiful!

I introduced myself and we sat and talked a while. Her name was Wilma and she told me how she had come to live on Grandfather Mountain. She had been wounded by a gunshot and had to have her wing amputated. Since she couldn’t fly, she would never be able to survive in the wild. She was brought to Grandfather Mountain to live the rest of her life. She is provided for by the Grandfather Mountain caretakers who make sure she is safe and well fed. Wilma had no idea what a Christmas tree was no less where I could find one. I thanked her anyway and told her what an honor it was to meet her.
Next I came upon three very silly critters. They were so much fun to watch. They would dive into the water and swim really deep. I watched them play and chase each other. I wanted to join in, but I’m not that good a swimmer. When they finally saw me, they came over and introduced themselves. They had some very interesting names: Nottaway, Oconee and Santee. They, too, thought I must be a friend of Moochie and Oliver, so they welcomed me with open arms. They invited me to stay and play, but I told them about my mission to find where Christmas trees grow.

The three otters put their heads together and conferred. They had quite a heated debate before Oconee turned to me and told me they had no idea what a Christmas tree was hence had no idea where to find one. I told them that it was okay. Evidently, none of the animals on the mountain were interested in Christmas trees.
Mom assured me we would find trees, so I shouldn’t worry. Mom and Dad suggested we go to the top of the mountain and check out the view. That sounded interesting, so I jumped in the car to start our snaky climb to the top of Grandfather Mountain. We pulled into the parking lot at the edge and the view was amazing. The clouds drifted by our heads. It was quite the experience. After bears, eagles and otters I figured the adventure part of our trip was over – but I was wrong. Mom and Dad wanted to go on the famous mile high swinging bridge. Since it sounded like it was going to be quite the adventure, I put on my faux fur coon skin cap. I was ready!
I couldn’t imagine that the bridge was really a mile high – that seemed impossible…and then we started across it.

I don’t know who was more scared – Mom or me. I held on to Dad’s hand tightly as we walked slowly out to the middle of the bridge. But it was funny, I wasn’t as afraid as I thought I would be. The bridge was nice and solid so it didn’t seem like it would swing as badly as it looked like it would. I was so proud of myself as I stepped over the Mile High Marker. I was one brave feline! Going back was a different story, though by then I was ready for it. The wind kicked up and I could feel the bridge moving a little, but not as badly as I feared. We made it back to solid ground safely. Wow! Wait until I tell my friends how high up I was!! I was actually up in the clouds. It was fantastic! I wanted to walk across the bridge again, but Mom seemed to have had enough. I let her off the hook since we really did need to accomplish the mission for which we had set out.
As we drove down the mountain we stopped to take pictures of the beautiful scenery. Mom asked if she could snap a photo of me – but of course!! I don’t know which is more beautiful – me or the scenery!

The ride down the mountain was lots of fun. We went on the road and through the turn that was in the movie Forrest Gump. Remember in the movie when he runs across the country? The scene of him run up a hill around a curve is on Grandfather Mountain! I love that movie so I thought that was really cool!
On the way back to the hotel we passed field after field of beautiful Christmas trees, so I did indeed manage to get the information and beautiful pictures for my book.

After such a fun, busy day, I slept great! We were sorry that we had to leave that next day, but we knew we would definitely return in the near future.

There was so much more to do – on Grandfather Mountain as well as the surrounding area. I had no idea that there was such beauty so nearby. Maybe next time I’ll be able to bring some friends along…
Have a wonderful weekend and a great week. Go check out the great things your state has to offer. You won’t be sorry!

Love & licks,

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