Into the Hills

The mountains have pulled on my heart-strings all Summer long.  I guess when the end of August approached, I felt an urgency to go into the hills, and so I did.

The Devil's Garden Overlook on the Blueride Parkway in North Carolina

The Devil’s Garden

Click on above image for a closer view of The Devil’s Garden Overlook

We first arrived at Stone Mountain state park in North Carolina without a reservation.  The trout-laden creek makes the area especially desirable to fisher-people (most of whom are men and boys).  The park ranger instructed us to keep driving north, which I didn’t mind too much.  The higher up we went, the cooler the weather became, and we found a nice little spot to camp. 

I’m not sure that the area we were in is specifically what the Cherokee called, Shoconage, meaning, “The Land of Blue Smoke,” but we did see the blue hue over the mountains and the clouds did look a bit like blue smoke.

My son and I went on our first mountain camping trip when he was only five years old.  I was pretty young myself.  We had joined a friend who was always saying that I should give camping a try.  He was right.

Oddly, after more than twenty years and many outdoor adventures later, I find myself longing for and returning to that same area of the Blue Ridge mountains in North Carolina, Doughton Park Recreation Area, where my son and I first camped with our friend. 

The rolling green hills and awesome views always make me feel like I’m in the right place.  Happily, my son still enjoys coming along with me to camp.

“What do you think would make you feel better?” my son had asked, several days before I decided to pack my gear and go camping.

“I’d like to sleep under the stars and wake up when the sun rises,” I told him.  “I want to feel the rhythm of nature.”

Little did I know that only a few days later, my wishes would come true.

We could only camp for a few nights.  Neither of us wanted to leave, but I hadn’t packed well enough to stay longer and was tired of driving to the store, which was twenty-some miles away.  Twenty mountain miles make for a pretty ride, but feel like fifty when you’re tired.

My favorite part of the trip was on the second day when my son and I had a heart-to-heart talk.  He was more relaxed than I’ve seen him in a long time.  We both remarked on the good night’s sleep we had each experienced.

There’s something about sleeping outdoors, feeling the wind blow, listening to the sound of nature without background noise and tuning into the rhythm of nature that brings clarity to the mind.  Perhaps Mother Nature unfolds a veil.

My next favorite part of our short trip was sitting by the fire, which was the night I removed the rain-fly from our tent, providing me with my second wish the following morning; an awesome view of the sun rising above the mountain. 

On our way home, we drove down to the creek at Stone Mountain State Park, where we spent the day by, “the small falls.”  We enjoyed local sour apples and tart blueberries.  My son and our dog rested on the flat rocks.  I chased a pretty little black and blue butterfly.

Water Energy is a Green Healing

The Small Falls

Butterfly Beautiful

Two children, a girl and an older boy, came to play and of course, they loved our dog, sweet little Ruthie Mae.  Everybody loves Ruthie. 

They were mountain people.  The boy looked about eleven years old. 

“You want me to take her down to the water for you?” he asked. 

Ruthie Mae feels my stress and one way she shows this is by pulling on her leash when we walk, which she’s been doing off and on for a couple of months.

“Sure,” I said to the boy. 

I trusted him right away with my dog, which is unusual.

“C’mon girl,” he said in a lovely Carolina mountain accent.  “C’mon now.  We’re gonna go right down here.  Okay?  There ya go.”

His way with her made me feel good.  I love seeing her happy and she was smiling.

I could tell he had been to those falls many times.  He had a sure foot and the younger girl with him did as well.  I liked him and so did Ruthie.

Ruthie’s enthusiastic walking didn’t seem to affect him.  He continued talking to her in his kind voice and down the craggy path they went toward a sandy spot by the water. 

“You’re really good with her,” I told him.

“Yeah,” he said.  “I been ’round dogs all my life.  I can tell she’s a good one.” 

For a moment, I could imagine him being a grown man and what he would be like.  I imagined a gentle man in the making.

He and Ruthie Mae didn’t get to play together for long because his mother’s cell phone wouldn’t work.  I liked that mine didn’t work.  I figured the woman had to be available for some important reason. 

After the boy and his family left, Ruthie joined my son for a nap on one of the big flat rocks by the water.  He made a soft place for her and she cuddled up next to him.  I occupied myself chasing the pretty black and blue butterfly that liked the sand.

I wanted to stay.  I mean, I really wanted to stay and I almost did, but I had responsibilities waiting and not enough money to do whatever I wanted.  I wish I could go back and stay for the rest of Summer.

(You can click on any photo in the gallery to view a slide show)

19 responses to this post.

  1. Wow Michelle, it looks as if the Hills agreed with you what a beautiful post and wonderful photo’s Loved the story about the little boy, and meant to come back and comment after reading in my email box…. I hope all is well with you… sending you my love and Hugs….
    Sue xoxox



    • Thanks Sue! Yes, it was a beautiful trip and we needed a vacation.

      My doggie got sick, while I was replying to comments on this post! Sigh…

      We are helping her get better though and she’s doing pretty well now. We learned a lot about her sensitive GI tract, and maybe why it is that way, so maybe it will all be okay and we’ll be more knowledgeable as a result.

      Thank you for stopping to comment Sue. I always welcome and appreciate your visits to my blog!

      Your friend,
      Love, Michelle xoxo



  2. I feel like I’ve come home. Your blog title immediately grabbed my attention and I am beyond warmed to be a follower. Thanks for creating a beautiful focus for your posts.



    • Hi Eric!

      Thanks for your lovely comment and it’s very nice to know you followed my blog. Welcome!

      I look forward to seeing you in the blogosphere.

      Michelle (aka dogkisses and sometimes, Rosa Blue)..



  3. Looks like it was a great trip!



    • woof woof Ruby! It was fun and I liked the creek, but I must have eaten something bad, b/c my tummy is very upset. I had to go to the dog doctor today and my mommy is worried sick, but I still have an appetite and am wagging my tail.

      From one dog to another, watch what you eat Ruby 😉

      Hoping to be back to my normal health soon! Take good care okay.

      Ruthie Mae, and Michelle.



  4. Hope some day, your wish comes true and you can spend a summer camping under the magnificent starry night sky, and rise to the rhythm of a new day dawning.
    Thanks for sharing your adventure!



    • Hi Phylor,

      Thanks for sharing with me in my adventure. I have spent a month camping, back in the day, and I hope to do it again one day.

      Sadly, my dog is sick today. She might have eaten something or it may be a change in diet. We were not anywhere near a store and I ran out of her food. My poor baby is so sick today, but she got fluids from the vet and I’m taking good care of her.


      I hope she heals and maybe in the fall we will camp when the leaves are colorful.

      With well wishes and virtual hugs,

      PS I keep meaning to send you a little something in the mail, and have it on my desk, but seems like my days keep filling up. One day, I will take the time though. I promise.



      • Hope Ruthie Mae is feeling better and home with you! Sending you both good thoughts and (((((hugs))))).



        • Ruthie is home now. We only just got home a few minutes ago. She’s doing pretty good. Sleeping on the sofa with my son. We have lots of meds, one of which I have to put into a syringe, but only for five days. Ruthie may have a disease of her GI tract, but we’re not sure. I’m just so glad to have her home!!!

          Thanks for your support Phy. I truly appreciate that. I might write a short blog post about Ruthie’s ordeal.

          Michelle, and Ruthie.



  5. It’s always a treat when I stop by Michelle’s place! Butterflies and nature, animals and…squash blossoms? I recall a vegetable garden last year!

    Your pictures of the Devil’s Garden are absolutely breathtaking—what a gorgeous view. And I loved seeing your son napping by the creek with Ruthie. Thank you for sharing your lovely vacation. Yes, indeed: Life Is Good.




    • Hi CZ! Yes, there is no telling what you might find over here is there? 🙂 I never know how to describe my blog!

      I’m glad you liked the photo. It was so beautiful up there! They call that place the “Devil’s Garden,” because of the depression in the land between the two mountains.

      Life is Good, mostly CZ. My dog has become sick and we just returned from the vet. I am praying she is well very soon! Good thing I have a dog credit card, and a good vet.

      Gotta take the good with the bad, you know?

      I’ve watched several movies on your Won Cinema recently, but I can’t figure out how to comment. Maybe it’s brain fog and next time I’ll figure it out. I do love your cinema, and I read a few of your blog posts too. I am so often too tired to comment, but I wanted to let you know that I enjoyed reading!

      Thanks for stopping by, as always! I hope you are doing well CZ. You are in my heart.




  6. Hi michelle,

    What a wonderful story about your trip to Stone Mountain with Neil. I am so happy for you. And glad that summer has not ended yet in north carolina, as it has up here in Ct. Oh, we will still have some warmth yet, but today the temp was in the 70s easily and fall was in the air…i missed so much of the summer…i am very glad we got to meet when we did and that i saw you in your home setting, even if it wasn’t stone mt. That meant a lot to me…i hope to visit durham again soon. Asap, if my brother will have me. Maybe we will have another chance to meet and talk again too, you and i! Take good care of yourself. Say hello to neil for me. I just got stacks of mail from august…with your letter, which i will now read. Yours, pam w



    • Hi Pam!

      Thank you so much for reading, and for your kind note. I’m glad you got my letter. No, Summer isn’t over, but fall is certainly in the air. The birds all left on the same day. Two female Cardinals come around, and a few Towhees one day, and of course, the Mourning Doves, but it is so quiet in my yard now!

      I got your email, and am excited for Neil to get the package!!! I haven’t had time to sit down since writing this post.

      Now, my doggie is sick with diarrhea. I’m worried and we’re going to the doctor now.

      I can’t wait to see you again Pam. I will write you today okay (email). Neil says hi. He read your email too.

      Please take good care of yourself. I hope you have a nice day today. I’m crossing my fingers now, and praying for Ruthie to be well. I hope it is something simple. She sure doesn’t act sick, so that’s good. Maybe she just ate something bad.

      Your friend,



      • Hi again Pam, I don’t know if you’ll see this today. I will give you a call soon. My poor doggie is sick 😦 The vet gave her fluids, and I’m going to get some meds for her. I’m praying she gets better over the next 24 hours.

        Neil liked listening to your message. Thank you for calling.

        Michelle ‘dogkisses’



  7. Posted by Tom on September 6, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    Ms. Michelle, I am soooo envious. I strongly believe that the Lord placed all of the wonderful things that you enjoyed there to help replenish the soul. Such beauty, it has been a long time since I have been able to get out and enjoy those things, but my memories of them are still crisp. There is an incredible amount of healing there for the Body and Soul. It still amazes me that people doubt the existence of the Lord. In my work I deal with numbers, facts, figures and sometimes probabilities. Can you imagine the odds that the entire splendor that you enjoyed was placed there without a guiding hand? I feel so happy for you, that you were able to get out and enjoy those mountains. I have read of the Blue Mountains, but have never been fortunate enough to make the trip. Here in Utah we have a great deal of Wilderness in the Uinta Mountains, very wild with hundreds of lakes and streams. Thanks for the Pics and I am delighted that you got to experience the beauty and hope that you get back often.
    Fondest wishes Tom



    • Hi Tom!

      Indeed, I am grateful to have been able to go and see the mountains, and have my son with me as well. I was acutely aware of the blessings in our being able to see such grand beauty and have peace in our minds and heart. Some days, especially lately, I feel like everything is up to me and that perhaps the big guy has forgotten about me. This year has been incredibly difficult, but if I hadn’t gone into the hills, I know I would have been terribly depressed. I really needed that trip! So, yes, I am grateful and the trip did renew my Spirit!

      I probably shouldn’t have called the mountains we visited the “Blue Hills” as they are in fact, the Blue Ridge Mountains. I think the famous “Blue Mountains” are in Australia. Our mountain range here is the Appalachian mountains, also called The Great Smokey mountains.

      Thanks for reading and viewing my photos. I’m glad you saw them! You know, car camping isn’t nearly as hard as backpacking, the latter of which I can’t do anymore. The federal forests have wonderful campgrounds, and because I have a disability, I have a lifetime pass (A Golden Pass), which means I get half price for any recreation on federal land. It was pretty cheap to stay at the grand place we stayed!!! (Another Blessing)! I highly recommend you try car camping. The hardest part for me was packing. The trick is having a nice camping/air mattress. I slept so much better there than I do at home and so, pain was not screaming at me.

      I have never been to Utah, but have a friend who moved there and he shares photos on FB. It is a beautiful place too.

      I appreciate your comment Tom. I’m always glad to get a note from you! I hope you are doing okay. Also, your input about having faith in the Lord is in my mind now.

      Wishes of Peace, and pain free moments,



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