Author: Daniel, Bert

Blue Ridge

Youíd be pretty hard pressed to come up with the name of a mountain range which is more storied and sung about than the Blue Ridge Mountains, especially if youíre a Bluegrass fan. The Blue Ridge will forever be my favorite mountains. They were the first mountains I ever saw and nothing could ever come close to that. Now that I live in the west, of course I marvel at the grandeur of snow-capped giants like the peaks of the Sierra or those of the Rockies. As I write this column today from Healdsburg, you can see a lovely rind of snow on Mount Saint Helena from our last cold rain.

But to see those gracefully rounded old mountain peaks of the Blue Ridge, fading into the distance forever with a halo of smoke and haze. To me">me, that sight will always be what mountains should look like.

Blue (ooh, ooh, ooh) Ridge
Do you call for all your children like youíve been calling me">me?
Blue (ooh, ooh, ooh) Ridge
Why are you calling me">me home?

Itís been about ten years since I took the kids to visit our relatives in Greenville, South Carolina. My brother has since passed away and his ashes have been scattered in his beloved Blue Ridge Mountains, which are visible from the city where he lived. He knew the trout streams around the Blue Ridge and he loved the area.

When I die wonít you bury me">me on the mountain
Far away, near my Blue Ridge Mountain home

On that last visit, we made a trip up to Highlands, North Carolina, which is in the heart of the mountains and we stayed there a couple of nights. If youíve never visited the Blue ridge you need to go. I need to go back. The rhododendron and mountain laurel bloom magnificently in the spring and the fall colors of the changing leaves are the best anywhere.

When the moon shines on the Blue Ridge Mountains
And it seems I can hear my sweetheart call
How I long to be near to my darling
When the golden leaves begin to fall

When I was a kid, one year my parents took the whole family to the Grove Park Inn in Asheville. The Grove Park had a huge stone fireplace in the lobby and there was a lot of fun stuff to do around there. We went to Cornelius Vanderbiltís gigantic mansion, the Biltmore House. We slid down a natural rock slide into a cool rushing stream. We ate ice cream from a local dairy. I had never had so much fun.

The next summer the whole family packed up all of our swimming gear and beach balls and sun tan lotion for our annual vacation. We had to have everything in the car for a sleepy 5 AM departure to Myrtle Beach. After we had all piled in my dad, who was the only one fully awake, played his usual joke by asking ďWell, should we go to the mountains or the beach?Ē I fell for it. ďThe mountains!Ē Everybody laughed at me">me.

I got those Blue Ridge Mountain blues
And Iíll stand right here and say
My grip is packed to travel and Iím scratching gravel
For those Blue Ridge far away

Right now, I canít drive to my favorite mountains within a day, but for more than half of my life I could. When I lived in Maryland, I used to ride my bike up South Mountain in Pennsylvania. And the Blue Ridge extends from there all the way down into Georgia. As the song says:

Way down in the Blue Ridge Mountains
Way down where the tall pines grow
Lives my sweetheart of the mountains
Sheís my little Georgia Rose

Iíd love to go back to the Blue Ridge. I just have to find the time. You can ride your bike on the Blue Ridge Parkway all the way from Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and itís beautiful the whole way, I can assure you. Iíve ridden it all before. The music you hear along the way would surely entertain you. Those mountain people can really play and youíll hear some unique mountain sounds you never heard anywhere else.

I love the Blue Ridge Mountains with all my heart. And I hope that the beauty of those mountains and the culture it fostered will live on forever.

On the Blue Ridge Mountains is where Iíll take my stand
A rifle on my shoulder, six-shooter in my hand
Yes, Iíve been all around this world

Iíve been all around this world but Iíve never found a more special place than the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Posted:  2/9/2014

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