There’s a program at The University of Notre Dame called summer service learning program (SSLP) run by the Center for Social Concerns. Being a Holy Cross College student I had the privilege to participate this summer.
As my site partner and I begin discussing the details of our trip, we decided that we would drive together to Savannah Georgia. In midst of several conversations between Hank and Marion Policinski (our ND alumni club contact) we learned that the had a home in Banner Elk, North Carolina right on the mountains. They would be on vacation there during the time of our travel to Georgia. Instead of taking a 2-day trip to Savannah they invited us to their home for several days.
Finally it was departure day. On June 11 we woke up at 4:30 am in order to get a good head start to our day and head towards Banner Elk, North Carolina. You could imagine the fear my parents felt having their only daughter embark on a 11hr 45min (according to google maps) drive across states. Not only my family was nervous but I was beyond nervous. I have never driven more a two hour distance from home. Also I knew I would miss my family terribly this service trip ends on August 8. So I’ll be gone from home for two months.
Anyway, the drive was not as bad as I thought it would be. We drove nonstop to Indianapolis, got Einsteins for breakfast the head towards Cincinnati Ohio. Never really knowing exactly where we are headed but in full trust of the handy dandy GPS. We drove through Kentucky and Tennessee but right when we left Indiana the land that surrounded us as we drove were getting more and more interesting. Soon enough we were driving by the mountains.
Going up a hill I saw a sign that said scenic overlook but didn’t think to much of it (since I’ve never traveled this far from home and Indiana does not have scenic overlooks) but when we drove over the hill I saw what it was. There were several cars parked amazed of the beauty of the mountains. Luckily I had enough time to slow down and turn into the parking lot.
This is what we saw. It was so beautiful but I did not realize that there was more to come.
As we are we getting close to our destination the hills get taller and the road get curvier. They call them the winding roads. There was what I thought was a dirt road that went straight ups mountain side. If it is a road I don’t know how anyone could go up much less down that thing.
Oh also we went under or through a mountain on the tunnel of Cumberland Gap in Tennessee. Like nothing I’ve experienced before.
About two hours left of the trip and I was driving. Before I could get any closer to Banner Elk, I had to stop at a gas station to let Anne drive. I was too tired and did not want to risk anything. But coming out of that parking lot without looking to see if there was tragic on the left she was stepping on the gas pedal. You bet there was a car coming around the curve and fast. Thank The Lord I was paying attention and I yelled, Stop! Anne there’s a car coming!
Oh she made me so mad. I didn’t trust her driving at all throughout the trip so I tried to drive as much as I could but at that moment I was way too tired. Then when we were about half and hour away from the Policinski home we encountered tight curves and the winding roads. The view there was even more spectacular. But to be honest I couldn’t enjoy it Anne was driving very fast around the curves and I became too anxious. Before the curve would start she would slow down and as soon as the curve began she tried to speed up and take the curves fast I was ready to tell again. Finally I said stop and let me drive and after the fifth time she listened. Ugh she scared me.
Then we saw the sign that said Welcome to Banner Elk.. Well the Elk was covered by tree branches but anyone could’ve guessed it. Finally we turned left at their street and had to travel up a steep curving road to get to their condo.
This is the view that awaited me.
Oh and the hummingbirds!