“You may think you’ve come to a road block, but God knows what’s in the other direction.”
I have had the privilege to travel to some very beautiful spots in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. From the white sandy shores and clear blue waters of Kauai, to cruising the waters of Alaska where great masses of ice are slowly edging their way to the sea. But there is one place I keep returning to. Cades Cove, Tennessee. For over twenty years at least once a year we make the four and a half hour drive up into the Smoky Mountains.
After all these years I still think it is the most beautiful and serene place I’ve ever visited. Now don’t get me wrong, the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina are awesome but when I step back in time and enter Cades Cove an overwhelming peace comes over me. I visualize the homesteaders who occupied the cove hundreds of years ago. Clearing the land, making molasses, and corn whiskey. Cades Cove takes me away from the worries and anxieties of real life.
My husband, Jerry and I have always played a game called, “Who’ll be first in line?” The gate to enter the eleven-mile, one-way loop inside the cove doesn’t open until after sunrise. Cars line up long before the morning sky gives way to light. Our game is to see if we can get up early, dress, climb into our truck and drive the twenty minutes from where we stay in Townsend, Tennessee to the entrance of the cove and be the first one in line. Many years ago I think we were first and lots of times we’ve been second and third, but this past Monday morning we arrived at the locked gate at 6:22 am, we were first in line, and yes, it was still midnight dark.
We sort of thought it strange that no one came along for twenty minutes and when they did they didn’t line up behind us. They parked their truck in the lot across from us. A man got out of his truck and made his was over to us. Jerry rolled down the window and the man said, “I hate to tell you this but the cove is closed to motor vehicles today. The park staff is spraying the Hemlocks for insects. If you want to go in you’ll have to walk.” Jerry answers, “Well, we’re going in.”
Ten years ago we had walked part of the loop but we’d never attempted the entire eleven miles. We’d been saying we wanted to but kept thinking up reasons not to. One being could we actually walk eleven miles? I am a walker, but usually not over four miles at a time. But what choice did we have? We had not driven all that way for nothing. No soiree, we’d not tuck our tails and run. So we packed up some water, a couple of Mountain Dews, two packs of nabs and a Little Debbie cake and at 7:00 am on the noise we started our four-hour-and-ten-minute hike.
The locked gate could have stopped us, but it didn’t. We stepped around it and started our journey. That morning we only saw three joggers, one bicyclist, and four photographers. Someone later told us that the lady photographer named Tes Jolly was famous. I don’t know how famous she is, but she was awful nice. The solitude of that day will stay with me and give me peace for many days to come.
The cove is usually packed with bumper-to-bumper traffic. But not that day, what could have been a road block turned into a day spent with God and His creation. The time we spent watching the morning fog lift from the ground and meet the sky was magical. We were all alone with the deer, squirrels, redheaded woodpeckers and the universe. What could have been a roadblock turned into a special gift straight from above.
When life gets you down and there seems to be no way to move ahead, always remember that we know not the ways of the Lord. His way is not always the way we want to go, but He knows the best route for us. Who knows what awaits us in the other direction? Tomorrow is another chance for God to lead you to the place He wants you to be. I truly believe that all things happen for a reason. So if you’ve come to the end of your road, turn around and see what’s in the other direction. Who knows what magical surprises are waiting for you?