I dislike survival stories. Fifth-graders loved survival stories and we read and discussed many. They exhaust me. I become so involved with the protagonist that I am worn out, even though I am pretty sure he or she will pull through. That’s why they’re called “survival stories.”
So now that I read mainly adult books, I avoid survival stories. Until this week. While Steve and I are traveling, I read a lot and brought a couple of books I’d been trying to get to. One of my favorite authors is Charles Martin, so I brought his The Mountain Between Us. I was already hooked when I realized that most of the 326 pages were the main characters struggling against nature for survival. It is still an excellent book
Meanwhile, we had a mini-survival issue of our own. We were excited to visit Breaks Interstate Park which spans Kentucky and Virginia. We’ve stayed in many Kentucky state park lodges, but this one is on the Virginia part of the park. We wondered how it would be different. Now we know.
The road leading from Elkhorn City, Kentucky, to the park is incredibly winding and narrow. Think S-curves and hairpin curves, meeting semis hauling coal. In the rain. In fact, our GPS got us half-way up that hill and quit, telling us to turn around and go back. We did, the first time, but no luck. Cowardly GPS!
Then I asked a UPS man how to get to the park. “What park?” he asked. Not reassuring. But he did know and we got there and found the place to check in. The eight miles had taken 25 minutes and seemed like 25 miles.
The rooms are adequate, but only the linens and mattresses have been updated since the 70s. Our “lodge room” is nowhere near the desk or restaurant.
Another big difference: No breakfast service! Here we are in the middle of nowhere and no place to buy breakfast except to drive back down that treacherous mountain road.
More: The restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so the clerk said our only dinner option was to return to Elkhorn City.
But not quite our only option. We had a family conference, such as we had when we and our children were the only guests at the Snowy Owl Inn in the White Mountains. Such as we had when we were almost out of gas and stranded at a “working ranch” in Canada that happened not to be serving dinner the night we arrived. That it was a conference for two was beside the point.
We decided the family food box plus what snacks we could buy at the registration gift shop would suffice for dinner. Hummus, raw veggies, fruit, Lance cracker snacks, trail mix! peanut bars. Our in-room coffee, fruit, and breakfast bars we’d brought would work for breakfast.
The rain stopped, and we went to overlooks. Gorgeous! It’s called the “Grand Canyon of the South.” Picture a half-size Grand Canyon covered with trees.
Then we took off to hike the Ridge Trail and return on the Geological Trail. We had a brochure that explained the various stops along the way. It was fascinating–and challenging. Lots of climbing up and down over rocks and roots, through crevices, and across narrow ledges. We were incredibly grateful for our walking sticks, purchased in the Smokies years ago.
Just as we finished our one-hour hike, the rain returned. We had our supper all ready in our cozy, vintage room, and were able to get “Gunsmoke” on tv. True. Fit right in with the cheap-paneled walls and dim lighting. So we played Rook, read, and relaxed.
Now it is morning and the fog has us socked in for a while. Good thing we’re not in a hurry to leave.
But we now have our own survival story. Do you have one to share?
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