Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cheaha Mountain

One of the things on my bucket list is to visit the highest point in every state so I was really excited when my Dad agreed to turn our trip to Rome into an extended vacation to visit the mountains.

Our first stop was Cheaha Mountain in Alabama. At 2,407 feet it's the highest point in Alabama and from the pictures we've seen, looked stunning.

We left home early Wednesday morning and got close the the mountain around 1pm. From there things started to fall apart pretty fast.

Have I ever mentioned that I'm scared of heights? I can be a little neurotic about a lot few things but I have two true phobias. Snakes and heights.

And there I was, on a small two lane road, winding our way up the mountain. No guardrail or anything to keep up from plunging over the cliff to our deaths.

The Island Girl, on the other hand, loved every minute of it and hung her head out the window looking down all the way to the top.

The farther up we went the more I started to panic. I have anti anxiety meds but one obviously wasn't enough.

We made it to the top of the mountain and went inside Bunker Tower, which is a stunning stone building built by the CCC in the 1930s.

I felt a little better inside of the building and decided that maybe I could look at the view from inside and not be so worried about gravity plucking me up and throwing me off the mountain.

But then I saw the stairs.

I don't do well on normal stairs but if I can see through them I get vertigo. If I can see through them and they wind I get really bad vertigo.

I told Dad and the Island Girl to take pictures of the view and sat down on a bench to wait for them.

As I sat there it hit me. I have done a LOT of dumb things in my life but this has to be the stupidest thing ever. What person with a fear of heights puts “Stand on the highest point in each state” on their bucket list?

I'm sending my picture to Webster so they can put it next to 'Stupid' in the dictionary.

They came back down from the tower and off we went to explore the top of the mountain.

We were on a boardwalk that ran through a beautiful tree stand and I couldn't see the edge at all so it wasn't a bad walk. Until we got to the end.

I'm not sure how I didn't see this one coming but one minute we were on a boardwalk in the trees and the next we were standing at the edge of the mountain.

My child did not develop my fear of heights (thank goodness) so off the boardwalk she went. She climbed around on the rocks then plopped herself right on the edge of the mountain - where she sat with a huge smile on her face.

I'm trying not freak out about her sitting out there when my Dad heads off on the rocks saying there is a geocache about 40 feet away.

I can't breathe, I'm doing everything I can not to fall out in the middle of the boardwalk and cry like a baby and now Dad is climbing around on these big rocks and hanging his head over the side trying to find the cache. If he falls here he'll roll off the mountain, which is totally different from sliding down a hill on Eglin.

I did not want to look at the view or find a cache – all I wanted to do was GO HOME but that wasn't happening so I decided that Island Girl was fine and sitting still but I needed to help Dad because Mom would have been furious if I let the old guy fall off the mountain.

I crawled around the rocks for a minute and then flashed to something I saw on tv the other night about Timber Rattlesnakes denning up under rocks just like these.

At that exact moment I knew I was in hell. Heights and snakes, right here, right now.

I hightailed it back up to the boardwalk and decided that if he fell I'd tell Mom that I'd tried to warn the old fool but he wouldn't listen to me.

I sat on a bench desperately wanting to go home but also dreading the fact that there would be another terrifying drive back down the mountain.

But before we could leave they wanted a picture of them at the edge of the boardwalk

And then it was my turn. 

The Island King asked why I couldn't at least have tried to smile and I told him that was the happiest face I could muster. 

After what seemed like an eternity they were ready to go so we drove around the park and then headed on to Rome.

Back down the mountain we go, same winding, narrow road, same horrifying experience.

Halfway down the mountain he realized he'd taken the wrong road down.


There are no words to describe him turning the truck around on this narrow road - while eating a Milky Way bar.

Now we have to go back up the mountain and then back down another road.

I am not ashamed to tell you that I took another pill, buried my head under a pillow and hid until I fell asleep and then slept the rest of the way to Rome.

I'm glad the Island Girl took a lot of pictures because now I can see how beautiful it really was up there. Looking at things through a haze of panic can really mess up the view.

After the event in Rome, Dad and the Island Girl continued their trip to higher parts and I jumped in the car with the Librarian and came home.

I've now changed my bucket list to “Stand at the lowest spot in each state” and I should be able to handle that one – as long as I don't have to go over a mountain to get there.
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