When I was employed and worked outside the home, I rarely missed a sunrise.
Now that I am retired, it takes great effort to roll out of bed and watch the sun rise above the horizon. In fact, it rarely happens. The best opportunity is during the fall before we turn our clocks back an hour. Where we live, sunrise in late October can be close to 8AM—now THAT is more doable for me! So when Jenni and I camped on the Blue Ridge Parkway in late October, and learned sunrise was at 7:49 AM, we ‘made a plan’ to watch it rise above the mountains.
By ‘plan’ I mean that we discussed the fact that we rarely spend the night up in the mountains and we were camping across the highway from one of the more iconic sunrise locations on the Blue Ridge Parkway—the Pisgah Inn. The details of the plan centered around coffee and whether we would have it BEFORE or AFTER watching the sunrise. Jenni said it all depended on what time we woke up.
It was making out to be a very cold night (in a van that doesn’t have a heat source.) As it was getting dark, Jenni went to check out the heated bathroom at the campground and I decided to do some reconnaissance on how best to climb the 40ft embankment from our campground to the highway in order to cross over to the Inn on the east side of the ridge in the morning. She found not only a heated bathroom but warm water as well; I found that by cutting through a vacant tent campsite I could reach a steep staircase of granite that led to the highway up above the camp.
We had left in opposite directions but both returned to Wanda and our camping spot at the same time. As we entered, I thought Annie (who had been left alone) was avoiding eye contact. That’s when I found the empty wrapper to a half dozen Clubhouse crackers we had left on the counter! I was surprised she had not licked our soup bowls clean as well.
As promised, it was COLD that night, even with 40 lbs of layered blankets on top of us. We woke up at 7:15. When Jenni asked if we were going to watch the sunrise, I pulled the blanket over my head and said I would pass. Since she was up, she made coffee and that made life feel a little more doable. At 7:35 she said we could still make sunrise. I initially said no, but then agreed. At that point it was a scramble to pull on sweatsuits and shoes. And to take Annie outside before we left. That’s when the morning took a bad turn.
I leashed Annie and we both hopped out of Wanda. She didn’t understand the urgency of the moment so she was taking her time, sniffing everything in the campsite. That’s when she circled the remnants of someone else’s campfire and grabbed something off the ground. She began to chew on it like a ravenous wolf (or a street-smart Chihuahua). I reached down to pull what I thought was a bone fragment out of her mouth and she latched on to my right thumb like never before, puncturing it twice. (She is not always the perfect angel I make her out to be!) But time was ticking so I called her a few choice names, put her back in the van, and we left.
The walk was a bit of up and down before reaching the steep granite stairs. Jenni acted surprised by this but I promised her it was all disclosed in the fine print. We huffed and puffed our way up the steps and just as I reached the top, level with the highway we still needed to cross, I heard people at the Inn cheering! It’s nice to think they were encouraging us on our climb, but the truth is the sun had now crested the horizon and was bathing those on their Inn balconies in sunlight. We still had to cross the highway and a couple parking lots before we could enjoy the sight.
As we walked, I had kept my hands in my pockets to warm them up. It worked. Warm hands meant the blood was flowing in my extremities but that also meant it was flowing out of my thumb where Annie had bitten me. I clicked a couple pictures (of the sunrise, not the blood), Jenni said “well, we’ve done that”, and we hiked back to the campsite.
Once inside Wanda, Annie avoided eye contact and I bandaged my thumb.
I like to think Annie was remorseful for her actions, but realistically I don’t think that is the case. She did continue to look submissive the rest of the day as we drove the parkway. When we stopped for lunch, I offered her the rest of my thumb but she was happy with her kibble.
Watching the sun rise is rare, but memorable. Doing so with blood dripping from your thumb even more so.
Annie is thankful that you are of the forgiving nature
Really enjoy your stories