On Friday we boarded the “MacNeill” coach at 9:00 a.m. for a trip on the “Great Smokey Mountain Railroad” out of Bryson City, North Carolina. The coach accommodations were very nice. We had a lovely brunch. Our coach steward, Steve, was attentive and entertaining. We chugged along for two hours gazing out our window at the passing scenery. We saw…trees…kudzu…rocks…kudzu…water…an old house (Steve spun a story about the civil war and brothers allegedly having had something to do with the old house). The most exciting part of the two hour trip was when Steve told all in the coach to be attentive because we were about to pass a large cave where Eric Rudolph (AKA the Olympic Park Bomber) had allegedly hidden from the FBI for a full five years in the mountains of North Carolina depending on his wily wilderness training skills to elude the authorities. He was number one on the FBI’s most wanted list with a one million dollar bounty on his head. Everybody thundered to our side of the coach to get a look at this infamous cave. Here it comes…here it comes…keep watching…there it was…did you see it? Not really. Sure, we passed a darkened blur which I suppose could have been a cave. It didn’t hold up to Steve’s hype. I asked Steve whether any of the Railway people had collected the bounty since they had been driving by Eric’s hideout several times every day for five years. Unfortunately, no. Eric was arrested by a rookie police officer while dumpster diving behind a Save-A-Lot store. Big survival-trained fugitive.
After two hours they switched the locomotive with the caboose somehow. We then spent two hours passing the very same trees…kudzu…rocks…kudzu…water…old house…and, if you were fast enough, Eric’s cave.
In Tennessee we have trees…kudzu…rocks…kudzu…water…our share of old houses…and our share of holes in the sides of mountains. These manifestations of nature didn’t strike me as somehow special just because they were in North Carolina. I wondered whether I had become cynical. My husband, Fred, told me I was being philosophical. I figure he was just saying that because he loves me and doesn’t want to have to go somewhere else anytime soon.
Our return driving route was…not the Tail of the Dragon. Nice straight, boring, and civilized highways with gas stations and everything. I plan to contact the less than emotionally stable people who give out driving directions at Bing maps.