For years I’ve ventured up to the top of the mountain where my mother lives in Linville. There used to be a house at the top, owned by a man who made his fortune in towering beachfront properties. There were always rumors/stories about the wind being so strong up at the top that the siding on his house had to be replaced once a year. At some point the house was torn down, and each time I visited my parents my dad and I would go up to the top. There was still a large concrete platform with columns holding it up over the mountain that I dared not venture out on, and if I looked closely I could find old plumbing and to map out the old house. There was a large patch of concrete that still had terra cotta tiles that I thought might have been a kitchen or living room. I took Brett and Boo up there many times, and it felt like we were at the top of the world:
This past week we went back up to see the top again. I always get a little nervous when venturing up there because it’s just freaking high, and isolated, and also because of the wind. In 2012 the wind was clocked at over 120 mph across the way at Grandfather Mountain. The year before a gust of wind had been clocked at 114 mph. When we drove up this last time my heart sank a little because someone has decided to build a house there again. The foundation has been laid for a home and it will once again be off limits to those few visitors who know about it. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to live way up there, where the wind is so powerful that it’s a constant reminder that nature is shaping the mountains, and any manmade structure is just in the way. Even halfway down the mountain the next night we felt my mother’s house shudder from the power of the wind as we slept. Maybe the new owner is a daredevil.
A few days ago Brett took this photo as I ventured out to the edge and you can see my hair and clothing whipping in the wind as I struggled to stand in one place:
The landscape is too vast to even capture:
We caught the rest of the sunset in the shelter of the one craggy rock that stands just high enough to block the wind:
The man that used to own that mountaintop died many years ago. I used to wait on him in one of the restaurants I worked in during the summer. My last memory of him is tiptoeing into a card game to let him know that it was starting to rain outside. He had left the top down on his brand new Bentley, or maybe it was a Rolls Royce, I’m not sure I could tell the difference anyways, but I do remember that it was shiny white with burgundy carpeting and matching burgundy leather piping. As he lifted his head I could tell he had no idea who I was, even though I’d greeted him close to fifty times that summer. He looked at me over his oversized square sunglasses and yelled gruffly, “well why didn’t you put the top up?!” I was dumbfounded and all I could manage to say back was “I’m sorry sir, I don’t know how to put the top up on a car like that.”
He’s long gone now, but I still think about that man a lot. I never told him that my parents lived on that mountain too, that we were neighbors, and maybe if I had he would have been a little bit nicer to me. But I didn’t want him to know any of that, I wanted him to be nice to me because he wanted to be nice to me. You win some and you lose some. I still laugh about that day whenever I think about it, the likelihood of me jumping into someone’s brand new Bentley or Rolls Royce to close the convertible top. I’m not sure I could have brought myself to touch the white leather seats, I can’t even bring myself to buy white jeans! (and if I do I’m sure not going to wear them). Also, I’m pretty much car illiterate and I’m sure I would have ended up accidentally rolling it down the mountain. Maybe you remember what happened when I had to drive my husband’s diesel truck a few years ago? This is why I can’t have nice things….or be trusted to close convertible tops on nice things.