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A. Ray Lee

I will lift up my eyes 

By A. Ray Lee

On a crisp October morning I sat by a large picture window to watch the day break over the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. From where I sat, a wide vista opened before me. In the glens and dales, a morning mist obscured my view of the scattered homes and businesses.  

As I reveled in the moment, the sun rose and burnished the face of Grandfather Mountain, standing majestically at 5,945 feet above sea level, towering over the hills below.  

Slowly, sunlight crept down into the folds of the hills, burning away the mist and lighting the shadows that had hidden the brilliant fall colors. 

Effie and I had come to the mountains for a brief visit with long-time friends, Francis and Helen Luce, at their Milfern Lodge in Crossnore, North Carolina.    

Later in the day, under the guidance of our hosts, we drove past proliferating tourist attractions and followed a winding road upward through tight turns with impressive drop-offs until we reached the summit of Grandfather Mountain, where a panoramic view spread for miles in each direction.  

Coming down the mountain, we stopped at the Morton nature center and wildlife habitat and had the unexpected pleasure of meeting Hugh Morton, whose family had owned the mountain for several generations and had overseen its development, ensuring it would retain its natural character and beauty. 

From there we drove to the Blue Ridge Parkway and drove along the rim of the mountains until we crossed the Linn Cove viaduct before exiting into Newland for a bite at the Bear Trail sandwich shop. Next we headed on to Milfern and spent a quiet evening visiting in the warmth of an old-timey fireplace.  

Saturday morning we leisurely drove through Banner Elk to Valle Crucis and the historic Mast Store. To enter it was to step back into a by-gone era.  

Then we visited the park where a festival was in progress. Before leaving, I purchased a gallon of fresh apple cider to savor later.  

After a side trip to Boone and a late lunch in a restored building that had once been a stately home, we returned to Milfern and rested for the rest of the day.  

While Effie and Helen shared ideas for projects they were working on, Francis and I finalized plans for our annual thanksgiving deer hunt with the Post Oak Hunting Club in York, Ala. 

Sunday morning we worshipped in the beautiful Crossnore Presbyterian church, where the walls were erected of native stones from the Linville River. Then we said goodbye to the mountains and drove back to Alabama.  

With Grandfather Mountain in our rear view mirror, the words of the Psalmist echoed in my heart. He wrote: “I will lift up my eyes to the hills – from whence cometh my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2).