Monday, September 24, 2012

Mystery of the Blue Ridge

I am looking at a somewhat busy week here in Tammy World so I'm doing my post here on Monday while I am home relaxing from my weekend vacation.  Tomorrow I am driving up to Greensboro, NC to the UNCG Transgender Voice and Communication Group which meets on Tuesday afternoons.  This week will be the third session and I also made the 2.5 hour drive before the class began for an initial evaluation.  On the evaluation I scored excellent on non verbal communication skills (basically female mannerisms) and my voice tested in the gender neutral range and I was given an excellent prognosis on meeting my goal, which is developing a passable female voice.  The first 2 sessions focused mostly on the non verbal communication and at the very end of the last session we learned to say "eeee".  So it is very basic so far and I don't think I have learned anything yet but I believe we are on the verge of beginning to learn what I am after and I'm very hopeful.  Someone who took that course a couple of years ago told me the program gave her the confidence to transition and I've heard other good things about it so I think it will be worth the time, money and effort.  Our "group" consists of me, one older group member, the instructor (who is a professor with the UNC Greensboro Speech Department) and two female graduate students who are working with us individually.  I will blog more on this interesting program as it goes along but it is a very small group this year.  It has had as many as 8 members so I think we will be able to get good individual attention.  Wednesday I have to do the androgynous male thing and drive my dad 1.5 hours to the VA hospital at Duke University Medical Center to get a memory test ironically given by the Speech Pathology Department at the Veterans Administration hospital.  Thursday is electrolysis and Friday I think my friend from South Carolina is coming up to go shopping with me in Raleigh.  My de facto ex wife/roommate will be leaving to spend time with her family in the Raleigh area over the weekend so I will be home and I am hoping to have my boyfriend over. :)

Last week was very good as far as getting out a lot and doing stuff as myself.  Tuesday was a full day of driving up to Greensboro for my class, Thursday I had a therapist appointment in Durham then went shopping and Friday through Sunday I had my first real vacation as myself.  My boyfriend has been working up in Lynchburg, Virginia in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains for almost a year.  He has a hotel room there his company rents by the week and he drives home most weekends to spend time with his kids and also me.  I have viewed it as a mysterious far away place, about 3.5 hours from where I live, and even though we have talked of me going up for a night or weekend for a long time this past weekend was my first trip up and it was my first time going to the mountains in probably 10 years and my first time going as myself.  The drive up on Friday afternoon was nice although the air conditioning went out on my van about halfway there and a little later as the afternoon sun was making it uncomfortably hot it came back on so I am not sure of the severity of the problem.  On the way home last night it was quite cool outside, they were expecting a low of 40 in the Virginia foothills, so I didn't even try it.  We will be having some more sort of hot days here for about another month so I hope it holds out and I don't have to spend money getting that fixed right now.  Making this drive unlocked the mystery of the Blue Ridge for me.  I now see that my boyfriend's weekly drive up and back is long but doable and overall it's not a bad ride through pretty country.  The route I took is all 4 lane highways except for about 30 miles of Virginia 2 lane asphalt.  It took me only 3 hours and 15 minutes to get home last night and I arrived back here at 12:40.  I saw Whitetail deer at least 10 times either in groups or single deer.  It seemed like they were all over the road on the 2 lane stretch and I saw very few cars, in fact traffic was light the whole trip.  We also saw a few deer up in the mountains during the day and a couple that had been hit and killed by cars, on the side of the highway.  They are really moving since the weather started cooling down, especially at night as they are feeding and getting ready for mating season.

Blue Ridge Mystery

The weather was beautiful on my drive up Friday afternoon and about 20 miles from Lynchburg I began to see the prominent peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains on the horizon.  Its an aptly named mountain chain as there is a blueish haze to them as they loom in the distance.  I got there before 5 pm and we took all my bags up to the room.  I brought enough for clothes and things for more than a week but that's typical for me.  The only thing I didn't bring was the kitchen sink but luckily he has a nice sink in the bathroom.  He has a cozy little room on the top floor of the hotel that sits up on top of a big hill.  He spends much of his time there and it was nice to finally see where my man lives and I even met his friends that work there at the hotel.  After giving him a little massage and relaxing him from the long work week, we went to a nice restaurant in town for dinner then went shopping at Burlington Coat Factory.  He got me a cool sign (My World, shown above) and some skirts,tights and casual athletic clothes.  Then we went by a grocery store for some drinks and snacks then back to the room to watch tv.  After we watched the rest of WWE wrestling we watched a few episodes of his favorite sitcom, Two and a Half Men, on dvd and had a romantic evening and a wonderful night of cuddling and good sleep. 

We woke up Saturday in time for him to go down and get us some breakfast from the hotel lobby and after getting a little morning energy we spent some quality romantic time before getting ready for the day's drive up into the Blue Ridge Mountains.  All of this seemed to take a long time so we picked up lunch from McDonald's and ate it on the way up.  It's pretty country up there, heavily forested and a curvy 2 lane highway leads up to the mountains.  We hit the Blue Ridge Parkway and headed south.  Of the two directions we could go, the southern route looked like it would hit higher elevations quicker and the point we got on the parkway at the James River is the lowest point (650 feet) on the 469 mile scenic road that runs from Virginia to North Carolina.  We started going up pretty quickly and ours ears popped as the elevations increased to 2000, 3000 then 4000 feet above sea level.  There are a lot of scenic overlooks and we stopped at most of them to admire the views looking way down to the valleys below and to the other mountains in the distance.  Words cannot describe the beauty of these mountains, one of the oldest mountain chain in the world, and the awesome scenery was only topped by the quality time I got to spend with my man while riding the Parkway.  We stopped at one point and hiked 2000 feet down a trail to see a waterfall, Fallingwater Cascades, from a small stream and it was quite a strenuous hike back up to the parking lot.  Mitchell saw a girl he knows from town there and we stopped to talk to her for a minute and apparently from what she said the falls are more spectacular when the creek is raging from rains.  The hike on the mountain trail was nice though and walking up made us appreciate some of the nice features of living in flat country down in eastern North Carolina.

We stayed on the Parkway until almost dark and ended the day by walking the bridge over the James River, we had the place to ourselves at that point.  I ended up eating seafood for three meals on this trip and the best meal of all was when we stopped and ate at a little Italian place he knows in town.  The Mahi Mahi was fantastic, as was everything there but as usual the best thing about the meal was the company.  When we got back to the room, after 9 pm, we had a very intense romantic evening and he fell asleep on the end of the bed while I massaged his ankle that was sore from hiking, and listened to music.  I finally went to bed and we got under the covers and cuddled all night and I slept good for a few hours.  Sunday morning we got up in time for breakfast and again seemed to have trouble breaking ourselves away from the room.  When we finally did get away and went to lunch it was almost 3 pm and we ate a great late lunch at Red Lobster.  We had an afternoon of shopping planned before I was to leave to drive back to NC but we only went to Halloween City and got our costumes for the CMP Halloween party next month.  Then I said there was still enough daytime left to drive up to the Blue Ridge Parkway again and check out the route south of Lynchburg.  So you see, I Really am not a shopaholic as I gave up a couple of hours of shopping for a scenic Sunday drive in the Virginia mountains. :)

                                                        Indian Rocks
Sunday's mountain views were just as gorgeous but the parkway to the south of the James River does have a slightly different feel.  There are a lot of creeks and lower elevations at first and the forest is thick and has more pine trees.  The rock formations even look a little different, it takes longer to get up on the crest of the Blue Ridge and there are fewer overlooks in the 25 or so miles we drove in one direction.  My camera was not working again although I got a few with my cell phone including the panoramic view above.  I hope the pictures on Mitch's camera were good and I think we got some good ones together:)  We stopped on the way back for a short hike on Indian Rocks trail to see some unique boulder formations in the forest and saw a deer in the middle of the road that did not seem to want to move.  On our drive we had some good talks about our relationship, how it started and where it is now and where it may be going as well as how we each got to where are in our lives.  This was some really good quality time and it was well worth staying later even though it put me on the road later than I had planned. 

I think this trip unlocked a mystery for me and that is I now have a clear picture of where it is that my man lives during the week and how to get there.  It doesn't seem now like such a far off and unreachable place.  I used to feel sorry for him when he would leave to go back there, like he was disappearing into the wilderness into a place I could not visualize.  I had talked about going and wanted to but the trip seemed daunting, now it seems doable and if his assignment there lasts for awhile longer I know I will go back up to visit.  We had never spent an entire weekend with each other and the quality time we spent together and closeness we feel is really special, something on a level I have never felt before.  I guess I am still in a Blue Ridge haze but really I suspect it's just love.  Getting out of my little box here and expanding my comfort zone is so liberating also and I expect to travel and go more places now, something I have not really done since I was a kid and teenager with my parents.  The world is my oyster and I am cracking it open and loving every minute of my life now.  Good things are on the horizon, and like those mountains in the distance, I am going to climb all the way to the top!!!

                                          Y'all come back now, ya hear?