Now that Jill is the Rehab unit, I’ve been able to get out and do some sight seeing around this area of Northern Carolina.
Jill is doing well, but she is not enjoying the ambience of the rehab unit. It is actually more of a convalescent unit, as rehabilitation only takes up only a short amount time of each day. In a small town like this, the facility doubles as both a geriatric nursing home and rehab unit. Many of the patients are very elderly and some are demented. To get to Jill’s room, I walk along three corridors of elderly patients before I reach the new wing where Jill is located by the physiotherapy room. The front door is constantly locked.
The rehab doctor saw her yesterday and didn’t know that she was an Australian. He had come across two previous cases where patients had suffered a stroke and woke up speaking in a foreign accent. He thought that Jill was another one. We finally convinced him that we were genuine Australians. He was quite positive about Jill’s state of health and will see her next Tuesday and probably certify her as being fit enough to fly home. Then we just have to wait for the insurance company to get some travel arrangements in place.
My first outing on Thursday was to drive through the Cullasaja River Gorge where I stopped at a number of waterfalls along the way. The river originates to the southeast, near the town of Highlands where it flows from the man made Lake Sequoyah, The U.S. Forest Service has designated the road through the gorge as a National Scenic Byway. I drove through the town of Highlands and across to the little town of Cashiers. I then set my GPS to return to Sylva along some very pretty back country mountain roads.
On Friday, I found out that I could sign Jill out of the home and take her out for a short time. I thought that we should initially go for a little distance to see how she held up, so I took her for a little way along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Most of the Birch trees have now lost their leaves so there is not much in the way of yellow colour anymore. In some of the sheltered valleys there are still some yellow leaves and I think that they may be Aspen Trees. Most of the remaining colours now are the browns of the Oaks and the reds of the Maples. On a clear day, it is amazing to see just how many ridge lines are visible across to the horizon.
It is getting much colder here. I only came equipped for cool weather but not for cold weather. I invested $35 in a warm jacket at the Walmart Store the other night. I think it was a good deal and I’m sure that I would have paid around $150 – $200 for the same type of thing at home. On Tuesday it is forecast to snow with a wmimimun temperature of -7C and a maximum of just 4C. I’m trying to get in a few sight seeing days before the weather gets feral. On the parkway yesterday, we could see icicles by the side of the road where the run-off water had frozen.
Today (Saturday), I took Jill out for another drive. We went north, this time, near to the town of Maggie Valley and to the Cataloochee Valley. Just before the turn off near Maggie NC, we came across hundreds of motor cyclists with a police escort. I wondered whether it was one of the Veterans Motor Cycle Rides that my friend Eamon Tansy (another 85 Transport Platoon member) rides in? The group looked to be of an age that was compatible with Vietnam Veterans. I hope that they had a great day together.
The Cataloochee Valley is nestled among some of the most rugged mountains in the southeastern United States. It is surrounded by many 6000-foot peaks. This isolated valley was one of the largest and most prosperous settlements in what is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Some 1,200 people lived in this lovely mountain valley in 1910. Most made their living by farming, including commercial apple growing, but an early tourism industry developed in Cataloochee with some families offering accommodation to fishermen and other tourists who wished to holiday in the mountains.
Apart from beautiful scenery, the valley contains a number of historic old buildings and a re-introduced elk herd. Jill was happy to ride along for the view while I took a good number of photos in the area.
We were back at the nursing home in Sylva by 4.30 pm and in time for Jill to have her evening meal. She handled the day very well which gives me much more confidence that she will be OK to travel soon.