Over the last couple of days we have been making plans to leave Sylva and begin our way back to home. I’ll leave here with some very mixed emotions. On one hand, I’ll be glad to get out of this little town and head home. On the other hand, I’m feeling sad about leaving behind the many wonderful people who have befriended us and supported us with their kindness and hospitality.
On Sunday, I went to church and planned to take Jill out for the afternoon. That didn’t happen as many people from the First Baptist Church here came around to visit. It was very nice of them to come and see Jill.
Yesterday, I had a couple from Church book me up for lunch. I spent the morning, pottering around and visited the rehab centre where the admin staff began to talk about the discharge process. After lunch we drove up to Cherokee to have a look at an old 1800’s historic Grist Mill. It is housed in a wooden building and powered by water from a creek that flows along a wooden flume. Mingus Mill is just a few miles from Cherokee. It was built in 1886. This mill uses a water-powered turbine instead of a water wheel to power all of the machinery in the building. It was the largest mill in the Smokies, serving about 200 families. It’s one of many historic structures that have been saved over time.
Near the National Park Visitors Centre is an open area where a herd of Elk graze at dusk. Elk once roamed over the entire southern Appalachian mountains. They were eliminated from the region by over-hunting and loss of habitat. The last elk in North Carolina was believed to have been killed in the late 1700s. Reintroduction of elk into Great Smoky Mountains National Park began in 2001 when 25 elk were brought from the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area along the Tennessee-Kentucky border. In 2002, the park imported another 27 animals. Now, there seems to be quite a large herd.
Back near my hotel in the historic town of Dillsboro is a sight that has fascinated me for days. Behind the square of commercial buildings are some trees that are totally covered in some sort of vine.
I found out that they are the Kudzu Vine. This is an invasive plant that was brought to the U.S. in the late 19th century from Japan. It was planted with the idea that it could be a solution for soil erosion, but its aggressive spread has proven to be a problem rather than an ecological solution. After the Dust Bowl experience of the 1930s, people began to promote kudzu as a fix for erosion and nutrient-poor soils. The Soil Conservation Service was established in the U.S. and it promoted the propagation of kudzu (planting around 500,000 acres of the vine) throughout Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, and Alabama. Kudzu is one of the fastest growing plants in the world. It can grow at the rate of 25 cm per day and has the ability to spread up to 20 metres per growing season.
Today, Jill was finally discharged from the Skyland Rehab Centre. The doctor signed off his approval for her to travel. And I immediately emailed this to the insurance company so that they could begin to sort out some flights for home. Jill left the facility with some medication and instructions for making it easier to travel home. She doesn’t have any pain at all but is being careful not to have anything push on her belly. She has some pills for managing her blood pressure and some others to reduce the acid levels in her stomach. She is now ensconced in my room at the Holiday Inn.
We plan to drive about sixty miles north tomorrow to Ashville which is a much larger city with more facilities. We’ll stay there for a day or two until our travel plans are sorted.
I called on Pastor Jeff this afternoon to say goodbye and to thank him, and his congregation, for all their kindness. Jill is feeling a bit insecure about leaving her medical support system behind so I’ll have to do my best to help her and reduce her fears. It will be very nice to be home again.