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Change of Seasons

A Picnic on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Suzie Lechtenberg

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The Fam
(Ewa Powell)
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Ewa Powell: My name is Ewa Powell and I live in Lincolnton, N.C., very close to the mountains. My favorite way to spend a winter weekend with my family is to drive up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is often closed in some parts, and hike on the highway when there are no cars. A lot of times, there are no people. And we'll enjoy ourselves on the freeway!

It's sort of strange, but when I'm there, I take these amazingly deep breaths. I just feel like breathing because everything feels so calm.

There really is hardly anybody there. Once in a while, there'd be a bicycler that'll pass you by or a runner, but definitely not too many families with kids.

We'll be on this road for an hour and not see anybody at all! You just get this weird feeling like you're in some kind of a science fiction movie and you're the last person in the world. And you feel like, "What if we get home and everybody's disappeared and we're the only ones left?"

Yet we're so lucky because we're left all alone in this beautiful place and there are no cars. So it's really an idealistic idea of being left alone in the world.

Of course, our favorite thing to do is to scare each other and say, "Car's coming!"

Of course it gets you every time because you're walking in the middle of the highway. So we always say, "Hey! Car's coming!" We always get freaked out. It works every time!

On extra warm days we'll take our blankets and our picnic, and we'll just set it out in the middle of the highway. Just because we can, and start eating our lunch. The babies will run around, and we don't have to worry about them, because there's really no place for them to get lost or get hurt. We'll just sit there, usually bring a bottle of wine, and enjoy our lunch in the middle of the road. And what's also funny about it is that later on in the summer, we'll drive the same road among other cars and say to ourselves, "Hey! This is where we had a picnic last winter!"

It is so spectacular, the feeling that you get being up there alone. It's so freeing. I think it puts my whole life in perspective because things get so hectic with the kids. When we're there, and the kids are happy and quiet, it's just so peaceful! You really do just want to take it all in.

Letter from Listener Ewa Powell

We live in the foothills of North Carolina with two very young kids and a dog. We love the outdoors, but for now we are limited in our activities by the age of our children who can't walk on their own for more than a mile, on a good day.

So, on sunny days when the winds are low we head up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. In the winter, many parts of the parkway are closed to motorized traffic providing us with miles and miles of open highway to push the strollers on. The Blue Ridge Parkway provides most spectacular views, it winds through beautiful forests and pastures, and it is almost absolutely empty of any other people.

Most of the time we get that weird feeling like it's the end of the world and we are the lucky survivors. Other times we scare each other by saying, "A car is coming!" It gets us every time. And on extra warm days we set up a picnic in the middle of the road, just because we can.

Ewa Powell
Lincolnton, N.C.

  • Music Bridge:
    Heavenly Birds Pt. 1
    Artist: Rickard Javerling
    CD: Two Times Five Lullaby (Yesternow Recordings)
More stories from our Change of Seasons series


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