One of my goals for this year was to take a continued education class, and I waited until I was ten months in to finally get started on that goal. I decided to take a creative non-fiction writing class online through Gotham Writers Workshop, which also has classes in real life in New York. One of our first assignments was to write a memoir -style essay about a crosswords we had to face. I took that literally and wrote about my solo road trip to North Carolina, specifically my time spent in Chimney Rock State Park. I decided it would be fun to share it with you all, dear readers, because it’s travel related and I liked what I wrote. So, without further ado, here it is:
I took one look at the road that zigzagged up the mountain with harrowing hairpin turns and contemplated turning back. I had just driven the forty-five minutes from downtown Asheville to the outskirts of Chimney Rock State Park, and before that, the ten hours from Chicago to Asheville. It should be noted that I am not a good driver; I can more accurately be described as a nervous passenger. I learned how to drive in a small town with three main streets and no highways. I had only just learned how to drive on the expressway a few months before this trip, when my boyfriend pushed me into trying it in his car. He had a good point, I couldn’t go on a solo road trip across state lines without ever having driven on an expressway. Now, here I was in a rented Kia Rio, staring up at a whole new level of driving I had yet to experience.
Internally, I was going over the worst-case scenarios; I turned the volume down on the radio to help me think. I could go careening off the side of the steep cliff, I could crash head first into one of the other cars coming down from the top at a surprisingly quick pace, or I could slide backwards if the tiny car I had chosen because it was the cheapest rental option couldn’t make it all the way up. Finally, after watching multiple cars drive up and down the mountain, I said “fuck it” and headed into the park. I took it slow, hitting the horn every time I came around the bend of one of the hairpin turns. I winced each time a car sped past me going the opposite way, especially the large campers that were somehow swinging around each turn like they were on rails.
Once I neared the top, I felt the knots in my stomach loosen. I pulled up to the parking lot, grateful to be on level ground again. I paid my entry into the park, parked and headed to the start of the hiking trails. There were 500 steps to the top of Chimney Rock, and the view from the top was worth each and every one. The day was clear, I had just conquered one of my biggest fears and I could see the road I had just driven, along with the beautiful valley, river within it and mountains beyond from this vantage point. I was proud of myself and felt like I could accomplish anything after that drive. I hiked around the park with my chin up and breezed back down the mountain, with some of my previous caution but none of the fear.
Share a fear you’ve conquered in the comments!