by Steve Tweed
July 11, 2017
Hi, Folks! I hope everyone has been doing well.
After taking a couple of weeks off from writing, I decided I wanted to do something just a little different this week.
I went on a little adventure yesterday and decided that I would like to take y’all along, so to speak.
My friend and co-worker, Cameron Wathen, approached me last week at work and asked “Hey, Tweed? You want to go to Buzzard’s Roost next weekend?”
I had seen some photographs of Buzzard’s Roost online but didn’t know exactly where it was at, so I jumped at the chance. “You bet!” I replied.
We watched the weather forecast and decided that Sunday, July 09, 2017 was our best day to go. We made the decision to meet up at his house at noon.
Now, Cameron and me are a little bit of an anomaly as far as friends go.
I am twenty-five years older than Cameron. I grew up with his Mom & Uncles while Cameron grew up with my daughters.
Nevertheless, Cameron is an old soul and respectful young man which I appreciate and admire.
When I arrived at Cameron’s home in Hot Springs, I spent a good deal of time talking about food with his Mom & Dad, particularly good southern food and Cajun dishes.
We finally hit the road in Cameron’s gray Ford pickup truck. The trip began with a twisty trek across Highway 209 to Meadow Fork Road to Keenerville and down the dirt road into Harmon’s Den.
It was a treat for me, as I had not been in some of the areas since I was 15 years old in 1980! We passed a wagon train and some of the most beautiful creek flow I’ve ever seen.
Cameron pointed out a couple of places, allowing me to climb out of the truck and rock jump in the creek to take photos.
We crossed under I-40 at the Harmon’s Den exit in Haywood County and began a steep climb up the dirt road towards Buzzard’s Roost, passing a picturesque farm butted up against U.S. Forest Service land.
We were talking when Cameron announced “Here we are!”
There was a slight pull off and I could hear the I-40 traffic far below although I couldn’t see anything.
If you didn’t know what you were looking for you would drive right by the spot without knowing what was held in store below.
We climbed out of the truck with me grabbing my camera bag and cell phone.
There was a pretty steep trail just off the road but it was dry enough to offer sure footing with the right shoes.
We eased down the trail, which made a slight crook to the left and it appeared! Less than one hundred feet from the road was Buzzard’s Roost.
I had warned Cameron on the ride that I had a morbid fear of heights but I always forced myself to go to these types of places just to be able to take them in and photograph them.
As we approached the roost, I began taking steps with more purpose.
The straight drop off of well over a quarter mile made the cars on Interstate 40 look tiny below, smaller than any Hot Wheel.
The butterflies in my stomach were racing.
Meanwhile, Cameron was prancing around the edge of the roost like a seasoned mountain goat.
I retrieved my Canon camera, sat down on the tree roots near the edge and started easing forward, going as far as I dare before becoming physically ill.
I started snapping shots and Cameron was kind enough to reach me lenses out of my bag as needed.
It was absolutely surreal to be caught up in a moment where both fear and exhilaration simultaneously reigned supreme.
After spending about thirty minutes or so at the roost, we hiked back up to the truck and began the journey back home.
That turned out to be a treat as well. Ferguson’s was celebrating their Centennial Anniversary and it was a shindig and a half, complete with Bluegrass band and young children up to mischievousness
When we left, we headed back up Betsy’s Gap into Madison County with Cameron & me already talking about our next adventure.
Then Cameron said something that hit me like a brick but summed up the day.
“No offense, but it sure is cool to be able to show an old-timer something they have never seen before because I know you have seen some stuff.”
That line made me chuckle but also made me come to realize that the day had been much more than a Sunday Drive, adventure or even time amongst friends.
At fifty two years old, I realized that a rite of passage had taken place and a baton passed.
I am no longer a fearless or reckless young man.
I am a middle aged man with the responsibility of giving younger people someone to look up to and learn from even though I had learned from Cameron on this particular day.
That is quite fitting and okay by me, as with young people like Cameron I gladly accept the role.
Y’all have a great week!