Thursday, November 13, 2008


I’ve never mentioned my favorite place on earth before now, and it’s not even in my Laugh & Times of Mushy”, but I was blessed last week to find the person* that now owned this beautiful private place, and discovering that we both call it “our hide-out!”

When I first moved to Harriman and made friends with Barry and Woody, they introduced me to their world. They had a secret place that they loved to visit, shoot a can or two, hunt squirrels, skinny dip, skip stones, camp, or just walk quietly through the splendor of it all. It instantly became my special place too!

The area was not far from where Barry, Woody, and I lived in
those days, but far enough that a car, or as it turned out an old ’49 Chevy pickup, was necessary. Oh, it was well within range of a 2 hour bike ride, but bicycles by then had become way too juvenile for 16 and 17 year-old boys!

Woody was usually our designated driver, using the old work
truck from the nursery his dad owned. The nursery also provided me with work during my junior and senior years. I am very grateful for that job, but I’m more appreciative now for the transportation that allowed 3 adventuresome boys a way to get to their “hide-out”!

When I came home on leave, before leaving for Vietnam, I took one last trip to “my hide-out” and walked in the serenity there. I wondered what I was about to
learn about the big world, and it even crossed my mind that I might not walk there again. As I walked along, forming a tear or two, listening to the crunch of leaves beneath my feet and the whispering of the wind in the trees above me, I suddenly realized that whatever happened, had to happen, and I did not worry about it again.

I don’t think I ever had time to go back there until after Judy and I married, some 15 years later. One of the first places I took her was among the trees in “my special place”, and it has remained “our special place” through all these years.

You might imagine how disappointed I was a few years ago when I wanted to show my granddaughter this “little piece of heaven on earth”, and finding it locked away behind a gate and a “Keep Out” sign!

How could this be? Didn’t this place belong to all those that loved it? Why was it no longer accessible to us?

After a couple of years of wondering and searching, and having no luck, this past week I found out who owned the property*, but that he lived most of the time in California. My heart sank! But, as a last ditch effort to get access to "my hide-out", I sent him an email explaining my situation and love for the area.

I could hardly believe that a reply came that very evening! Better yet, he told me how much he also loved the area and understood my feelings for it. The letter gave me special pass to walk the property anytime I wanted!

Let me tell you, that night was a restless night for me. I was so excited at getting the permission that I had trouble falling to sleep. It was just a dream come true!

Judy and I decided to take our first walk of the area this past Monday. Sunday night was the same as the night I got the news – nearly sleepless! I even dreamed that the area had been developed as a state park of sorts, complete with a gift shop and caged animals! All this had been hidden and unknown until we crossed the creek and stepped into the fall colored forest. I was shocked to see people milling around, shopping, and snapping photos of various rock formations and the fall colors.I woke up several times early Monday morning, but each time I had a big smile on my face. I knew it was just a dream, but I was having the time of my life. As soon as I closed my eyes, I was again back in the dream in the same place as before – it was terrific!

However, nothing was more terrific than once
again stepping foot back into those woods for real! Nothing had changed except me! The tree under which we used to camp was not nearly as large as I remember it, but quite a big beech tree nonetheless! The tree and rope from which we swung out into the creek was also gone.

The 150 to 200 foot rock wall that rims the northern part of the woods there prevents anyone from accessing the area from that direction. To the south, a long steep rocky hill line guards that side of the little hidden valley. The only access is from the east, down a leafy path, across a wide boulder strewn creek that often runs full of swiftly moving water. However, on this day, Judy and I crossed the creek gingerly, slowly picking our way from boulder to boulder, remaining high and dry due to the two year drought.

As we stepped into the woods, we both half expected to see a gift shop! We laughed, remembering the dream, and walked on deeper into our past, barely containing our excitement, adding new memories of our “special hide-out”.

If anyone ever tries to think of a place to sprinkle our ashes…this is it. What could make resurrection more special than for it to happen in “our special hide-out”!

*Who would have ever thought he and I would have so much in common:

See more photos of this area on FLICKR!<


*Goddess* said...

You're both looking good:)

The woods look beautiful. Our trees are pretty much bare now.

Byron Chesney said...

Oh man, that looks like Heaven on Earth! There is nothing better than a "special place." Everybody should have their own. Great pics too!

Jose said...

Pretty magical if you ask me. Who would have ever thought.

~Fathairybastard~ said...

That's a wonderful post brotha. I'm really happy for both of you, that you made it back. It makes me want to go back up to Missouri and find my old woods. You remember that post, about the woods and the Elephant Tree? I know it would be a VERY emotional trip for me, so i think I know how you're feeling now. You're so lucky that you've lived most of your life right there, and all your memories are within' reach. Warms my heart.

Debbie said...

What great pictures. They remind me of the creek on my parents farm. It was my secret place when I was a kid. The water was shallow in most places, and my favorite spot had a big tree that had fallen across the creek, but not into the creek.

I would sit there, listen to the water, birds, watch animals in the near field.

There were a couple of spots deep enough for swimming, and a small bridge over the creek farther down in one direction.

Debbie Hamilton
Right Truth

Buck said...

Your Special Place is beautiful indeed, Mushy. Thanks for the post and the GREAT pics.

Jeni said...

Seeing your pictures, I can readily understand why you treasured this place so much. Beautiful! Just beautiful.

david mcmahon said...

Magic places, Mushy. Magic memories too.

Carol said...

You gave me goosebumps, Mushy! What great memories. I believe each of us will experience heaven differently whenever we get there...and I am sure this will be yours!!!

Sandi McBride said...

Is there anything in our memories more valuable than "the secret place"? What a great post. And congratulations on Post of the well deserved.

Mushy said...

Thank you all for sharing my "secret place" with me. I wish you all could do it in person.

Got an email from a gentlemen who graduated from high school in '49 and moved away in the early 70s. It was his place too and he gave me a totally different insight into the place. Seems it was used as a place to court back in his day!

I'll have to admit I kind of had an idea from my experiences!

Anonymous said...

That was a magical post and seeing those pictures I can understand yur deep love for the place. Sad really that it is owned by one man, who doesn't even live there, but then perhaps that is why it retains it's beauty.

Mushy said...

Moannie...loved your story about your father...that's what these fancy blogs are all about!

BBC said...

Nice area, a lot like where I live, and I'm hiking into the hot springs in the morning.

Camping rules, I do all the camping I can.

Mushy said...

Think of me when you get camp made and you settle down by the fire BBC!

Lucky Lady said...

i love your blog i grew up in tennesse a town called philadelphia you bring back some memories foe me

Sassy said...

Oh Mushy that place is so beautiful. No wonder it's your favorite place. I love the big grin on your face. I'm glad you and Judy got to go back there.

Mushy said...

Lucky Lady - that's not too far from ol' Mushy. Thanks for coming by.

Sassy - we were ecstatic that day!

Olga, the Traveling Bra said...

Awwww Mushy....I can just FEEL the excitement oozing out of your words as you describe your Special Place! Maybe....if I'm a good girl, you might take me there when I come to visit?

Mushy said...

We can only hope!

See ya!

*Goddess* said...

We had pizza for lunch on Friday, thank you very much:)

Mushy said...

Live! You can't stop time!

A friend once told me that the worst thing in life would be to sit on the porch of the nursing home and have regrets! Even it if shortens your life by a day or so...why deprive yourself?

Anonymous said...

Mushy: I had to come back here to tell you that I found your Sunday Roast interview with David. I was nodding as I read it, saying 'yes, yes, that's it' All of us think 'why do I blog, and what would we say if David asked us? at least I know I do. But I have never been able to make sense of it. Quilly said 'We can be honest' and that is a good and true answer, but you said it all for me.
The amazing thing about blogging I have found in the short time I have been doing it, is the closeness I feel to so many people I shall never meet. I CARE about them, and honestly feel that they care about me. Is it because we know that they are being honest, no subterfuge, no blurring the lines between fact and fiction?
It was an amazing interview, I feel as if I have known you and your wife forever.

I am going to go back and read some of your earlier blogs.

Mushy said...

Bless you my dear, I took and look you over...lurking, as it were...but learning a lot.

Thanks for letting me know we have something in common.

That 1 Guy said...

That's an excellent post, Mushy, and an awesome looking place! I'm glad Mr. Watson was willing to share it with you!

Mushy said...

Thanks Guy...he'll never know how much I do appreciate the visit!

Becky said...

Wow, that's just beautiful...almost looks like a fairy tale setting.