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Moments passed, never to come again

I seem to remember posting a blog entry recently about how October is usually a "quiet" month for weather in North Carolina. You certainly wouldn't know it to look at the record books for 2012. In my two decades here at WWAY, this is the most unusual October I can recall. The month started with 3 confirmed tornadoes in the WWAY viewing area on October 1st, and concluded with Winter Storm Warnings for the mountains Halloween week. And let's not forget the Tropical Storm warnings that were issued for southeastern NC.

I have somewhat calmer memories of October from childhood. October was the time our family took the annual vacation to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. While there, we would usually take day trips to Cherokee, Maggie Valley, Townsend, or Asheville. If you have never experienced the Great Smokey Mountains during the height of fall color, I highly recommend the trip.

As a small child, I was more interested in playing than "leaf watching". I usually packed my little suitcase full of games, comic books, snacks, and other assorted toys. Unimportant things (like clothes, toothbrush, and medicine) I left to mom. My family had a 70's model Ford Bronco, forest green and white. The shag-like upholstery was a ghastly conglomeration of 70's era color weave, trendy for the time.

The trip took about 6 hours from our home, so I spent many an hour playing with my provisions in the backseat. Dad would usually break-out into song at some point before the Tennessee border, much to the chagrin of my mom. She would usually pass most of the trip sleeping, occasionally waking up to direct dad to a gas station. We usually arrived at our destination around sunset. I was always so excited when we checked into the hotel. Indeed, my first night on vacation was usually passed with very little sleep.

Our hotel of choice was a place called "Brookside" (it's still there). Each room had a fireplace and a beautiful view of a little babbling brook, hence the name. Nestled in a small valley, you really felt far away from the cares of everyday life. At night, we would usually walk down to a little row of shops called "The Village". There was a candy shop called "The Old Smokey Candy Kitchen" where you could buy anything from honey to taffy. I can still see those big taffy machines churning away. And if that wasn't enough sugar for you, the "Donut Friar" was right down the street, offering the best cake donuts in the mountains.

I was very fortunate to be able to take my wife and young son on one final big family trip to Gatlinburg back in 2010- along with my mom, dad, and brother. Little did we know that would be our final trip all together. My mother passed away this past summer, following a long bout with cancer. Autumn was one of her favorite times of the year, so the fall color comes with a little extra sadness this year. But the memories remain, and for that I am grateful.

If you have any memories of autumn that you would like to share, please head over to my new facebook page. Or, if you just enjoy reading about weather and history, please take a few moments to visit.  Here's the link:  Chief Meteorologist Jerry Jackson


By: Jerry Jackson