While I was scrolling through Facebook this morning, dreading all of the postings of all things viral, (pun intended), this image popped up as a memory that I had shared back in 2011. It’s an image that had won an award during the last year of my membership with the Professional Photographers Of Central Florida.

I had named it “Nature’s Footprints” and it was taken on a mountain in North Carolina the day before Christmas back in 2010. The image itself is a beautiful display of nature blanketed by a coat of winter snow and the fresh footprints of what I can only assume was a wolf . . . I couldn’t be sure as I did not hang around to find out. 🙂 What you don’t see in this image is what ensued after that beautiful snowy day and how I learned that you really must be very specific about what you wish for.

For the majority of my adult life, I had always dreamed of having a Smoky Mountain Christmas with my family. That never happened while the kids were still young, however, the opportunity arose in 2010 when I discovered a beautiful vacation rental home located on the top of a mountain in North Carolina and I just knew that my wish could soon become a reality! Since our kids had already grown with families of their own and were unable to join us , we invited our friends, whom I consider family, to split the cost and join us for this incredible Christmas adventure! It was all so exciting! I was finally going to fulfill my dream and wish for a Smoky Mountain Christmas! So after packing up the car, my husband and I, along with our sweet little Yorkie, set off for our holiday adventure and by the end of day, we all met up at the beautiful mountain home where we would have our Smoky Mountain Christmas.

The scenery was absolutely gorgeous, and the home was beautiful and very spacious with all of the amenities, except for a fireplace, which was a real disappointment because that would have been the icing on the cake…and little did we know, it would have been very crucial to have in the end. On Christmas Eve Day, it started snowing and we all went outside and played in it like children who had never seen snow before. After all, we all had been living in Florida for several years so this was a novelty to us! It was during that time when I walked around with my camera and photographed this image, among many others. It was the most beautiful Christmas Eve ever!

We were in awe as we watched the snow falling through the sliding glass doors that led to a wooden deck facing a beautiful landscape of tall trees and mountains. One of our friends even went out and built a snowman on the deck. The next morning, which was Christmas Day, we exchanged gifts, enjoyed a wonderful Christmas feast, and the snow kept falling, and falling, and falling, with no signs of letting up. It was still snowing when we went to bed that night and in the wee hours of the morning, the electricity went out! We all huddled together in the living room under blankets as we had no heat source without a fireplace. There was no water either. And the generator was out of order. So we knew that we had no choice but to leave.

At daybreak, we packed up our cars and started down the mountain. Luckily, it had stopped snowing, however, it had snowed so much that it made the roads very difficult to navigate. We were in my 2006 Lexus SUV so we figured it would be a good idea to go first and it was, as we were able to create a path for the other vehicles to drive on. As we slowly maneuvered down this extremely steep, slippery and winding snow covered road ever so slowly, my vehicle began to skid and because we were afraid to go any further on our own, we called for help to get us down that mountain. Help arrived and one of the two men decided to drive my vehicle down, so I got into the back seat with my dog, my husband was in the front passenger seat and the man proceeded to drive. Suddenly, we started to skid again and when we finally stopped, we were so close to the edge that we nearly skid off the mountain! I looked out of my window to see only the side of the mountain and it went down for miles! Suddenly, I started shaking, had difficulty breathing and became nauseas! Little did I know that I was having a panic attack, which I had never had before in my life! I jumped out of the car, and started walking down the mountain in snow that came up to my upper thighs! In sheer panic, I left my husband and my dog in the vehicle and walked all the way down to the bottom of that mountain! Once I was able to calm down, I cried and felt horrible for leaving them up there. As I nervously waited for them below, it seemed like hours before I saw the vehicles coming down the mountain and when I did, I let out a huge sigh of relief.

So. . . even though my life long dream of having a Smokey Mountain Christmas had somewhat of a nightmare ending, it did come true! And it is a memory that I will always treasure each time that I look at this image. However, you can be assured that I am very specific now about what I wish for. 🙂