When I got up this morning and stood on the deck, I saw white clouds settled in the green valley below like a gaseous sea, islands of mountaintop rising through.

By the time I woke my young charges, the tide of clouds had begun to recede to the north, with a side current sweeping up and over a tree-topped summit like fine hairs running through a comb.

It’s my first time in Boone, and I can’t stop looking at the mountains: the way sunlight and shadow play along their many slopes and crenellations, the sheer scope of this stretch of the Blue Ridge and its muted strength.

I believe I can see a couple dozen peaks from the upper deck at my friend Big Al’s house near the top of Sunset Mountain. There’s no wifi or cable TV here, but yesterday I watched a sunbeam make its way across the nearest range until my coffee grew cold.

Down below, the boys have been discovering the youthful joys of Appalachian State University, their first real exposure to college life that coincides with a guitar symposium of which they are a part.

They ditched me almost immediately on the first morning, which is as it should be. I did the same thing to my father on my first college visit with him, which was so long ago that I still had a mullet (it was a perfectly legitimate haircut at the time).

So I drove the streets of downtown Boone alone, looking for a parking spot — scarce during the week even at $1 an hour with a two-hour max, though after 5 p.m. almost all of the cars disappear and parking becomes free.

While my kid and his buddy finished out their college tour and made plans for dinner that did not include me, I killed a few hours with bougie sandwiches and organic coffee on King Street, an authentic college strip where the Mountaineer gear drops in price the further west you go.

And when I realized I would be spending the bulk of evening by myself, I shrugged and headed back up Sunset Mountain just in time to watch the light show.

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