The Mountains of Western North Carolina Are Calling Me

A Labor Day road trip could be in the works.

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2P2PX9_0axYBkZv00
Long, winding road. Photo by Wade Austin Ellis via Unsplash

Labor Day is September 06, 2021, and while it has been almost a full year since my last trek to the mountains of Western North Carolina, I can’t help but yearn for another road trip.

I have been debating on vacationing in Asheville, NCArden, NC, or Hendersonville, NC this year. That time of “can’t wait to get there” is approaching and while others may head upward to the “friendly skies,” I will slip myself into my midsize sedan and take on the open road.

I’m willing to bet I’ll end up in a majestic and spacious Airbnb in the heart of Asheville for the next three-day weekend on my work calendar. I miss the fresh mountain air, the slight breeze that sneaks in at the witching hour, and the never-ending choices of delicious cuisine.

There are so many things to do during the late summer and autumn months; both indoor and outdoor events, and I plan to enjoy whatever I can while I can.

A short list of current events

An interesting take on art shared by Patrick Dougherty is currently running until September 30, 2021.

Dougherty weaves saplings and branches into intricate artworks, fashioning whimsical forms ranging from gigantic snares and cocoons to sculptural interpretations of notable buildings. Free with daytime admission!

Free as a Bird, modern-day stickwork showcases Dougherty’s amazing and vast talent. The images are luring and incredibly detailed. This could be a wonderful event to enjoy alone or with family and friends.

Arbor Evenings at The North Carolina Arboretum takes place every week on Thursday and Friday and will continue until October 01, 2021.

Sip and stroll through the NC Arboretum gardens after dark (5:30–8 PM) with live music. Light food, beer, and wine available for purchase. Admission is $5 per person.

This sounds like something I’d love to do and for $5.00 per person, I’m sure I’m not the only one leaning toward that decision.

Downtown After Five in Downtown Asheville is a combination of live music, tasty food, beer, and a host of other exciting events beginning at 5:00 p.m. on July 16, 2021, August 20, 2021, and September 17, 2021.

Thousands gather on North Lexington Avenue near the I-240 overpass to enjoy local and national beers and a variety of food vendors. While admission is free, you must buy a $2 wristband to purchase beer, hard cider and wine.

While I don’t partake in the barley-based American favorite drink, I would definitely lurk about happily while feasting on some vintage vittles, soaking up the evening sun, and listening to a few good tunes.

What to do when I get there

I am 80% certain I will venture out to the mountains in less than two months. The list above is just the tip of the iceberg of things to do and I will have to narrow down my itinerary before loading up my car and heading west.

If I don’t get to do anything else, a hike on one of their many trails and takeout from my two favorite eateries, Homegrown and Early Girl, will definitely occur.

It has been too long and I am slowly easing back into some semblance of normalcy but tip-toeing to be on the safe side. I want to dive headfirst into a grand scheme of shenanigans but with COVID-19 still holding steady, according to the COVID-19 NC dashboard, precautions will be in play.

The mountains of Western North Carolina are calling me; it is high time I answer them.


This was originally published on NewsBreak.

future vacation (for Labor Day)

A Senryu, 2 Parts

a reservation
at a prominent resort
booked–me and my girl

excited for fun
in the mountains with nature
no brouhaha, please


Yesterday, I booked the hotel for Labor Day weekend in Asheville, NC. Jernee and me will be staying at the Crowne Plaza Resort. I got a great deal using Snaptravel that saved me around $260.00. I had to jump on that deal; it would have been ludicrous not to. I am excited, and I hope we’ll be able to see this thing through. I worry with these rising numbers for the Delta variant of the Coronavirus, but I am going to remain hopeful about it.

We Have Changed But We Have Not Changed

A poem for Karen

Karen and me, three years ago. Photo Credit: Karen, herself; used with permission.

After high school, you
knew where your heart was — 
far away from me and everyone
else who loved you
but for a greater cause . . .

The Air Force claimed you
for twenty years and with
each one that passed, I
further admired my friend
who desired to do something
that scared the shit out of me.

You have always been a tackler
of the difficult, shifting out
of comfort zones and pulling
me away from things I clung
to for safety.
Risks were your forte,
they still are.

As a dreamer, basking in
the glow of others’ 
spontaneous events,
I looked into your world
but could not keep my
feet in it.

I am proud of you; you are
the epitome of superhuman,
Mom de jure, and peace
when this chaotic world
rages forth.

Which birthday was it of mine
when you told the workers
at the Japanese restaurant
I was to be celebrated and
for fun and to play along,
I had to do the funky chicken
while they sang?

I nearly fainted but you
powered me on and my
reservation about publicly
embarrassing myself ended
up being the fun I needed
at that moment.

I wonder if you knew that.
I’m sure you knew that.

You were the person
who appeared out of nowhere;
on leave, ready for whatever
came our way.
You made dreams come true
without much effort.
Now that we are aging,
we still remain; young at heart
and full of life.

We have changed but
we have not changed and
for the love of everything
good and true, this is a
testament that will outlast
us.

Our story is one that
makes me smile.
We should keep 
turning the pages.


Originally published via Medium.

Clover

Part III: We bring the storm with us

The next morning arrived quicker than I could dream it up. Mama had been up well into the early morning hours making sure each cardboard box was taped, labeled, and stored neatly in the living room for the movers. Daddy gassed up his truck the day before yesterday, cleaned out the garage, and cooked us the perfect bbq meal last night. I can still taste that chicken — yummy. I slept so hard I couldn’t hear a single thing. I was excited about today; I am excited about today and I just want to hurry up and get on the road.

Daddy says it’ll take about two hours and thirty minutes from here in Summerville to Hopeulikit. At least we don’t have to be on the road for too long. I hate traveling long distances in Daddy’s truck. It’s dependable but it’s old and loud and is a rusty orange color — so, it’s not a looker by any form of the word. Daddy says, “It gets us where we need to go and when and that’s all that matters.”

He has a point but I’d rather be in Mama’s subtle sedan. It’s reliable, good on gas, and Mama always selects the best music stations on the radio. Daddy listens to gospel all day long and not the contemporary or modern kind, either.

No . . . not anything for Clover.

He plays the Georgia Mass Choir, Mississippi Mass Choir, The Winans, The Clark Sisters, The Anointed Pace Sisters, and the list goes on and on and on. Mama sways her head and hums to each song. Sometimes, she even gets emotional. But she has a wider range of music appreciation and that’s what I prefer most.

Daddy says we’re not making any stops so for me to eat, use the bathroom, and put my raincoat in the backseat of the truck with me. Forecast ain’t callin’ for rain but Daddy is usually spot-on when it comes to the weather — better than those fancy dolled-up weather people on the tv. They’re almost always wrong. I do as I’m told and make sure my raincoat is sitting right next to me when we leave.

Mama takes her place in the front seat, next to Daddy. She smiles. A hint of sunlight kisses her cheeks. Daddy smiles back at her. They hold hands for a brief moment. Daddy says a prayer for safe travels and we thank “the Good Lord above” for another day’s waking up — in our right minds. And before you know it, the truck’s radio is blasting Shirley Caesar’s “No Charge” and we’re off to Hopeulikit.

The loud thump-thwack sound of the truck upon ignition is common. I don’t flinch — not one move. I’ve grown so used to this thing happening that it seems second nature. Daddy asks if I’ve made myself comfortable and to him, I respond, “I sure have” and I settle in for what will be an early morning nap. I don’t remember time sailing by so quickly ever before but as soon as I open my eyes, we approached Statesboro, Georgia, and shortly after, Hopeulikit.


It is as if God above anointed my daddy to read the skies. I look up and that same pink burnt storm sky from Summerville greets us. The underbelly of the sky is the most beautiful thing — I wish I could jump straight up and touch it. Just as I was losing myself in my thoughts, the bottom falls out and I hurry to wrap myself inside my raincoat — slapping the hood on my head within seconds.

Mama lifts a huge umbrella to her chest then out to the air and presses a button for it to open. She and Daddy scatter under it before we begin to unload our items from the truck.

The movers pull up moments later. Daddy signals them to start with the bigger items then work their way down to the smaller ones. Two of the men have ponchos on while the other is soaked from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. I wonder, “will he track that mess through our new home or will Daddy advise him to hang tight while the others do what they can before the winds pick up?”

He throws up a trembling hand at Daddy and asks, “Where should we start?” Daddy doesn’t waste any time letting him know, “You can start as long as you and your crew get some plastic laid down in the main areas.”

I watch the men pull out a long roll of plastic and begin rolling from our new foyer, through the hallway, and into our living room and dining room. After that, they’re moving lightning fast, unloading boxes and furniture, and knick-knacks.

Daddy wants to help. He busies himself with the few things we loaded in the truck and I follow behind him to help. Rain is coming down like cats and dogs. I pull the hat of my raincoat tighter and tuck the curls of my hair under it.

One hour later, everything is unloaded and I stand in my new bathroom, peel the clothes from my body, and cough. Mama hears me. I know she’ll want to flood my body with Cod liver oil. Yuck!

I already don’t like Hopeulikit.


Originally published in The Weekly Knob on Medium.

Part I and Part II

Writers: A Challenge

“Summertime” in Three Words

Something new this year; a filled pool, ready for swimmers. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

For us here in the United States of America, it’s summertime and in various states within this nation, temperatures are on the rise. Summertime, although a season I’d rather do without, gifts us with a ton of fun to be had.

When summer comes to your area/country, what do you like to do most? What do you love most about summer? What do you hate most about it? Please share your thoughts on summer using three words only.

Here’s mine:

traveling without
restrictions

I truly miss doing the above and I hope one day soon, I’ll be able to get back to my travels without worry and wonder and being far too concerned with rising Coronavirus cases, but mostly — I just want the world to be safe again from this virus. Writers, you are a creative bunch and I’d love to see what you can do with this topic using three words only. So, the challenge? Tell me about your summer experiences; likes & dislikes in just three words.

Let’s have some fun and please, bring it!


Music? Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, Summertime: