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.

She Rides Shotgun

Jernee, riding shotgun, post a Groomer’s visit on Saturday, July 10, 2021. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

Not to beat an already dead horse regarding Coronavirus COVID-19, but it appears, normalcy is trying to sashay its way back into our lives—at least, this is taking place in many cities and states in the United States of America. New variants, notwithstanding, people are venturing out more. They are making plans to seal deals on various flight tickets and jet-set their way into post-COVID happiness. I won’t lie to you; I feel a deep stirring in my body to regain my shoddy confidence and get back to traveling. However, the kind that involves flying is not yet on my list.

I am interested in loading up my car with various selected items, encouraging playlists, a full stomach, my partner-in-crime; my dog, Jernee, and whisk away to the majestic mountains of Western North Carolina for a few days or a week. The beauty of nature and its luring embrace is calling me. I much prefer a scenic drive to my places of interest as opposed to the “friendly skies.” If I can get there in about one to six hours, I will make the drive to that destination. And with a buddy who sleeps most of the drive to that place and hasn’t the verbiage to “backseat” or “passenger seat drive” to accompany me, it is usually something to which I truly look forward.

According to Julie Hall, APR:

More than 47.7 million Americans will take to the nation’s roadways and skies this Independence Day (July 1–5), as travel volumes are expected to nearly fully recover to pre-pandemic levels. In fact, this will be the second-highest Independence Day travel volume on record, trailing only 2019. Overall, just 2.5% fewer Americans are expected to travel this year compared to Independence Day in 2019. This represents an increase of nearly 40% compared to last year, when total travel fell to 34.2 million.

AAA Newsroom, June 22, 2021

With those estimated numbers, many Americans have moved from isolation and are back to what they find to be most appealing—the freedom of living. I have been toying with the idea of rising from the deep and heading toward the surface just as many others, but a familiar fear still hovers over me. My plan: to go about things slowly regarding this transition but eventually catapult myself back into a familiar world; a pre-COVID-19-like world . . . baby steps, though. Baby steps.

Jernee, my four-legged companion, is easy to please. As long as I accompany her, she will travel to the edge of the world if it means she can still have her daily walks and favorite treats. I mean, with those additions to an already spoiled life, why not? Having her beside me as I tackle the come-hither calls of an adventurous world, awaiting my attendance and participation, is welcome. I don’t think I could get the look of sheer contentment from anyone else in my car as I sing loudly to my favorite songs. No one else would be willing, I’m sure, to appreciate my sometimes alto, sometimes tenor, singing voice. But Jernee?! Jernee glances up toward me as if this voice of mine was made for her and for her only.

Another point from Julie Hall’s article, explains:

“Travel is in full swing this summer, as Americans eagerly pursue travel opportunities they’ve deferred for the last year-and-a-half,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “We saw strong demand for travel around Memorial Day and the kick-off of summer, and all indications now point to a busy Independence Day to follow.”

AAA Newsroom, June 22, 2021

Traveling was on an upswing as we headed into the Fourth of July weekend. The travel bug had bitten me at that point, but I did not take the plunge. I still played it safe here at home with my favorite cuddler—oh, but I dreamed about blazing a few trails. The next holiday on the calendar for which many intend to travel is Labor Day. With September just around the corner, I long for a hike or two or three in the fresh mountain air but first . . . I have to get there. If I were a guessing person, which on most occasions, I am, I’m willing to bet Jernee is ready for a bit of adventurous action too.

Wouldn’t it be grand if I could actually interview her regarding this topic—regarding any topic? The mind of a dog has to be an exceptional place. I create an internal dialogue between myself and Jernee sometimes. I am not ashamed of this; it’s entertaining. So, on those semi-long driving trips we used to take, that internal dialogue could look a little like this:

Jernee: “Mommy, are we there yet?”

Me: “No, sweetness, not quite.”

Jernee: “How much longer?”

Me: “According to Google Maps, 1 hour and 23 minutes.”

Jernee: “That precise, huh?”

Me: “Well, what were you expecting? A guess?”

Jernee: “Not really. I thought you were going to just reach on over here and hand me another treat.”

Me: “Touche’, sweetness. Touche’.”

I tell myself the trips I’m meant to take with my favorite road dog are waiting patiently in the near future. All I have to do is to succumb to their welcoming arms once again. Regardless of when those road trips will take place, there is one thing of which I am certain, my traveling buddy will ride shotgun. It’s the perfect place for a traveling woman’s best friend.

Searching for Balance Away from the New Normal

But not too far away

Photo by Glen Carrie via Unsplash

We have become digital personas trapped behind the screens, typing or tapping frantically away to our loved ones. They are doing much of the same. Many of us are still fearful of sticking our toes into the waters; restrictions are slowly being lifted across the nation (and the globe), but the Coronavirus, COVID-19 still thrives. At every turn, this virus shapes and shifts into something our scientific professionals and honorable doctors cannot get a handle on — it’s much more intelligent in its development than they predicted or assumed.

My mother’s birthday was on Monday, September 14, 2020, and although I slipped some cash in a beautiful card to her, I wanted to do something more. I planned to do something more. I am hoping this event will be an enjoyable one for both of us. I jumped into the AirBnB booking lifestyle and commenced to researching properties and Superhosts — eager to find a safe space for my mom and me to stay for one night. 

I wanted the place to be conveniently located to various eateries, parks & trails, and have a decent to an outstanding view of the mountains. My love for Asheville, North Carolina showed its face and I decided this would be the perfect place to take my mom. She has never been and I had stated years ago, we would go together, but during a global pandemic, was not what I had in mind. The two of us have not been able to be around or with each other, as we are so accustomed and I focused on how we could have fun yet stay safe — this seemed the most plausible. 

I decided on The Pisgah Room at River Row Flats which is an extremely accommodating suite complete with twenty-eight amenities and is also pet-friendly. Jernee is sure to have a ball too. Our adventure will begin on Saturday, September 26, 2020 at my place, then we will drive to Asheville on Sunday, September 27, 2020 and our impending shenanigans will last for one day only.

While, I have had fun video-chatting, sending text messages to my friends, writing letters, and emailing loved ones regularly, my mom does not have the luxury of being submerged in digital life. She is a hands-on type of person and would rather not venture into the world of technology. She doesn’t even own a computer and is still struggling to find her way around the smartphone I gifted her almost two years ago. I wanted to usher in a sense of comfort for her, but one of safety too.

This, I hope will be our adventurous undertaking during what many has called “unprecedented times.” We are sticking our toes in, one by one, but we do not intend on having our entire feet — let alone our bodies completely submerged. 

Safety measures are in place at the suite and my complete itinerary greeted me in my email Friday evening. We will carry our face masks with us, Lysol wipes, our own bottled water, bedding & pillows, and just have as much fun as we can without being around anyone other than a friend or two of mine (social-distancing, of course). 

I’m a bit frightened to get out in the open a bit, but I know how I am. I have limitations and my mom and Jernee are my top priorities. 

But, damn it! We’re going to have some fun. Safely, though. Safely.

A Peaceful Mission

Photo by Pietro De Grandi via Unsplash

They piled their things onto the ship, headed for a distant land, one where the violence of their homestate would never follow them. Captain Heras assured them of safety and provided everything needed for their journey. On the side of the ship, painted in gold: “#Ubuntu“.


This is another Twitter prompt response. Word of focus: “Ubuntu”.