Over the holidays, Chuck and I took a little trip to Virginia, a road trip along the blue highways of the southeast. Here are a few highlights.
But one thought first before I begin. Because I take my mental health seriously, I anticipated probably too much so the emotional difficulty of these holidays. It has only been nine months since my sister passed away.
We were supposed to be at her North Carolina house this year for Christmas, and I just didn’t think it was smart for me and Chuck to stay home this year with all the kids away visiting their in-laws. I worried that my emotional state would overwhelm me.
But I also worried that I might make myself equally sad if I had no family near by during the Christmas weekend. So we decided to go to Virginia to visit the stomping grounds of a common ancestor and then drive north to Annapolis to have Christmas dinner with our daughter Jamie and her in-laws. It turned out to be a very good plan.
So chuck and I got in the car and went north. The main reason was as I explained, but we did have an itinerary. We decided to go to Virginia for a little genealogy stop near Jamestown, and we decided to travel blue highways.
On our way north we traveled west of the Appalachians stopping one night to visit our daughter in Atlanta, an afternoon to visit a cousin near the Tennessee line, and a night in Christmasy Gatlinburg to give those folks a little of our tourism money. They were devastated by the fires in that area less than a month before.
On the way north out of Atlanta we got off I-75 and drove US 411. The scenery is extra special for me, because this is the way we went to visit my Dad’s Roe relatives who lived in and around Chatsworth, Georgia. I always loved this drive.
I told Chuck that I’m so old that I remember when I-75 wasn’t finished yet. The last section completed was just north of Atlanta, and I can remember getting off the interstate and getting back on farther north before we crossed over into Tennessee. My Uncle Moody lived in Detroit, so we drove I-75 north all the way to Michigan several times in my life.
This trip, though, was perfect and relaxing. We took our time, drove blue highways, and talked up a blue storm. The winter woods at the western foothills of the Appalachians were beautiful. I found that the total change in place helped tremendously. Our conversations about Pam were positive ones, remembering the good times we had as children.
I wish I could tell you the roads that we took. I know that we continued on US 411 north toward Gatlinburg after stopping in Eton, Georgia; but sometime just after dark we drove through some of the Great Smokies National Park. We got off of 411 somewhere, but now I’m not sure which roads we took.
We did not drive through Pigeon Forge. That I would have remembered. All I know is that we told the GPS that we wanted a route with no freeways. It was a slow, easy beautiful drive.
Gatlinburg was so Christmasy and at night we could see no fire damage, but the next morning was a different story. It is so sad what happened to them. The north side of Gatlinburg was hit the worst. It seemed to be hit and miss. There were businesses untouched and then a gutted motel or other type of building in the middle of those untouched. Their firemen and those from other places did an amazing job of saving what they could.
In one place everything on each side of a draw was burned out, but down in the middle of the draw was a little house untouched. Chuck joked, “Well, now we know where the fire chief lived.” Funny man.
After Gatlinburg, we continued north on US 321 working our way up west of the mountains mostly on US 321 and then US 11. As we crossed the Appalachians, we stopped in Wytheville, Virginia to stay in a historical hotel called the Bolling-Wilson, named after their town’s most known matriarch, the wife of President Woodrow Wilson. It was beautifully decorated.
But what we really loved was the view from their roof terrace. I was unable to capture the view at night; and it rained the next morning, so here is a photo off their website.
We ate breakfast the next morning across the street at Skeeter Dog’s and hit the road again going south to pick up US 52 and then eventually US 221 to the east. We rambled all over the place stopping to eat lunch in Floyd, Virginia.
Then we took roads like County Road 24, US 460 and US 360 stopping here and there to walk around a little town and get a cup of coffee or Diet Coke. This was an especially beautiful drive, and we even passed through Appomattox. I’ve got history here. I have kin who were there for the surrender and then had to walk all the way back to Florida. We spent the night in Richmond.
The next morning near Richmond we found Chuck’s old home place from when he was in elementary school. Little Laurel, Virginia is now a bedroom community totally enveloped by Richmond; but he found his neighborhood and had a great little walk down memory lane.
It was here where he played his first pick-up games. I wrote a blog post about how important those games were to him. You can read it http://oldageisnotforsissiesblog.com/?s=Pick-up.
About mid morning we drove north out of Richmond and took US 301 all the way to Annapolis and crossed the upper part of Chesapeake Bay. It was Christmas Eve and we spent it on on Kents Island in Chesapeake Bay. We had dinner at a place called Annie’s, because it was the only place we could find open.
More postcards from the blue coming.