When I was a teenager, my family jumped on I-40 from Oklahoma City and–looking at the map now–I don’t think we had reason to leave the interstate until we got to our destination: North Carolina. We were on a genealogy tour. Yep, it’s the family trip that most kids don’t get to take and with good reason. Trekking across the country to find old rundown houses of long-dead ancestors didn’t sound like the dream summer vacation. We sure didn’t have iPods, Wiis, or car TV sets to keep us entertained on the long trip. And my brother and I fought like cats and dogs in and out of the station wagon.
What I remember most about my earliest trip east is (1) rubbing tombstones in the tiny hillside cemeteries around Highlands; (2) my grandfather (Bandaddy) talking to every random person who would listen to the story of his visit to his ancestors’ homes; (3) the adults not being able to decide whether or not they wanted to take the kids inside the Biltmore Estate (answer: No); and (4) spending time on the beautiful island of Ocracoke.
This trip bonded me to North Carolina forever. I always love to go back and am grateful for Marilyn Sholin, who organized a small workshop for me, and for my time at Christine Kane’s Great Big Dreams retreat in the Smoky Mountains. I wrote more about retreats and how to get the most of them on the Art Biz Blog.