Last week David and I drove 2,565 miles in five days. We traveled to Ohio for the Buckeye Book Festival first. There were 100 authors signing their books at the festival in Wooster. We signed lots of books and had meaningful conversations with readers. Normally there is a line of people who are waiting to have their books signed at our books talks. The book festival allowed for more casual and in-depth conversations. Attendees had lists of authors they wanted to visit, and our table was one of the stops for a number of people. It was really good to see that the love of reading is alive and well.
We enjoyed connecting with family during our short visit to Ohio. We visited one of David's sisters and one of mine. The distance prevents us from visiting often or from them visiting us, so it was a pleasure to catch up with what is happening in their families.
From Ohio we traveled to Hanover, Pennsylvania for a book talk at the Guthrie Memorial Library and we stayed at the lovely bed and breakfast called "The Beechmont." The host, Kathryn, is warm and friendly and cooks gourmet breakfasts. Staying there is like a vacation in itself.
Now came the hectic part of our trip. We traveled from Hanover to Hickory, North Carolina for a talk on Tuesday evening. The trip down Interstate 81 through Virginia is so beautiful. If we had more time, we would have driven part of the way on the Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Instead we had to go directly there with the fastest route. Even though the traffic was heavy, this was not without its advantages. When we got on Interstate 77, we drove over a ridge that looked down over a gorgeous panoramic view. It was in a place called Fancy Gap in southern Virginia. Someday I want to go back there and see more if it, possibly from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Even though most of the colors were past their peak, it was still breathtaking to see such beauty. We noticed the colors down there are not as bright as they are in New England, but they are deeper tones… sometimes almost a burgundy color.
Our last day of travel was the most hectic of all. We drove more than 800 miles from Hickory, North Carolina, back home. The traffic was so heavy the whole way home, that it seemed like a holiday weekend and yet it was in the middle of a normal week. The truck traffic was more intense than we've ever seen it. Every time we travel on the highways of this country, David and I remark about how we should be moving all these materials by rail. But then again, we're not in charge of these things.
David and I like to find the hidden gems for places to eat during our travels, and these are not normally chain restaurants. Earlier this year we discovered the Southern Inn Restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, and we so we stopped there to have a delicious lunch. I love Lexington! My introduction to it was when David and I decided to go there to do our Christmas shopping the year when we lived in Charlottesville, Virgina. There were big snowflakes falling lazily onto Main Street as we went from one shop to the next. It was like being inside a Dickens novel. The town itself is built on a hill and reminds me of a New England town. It even has a white church with a steeple in the middle of town.
After our break in Lexington, we got back on the highway and drove the rest of the way home. It seemed like there was danger all around us… several near misses, and then we also saw several accidents. When we finally drove in our own driveway, not long before midnight, we breathed a prayer of thanks that we had arrived safely home.
This morning I awoke giving thanks for my everyday life. I often associate the word "mundane" with the words "everyday life." But that is one of the amazing things about traveling, is that I gain new perspectives — not just about the world "out there" but also about the life David and I have chosen. It becomes a pleasure to fold clean kitchen towels as I watch the birds at the feeder outside my kitchen window and to know I can hang our clothes in closets instead of living out of suitcases. It feels comforting to have a house to live in, rather than being confined to a van that is moving at 70 miles an hour down the highway.
My mother always said that the best part of traveling is arriving back home. I used to wonder what she was talking about. But now I know. It has to do with gaining a new outlook on the life I live and being grateful for what I have.