Where Do You Go

Chocolate Can Kill: An Emily Harris Myster (An Emily Harris Mystery) (Volume 1) by Annie Acorn

Also available in print, at Amazon UK and Smashwords, and for SonyReader, Kobo, Diesel, Apple, and NOOK!

When summer is almost over, and the high daily temperatures here in the D.C. area have settled into the eighties, my thoughts always wander towards a fall getaway.  Unlike the longer summer road trips of my youth, these excursions tend more towards a long weekend.

In recent years, my sisters and I have opted to go off by ourselves to a condo in Ocean City, Maryland, sometime during the month of October.  We eat fast food that’s unavailable here at home, despite TV ads to the contrary, visit favorite restaurants from past family reunions, and finish up with a new gourmet experience.  We play board games and cards, and we all believe in the old adage, “Have a stack of movies in tow, and you can travel!”  We read, walk along the beach, write and, sometimes best of all, sit and do nothing.

Where do you go when you want to get away from it all?  Fishing…golfing…camping?

Here in the United States our choices are endless.  We have theme parks, state parks, and national parks peppered all over the place.  We can camp in the mountains, the desert, or beside the sea shore.

People who live in the city drive to an inn in the country, and those who live in more rural areas head to the city to take in a show.  Some of us climb mountains.  Others ski down slopes.  Northerners take off for Florida, and Southerners can’t wait to play in the snow.

Often I’ll plan for what I refer to as a mini-vacation, during which I just stay at home all alone.  I plan these long weekends well in advance, even going so far as to sometimes send myself a special treat gift basket to mark the occasion.  I buy special foods that won’t need to be cooked, and I line up a good movie or two.  Last, but not least, I make sure that I have a stack of new books ready at hand, as well as a couple of old favorites.

I do the laundry, run the dishwasher, and put the clean clothes and dishes away.  I dust, vacuum, and freshen both of the bathrooms ahead of the first day of my retreat.  When the night before finally arrives, I don’t set the alarm, and I start my first book of the weekend – knowing full well that in no time at all I will have switched my days and my nights.

By the end of my little mini-vacation, I have eaten well, slept long, and traveled far in my mind – all very refreshing and accomplished for only a few dimes.

When I do decide to take a real trip, I have a hard time choosing in which direction to head – truly torn between mountains and sea.

Why I’m so drawn to the sea, I can’t really say.  I’m not a sunbather, I’ve never surfed, and the heat and humidity combination always gives me bad hair days.  And yet, part of me would feel really quite blessed to spend summers on the Maine coast and winters in Key West.

Still, during the worst period of my life, it was to the mountains that I went for solace and comfort, perhaps because I grew up in a town that was sandwiched between the Cumberlands and the Smokies.

For many years, it was my habit each October to call on clients in South Carolina from Monday through Thursday of the week in which I had planned my yearly trip home to these mountains, heading for the southwestern tip of North Carolina once my last appointment was behind me.  Here I would spend the night.

I could have slept in as late as I pleased the next morning, but I never did.  Instead, I inevitably awoke with the sun, pausing only long enough for a leisurely breakfast.  I would then take to the roads and head through the Smokies.

Steering around a long curve, each year I would find myself in a fog-shrouded valley, where a cluster of homes nestled around a large, faded red barn with a flock of chickens running here and there alongside it.  The smell of frying sausage would assail me as I drove by, and I was often sorely tempted to stop by, just to say, “Hi!”

A few miles further, and the sky above me would clear, revealing a towering landscape of green leaves sprinkled with color.  These were the mountains I had hiked as first a Brownie and then a Girl Scout, cooling off in the evening on the way down to Gatlinburg in streams fed by springs so cold that the water made your toes curl.

Coming into Knoxville a few hours later, I would stop to fill the car’s tank with gas near a tiny restaurant that served the best chicken and dumplings that I’ve ever had, along with all of the other appropriate fixings.  Yum-Yum!

Finally, it was time to head up I-75, past Cove Lake and into the tallest of the Cumberlands, where prehistoric rumblings had left cliffs lying on their sides and precipices fell from the edge of the road on both the right and the left.  The colors around me on this part of my journey were all reds and golds, except for tiny pockets of civilization that were marked by black coal smoke.

No matter how worrisome the previous year had been, these panoramic views made my heart sing, cleansing my soul.  Was it the mountains, so stalwart and strong, or something even more primal?  Perhaps, it was God.

Now knowing of my experiences, are any of you surprised that I chose this area for the setting, when I was writing Murder With My Darling?

Then the wheels of my car would begin their descent, soon carrying me past Corbin, Kentucky – home to the birthplace of the Colonel’s chicken – and into Renfro Valley – the source of a square dancing show that had fascinated me as a child.  By now, I felt at least twenty years younger.

Pulling into the Boone Tavern Inn in Berea, Kentucky, just in time for afternoon tea, I was refreshed and replenished.  Most of all, I knew now that I would be able to keep plodding along, no matter what Life threw my way during the upcoming year.

Times are hard for many of you right now, but still…

Be it a mini-vacation during which you don’t even leave home or a long weekend to a favorite location, take the time and the trouble to give yourself a much needed break, especially if you’ve had to forego a regular summer vacation.

Believe me, I know that you won’t regret it!

Annie Acorn

Murder With My Darling (Bonnie Lou Mysteries) by Annie Acorn

Also available for NOOK!

A Tired Older Woman: Loses Weight and Keeps It Off! by Annie Acorn

Also available in print and for NOOK!

Annie Acorn’s 2012 Christmas Treasury (Annie Acorn’s Christmas Anthologies) edited by and stories by Annie Acorn

Also available for NOOK!

A Stranger Comes to Town (Annie Acorn’s Kindle Short Mysteries) by Annie Acorn

Also available for NOOK!

When to Remain Silent (Annie Acorn’s Kindle Short Mysteries) by Annie Acorn

Also available for NOOK!

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4 Responses to Where Do You Go

  1. Ksenia Anske says:

    Lovely, I feel like I took a trip with you 🙂
    Ksenia Anske recently posted..On editing painsMy Profile

  2. Annie Adams says:

    For the past 13 years, its been difficult to get away, my husband and I work together at our flower shop. Either one of us goes or the other. Lately, my critique group will rent a cabin or condo in the Mountains of Utah (where we’re from). Each person is assigned a meal, and we set up semi-strict rules about when we are all going to write and when we have fun time. It has been fantastic. Last writer’s retreat was at Wolf Mountain Ski resort near Eden, UT mid-October. Fantastic!

    • Annie says:

      Annie – Owning a small business can be very limiting, and I’ve glad to hear that you, too, have found a way around the obstacle! I attend the BAWG writing retreat each year – also a mix of work and fun – and I always find it to be most refreshing. Come again! Annie

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