If it’s February, it must be time to travel…

January (Photo credit: Deadly Tedly)

The end is near…

…Yes, the end of January, that is, and this means that the wife and I are about to embark on our annual February vacation/road trip.

This year, the weather being what it has been, the two of us are most definitely in the mood to load the car and set out for points south.

That is exactly what we plan to do late next Tuesday evening, when we’ll leave our tiny hamlet here in northern Illinois and set sail for Stone Mountain, Georgia, our first stopping point on this year’s adventure. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the recent snow, icy roads, and howling winds will not rear their ugly heads again on the night we want to get out and on the road.

We’ll spend a couple of days in and around the Atlanta area, with plans to visit Margaret Mitchell’s home and The World of Coca-Cola before heading east to the A H. Stephens State Park, named after Alexander H. Stephens, Vice President of the Confederacy.

Why this park, you ask? It seems as though Carolyn, my wife, recently discovered, in her many extensive and exhaustive ancestry/genealogical researches, that A.H. Stephens was a second-cousin, twice removed.

That being the case, it will be way more meaningful and fun when we tour the

English: I took this picture at Liberty Hall i...
Liberty Hall in Crawfordville, Georgia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Confederate museum and Liberty Hall, Stephens’s home. We also have reservations for a two-night’s stay in one of the cottages located in the park, and I’m very much looking forward to that.

Then it will be on to Savannah, Georgia, a place we stopped at briefly one time years ago on our way to our home at the time in Titusville, Florida. I recall it being a beautiful, historic spot, and I will enjoy the two days we plan to spend there learning more about the place. And if the weather is as typically moderate and pleasant as I’ve heard, that can’t be all bad, either.

On the road again to Charleston, South Carolina, for a few days and to find out, first-hand, what everyone has forever told us about Charleston being one of their very favorite places to visit and spend time. The historic stuff alone will be well worth the time and money we’re investing in this February’s trip. I’m eagerly awaiting that part of the journey.

And it can’t be a February get-away without spending some time in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina at Carolyn’s brother’s house in Waynesville. We’ll make the relatively short drive there when finished immersing ourselves in all things Charleston. Our weekend with her brother and his wife will be fun and relaxing before we make the drive from there back to northern Illinois.

At each of these wonderful places along the way, I plan to get plenty of writing done in the evenings: updating this blog, working on the current WIP, and sending e-mail. Last year’s February genealogy “field trip” to Athens County, Ohio, Coalwood, West Virginia, and Waynesville, coincided with the start of Gwen Hernandez’s online Scrivener for Mac class. During the course of that trip, I completed several of the first lessons that Gwen would post each day. I found it to be lots of fun working through the lessons in a different location each morning.

Now that February is creeping in (and not a moment too soon!), it’s time to dig the Eddie Bauer bag out of the closet, get the clothes laid out and packed, and begin to get serious about hitting the road. Leaving northern Illinois for a couple of weeks will be just what the two of us need–if the weather “gods” see fit to smile on us!

I’m looking forward to writing about all of this as the miles and days unfold beginning next week. Stay tuned…CortlandWriter

Cortland, IL
Cortland, IL (Photo credit: moominsean)
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It’s mid-week now, nearly two days since we returned from our wonderful, two-week trip to Florida, and it’s definitely good to be back in our own little corner of the world. All of the miles, down and back, seemed to fit into the whole vacation “picture,” whether they were through the Indiana flatlands or the winding, steep, and often-scary Smoky Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee, or the foothills of Kentucky. There always seemed to be something very worthwhile to observe as the wheels turned southward. I must be getting older and more comfortable with many things, as not once did I find myself bored or restless and wanting to be out of the car. The first part of the trip–the “getting there” portion–is always filled with anticipation and eagerness to what lies ahead. Just the opposite is usually the case when the inevitable time arrives to turn the car the other way and begin the long drive to home. Perhaps, because we had a couple of stops in Waynesville, North Carolina, and Tellico Village, Tennessee, to make for a few days that broke up the return trip, there was absolutely no boredom or discomfort as the many miles clicked off.

And there’s nothing quite like finally pulling into the driveway following so many days away. Even the snow that fell in a storm a few days previous was all but gone, and there was a sense of a warmup on the way. For one moment, I actually felt that we somehow had brought the temperate climate with us from Tennessee and Kentucky! (I often have fleeting thoughts such as that.)

Getting home at a decent hour is yet another good thing. With a hint of daylight still showing, we unloaded the inside and trunk of our Monte Carlo in record time and felt very good about getting things unpacked, put away, or into the clothes hamper. MacBooks were liberated from their travel cases, plugged in, and booted up for the all-important checking of the e-mail and Facebook posts, followed by a quick visit to my blogs. Nothing like the instant connection to our home network once again–no occasional mysterious glitches like those experienced in Florida–and all seemed good. And soon, Carolyn had a load of “road laundry” going, and I knew that we were, in fact, HOME!

As our Florida tans begin to fade just a bit, there is hope in the air. At this writing, the temperature here in northern Illinois is nearing 60° and there is a Florida-like sky and brilliant sunshine. Maybe I’m not so far off in believing that  maybe, just maybe, this weather came home with us. Regardless, the excellent memories from the last two weeks will carry us right on into March and the good days yet to come…CortlandWriter

“home is home
nothing else
its your safe place
the place you sleep at
it has good times and bad times
but with out you home is nothing
home is home “

(Richmoo Silverstein)

“R and R” in the Smoky Mountains

Writing today from the mountains of western North Carolina at Carolyn’s brother’s place in Waynesville and am enjoying a day without driving, getting in-and-out of the car, and subsisting on McDonald’s coffee (large, one cream). With our wonderful time in Florida behind us, it’s time to prepare ourselves for the reality of the “northern” climate once more. Our time with Bob and Georgia in North Port was truly magnificent, and our across-the-state journey to Stuart to spend an overnight on Tuesday with Nick and Jane was a great way to wrap up our sunshine-filled vacation. The evening was highlighted by a delicious meal of jumbo sea scallops, prepared by Nick, and several bottles of Yuengling Lager. Such are the good things in life!

Bidding them adieu on Wednesday, Carolyn and I enjoyed a leisurely cruise up to Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach where we spent lots of time (and dollars!) before setting out on I-95 for a “mile-eating” remainder of the day. Our plan was to end up somewhere in South Carolina by 8:30 so the next day’s drive to her brother’s in North Carolina wouldn’t be too arduous. And so it was that we found a nice room at the Rice Planters Inn, just off I-95 near Walterboro, South Carolina, where we settled in for the night. It didn’t take long, either,  for the hum of the motel air conditioner to lull me to sleep.

When we’re in this part of the country, we always pay a visit to nearby Cherokee, which we did right away yesterday, and Carolyn was very disappointed in what she found (or didn’t find) this time. Of course, many of the shops are closed for the season, or those that were opened simply didn’t offer much in the kinds of things she was hoping to find. I’m sure we’ll try once again on our next trek through these parts, and I’m always prepared with a book to enjoy while she roams the various shops of Cherokee.

It’s always nice to spend time here at Carolyn’s brother’s place for a few days whenever we’re heading in either direction. Today is an “R and R” day–rest and recover–before we head back out on the big road and begin the last leg of our journey homeward on Monday. Aside from updating my blogs and doing some quiet reading (it is very quiet here!), we have nothing really planned. And that’s very much OK with me. I had expressed some interest in paying a visit to O. Henry’s grave over in Asheville, but I’ve reconsidered that idea, realizing that I saw a very nice photo of his grave stone on the Internet, and what more could I possibly glean from a physical visit to the cemetery, other than that I could say, “I was there.” Quite frankly, I have no desire to go anywhere near our car today. So O. Henry will have to remain resting in peace without my physical visit. Love your stories, Mr. William Sydney Porter, but I see no need to venture on over to your final resting place today!

Now, it’s time to post this and then check up on some other blogs I subscribe to. It’s rainy and mostly gray outside, so what better way to enjoy this day of “R and R”? …CortlandWriter