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North Carolina, here we come...

black and white image of a mill and street at night
Mill, Spindale, North Carolina

One of the first times I had visited North Carolina it was hot. Sticky, summer, hot.

Corie, her mother Helen, and I were sitting in a nice little coffee shop on the main thoroughfare of Spindale, a small town between Charlotte and Asheville. It started to rain.

Having lived in deserts and semi-arid places for most of my life, where an afternoon rain would bring welcome relief from a hot afternoon, I was woefully ignorant about what rain means in more humid climates.

When we left the coffee shop, I anticipated that fresh, cool intake of air that a downpour can bring in New Mexico.

I was wrong.

The increased humidity smacked me across the face like a jilted lover, and it wasn’t a single degree cooler.

Despite my lack of wisdom in the ways of weather, I quickly grew to love the foothills and mountains of North Carolina, and I’m looking forward to going back in a couple weeks, the first stop on our visit to the States.

Corie and I have now been in Georgia for a year and a half, and this will be our first time back home. While our schedule seems to be getting more chaotic as the days get closer, I have to remind myself they won’t be nearly as crazy as our travels to Georgia with two cats and our entire lives crammed into six suitcases and two carry-ons.

Sassy and Gremlin will enjoy napping in the peace and quiet here in Tbilisi without being disturbed several times when Corie and I engage in our daily discussion of what we would like for dinner.

Corie and I will enjoy the feeling of relaxation of not having to disembark the plane and quickly learn how to say, “Where’s the pet relief area?” in a different language. A win-win for everyone.

Many people have told me the place we once called home will feel different after being overseas. I expect it, and I’m curious and excited to find out what flavor of different it’s going to be.

Our trip is bookended with the familiar. On one side, North Carolina, on the other side, New Mexico and Colorado. Waking up to foggy mornings in the Tar Heel State will feel like visiting an old friend, and smelling roasting chile in the Land of Enchantment is going to be, well, enchanting.

During the past few weeks, I’ve been planning the “in between” of my trip, a drive approximating the route of the Santa Fe Trail. As I wrote in a previous newsletter, it’s a trip that I’ve wanted to make for many years.

Like most things, my planning has evolved. What started off as a straight-forward drive through Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico is now full of detours and distractions to places I want to see and photograph beyond the original route of the trail.

That's one of the luxuries of living today instead of the 1800s. Driving twenty or fifty miles out of my way, detouring because something caught my interest is more easily done in a car than a mule-driven cart or covered wagon.

What’s in store after I eat my fair share of pizza at one of my favorite pizza places in Spindale and jump in the car to go west? Who will I meet?

I don’t know. And that’s what makes life worth living.

I’m going to be taking a break from these newsletters for September. Part of it is because I’ll be in the air and on the road, and part of it is I have three of my cozy mystery books I’m trying to finish.

If you’re on Facebook, please follow me. I’ll be posting some quick updates from the road. Then stay tuned for more newsletters in October. I look forward to our time together then!

black and white image of an abandoned freight loading dock with a water tower and church in the distance
Loading Dock, Spindale, North Carolina

black and white image of a parking lot and cemetery illuminated by a streetlight
Cemetery, Rutherfordton, North Carolina


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