Sometimes, regardless what your job is, you just need to get away from the grind and recharge your batteries.
I've been working on the sequel to The Night Train for a handful of months now, plus holding down a full time day job. About a month ago I was driving back from Ohio and got on the Natchez Trace Parkway in Nashville. Those first few miles on the Trace reminded me of one of my favorite places on earth.
The Great Smokey Mountains are spectacular year round, but especially when they slip into their autumn garb. My wife and I honeymooned in Gatlinburg in March of 2001, then went back for our first anniversary. Our son, Logan, was born the following December (you do the math). Both times we stayed in a cabin called Little Cabin In The Woods. We didn't get to go back for a few years and, by that time, the cabin -- our cabin -- had been sold, so we stayed elsewhere. Last month I did a Google search and found that cabin again, managed by a different company. The only open weekend in October was this past weekend, so I booked it.
During the weeks between the time I booked the cabin and the day we left, Sharon and I reminisced about those first two trips. We were both excited to go back to the Little Cabin, and hoped it would be as good as we remembered. It was.
The inside decor had changed just enough to notice. We remembered things as we walked through it. Logan, who is eleven now, absolutely loved it. He made a "perch" in the living room window seat and spent most of his "home" time sitting there reading a book or playing video games.
We did other things. Outside things. Fun, adventurous things. I played (and won) miniature golf for the first time in my life, but
that cabin made the trip special. No, I take that back. Sharon and Logan made the trip special. The cabin provided the setting for special.
Our vacation was like the novel I'm writing. It had a beginning, a middle, and sadly, an end. It had characters (I met this unique guy from West Virginia -- a coal miner, who said he had faced down a six foot black bear) and adventure. The mountain roads provided twists and turns. We didn't always know what to expect. There were weather changes and a storm, and thanks to the Little Cabin In The Woods, it had the perfect setting.
Unfortunately, we were too early for the fall show, but green is a pretty color too. Tuesday morning we packed and left, grumbling as we walked out the door, off the porch, and down the steps. Can't we have just one more day? At the last minute we decided to take the long way home over the mountains and were rewarded with a sneak peek at fall. The trees had slipped on a light jacket of yellows, browns, and reds since our trip over two days prior. Unexpected, like that twist I slipped into the scene I wrote on the back deck just before the storm forced me inside the night before.
I would be hard pressed to think of anything that would have made
This morning I went back to the day job, a little sad it's over, but thankful we had the opportunity to go. We made memories, and added one more chapter to this novel called us.