Flying Solo – A Spring Break Journey

It’s been about 10 months since “it” ended.  Ten months of adjustment, thinking, being a little angry, being a lot angry, not being angry as often, growing, learning, rediscovery, regaining hope, finding courage…well, you get the idea.  This event, or the course I’ve taken since “it” ended, isn’t anything special or unique – I know that – but it’s been quite a trip for me.  I’ve had great support, sometimes harsh criticism,  but at the end of the day I’ve had a lot of people just wanting me to get to a place where I am happy.  Let’s face it, people can only handle a downer to their party for so long and I had been angry, and a party pooper, for long enough.  Being happy, especially after being so wounded, is easier said than done.  While I would classify myself as a happy person, my mind does have a tendency to run rampant with doubt and fear – something that had grown in me over the last two-three years.  I decided that I don’t want that any more – that no one wants that – so here it was, spring break 2013 and I had to choose: stay home or go.  No companion, no partner, no friends, just me, the road, and a destination.  I chose to go – and it was the best thing I could have done.

This wasn’t wholly my idea.  Before “it” ended, my friend John sent me an article that he felt would help me.  I was in a bad place, trying to figure out what to do next, and he thought it would help me. It was about a woman that had an event in her life that changed things.  She decided to make that change a positive and took off on a road trip to no where in particular.  She just went.  Now, while I’m all for being a traveler and not being sure where you are going to stay from one night to the next, I like to have a destination.  The article was a tribute to her growing as an individual, facing her fears, doing something on her own – everything I felt I needed to do and soon.  Nearly a year after reading that article, I got to take my own solo trip with Savannah, GA as my destination.

Why Savannah?  Kozy – my friend and boss from Morehead State University – said it was the best city, that I would love it.  Now, if Kozy says I’d like it, she’s right.  No question, and the seed was sown: Savannah for spring break it would be.  The idea of seeing a historical town, full of gothic mystery, Spanish moss, and beautiful homes was too much to pass up.  On the way, I would stop at my aunt and uncle’s home in Tennessee, visit with the Diamonds, see the Biltmore, and travel through South Carolina all on my own. At first, it was terrifying – but I couldn’t let on that I was nervous.  My parents and grandparents had already expressed some doubt/worry in my plan and I didn’t want them to think I wasn’t capable. Which, by the way, I don’t believe they thought me incapable. I know they were just worried and wanted me to get there and back safely. Anyhoo..
 I mean, c’mon! Of  course I was capable, I told myself.  I have driven to the Texas panhandle in one night!  I have driven from the Texas panhandle to Galveston in one day!  I have driven to Lexington and back in less than 8hrs.  I could drive to flippin’ Savannah and see what I wanted along the way!  Here enters that part of my brain that said, “ah, ah, ah….but you had someone with you on those trips..”  Pooh on you brain, pooh on you!  I got this.  Like I told my mom, I’m not going to put off a trip that I want to take just because I don’t have anyone to go with me.  Sometimes you have to fly solo, and that’s not a bad thing at all.

So, I left on April 1 and drove to Tennessee.  A visit with my family and a family I consider my kin rounded out my first day of travel.  I also took a detour to see Davy Crockett’s birthplace which I did remember seeing before with my parents and brother.

Davy Crockett birthplace marker

Davy Crockett birthplace marker

After spending the evening with the lovely Diamond family, I proceeded to the Biltmore.  Now, for those of you not in the know, the Biltmore was the country estate for the Vanderbilt family.  (See http://www.biltmore.com/our_story/our_history/vanderbilt.asp for more details on the family history).  I had been there before on a family vacation, and remembered how beautiful the grounds were and the fantastic artifacts on display.  Seeing it again, on my own, was no less impressive.  I wondered the grounds, took a tour of the house, and finished off my visit with pecan praline ice cream on the yard facing the building facade.  It was a grand start to what would be a full day of travel to unknown lands: South Carolina.

Biltmore

Biltmore

Terrace view

Terrace view

The conservatory – in which there was a flutist playing – had so many orchids, and other exotic plant life, it was by far my favorite part of the estate.

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After the Biltmore (in Asheville, NC), I headed southeast toward Savannah, GA.  I had decided that I would do my best to get there by Tuesday night, and I did!  Columbia, SC proved to be a little harry – but I believe that was more due to the fact I was driving in completely unfamiliar territory.  The weather was kind to me though, and it was easy to navigate Interstate 26 to Interstate 95.  The way back was so much easier because I knew what to expect.  Isn’t that true of most things though – they are easier to handle once you’ve done it once before?  Anyways…….

 

 

 

 

 

 

I arrived in Savannah around 8pm and checked into a hotel on the river front.  Again, the initial nerves I had were dispelled quickly once I got into town and discovered how easy it was to navigate there.  I couldn’t wait to get out in the morning and see this town I had heard and seen so much about.

Welcoming me like so many others

Welcoming me like so many others

I was out early (8:30am) and walking down the river walk to River Street.  There I saw many of the restaurants and stores promoted on the local access channel.  Walking up the steep stairs made of old ship ballast – like the streets in this part of town – I was soon on Bay Street and ready to go out into historic Savannah.  I walked all over that place!  Through square after square, past beautiful homes and SCAD buildings, I walked until I hit the Victorian district and only then did I turn and head back.  I had scheduled a ghost trolley tour and wanted to freshen up before going out that evening.  I can’t wait to go back again and take in a few home tours and see what the night life of River Street has to offer.

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Now, nothing apparently opens in the South before 11am.  The upside to that is that the foot traffic in the historic district wasn’t heavy and it was easy to walk around and see the sights.  The one house I really wanted to take a tour of, but it was already crowded was the Mercer House.  The Mercer house is where the events depicted in the book (and movie) Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil takes place.  I had read the book in 05, and the movie is great (stars Kevin Spacey who is fabulous), but the crowd was too big and since I knew I’d be leaving the next day I didn’t want to spend the time inside that could be spent outside in the beautiful day.  Next time though….next time……

Mercer House

Mercer House

 

I also got to check out the Savannah College of Art and Design, learn that John Wesley was a minister there, discover that Robert Lewis Stevenson based the character of Capt. Flint on a real life pirate from Savannah, and many other legends and stories and history.  It was just an amazing town.  Granted I am flush with the whole idea of living in an artsy location, full of history, near a beach – but even in the stories guides tell, Savannah, like most places, has a seedy side.  Seeing a new city, and dreaming of the possibility of living a life in a picturesque Southern town, wasn’t the main focus of this trip.  This trip was to prove something to myself: that I am capable of doing something no one else thinks I can do.

 

SCAD theater

SCAD theater

 

 

 

 

And I did it!  Like with “it,” I know what I did wasn’t special or unique.  People travel farther and more often on their own and have been doing that for ages past.  BUT, I haven’t done that in nearly 7 years!  This was big for me, making a plan (go to Savannah) and going.  Not worrying about driving through towns on my own, having confidence in my own skill set (I am pretty awesome with directions and reading maps), and experiencing something new – it was just what I needed, especially since I’m now not sure of where I will be working or what I will be doing – yet again – once this school year is over.  Seriously, why are we always cutting the Arts, especially Visual Arts?!  Never mind…..

 

 

The trip provided some time for me to think, which everyone could use.  Traveling solo made it possible to examine myself and think about what I need to do in life.  Being alone also allowed me to appreciate the time I do get to spend with friends and family and the adventures we’ve had together.  At the end of it all, I would strongly suggest everyone take a day to travel out on their own – whether its 30mi from home or nearly 600mi.

I’m just glad to rediscover my sense of adventure, and belief in my own abilities, even if it’s at 32.

Playing with my new camera - whole lot of new things going on!

Playing with my new camera – whole lot of new things going on!

PS: Thank you John for pushing it – even if you didn’t realize you were.

 

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. cryptotox
    Apr 10, 2013 @ 18:10:10

    I love that perfectly color coordinated picture of you at the end of this post! Also, you are inspiring me to hit the open road and live a little. Details to come!

    Reply

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