Archive for November 1, 2023


Home from Vacation

I’m home at last from my epic journey. I’m physically tired after all that driving, but mentally rested and eager to get back to writing.

A porch on a Victorian home, with a porch swing and flowers.
With this porch at my inn, all to myself, sometimes it was hard to make myself leave to go touring.

The first leg of the trip was easy, just to my parents’ house, two hours away. Then the next day I drove to just outside Nashville, about 10 hours of driving (including gas, bathroom, and meal breaks). And then another long drive to Virginia. I stayed in an AirBNB in a historic home. It was essentially a one-room inn. This 1840 home had been run as an inn in the past, and the current owners kept the front of the house as an inn but live in the rest, so I had the bedroom/bathroom in what I think may have been the original dining room, the foyer, the dining room (that was probably originally a parlor) where they had the coffee bar set up, and a gorgeous porch. I spent a lot of time on the porch swing, resting up from all my wandering. That first night, I just went downtown (a block away) to pick up some carry-out dinner and then collapsed.

The next day, I did a ton of walking (my phone said it was more than 18,000 steps), just looking at the downtown area and some of the historic neighborhoods. I had lunch at a sidewalk bistro in what was the old warehouse district, then had dinner in a restaurant in the old railroad depot and a glass of cider made from locally grown apples at a downtown brewery.

I was a bit tired the next day from all that walking. There were a lot of hills in this town, and they were steep. So, I rode the trolley bus circuit they have that goes around town. A lady who’s familiar with the official trolley tour the historical society puts on was on the bus with me and gave me the tour. In the afternoon, I drove around to see some of the more remote sights and look at the gorgeous autumn color. I went out to dinner that night with my hostess and her daughter, and I ended up meeting several people while we were out.

An old-fashioned Main Street with Victorian buildings. The street is blocked off with restaurant tables and awnings out in the street.
Saturday on the main drag through town. Lots of nice Victorian architecture.

On Saturday, I wandered through the farmer’s market and took the historical society’s walking tour. On weekends for much of the year, they close off the main downtown street and set up sidewalk cafes for all the restaurants, so there was great people (and dog) watching. This weekend, they were doing trick-or-treating at all the downtown businesses, so it was fun watching all the people in costume. I had meals at a couple of sidewalk cafes.

And then it was time for the drive home, back through Tennessee and Arkansas. I loved driving through the mountains in Virginia and Tennessee, so it was a bit of a letdown to cross the Mississippi River and be in the flat delta area of Arkansas. I stopped for the night somewhere between Nashville and Memphis, then made it to my parents’ house to rest a little before driving home.

One reason for this trip was to scout this place out. I’d been thinking of moving somewhere different, and in my research for places with the kind of weather, scenery, and activities I like, I stumbled upon this town. On paper it seemed perfect, but I’d never been there. I finally planned a trip to see if I liked it in person, and I loved it. So now I have to make some big decisions about uprooting myself and moving halfway across the country. I think I’d be happy there. The cost of living is lower than where I live now. I’ve already got friends there now, and there seem to be a lot of people there I have things in common with — it’s kind of a geeky town, with lots of fantasy-related businesses and a pretty high per-capita count of bookstores (more in this smallish town than in my entire large suburban city). The town is right out of a Hallmark movie, the kind of place where I could have a house with a garden and still be able to walk to a downtown with shops and restaurants.

I wouldn’t be able to move until the spring because it would take me a while to get things together. I’d need to do some serious purging of belongings, some work on the house to get it ready to sell, and in the meantime I need to get some books written. I’m more or less taking off the rest of the week to recover. I’ll be rereading a book I was working on before I paused to write Tea and Empathy and making revision notes.