Most people have had the inclination at some point in their lives to just pack it up and hit the road without a finite destination in mind — to just feel the wind on their face with nothing but highway ahead.
As some readers of this column may know, I have spent the past six weeks in Europe, specifically the British Isles and Italy. Below is an accounting, by way of lists and some short reviews, of books carried here, bought here, read here, and left here.
I rolled the windows down and stuck my head out. The air was crisp and salty, with a slight hint of curious adventure. I was officially in Maine. Rolling back up the window, I turned to my parents, who had just picked me up at the Portland airport. We made small talk about how their vacation was going, how life is back home in Upstate New York, how my sister and little niece were doing.
It’s the only place I feel at home. The open road. Once it gets into your system, you’ll spend the rest of your life trying to make sense of it. The highways, bi-ways and back roads in this country are the circulatory system of America, the blood pump and heartbeat of a hurried people on the move. It is the essence of humanity, for good or ill, and when you take that first journey away from familiarity, you’ll understand what cosmic discoveries lay just beyond the horizon.
When asked why he loves Western North Carolina, Travis Smith had to pause for a moment. “Well, that’s a good question,” he chuckled. “It’s special to me because I’ve been here most of my life. I love the mountains, the people. You’re away from the cities, from all the traffic and noise.”
Taking a left off U.S. 64 onto Settawig Road in rural Clay County, the busy commercial thoroughfare transforms into lush farmland. The mountain air gets sweeter, soothing late spring sunshine spilling into the open windows of your vehicle.
Just mere feet from a bustling South Main Street in Waynesville resides a cocoon of creativity. With a steady stream of vehicles rushing by, one enters Jenny Bucker’s studio as if to step into a portal of a calmer ambiance. Vibrant, intricate paintings hang from any available wall space, while the sounds of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair” echo throughout the cozy abode.
Amid the numerous businesses in Dillsboro, its cultural and economic heart lies in the plentiful art galleries and studios. From decades old locations to brand new operations, the town is an ever-evolving community, one with the drive and commitment to bring a beloved art haven into the 21st century.
Sitting on the porch of the Andrews Brewing Company, co-owner Eric Carlson looks out onto his property. With bluebird skies overhead, bumblebees joyously buzzing in the garden and the majestic peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains in the distance, he shakes his head in awe of where his lives and thrives.
What started as a job while in high school turned itself into a lifelong career and passion for Josh Monroe.
“It’s about using the best possible ingredients you can find and being able to let those ingredients shine in every dish,” he said.