This must be the place: ‘Plates slammed onto the counter, coffeepot burped, voices ask of a loved ones’ whereabouts’

The title of this column is a sentence written in my old road journals. Back on Dec. 26, 2007. I was 22 years old and leaving my hometown of Plattsburgh, New York, heading west to start my first reporting gig post-college at the Teton Valley News in Driggs, Idaho. 

This must be the place: ‘Cloud hang on the mountain, they make me lonesome inside’

With a cool breeze rolling through the Old City district of downtown Knoxville last Thursday evening, I clung tighter to my jacket, pulled the brim of my hat lower and meandered across the railroad tracks towards Boyd’s Jig & Reel. 

This must be the place: ‘Beg, steal or borrow two nickels or a dime to call me on the phone’

Hello from Room 623 at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Owensboro, Kentucky. Just about six and a half hours from my humble abode in Waynesville. Russ Avenue to U.S. 276 to Interstate 40 and backroads through Southern Appalachia to get here. 

This must be the place: ‘The idea is not to live forever, it is to create something that will’

Hello from the Antler Village at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. It’s 11:34 a.m. The wine bar around the corner will open in roughly 16 minutes. I’ve been at this vast property since 8:30 a.m. when I was pulling up to attend the grand opening of the Chihuly art exhibit. 

This must be the place: ‘I've stumbled through the valley, halfway up the mountain now’

Hello from Lemon Street in St. Augustine, Florida. Since 2013, my folks, who live in Upstate New York, have been coming down here for the month of March to escape the frozen North Country winters. 

Taking time to strengthen my gratitude muscle

Gratitude has become something of a buzz word and because of that, it seems that some people roll their eyes at the concept.

This must be the place: ‘Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself’

That quote underneath the title of this column is from the seminal 1958 novella “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Truman Capote. It was also the dramatic culmination in the 1961 film of the same name starring Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly. 

This must be the place: Ode to the written word, ode to putting the paper to bed

It’s a lot quieter this week at The Smoky Mountain News. Not just because of the unusually warm weather this past weekend sparking folks to frolic and head for the hills.

This must be the place: ‘When the trees are bare and the barns are white with frost’

Hello from Room 211 at the Red Roof Inn just off Interstate 64 in Lexington, Kentucky. Bright, warm rays of sunshine stream into the east-facing window of the $43.95 per night cheap motel room. Crisp morning air rolls across the city and nearby horse country. 

This must be the place: ‘I cherish my intercontinental friendships, we talk it over continental breakfast’

The smart phone dinged incessantly early this morning ‘round 8 a.m. at my small Waynesville apartment. Social media notifications and text messages. Then came the phone calls from my mother and father way up in the North Country. It’s my 39th birthday. 

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