The sun was shining dry, white hot heat the day my mother and I found ourselves out of money, tired and hungry in a town we’d never stepped foot in before in Northern Spain — for the second time in less than a month.
If you are like me and have been more than somewhat stranded by the pandemic for the past year or more and are succumbing to cabin fever and the isolation blues and are lookingforward to getting out and about or even doing some traveling, then I have a suggestion.
They didn’t know where they were going, their only waypoint the “S” on the compass rose.
They were both from Minnesota. For a laugh they could turn on the accent that became the humorous aside of the Coen brothers’ film “Fargo,” with the “yaah” and “geez” and “you betcha.” In their 50s, both had been able to retire early, she a landscape architect and he an Air National Guard pilot.
Stepping out of my truck, it was a cold wind rolling off the nearby mountains late Monday afternoon. A stiff breeze pushed across Lake Junaluska as I took the first strides of my four-mile run around the manmade body of water. Heavy snowflakes hit my face. I zipped the jacket closer to my chin.
Nearing midnight here in Eastern Idaho. A landscape I used to call home some 12 years ago. The faces I chase down and interact with in these parts are familiar and beloved. The same faces I befriended when I first rolled through here to put down roots as a rookie reporter in January 2008 for the Teton Valley News.
I’m currently sitting at the old kitchen table in my parents’ 1840 farmhouse in Upstate New York. Our family dog, Madison, is lying down a few feet away, always within a short distance of me whenever I’m walking around the house or wandering the backyard. The coffee in hand is fresh and strong. There’s a lot on my mind, too.
Back when the trip was a new idea, I don’t think either of us took it seriously. Three weeks on the road, at a time when most American cars were sitting idle in the driveway? Thousands of miles of driving through sand and snow, mountain and desert, far from home? Surely this was just a pie-in-the-sky dream borne from the hunger pangs of quarantine, nothing more.
Now 31, Steve Yocum was just 22 years old when he moved from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to the mountains of Western North Carolina.
He was tired of city life, of doing nothing but going to bars all weekend, every weekend. He wanted to get away, and when the company he’d been working for since high school gave him the chance to move south, he jumped on it. That leap led him to photography.
The Smoky Mountain News remains committed to its mission of producing free, in-depth, independent reporting for Western North Carolina. Your contributions help us pay the reporters, designers, marketing representatives, and others — your neighbors — who make up our dedicated team.