This must be the place: ‘I’m headed for the Bozeman Round and it’s goodbye to Old Missoula, sleepy town’

Hello from 26,982 feet above Southern Appalachia. Somewhere near southeastern Kentucky. En route to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Over an hour flight delay leaving the Asheville airport. Ground speed is 539 miles per hour. About 760 miles to our destination. One hour and 41 minutes left before touchdown in the Twin Cities. 

This must be the place: ‘In the woods from far away, from across the fields and pastures, in the cool misty morning air’

Hello from atop the roof of my parents’ 1840 brick farmhouse. Some 20 feet up on the back end of the structure. It’s hot as hell walking across the old roof in the midday sunshine and heat of early summer in the Champlain Valley of Upstate New York. 

This must be the place: ‘17 has turned 35, I’m surprised that we’re still livin’

Hello from the coast of Maine. About an hour northeast up along the shoreline from Portland. The small, quaint community of New Harbor. More specifically, Pemaquid Beach Village.

This must be the place: ‘Oh to live on Sugar Mountain, with the barkers and colored balloons’

Hello from the Merritt Parkway in south-central Connecticut. It’s bumper-to-bumper traffic and has been since we skirted New York City and headed east. Exit 60 is Hamden, Connecticut, a town that I called home during my years attending Quinnpiac University. 

This must be the place: Ode to this newspaper, ode to a quarter century

It was just about 12 years ago when I first rolled into Waynesville. After a solo 18-hour, 1,000-mile trek from my native Upstate New York to Western North Carolina, I found myself sitting in an office chair awaiting an in-person interview with Smoky Mountain News publisher/founder Scott McLeod. 

This must be the place: ‘Running to lose the blues, to the innocence in here’

Hello from the writing desk in my humble abode apartment in downtown Waynesville. It’s warm and sunny outside on this Monday afternoon amid Memorial Day Weekend. I’ve just returned from a 2,678-mile out and back trip to the North Country.  

This must be the place: ‘Of freedom and of pleasure, nothing lasts forever’

It was nearing midnight when my mother finally beat my father, my girlfriend, Sarah, and I at cards, rummy being the game of choice and of tradition in my parents’ household. Most of the snacks had been consumed and I was halfway through a lukewarm Labatt Blue Light when she placed her last card on the pile to claim victory. 

This must be the place: ‘Little pink houses for you and me’

Bearing witness to a few fine folks chomping down on handfuls of raw ramps last Sunday afternoon at American Legion Post 47 in Waynesville, it dawned on me that I’ve lost touch with this region. 

This must be the place: ‘Cast upon a beach town, Winn Dixie cold cuts thieves highway hand me downs’

Right now, there are a handful of old cardboard boxes in the back of my girlfriend’s car. Inside the boxes are several dusty photo albums of Sarah’s past.

This must be the place: ‘I felt like lying down by the side of the trail and remembering it all’

Is there a more exhilarating feeling within your heart than that of preparing for a road trip? I think not. The wandering, pondering rambler inside my soul vibrates wildly thinking about what routes to take, where to stop, who to stop and see and what kind of wondrous happenstance will occur throughout the journey. 

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