Those Were the Days, My Friends. . .
As we headed towards North Carolina, our future home, and not far from the Virginia border, I saw billboards announcing the upcoming attraction: Mount Airy. Hmmmm. The name sounded familiar. Ahhh, yes! Voted an “All-American Town”, it was chosen as the setting for The Andy Griffith Show, and, coincidentally, the star himself grew up here. Above, you can see a mural painted in his honor.
We drove through, then later wandered down the main street, with it's many storefronts reminding us of another era. I felt like a child again, sitting cross-legged in front of my black and white TV, twin antennae sprouting from the top. Although I was a city girl, something was mesmerizing about Andy, who never got ruffled and took everything in stride. And Aunt Bea? Well, goll-ee! What kid wouldn't want her bustling around the house, cooking and cleaning, giving sound advice, and offering milk and cookies hot out of the oven after a hard day at school?
Even the Townsfolk Played the Part
The visitor’s center had two seventy-something folks giving us helpful advice—what to see and do in one hour, since we had to drive to the coast that day, and had very little time. Although we didn't visit the museum, we enjoyed our stroll, chuckling at the signs and peeking in windows.
Supposedly, Andy Griffith worked at this soda fountain in his youth. So, we decided to check it out. Wow. Talk about going back in time! We met Gina, another 70-something lady who made quite an impression on me. Even though she had many health issues, and had to stop driving, it didn't dampen her enthusiastic spirit for life. She found a way to make it work. . .
Of course, Gina offered to take a photo of us, so we obliged!
Out on the street, we found many references to Mayberry and the show. . .
And look what drove down the street, obviously slowing down as he passed, hoping I’d take a photo. . .
All in all, it was well worth losing time on our journey. Since I am moving towards rebranding myself as "historical" (silver hair and all), it seemed appropriate to stop and drink in the nostalgia.
Have you visited a town used as a movie set? Ever visited Mount Airy? If you are a Baby Boomer, did you watch The Andy Griffith Show? If so, who was your favorite character and why? Let me know below!
Are you a writer stuck in a genre that's tired? Do you want to branch out into something new? How about travel writing? If you love words, adventure and a desire to share your discoveries, with a possibility of free food, lodging and activities, travel writing is for you!
The How-tos of Travel Writing
Believe it or not, travel writing is much like creating a novel or magazine article. All good writing needs a hook, which is usually sentence or paragraph that draws you in, then follows with points or scenes that bring you though the piece in an orderly and engaging way, keeping the promises the title and hook offered.
But where do you begin? Your hometown, of course! There are numerous things to see and do where you live. Restaurants, shops, nature hikes, and museums are just the beginning. Ask your local chamber of commerce, library or historical society for ideas. And read this short article, 5 Tips for Travel Writing Success in Your Hometown.
Have a focus. “Three top places to enjoy the fall leaves in (your hometown)” "10 top restaurants that offer hygge atmosphere in (your hometown) this winter” are some suggestions. Everyone googles ‘best’ or ‘top 10’ when they are looking for places to go, so add yours!
Then pitch your idea to a local newspaper or magazine. Much advice for these steps and beyond are found at Great Escape Publishing If they agree to publish your article, that's when the fun begins.
Looking for more possibilities for publication? Try Midwest Living, GoNomad, Rovology, or Play, Stay, Eat. But here's the catch: before writing an article, reading well-written ones is a must. Subscribe to Afar's newsletter, check out Travel&Leisure from your local library, and any other popular travel magazine. Read voraciously, to get a feel for the voice and content of a great travel piece.
If you are looking for constant inspiration and mentorship, join ITWPA which offers classes, travel ideas, examples of travel writing, great photography and more. It's an organization which will give you guidance and credibility, along with a jounalist's pass all your own!
I've given you a quick introduction to travel writing, but it takes study and perseverance, Consider joining the groups above for support. One successful travel writer, Abi King, has a stellar website, Inside the Travel Lab and offers a newsletter that will give you a feel for the travel journalist's lifestyle. Be inspired!
Are you a travel journalist? If so, tell us your favorite location to write about. Have you considered travel writing? Let me know your thoughts below!
Where do you go when you have a hankering for New England, but need to remain in the Midwest? The Third Coast, of course! Oh, you've never heard of it? Well, neither had I until a friend pointed out that factoid. The travel industry also calls the Great Lakes the “Inland Seas.” Who knew?
Visiting the home of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of The Girl Scouts in Savannah (1912) was truly an inspiration. Although this woman never achieved her dreams of a loving marriage and a house full of children, she found her passion in helping girls around the globe to realize their own dreams.
There is nothing more delightful to a historical fiction author's heart, than a visit to an old city. It's intriguing and enlightening, and sometimes hilarious! People are people no matter which century they lived in.
You love to travel. You adore adventure. You can't stand monotony. And you love to write . . .Does that sound like someone you know? If so, travel writing might be for you.
I had the privilege of visiting England the last week of February -- one of my favorite destinations. Since I am a historical fiction author, are you surprised? My purpose was threefold. First, to do a bit of research and sightseeing in Bath, where my latest WIP takes place, although many centuries ago. Second, to do an author's talk at the Bristol homeschool coop near my host's town.
When I visit a new city, I like to see it from a writer's point of view. Greenville, SC was no exception. I was here for a conference, book signing and a school visit, but more about that next time. Today, I want to share this burgeoning city to which people of all ages are flocking. It is one of the top ten cities to live in, a mecca for senior citizens, and a model for downtown rehab success -- other cities use the Greenville model when reviving a dead downtown district.
It was Labor Day, and surprisingly, we had no plans as a family. Whoo Hoo! Time for a road trip. My goal was to visit a town less than two hours away, so we could come and go in one day. And so we did - to Rockford, Illinois.
My wanderlust posts are winding down. This Fall promises to be extremely busy for me . . . I have school visits and a coffee shop book signing, but more on that later. Today, I'm reliving our trip to the Yorkshire countryside (Think: All Creatures Great and Small). Come join us!
We couldn't believe all the surprises in store for us. The day began with a wasp sting, as I tried to remove him with a Kleenex. The fella had stayed in our room all night. No redness or swelling. . . God's grace.
A couple at the guest house offered to take us and our luggage to the train station to pick up our car. Another surprise.
Olivia and I prayed for wisdom, attentiveness and safety before starting the engine of our rented Vauxhall. I drove out of the lot (yes, the driver's seat was on the right side) and onto the York city streets at rush hour. I took to left-hand driving with all its turnabouts with aplomb. And oh, did I tell you that a garmin was waiting for us, an hour earlier than expected? Grace upon grace.
We took off as our GPS instructed us. The voice had a lilting British accent, gently instructing us as we went along. I was thinking of a name for her. Of course, it had to be literary. Then it came to me - Mary Poppins. Perfect! "Take the second exit at the turnabout and, while we're at it, let's go fly a kite!" You get the picture. Olivia and I began singing that song as we gaily drove down the road.
I had been admiring these brilliant yellow fields along the way, which I am told, are Rapeseed, used in industry. Hard to believe such a sweet fragrance, almost like honey, could come from a flower used in such a way.
Our itinerary was full. I wanted to take time to visit the coast, but was having a hard time fitting it in, since it was in the opposite direction to our Brontë tour. But, the thought came to me to head there today, and to focus on Whitby. It has a literature connection as well (naturally), as the Whitby Abbey inspired the novel, Dracula. Not that I have read it or endorse it, but, I am always fascinated with where writers get their ideas. See for yourself in the slideshow below:
We had to pay for parking everywhere, but each time, we were able to see the sights in the allotted time. Here is the charming town of Whitby.
We then took some time to park and walk along the Moors road. So beautiful and wild. The wind was mournfully blowing across the landscape, searching for Catherine and Heathcliff. Now isn't that a fitting name for someone who wanders the moors??
This is what heather looks like in the spring. It doesn't bloom until fall:
Then, we headed for our lodging near Ripon, but first we needed a good cup of Yorkshire tea (strong, full bodied, but not bitter. . .such a pleasure to drink!) Well, we learned something these past few days. Afternoon tea begins and ends in the afternoon. Don't dare go into a tea shop after 4:30pm, or you will be sorely disappointed, or worse. . .turned away.
Two of the shops were closed by 4:30pm, one had just closed, and the fourth was just turning the 'open' sign around when I quickly walked in and asked (actually pleaded) for the owner to sell us a cuppa. I told her our sad story. Well, more grace. She agreed! And after we had paid, and I thanked her most profusely, she said with a smile, "Well, I've done my good deed for the day." And I'm grateful she did!
We made it to Ripon safely, and stopped for a bite to eat. Olivia noticed pigeon on the menu, and said she'd like to try it. I told her I was 'game', too. (I hoped they weren't imported from Chicago.)
Ta da! It actually tasted almost like duck, but tougher, similar to the texture of beef. So, as we chewed, I bit down on something hard. I extracted what looked like a BB pellet. When we asked what it was, sure enough, the waitress said nonchalantly, "Oh, that's shot. They can't use a large bullet, because it will tear the bird apart."
Like it was no big deal to find a stone in your meat! I'm just thankful I didn't break another crown. Another sign of grace today.
We arrived safely at this charming 1300’s (believe it) farmhouse called 'Mallard Grange'. I thought I was transported to France. So idyllic. . .even the smells were present. Wish we could have stayed for more than two nights!
Maggie, the owner, was explaining the marks on the sheep. She said they identify the mothers with their babies, and their date of birth, in case they are parted from one another. The herders search for them if lost at the end of a day. We caught a couple of lambs sneaking under the fence to cross the road, but skipped back to mother when we drove by!
Look at our adorable room. . .
We had a restful night, and an elaborate homemade breakfast. Because of our food intolerances, the owner prepared a portion of fresh salmon for us. What a treat! We were refreshed to move on, resting in God's grace and mercy.
Hope you were refreshed, too, by our travelogue. A change in scenery always inspires me. Do you have a location you love to visit? Tell me in the comments below!
My MG Biblical fiction "The Heart Changer" debuted in 2019 with Ambassador International.