Posted by: chptr37 | 04/11/2009

Pg. 10: Tennessee to Virginia


Spring has sprung. At least in the South.


  • Miles Today: 270
  • Miles Total: 4106
  • From/To: Chattanooga, Tenn. to Marion, Virginia
  • Slept: The General Francis Marion Hotel
  • Soundtrack: Me, whining to the sound of the wheels turning: I want. I want. I want.
  • Best Thing: Hidden gems, like the hotel and Handsome Molly’s, an adorable wine and coffee place.
  • Worst Thing: Unfulfilled desires. Did I mention want? I want out of the car. I want my body pampered. I want to be there already. I want to be back. I want. I want. I want.
  • Quote of the Day: “Now, ya’ don’ need ta dress up or anythang ta go ta the restaurant next door,” said by the very nice, very hospitable woman at the front desk when she gave me my room key after she eyed me, in that kind Southern way that women have, taking in my jeans and t-shirt and backpack. When I came back downstairs after throwing on a long sweater, brushing my teeth and ditching the backpack, she nodded in some kind of southern approval toward the restaurant and said, “Well, don’t ya look nice now.”


Today, I hit the wall. Not with the car or anything. Just emotionally, mentally, physically. Moving, leaving, traveling…it all came crashing in on me, as fast and strong as the gusts of wind that have been sweeping across the highway, rocking me off-balance, off the middle line, far away from the speed and relative safety of the middle road. I’m rarely filled with doubt. I’m a move forward, set-my-mind-to-it-and-I-can-do-it kind of girl. Tell me which direction to go, and I’m off in the total opposite direction before you can even finish getting the words out. Without a thread of doubt. And yet, today brought all those doubts. They didn’t stay long–in and away as quick as the southern winds–but the physical exhaustion stuck with me.

Then I arrived at Marion, Virginia. Not where I was planning to be at all. It was just the town that showed up in front of me when my energy was beginning to wane.  A turn off the exit, and now, here I am.


Downtown Marion, Virginia

You know, you can stand in the stream all day and pick up rocks, looking for a shiny bit of gold and find nothing but crayfish and mud and algae. And then you turn, around a corner, up a path on the way home and you see something shimmering in the trees. Pink buds of spring jeweled with a late afternoon rain. Why are they not worth as much as that sought-after gold? Who decides? Why am I bound to value one over the other just because one is marketable and the other is only for temporary pleasure?

These are the gems you find when you’re not looking: A tiny town in Virginia filled with Southern charm. A grand old hotel with a huge and tiled bathroom. A tub big enough to take a real bath in. A restaurant within walking distance that serves the best salad you’ve had since you left home. White buds breaking open and spreading their heady scent everywhere you walk. A coffee shop across the way with free wi-fi and decent espresso and a woman who waits on you with a low and easy laugh. A funny story about the town’s drive-in movie theater. Walking the streets as the moon settles in for a long night stay. A high old bed with fluffy pillows and the chance to dream dark and deep.


I don’t know what they are, but I wish I gave off their sweet and sultry scent.

I love these surprises, these hidden gems. It’s one of the joys of not just traveling, but of living. My favorite hidden gems of all, though, aren’t things. They’re people. The ones you bump into on a street corner. Or discover via a blog post. The ones who share your interests and passions and lusts. The ones who write like you or think like you. The ones who aren’t like you at all. The ones you find around the world and then discover you like a great deal and wish they lived closer (wherever closer to me actually is at the moment). The ones who make you laugh and sing and dream. The ones who make you hula-hoop and howl at the moon. The ones who bring you not gold, but dew-bejeweled flowers. Fragrant white stems on a bowed branch. Hope by the handful.

No walls tomorrow. Only doors opening before me. I hold all the keys.

Far away and fast to dream, s.



To sleep, perchance to dream.


“Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” ~ Gustave Flaubert



  1. Ugh. I know the feeling. The feeling that says: I cannot possibly, but somehow you do.

    Hang in there and remember these treasures – these sights, sounds, smells – these people, places and things that will fill your trove with endless delight (and not to mention some fun stories to share at gatherings)

    It is so awesome the way you handled the doubt. You had it, and let it go. Let it fly out the window and land somewhere else.

    You, my dear, have places to go and treasures to discover.

    Sweet dreams my dear, sweet dreams.

  2. Such a beautiful post! I choked up at the end–seriously.

  3. Ya know, be it due to Fate, God, Karma or just plain old Luck, you occasionally find exactly what you need exactly when ya need it. And I’m glad that whatever it was helped you out and let you get a bit of the recharge you needed darlin’.

  4. It is incredible those tiny little gems we find and hold dear to us as we go about our ways. Marion looks and, from what you’ve said, feels wonderful. You’ve sometimes have got to love those little things.

    In regards to people, I am constantly finding those shining gems in all directions.

    On Thursday I volunteered at an AIDs clinic in my near by city and found some of the sweetest smiles and friendly smiles. Today while up at my grandparents’ a distant family relative of mine told me about his old college days in the 70’s, his experiences in the Korean war. On and on he went, but all of it was so pleasant as his wife normally kept him in line but she couldn’t make it today.

    I kind of look to people as I do to music. There are so many beautiful and mysterious types out there, some might be softer, others might be more in your face and energetic . I have learned in some cases (and I am still learning in others) to really respect and appreciate the beauty for each and every one.

    Speaking of gems… you are in luck, looks like the weather up in New York is taking a turn for the better!

    Keep on truckin’!

  5. Annie: I love how your comment reads like a great Dr. Suess book. Places to go, treasures to discover. I’m sure of it.

    Dakster: ‘Bout time you got your butt back here. And with your drawl and all. Woot!

    Shawn: I’m so glad you had that experience. It sounds amazing. And I love your music analogy. I’m going to steal it. Unless, of course, you sing the Syrr song again… then you can keep the analogy all for you own 🙂

  6. Marion looks wonderful little town. I always wanted to travel across country but never had the nerve to go off by myself, always thinking that I would need a traveling companion for support. Maybe one day if ever find the time or opportunity. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and the hotel Marion looks quite charming.

    I know what you mean hidden gems regarding people as well as places.

    I don’t know if this link will work but your post and the link included reminds me little of ”Late Night Grand Hotel” by singer Nanci Griffith.

  7. I know that exhaustion that comes from uprooting your whole life. The rootlessness of landing in yet another airport and knowing no one is waiting to greet you – that no airport is ‘home’ anymore where you can pick out the city’s landmarks from the landing path and think about how they relate to your own life.

    Just enjoy it – it’s part of reaching escape velocity. It means there’s a really great adventure on the other side.

  8. Hey now! Me and my drawl have been here with ya every step of the journey, just haven’t had anything interesting to say til now.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: