This past week my family took a road trip to Texas. And while I've flown to Texas before (and will again for the ACFW conference in September--woot!), I've never before driven through many of the states. From Maryland, the path to Dallas takes us first through the entire diagonal of West Virginia, then through Kentucky, then Tennessee, Arkansas, and finally Texas.
As we drove, I couldn't help but think of the beloved books I've read that take place in these areas. Laura Frantz's amazing colonials, for example, that are set in Kentucky. Many of the books I grew up on that were set in early Texas. I noticed the names that I knew from my own research, like Pulaski, who was apparently well revered by states other than Georgia. ;-)
And as I saw this 1200-mile cross-section of our country, I was hit again and again with how big it is. How diverse. How mysterious those territories must have been for the early settlers. We started our trip in the beautiful rolling mountains of the Appalachians, spending hours and hours driving up and down, around turns, dodging wildlife. When those mountains tapered into hills, we entered the beautiful horse country of Kentucky--where there is, of all things, a castle. Talk about a fun thing for the kids to see! Though the castle was built only 30-40 years ago, renovators today are apparently shocked by the detail given to medieval authenticity. Pretty cool, eh?
|The Bottomless Pit in Mammoth Cave, |
(Nuno Carvalho de Sousa Collection, Lisbon)
From the Lexington area we continued into Cave Country, with beautiful rock ledges and hidden wonders that I obviously couldn't see from the road, but which my imagination knew waited in those caves. I naturally had to look it up when we got home, and I discovered that Mammoth Cave, for instance, was discovered in 1797, our favorite era here at the CQ. Oh, how I would love to tour that cave and imagine myself as one of the earliest Americans, one of the first set of settler eyes to see it!
The land began to flatten out as we drove through Tennessee, and was particularly lovely around the Mississippi. No wonder, then, that civilization sprang up there! It was quite an experience to drive over that massive river and into Arkansas, where the straight, flat countryside was largely fields with trees along the border.
This mountain-girl started yawning at all the flat, straight lines in Arkansas and Texas (sorry, natives!), but there was definitely something about the sheer vastness that made me able to see the allure. I could just imagine that the first travelers from the east, after navigating those treacherous mountains, finally reaching this and thinking, "Oh my. Just look at all that land!"
It's no wonder that this New World drew so many people. No wonder that they saw how it went on and on and got that itch in the feet that begged them to go explore. And one only has to follow in their footsteps to imagine all the stories that lived, breathed, worked, and yearned through every mile. Hello, inspiration!
Roseanna M. White grew up in the mountains of West Virginia, the beauty of which inspired her to begin writing as soon as she learned to pair subjects with verbs. She spent her middle and high school days penning novels in class, and her love of books took her to a school renowned for them. After graduating from St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, she and her husband moved back to the Maryland side of the same mountains they equate with home.
Roseanna is the author of two biblical novels, A Stray Drop of Blood and Jewel of Persia, both from WhiteFire Publishing (www.WhiteFire-Publishing.com), Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland from Summerside Press, and the upcoming Culper Ring Series from Harvest House, beginning in March 2013 with Ring of Secrets.
She is the senior reviewer at the Christian Review of Books, which she and her husband founded, the senior editor at WhiteFire Publishing, and a member of ACFW, Christian Authors Network, HisWriters, and Colonial American Christian Writers. She is a regular blogger at Go Teen Writers, Colonial Quills, and her personal blog.