Winter Tea Party winners: Angela's book,THE SCARLET COAT, will go to: Print copy- Andrea Stephens; e-book copy - Catherine Wight!

LUCY REYNOLDS has a table topper quilt on the way, and winners of the Valentine Ebook Collection are: Deanna Stevens, Caryl Kane, Anne Payne and Winnie Thomas. With thanks to all who joined in!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Tools of the Trade - The Road Trip


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,
woodcut, 1887
 (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.

21 comments:

  1. What a beautiful post. Living in Australia, I don;t know much about the US landscape but it seems like it might be a bit like Australia. Big and with a constantly changing landscape.

    I'm a flat-straight lines kind of girl, I love the mountains too but give me paddocks and roads that just gone on to forever - it's my heaven.

    I look forward to the day (God-willing) I will achieve my dream of road-tripping across the US.

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    1. Oh, I would love to visit Australia! We can switch for a few weeks. ;-) Definitely constantly changing landscape around here, yes. I hope you get to visit the States someday!

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  2. Very evocative. In 1981 I went on a circular road trip lasting 6 weeks starting from and returning to New York - precisely because I wanted to experience the vastness and complexity of the American landscape. (It's in my blog record of a baffled spirit under the America side label) Your post brought it all back

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    1. Someday it would be so much fun to take a more wandering, leisurely pace and actually explore all the places we drove through. I bet you had a wonderful time!

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  3. Just made the same trip (to Texas) from Gettysburg, Pa., but went through Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee (hitting Memphis), Mississippi, Louisiana - and Arkansas on the way home. It is so fun to "taste" the different cultures as well as see them. We considered flying, but got to see so much more of this beautiful country by driving! (And I ate my first catfish!)

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    1. Oo, tasting them for sure! We had barbeque in Dallas from an awesome little hole in the wall place that has been on TV, and it was quite possibly the best thing I've ever eaten... okay, so, it can't compare to dessert. Two separate categories. ;-) But definitely the best chicken!

      Sounds like you had a fun (long) trip too!

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  4. Oh how wonderful! Dina just did a post on the Inkwell about how she saw the 'setting' in person for her next book and it nearly matched what she'd imagined.

    Pat Iacuzzi and I are taking a mini vacation to the north of NY State this weekend. Visiting Sacket's Harbor for their War of 1812 Encampment and maybe a side trip up to the St. Lawrence River just to make it truly feel like a get away... I am working on plots for a series set during the war, and it's been a blast to visit commemorative events.

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    1. Oooo, that sounds awesome, Debra! Enjoy, and tell each other "hi!" for me. ;-)

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  5. A castle in Kentucky?? I never would have imagined. And I adore caves. We went to the Crystal caves here in California and they are exquisite. Great article, Roseanna! Thank you for sharing. :-)

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    1. I know! We were pretty surprised when we drove by it on the way out. I tried to convince my hubby we ought to stay there on the way home, but he just laughed at me. ;-)

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  6. ROSEANNA!! Oh, this post does my homesick heart such good:) And I just about flipped as you've posted a picture of MY CASTLE:) This is just down the road where I grew up. In fact, the owners built it when I was a girl and then it passed into other hands. Recently on a trip back there, we drove into the courtyard and took pictures inside it - there's an amazing fountain and garden area, etc. But you may know that! And I spent the first 6 years of my life at Mammoth Cave living on the grounds as my Dad was manager of the hotel there. Ah, I feel blessed. And you obviously were, too, with this wonderful trip...

    Thanks so much for the time and thought and beautiful pics with this post. You're such a blessing:)

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    1. Squeeee! Didn't know I was writing about your back yard! How cool, Laura! I didn't get a chance to explore these places yet, but oh, how I want to! So cool!

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    2. What an incredible childhood, Laura. Sounds absolutely perfect. I've never been to Mammoth Cave, but we visited Luray Caverns in VA several times while I was a child growing up in MD. And we have some fairly impressive caverns here in OR too. Not like the ones back east tho!

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  7. I've traveled cross country a number of times, and that's just the reaction I've always had, Roseanna--the sheer vastness of this land we're blessed to live in. The Grand Canyon and the Badlands are simply jaw dropping. My reaction was, What was God THINKING of???? lol!

    How incredible that you lived on the grounds of Mammoth Cave as a child, Laura! What fun that must have been. And where in the world is that castle? I would love to visit it since one of my favorite historical periods is the Middle Ages. Of course, near Nashville we have the castle at Triune where there's an annual Renaissance Festival, but it sure doesn't compare to this one!

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    1. Joan, It's between Lexington and Versailles and is so easy to spy as it sets on that huge hill on your right if you're heading to Versailles. Yes, spending those formative years at the cave had a huge impact on me as a child. I loved living in a little cottage in the woods and eating most of my meals in the hotel dining room:) I love to go back when I can though the old hotel has been torn down and it's just not the same. I do hope you can stop and see it. They offer weekend stays at the castle. Pretty pricey but it's fun just to look for us lookie-lous:)

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    2. Stop and see the castle, I meant! Not the Cave, lol!

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  8. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us, Roseanna!

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  9. Sounds like you had quite the adventure, I grew up in Ky so knew just what you were talking about there, never been to the castle but rode past many times. It is an impressive site. I would love to go back and visit it.
    thanks for sharing your trip with us.
    Paula O(kyflo130@yahoo.com)

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  10. Thank you Roseanna for the beautiful Post. I have been living in Illinois for the last 30 years and it is very flat here, you can see forever and ever. I also been to all the surrounding States, I loved Kentucky with all the beautiful Horse Ranches, also went to Meramac Cave in Missouri I think. It was the most beautiful place I have seen. If you ever go to one of these Caves make sure you take a warm sweater or Coat as it is very cold there.
    Thank you again for sharing your Trip with us.

    ingrids62448at)yahoo(dot)com

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  11. Definitely a fun adventure, and I love hearing from everyone in different areas! So many in this great land, all with their unique beauty. Isn't it fun to contrast home with what's waiting around the corner?

    And noted--will take a sweater into the caves. ;-)

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  12. What a wonderful road trip! You covered some ground I'd love to see again.

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