Mountains to Cross: Leaning on God, Letting Go – Traveler’s Soul

It has been a week since I left Nashville and it still haunts my dreams with a sweet magnolia scent.  I am finally taking time to write down my travel itinerary after the helter-skelter pace of last weekend’s travel and workload with our storage unit, before zooming back to Raleigh for a full week of work.

The entire month of April my theme on Vagabond Warrior and my partner site ‘Adele Belle’ is going to center around Nashville to Asheville, taking time to introduce readers to the idyllic scenery of Rocky Top to the windblown peaks of the Blue Ridge.  I love journeying into the wild spaces of western N.C. and the rolling acres of Eastern TN.  Nashville is a city full of energy, movement, arts and life – it truly lives up to its name ‘Athens of the South.’  Watch out for fun trip itineraries, history, music vibes and great food.

I’m going to start off by detailing our weekend itinerary – an exodus of sorts, letting go of the old and starting a new chapter.  It is never easy to give up your past, people are notorious for clutching possessions and keeping clutter because the fear of loss and the sentimental value attached to objects.  While I don’t find any fault with holding onto family pieces and remembering the great history of your life – the blessings and adventures – when you hold onto something for fear of losing some part of yourself instead of embracing your wide open future – it might be time to let go.  I’m coming out of a past of trauma and pain, but in the midst of that was love, selflessness, God’s grace and hope.  I have spent thousands of dollars trying to preserve family relics on false sentimentality and in the end it finally comes to getting rid of the deadweight, taking the good and being open to move forward.   I mention this because I think one of the most important lessons of travel is learning to hold close to love and light, be willing to stand up for your beliefs, but humble enough not to allow the past to hold you back either.  Travel is learning, growing, and facing adversity and fear with hope and courage.  So I find this journey one that is the end of one chapter.  The end of a life’s chapter is daunting and makes us anxious, but until we get past the fear we cannot move forward in the hope of the future.  Will the future be easy – not every day, but I have learned in my life – particularly through traveling across the country that every day is filled with simple and amazing blessings.  A desert may look forsaken until you start to look beyond the surface and see the life teeming within it.

Saturday April 4-2015:

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We stayed at The Red Roof Inn near our storage unit. The staff was extremely friendly, but the rooms were definitely lacking – for $100 a night I expected more than sheets with holes in them from burnt out cigarettes and a host of other issues.  So while I would NOT recommend staying at this hotel (I’ll give some better hotel options in a future post when it comes to N-Ville), we went with the flow as it was located a mile from our storage unit and was close to my old neighborhood of Berry Hill/Green Hills/Belmont area.

It is daunting to have to spend a day delving into your entire life, stuffed into a 10 x 20 storage unit.  We held onto the unit for so long because of the antiques dating back to the 1800s from our family in South Carolina – the Rhetts, Heywards, Barnwells…in the south you give furniture away to other family members and guard it as a treasure to be passed down – I still feel this way, but I know in this case we are called to let go of these pieces.  Moving the furniture is expensive – over $3000 so when we lived in Montana we kept it in Nashville as the humidity in TN is better for the pieces, when we moved to Raleigh the money just wasn’t in place to get the pieces moved right away.  So we kept putting it off.  I found out we had two weeks to sort through the unit and move out due to a closing of the unit – something unforeseen but a blessing in disguise.  My mom and I did not have enough time to arrange for moving the items, so we made a hard decision – to get only family photos, and other irreplaceable items like scrapbooks and artwork.

My mom and I spent most of Saturday sorting through the unit, finding supernatural strength to move our possessions out in the hall as I made my way to boxes of baby pictures, scrapbooks from travel adventures, yearbooks…By four o’clock we had finished our task – surprisingly renewed of energy and purpose.  I can only attribute this to God’s grace because if you understand the depths of losing – this was our entire life possessions for the most part – full of history – we had to sort through including emotional baggage and let it go.  The unit will go to auction on May 1st.  We pray we will get some money for our family pieces including my ancestor Daniel Heyward and Eliza Rhett’s etage and my Grandmother Sally’s gorgeous Louis IV sofa worth around $3000 together – but we have to just trust and hope.

This is where the day gets fun!  I am a huge movie and music lover – I am a nut over movies and all genres of music which is why I attended Belmont University for Music Business.  In our unit I had over 500 DVDs and 1000 CDs.  It broke my heart to let my movies and music go, but I willingly decided to sell them to Mckay’s Books, Music, Movies & more in Nashville.

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Mckay’s in short is AWESOME.  They are located in a HUGE warehouse off Charlotte Pike (Old Hickory Blvd) where they have 10,000 plus used books, DVDS, movies, music, audio-video and other equipment – it is a book, music, movie lovers paradise.  The prices are great and there is something for everyone.  You can sell your items for cash or credit or both.  I decided to sell my items to Mckay’s because they could find a home with another lover of songs, stories and words.

The staff at Mckay’s was SO HELPFUL in taking the time to process all of our items.  It took three hours to go through the process and it was a BLESSING.  We received $ to help pay for the trip and also some store credit to purchase a few books for the road.

If you go to Nashville a stop at McKay’s is a must.

On the semi-final Saturday of the Final Four this basketball obsessed fan is usually up in arms in front of a television watching the games.  I am a huge Tar Heel fan and unfortunately my team bowed out early this year while our arch rival Duke battled on.  Unfortunately we could not watch the first game (Duke v. M.S.U. with Blue Devils winning) we watched the second semi-final at Nashville based chain Logan’s Steakhouse.  Nashville is just south of UK country, but I rooted for underdog Wisconsin – I like Kentucky but hey you got to love Bo Ryan’s kids at UW.

Logan’s is a great place to eat in Nashville.  Nashville is full of tremendous, scrumptious, savory places to eat, but even as a chain Logan’s is our standby for a hearty meal.  We don’t have one in Raleigh so it was a treat to indulge in the Southwestern Chicken with pico de gallo (my favorite food seriously I am known as Pico girl), melted cheese and barbeque sauce.

Typical of Nashville – our waiter is a talented musician in a traveling band.  I love being around the hubbub of Nashville music – as a songwriter it gets my creative energy up.  How cool is it to just start talking music and arts in the most ordinary of places?  Love that about Nashville – it is a community of culture and most artists are willing to share, give, collaborate…

Easter SUNDAY: 4/5

Christ our LORD is RISEN Indeed – the weather was a cerulean blue – flawless sky – the temperature a warm ethereal sixty-five degrees.  My mom and I enjoyed a yummy breakfast at Cracker Barrel (an establishment where I waited tables in college at Belmont).  We then spent the morning organizing our belongings. I expected to have to shell out $300 to ship items back but miracles abound and we fit everything into our small Versa without any issue – in fact we had space left over – in spite of an enormous amount of boxes and paintings – what a BLESSING.  It sounds simple and ‘duh’ but you don’t know the anxiety of having to pay for shipping – to not have to shell it out – is a blessing.

We attended five o’clock Easter service at our old church in Nashville St. George’s Episcopal.  It is a great parish and we enjoyed our time there.  The sermon was so topical to specific issues in my life and I think can be applied to so many who are in anxiety and wondering which road to travel.  The minister discussed peace in Christ and letting go of the past and how we cannot ruminate on the past if we want to move forward – take the lessons of the past, learn from the lessons and accept the grace and courage to move forward.  It really spoke to my heart about being present in the moment and not letting anxiety and worry cloud my judgment with fear, problem-solving is not accomplished in worry.  IMG_1129

We capped off the evening eating a delectable meal with my best friend and her boyfriend at Demo’s.  Demo’s is an Italian Steak restaurant in the heart of downtown Nashville – it has a vintage 1930s appeal – nothing fancy just a warm and inviting atmosphere.  The food is absolutely DELICIOUS – the steak is one of the best I’ve ever had – moist, succulent and perfectly cooked – no sauce necessary.  I will give more info on Demo’s in my Nashville 20 this month – 20 great places to eat in Nashville, but suffice it to say this was one of the highlights of the trip.

Monday April 6th:

This is an excerpt from my journal:

“Today we packed up our car – thank God everything fit inside and we journeyed east – I think this parched life we’ve been drowning in is being resurrected in a new hope of promise. I thank God for HIS blessings. We ate breakfast at Cracker Barrel, then stopped one final time at our storage unit to drop off the key – we are not longer bound to the deadweight we’ve carried inside. We hit the highway I-40 East just after 11 am the drizzle of the rain an atmosphere of gray impressionism – the rolling Tennessee hills cradling us with peace on the highway. We stopped at a rest area just on the Putnam Co. line – great visitor center and they have an angling area for fly-fishermen – just stunning scenery (off road outside of Knoxville sustainable TVA project).”

It is hard to place into words the enormous scope of the beauty of Tennessee.  It is a subtle beauty, not raw and dazzling like the Rockies of Yellowstone, but equally beautiful in its own majesty of color and grace.  Middle and Eastern Tennessee is filled with wide open ambling spaces, outcroppings of jagged limestone rock, back country water falls and caverns, hidden valleys and rolling foothills.  I like the fact that TN is not as built up as my home state of NC – NC is so congested now with I-40 muck from Raleigh to Winston Salem – it is just a nightmare – a nightmare of traffic and highway slock – TN has miles of untainted open land straddling the highway – it brings you peace of mind – I hope this land remains cultivated in peace and remains farmland – I am for development – sustainable development – but we also need quiet rolling hills – fertile and full of life.

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We entered the glorious mists of the Smoky Mountains just after 4 p.m., the rain vacillating back and forth, the gray only amplifying the greenery of the forest and the mystical power of the hills.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts the mountains have ALWAYS had a power to heal my soul – I feel connected and free – I see the joy of life in the mountains – I know a lot of people don’t like hiking, climbing rough terrain, but to me it builds endurance and there is nothing more peaceful than standing in the breath of creation and the humility of life and still recognizing the hope even in chaos.

My mom and I both love the mountains so we decided to stop in Asheville for a sojourn and some time to relax before return to the hustle bustle of Raleigh.  I found a wonderful gem of a hotel called The Brookstone Lodge.  It is deluxe and affordable.  Only $88 for our stay.  The hotel has a mountain modern design with stone and gorgeous hardwoods, rustic comfort with modern sensibilities – just the hideaway we needed to relax and refresh.

The staff at Brookstone was SO HELPFUL – extremely nice and willing to provide insights into Asheville and the area.

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My mom and I are both big Downton Abbey fans so we decided to take the plunge and purchase tickets to see The Dressing Downton Exhibit at Biltmore (America’s Largest Home).  I will dedicate several articles on Biltmore – on Adele Belle and Vagabond Warrior.  Biltmore is worth the $$$ – just an awesome experience from the views to the history and unique architecture.

We capped off our evening enjoying a homegrown mountain meal at The Village Wayside – a popular local eatery in Asheville’s Biltmore Village district.  I highly recommend The Wayside, the food is locally sourced from North Carolina farmers.  My mom and I both had Celiac Disease and Wayside has a number of Gluten-Free options – yum! I ordered the steak with their homemade sweet potato tots with sea salt and Cheerwine barbeque sauce. Cheerwine is a NC tradition – it has a pop tradition of being the go-to soda for generations in the Carolinas.  My mom ordered the Mountain Trout with a vegetable medley of grilled onions, buttered corn, green beans and carrots.  For dessert we treated ourselves to the pots de creme – a heavenly chocolate dessert.

I will continue with our travels at Biltmore in another post – also all month on Adele Belle and Vagabond Warrior we will focus on the theme ‘Nashville to Asheville- a Southern Journey into the Heartland of mountains, city beats, food and culture.’

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