Travels With My Mom
Recently I drove up north to Pennsylvania both to see my niece graduate from high school and to pick up my mom for a road trip.
Mom is turning 85 this summer, so putting things off seems really short-sighted. She had mentioned a number of times how she wanted to go and see the Biltmore Estate, and now that Tony and I are well and truly settled in, this seemed like the year to do it.
There is a lot to be said for travel. My husband and I love to go abroad when time and money permit, but traveling right here in lovely North Carolina is now at the top of the list as we strive to know more and more about Moore and the rest of our new home state.
Certainly Asheville is a great place to start. Mom is easy to travel with in that she, like me, does not mind getting up in time for a 6:30 a.m. breakfast so we can be on the road. Our first day was nearly a seven-hour drive. We left Mechanicsburg, Pa., stopping only for lunch at a not-so-good 5 Guys in Virginia somewhere, as well as rest stops along the way to do the usual and walk a bit to keep us from stiffening up too much.
We got as far as Elkin. I have to pass along a tip: The new Fairfield Inn there, just off I-77, is gorgeous, with the most comfortable beds you could wish for. If you are looking to be in that area, stay there. It’s a joy.
We pushed on the next morning, hitting Asheville around noon. The wonderful drive as the pines give way to deciduous trees and the flats give way to mountains … well, it is a delight to see.
During the next few days we took a “trolley” tour of the city, went through the Biltmore, and lunched at Cedrick’s Tavern in the estate’s new area, Antler Hill. We had some truly evil ice cream at The Creamery. (It’s evil because wherever you are in town you can hear it calling your name. Spooky.)
We delighted in interesting restaurants and kind servers. Mom has a love of learning and meeting people even though she sometimes forgets that now that she is alone. Her energy levels grew with each day rather than the reverse. Getting out and hearing about the estate, the forest or even the meal lifted her back to herself. A lesson not lost on me: Avoid depression and tiredness by staying involved.
Hitting the road with Mom was a great thing to do. Taking time to discuss our history, our family stories that are often hard to remember or impossible to trace, is so important. Remembering Dad before he was Dad: young and a soda jerk at the drugstore, how she knew him before he fell in love with her, how she knew he would.
She spoke a long time about her summers as a kid: the boarding house they went to for many years in Virginia, the women who cooked, the doctor who also vacationed there and set little girls’ broken arms. We talked about a dream time to me, the image of her parents, my Nana and Mac, laughing on a porch with friends who also escaped Baltimore’s heat by going to the inlets of Virginia, of those then-young couples pushing back furniture to dance, my Nana and Mac happy and giddy … well, priceless is the word that comes to mind.
She wanted to see the Biltmore Estate and she did, while I was able to see her and my long-ago young grandparents and even my father just back from the war. A great trip.
Joyce Reehling lives in Pinehurst. She recently retired here from New York after a 33-year career in theater, TV and commercials.
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