from guest blogger Emily Carter When I was young all I wanted to do was get as far away from home as possible; experience, explore, discover and run from the familiar. I was running from everything around me: my roots, my past, my family, my home. My burning desire to travel, constant lust for the unknown, and innate curiosity led me all over the globe.
At 30, I still posses this same sense of adventure, but it is now tempered by my appreciation of where I come from, my roots, the desire to re-discover the many beautiful and unique things about my home state and culture.
Two weekends ago I went home to my Chapel Hill, where I spent my most formative years, three miles from Franklin Street just over the Chatham County line. I veered off I-40 and down through Graham and Alamance county following the curved country roads through the rolling farmland into Chatham County. I drove around the traffic circle in Pittsboro, a skeleton of the courthouse remained, after a fire last spring that engulfed it in flames. I smiled remembering how petrified I was of this traffic circle during drivers ed over fifteen years ago.
I passed Al’s diner where I would skip class sometimes and eat gigantic biscuits with fried ham and eggs. I visited my grandma in a nursing home, her body and mind now defying her spirit and will. “Emily” she cried and hugged me, and I tried not to focus on the purple bruise that crept up her cheekbone, a scary reminder of her latest fall.
There in the nursing home, already a buzz of excitement about the Carolina/Duke game among attendants and the patients who could still remember when.
“You watchin’ the game tonight,” One orderly shouted to the other down the hall.
“It’s gone be something,” the man with thick glasses shook his head.
Basketball fever. March madness, a shared hope and pride of this community where I was raised.
I drove up 15-501, now four lanes not two, toward Chapel Hill, passing by familiar roads, new strip malls, big housing developments, boutiques, antique shops, coffee bars, completely yuppified. When I grew up here this was just country with a few Haw River hippies sprinkled in.
Later in the day, I whizzed down Rosemary and Franklin Streets on a bike, the brick buildings of higher learning whirling by. Scenes of my adolescence imprinted on my mind conjured up: the gigantic Fraternity houses, the one-way street mom turned the wrong way down our first trip into Chapel Hill. The sorority girls marching by in a drunken troop, all dressed the same-cowgirl boots on this day, surely the latest trend.
While I didn’t respect this town or university much when I was young, it took on a new light as we rode by. Riding by with Sarah, a former roommate, a friend near ten years, I began to see my hometown with new eyes, and for the first time in a long time, it felt good to be home. I felt proud. These streets were a part of me, my youth- my first date at Cats Cradle, idle teenage afternoons walking up and down Franklin street, summer school, Halloween, La Rez: the thrill, the chaos, the wonder of it all.
Have you experienced horror on the highway? Yesterday I experienced total and complete horror underneath a mountain in West Virginia. I get a little claustrophobic driving through mountain tunnels, but yesterday I was horrified out of my mind as I looked into my rear-view mirror and saw a large red truck driving at a rapid speed. It seemed logical to me, that a person might slow down as they entered a tight, dark tunnel but this trucker thought it was time to gain speed!
The trucker did maintain a “safe distance” of twelve inches behind my vehicle the entire length of the tunnel. What was the matter with him didn’t he know that I was someone’s mother? Below are a few thoughts I had as I tried to calm myself down:
• No, that is not like the big red truck you see in horror movies . . .
• No, this isn’t like the tunnel that Lady Diana died in . . .
• No, this tunnel isn’t swaying . . .
• No, the walls aren’t caving in . . .
• Remember breathe . . .
• Is that a bright light I’m going towards? (Daylight-Yeah!)
I did survive and watched the red truck swing around me at an evening higher speed and I thought, “I would like to” . . . . Well, let us just say I would like to grab that trucker and put him into “Nightmare on My Street!”
How do you define H O R R O R on the Highways? Do you have any effective stress reducing techniques that you use on long trips? I might mention the three cows running in the emergency lane along side I-77 did not bother me at all!
Warning: If a child appears at my door, dressed as a big red truck this Halloween, I cannot be held responsible for my actions, but definitely - NO CANDY FOR THEM!
What are you doing this snow day? Schools are closed so now your children have a free day. With snow and ice still on the ground, think winter things to do!
1. Snow Cream – take a bowl of snow, add vanilla, sugar and either sweetened condensed milk or any type of cream-voila! A treat for the family that only comes when the white stuff hits the ground!
2. Sledding – find any hill, walk outside of your house and listen for screaming, that usually means there’s a sledding hill near, follow the laughter and yelling and you’ll find it. Don’t have a sled, we used to use a cookie sheet sprayed with Pam—think Christmas Vacation.
3. Can drive – then hit the slopes! All the ski slopes are open with all the trails open! There’s terrain parks for those adventurous on the snowboards and lessons and bunny trails for those just trying out. Wanna keep the children occupied? There’s ski camp with the ski schools to let the children learn and play with their peers while you hit the slopes with your peers! Only a 2 hour drive away is a winter playground. Check out www.skinc.com for slope reports!
4. Not like the cold? All the movie theaters are open! Take in a movie with the family that’s been on your to-do list! From Alvin and Chipmunks Squeakual to Sherlock Holmes there’s something playing for everyone.
If none of this sounds interesting, then enjoy a quiet day with the family-make that fire, heat up the cocoa and let the Winter Wonderland set your pace! Happy Snow Day!!
This past week, my two boys and I worked on the SS Spongebob, our entry into a cardboard box derby at Ski Beech Resort as part of their Winterfest. A cardboard box derby is different type of race for this athlete, rather than using athletic ability, pilots ride down a ski slope in acardboard box, they are only as good as the push from behind. We worked hard on Spongebob, we painted the box, duct taped it for stability and both boys got excited about winning the derby.
Race day we went to register the SS Spongebob and the resort informed us that pilots had to be 18 years or older. Both boys looked crestfallen, after all that work on Spongebob. Of course, then everyone turned and looked at me! Why me? Why not ask Daddy, why is it always Mommy they turn to? Because like a good Mom after a few minutes of pleading (to make me feel good) I gave in and said, “OK, I’ll ride the box.” Daddy stood silently to the side laughing reading the video camera saying, “Oh this is gonna be a good one.”
We carried Spongebob to the top of the ski slope and waited with 11 other entries. Ours was the only entry that actually looked like a cardboard box! There was an alligator, the SS Enterprise, golf cart, sleds, Ninja Turtle all made out of cardboard and duct tape!
Ski Patrol explained that we had to make it to the bottom of the slope, where the patrollers were standing with nets to “stop us”. “Please bail out of your box before the nets, because it is hard to stop 150 (did he just look my way?) pounds in a box coming at us! They took a picture joking it may be our last and let us get in the box. Our box was made for little kids, so I had to step higher than I wanted to get in, and my big butt didn’t fit in it so well, but my family was smiling at me or maybe laughing at how silly I looked in Spongebob with a helmet on!
The hubby gave the camera to a friend saying, “Don’t miss this one” and him and my son gave me a big push down the slope. I rode surprisingly fast and did a few swimming type moves because it was Spongebob after all and made it down to the patrollers with a pretty pathetic bailout at the end.
The family came up to me cheering, my husband shocked I made it to the bottom of the slope! He started to mention that my extra weight in the ahem probably made the sled go faster, my two boys beamed at me like a was the winner of the 2010 Winter Olympics. What started as taking one for the family turned into a lot of fun and the pride in their face as they told everyone, “My Mom rode in Spongebob” made it worth it. Have you ever taken one for the family?
‘Tis the week before Christmas . . . and my stress level is spiraling out of control. Generally, I have my Christmas shopping done the first week of December, but this year was different. I found myself, four days before Christmas, needing to make a trip to the mall.
When leaving the mall, I expected traffic to be moving slowly. Much to my surprise, however, traffic wasn’t moving at all. I spent more than an hour going from my parking place to the exit. “Merry Christmas to all…gridlock it is called!”
Seriously, though, it was interesting to observe the reactions of people during this traffic catastrophe. Some people were stressed out of their minds, while others seemed to be handling it quite well. I was one of those who was stressed out. For some strange reason, I like to sing when I am under at a lot of stress, and as the tension continued to build while I crept along, inch by inch, I started singing – and my stress level started to go down. While unorthodox, to say the least, I thought my song (or another original tune of the same genre) might help others to get through similar jams. To get the stress reducing benefits of my song (see below), begin by singing the first line as delightfully and joyfully as possible. Then, growl the second line as sarcastically and as angrily as you can. Go ahead try it.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,
I can’t believe I haven’t finished my Christmas shopping!
Everywhere you go!
Not another traffic jam in the mall circle! No one and I mean no one, is breaking in front of me!
Take a look in the five and ten, glistening once again;
Why didn’t they scrape these parking lots better; if I fall I’m going to sue someone!
With candy canes and silver lanes aglow.
Why did I change lanes? Now I’m in the inner belt and I’ll never get out of the mall!
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,
If I make it out of the mall, it’s gift cards for everyone left on my list!
Toys in every store,
Why do people bring their kids out shopping . . . and why don’t parents wipe their kids’ noses!
But the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be
Why are people blowing their horns? What is that going to accomplish?
On your own front door…
Who’s at the door now? Not someone else asking for money!
…On your own front door.
Oh, Aunt Jean, so glad you came for a visit. . . . geez I’m glad she’s gone!
Now, don’t you feel a lot better?
(How do you handle stress during the holidays?)
2 hours West of Winston Salem are 3 area ski resorts that just received around 2 feet of snow from our “epic” snowstorm. As a result new terrain is open for the beginning to expert skier! Don’t know how to ski? There are plenty of instructors waiting to show you how to take a few turns. All the ski resorts have great skicamps for children, a fun way to learn how to ski with children their age. These camps take the children out in small groups for lessons and play on the snow. They then take them in a ski center to play as well as lunch before more time on the snow. While they play with their friends you can play on the slopes. All the ski resorts have beginner to expert (Black Diamond) slopes, not all the terrain is open yet but with these continued cold temperatures it won’t be long! If you’ve never skiied before this is the perfect time to try out the slopes, with the snow storm over the weekend all resorts are reporting POWDER! All resorts rent everything from skis to boots to snow bibs and coats! Today with the sun coming out, we plan on hitting Beech Mountain early and enjoying family time in the snow. As the snow melts in town, freezing temperatures in the High Country will keep this Winter Wonderland through the Winter break! See ya on the slopes!
We are dealing with the “epic” snowstorn and wanted to share a few tips of foul weather driving from a transplated Northerner.
When I was a child, the minute they closed roads and newscasters shouted, “If you don’t have to go out-STAY IN!” My Dad would stand and shout, “Kids, get in the car!” He loved the snow more that we did as we spent several hours down in the local highschool parking lot doing doughnuts. That’s where he taught me my more important driving tip.
Your brakes are not your friend during snow or ice. If you hit your brakes your car will slide. Don’t believe me? Go over to the local highschool parking lot and try it out for yourself! If you have to stop during icy conditions, remember pump it up baby! Pump your brakes slowly and you will come to a complete stop! Of course, the cardinal rule twice the distance between you and the car ahead of you! (My nephew learned that one the hard way)
Second rule, always keep moving. If you are climbing a hill, don’t stop half way, just keep moving forward slowly and steady. Don’t worry about the idiots trying to pass you on the highway, just keep moving steady and you will get where you are going!
Be safe out there and take it slow and steady, don’t forget to stop and get a little sledding time in between! Welcome to the Winter Wonderland!
I’m sitting and staring at a blinking cursor on my screen. I joined the National Novel Writers Month challenge to write a novel of 50,000 words in the month of November. November 1 rolls around and as everyone on the nanowrimo.org website kick off their novels with flair, I’m still staring at the blinking cursor.
I have the story floating around in my head. I can see the entire movie version of it, I can see me explaining to Oprah how this phenomenon of Kelly Melang started with a simple novel that was part of the National Novel Writing Month. The hardest part of this idea is starting. By starting, I’m comitting and that’s what’s scaring me as I make up a song in my head to go with the beat of the blinking cursor. 50,000 words in one month, if I do 2,000 words a day then I can take a day off here and there during this.
The cursor is still blinking, I swear it’s cursing at me. Do you have that dream? That thing that sits in your mind waiting for you to have the courage to start, then the guts to finish? The hardest part about reaching a goal is starting. Every doubt you’ve ever thought of in your life now plays through your mind as you pull deep inside your soul for the courage to start. Go ahead, listen to all those voices that tell you that there’s no way you’re going to reach that dream. Then tell them to shut up and get started.
Hey, is that my fingers moving across the keyboard?
Wanna track my writing project and that of others during National Novel Writing Month? http://www.nanowrimo.org/ It’s only November 2nd, you still have plenty of time, wanna join us?
I’d go back to Ireland with my Dad for our birthdays. Our birthdays were 2 days apart, I was turning 34 and my dad was turning 67. We took two weeks and drove the Southern half of that Gaelic country, sleeping in bed and breakfasts, touring during the day. We kissed the Blarney Stone (that’s how I became a writer), toured the ruins of Bru na Boine, saw the Book of Kells (Irish: Leabhar Cheanannais) at Trinity College in Dublin and sampled our fair share of shepherd pie, irish lobster, corned beef, Irish stew and Guiness, including the Guiness Brewery, yes they did give everyone a free beer.
My Dad got sick and died from malignant melanoma 6 months later and when I lost him I left two little bottles of Guiness in his casket. He’d never traveled out of the country and this was his trip of a lifetime and I am blessed that I got to share it with him. Whenever I miss him, I remember the joy, the wonder and just being together with him in this special journey. In my birthday card, he wrote, “This will never happen again.”
What about you, do you have that one trip that makes you smile, that place you’d go back to again?
This week, I have been working on an article that will explore day trip opportunities. In addition to some great family activities — I’ve found some fantastic opportunities for adults! On Tuesday, I was invited to experience simulated skydiving at Paraclete XP in Raeford.
First — please understand — I am not a daredevil, nor am I a risk taker. The whole skydiving concept has never appealed to me…I don’t even like flying so the urge to jump out of a plane has never sounded even remotely appealing. Pretty much, I’m a chicken. I also avoid skiing because I don’t see the fun of flinging oneself down a mountain and I don’t ride horses because they have free will and lack a brake pedal.
But this was too cool to pass up… In a nutshell — Paraclete XP has this really big wind tunnel that creates the skydiving experience in a much safer and controlled environment.
Because I had such a great time, I wanted to share my experience with Forsyth Woman blog-readers. Visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9RHsuS3OcM to watch the video clip of my flight!
When you watch the video, you’ll get a great chuckle out of my hair. I had double braided it prior to “lift off” with the optimistic hope that I could avoid a really big tangle post-flight (incidentally, it didn’t work). My hair decided to go for an independent free fall resulting in the striking resemblance to Pippi Longstocking caught in a tornado…perhaps I was trying to land in Oz???
At any rate — I hope you enjoy the video…I had so much fun!
When we were kids, we rarely passed up the opportunity for adventure. As adults, we let other things get in the way claiming a lack of time or worry about what those nit-picky insurance agents will say. As a result, these kinds of experiences pass us by…but it’s so refreshing to have the occasional reminder to let go, relax, and enjoy the free fall.
What about you? Do you have any exciting adventures you’d like to share?
PS: Check for the Day Trip article in July’s issue of Forsyth Family.
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