I come by my wanderlust naturally. I remember hearing stories growing up about how my grandfather would come home from work back in the 1950’s and find a note pinned to the front door of the house. My grandmother would find a house she liked better while she was out running errands, rent it, pack the old house, and move in with the help of my mother and her brothers in the space of just a few hours. When I was a kid we moved every four or five years like clockwork. I started fifth grade one year at one school and ended it nine months later at a school across town. I hated it at the time of course, because I was always the new kid in school, and every time we moved, I would concoct an elaborate plan to start fresh with a different accent, or a different name so I could at least be the most interesting new kid at school.
Moving frequently however provided me with a burning desire to see something different as often as possible that has stayed with me all my life, and working as an artist for most of the past fifteen years has sated that wanderlust pretty nicely. Shortly after I began working as a full time artist and was exhibiting art all over the country, I developed a passion for two lane highways through the middle of nowhere, and would often find myself, on the top of a mountain in the days before GPS and cell phones, wondering if I had enough gas in the car to make it to the next station, because the gypsy in me would suddenly decide on a whim to take the path less traveled from here to there because it looked “shorter”. I cut across New Mexico from Cuba to Los Alamos once because it looked like it would save me at least another 100 miles on the road, and while the scenery over that mountain pass was sublime and I saw my first herd of wild elk, I also coasted into the next gas station on fumes.
With the economy still struggling to recover, and little time or money left to travel they way we used to, Michael and I have gotten creative in our approach to our frequent adventures. We joined a group of about two dozen motorcycle riders on vintage bikes last fall for the first annual Kickstart Classic. The ride began in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, and wound up in Rome, Georgia at a motorcycle museum/repair shop and grill known as Panhead City. We were balloon handlers at the Macy’s Day Parade thanks to cheap airfare and a friend who traded us points at a Marriott Hotel for some artwork, and last week, we headed out for Pigeon Forge, Tennessee with the “circus” (we have three dogs; a bossy 2 year old Shih Tzu we rescued from a snow bank, a 6 month old Pit Bull/Pharaoh Hound mix who’s turned the inside of our truck into a giant chew toy, and an ancient Pharaoh Hound who can’t hear, can’t see and can’t control his bladder) for a relaxing getaway.
We stayed in an inexpensive hotel that allowed dogs, and spent about 15 minutes turning our room into a palace with some things we’d brought from home; a featherbed, flannel sheets, extra pillows, candles, wine, with a cheese and crackers plate, and extra towels. We let the dogs run around in a park across the street from the hotel, then loaded everyone up and went exploring. We went to Knife City and the Lodge Logic factory store, then gorged ourselves on all you can eat sushi. We also brought a DVD player and watched a movie called 50/50, and after sleeping late the next morning, had breakfast at the Old Mill Restaurant before driving through the Great Smoky Mountains Park back to Cherokee, and Bryson City. It wasn’t the most exotic getaway in the world, but we came home feeling rested and ready to tackle the world. And it didn’t cost a fortune. Just some planning and ingenuity. A stay at the Hyatt wouldn’t have been much better.
And any adventure, no matter how big or small, is a great adventure to have. I plan on making them a part of my life until the day I die.