A Travel Writer’s Origin Story 2


When I was in fourth grade my family took a trip to South Carolina to visit friends who had moved there from our small town in Pennsylvania. The 10 hour journey was a BIG DEAL to me. At this point our family vacations typically consisted of quick trips to amusement parks in Pennsylvania and Ohio (**note: I in no way intend for that to be a sob story statement. I loved those trips and have great memories from them. I had a happy childhood. I’m fine.). The thought of a weeklong trip through 4 new states was almost more than 9 year old me could bear.

To make it even more exciting, I got to miss a whole week of school to do it. The only stipulation was that I had to write a report about what I learned on the trip and relate it to what we were learning in class. My dad was recently cleaning out a dresser in the basement when he found my report:

South East Region

Last week my family went to visit friends in South Carolina. On our trip we went through West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. In this report I am going to talk about what I saw and learned on my trip.

 

Climate

While I was in the South East region the mornings were about 55, 50, 40, or 35 degrees. On Friday the twenty-fourth I went in the woods in a t-shirt and shorts, it was about 70 degrees. One morning we got a little bit of rain, but most of the time it was sunny and nice.

 

Physical Features

There are lots of high lands (mountains) in the South East, but along the interstates there are slightly rolling hills. There are a lot of wetlands or marshes around. On the beaches there are sand dunes and there are also numerous islands along the coast.

 

Crops

In the early 1800’s rice was a major crop of the South East. Now they grow peaches and still grow cotton.

A shout out to my mom for correcting my spelling throughout such as “phipical” instead of “physical,” “slitly” instead of “slightly,” and “corp” instead of “crop.” Mom = the original spell check. No dotted red line appeared under my misspelled, hand-written, cursive word back in the 90s.

As part of my report I also chose to highlight a couple of destinations in North Carolina that we visited on our way home. I didn’t have a camera yet, so I sketched our stops:

The caption on the back read:

With lots of trails to follow Chimney Rock in the Blue Ridge Mountains is a major tourist attraction. If you like to hike, Chimney Rock is the place for you. In the summertime there are lots of mountain trails around the Hickorynut Falls you can walk on. There are lots of foot paths you walk on to get to overlooks. If you like challenges you should try Needles Eye, a tight path through the rock.

From Chimney Rock you can see seventy-five miles of villages and mountains. At Devils Head you can see a long way, including a Native American village. Also from Devils Head you can see a stone that looks like a “devils head.” The Opera Box is a place where a big chunk of the rock taken out of the mountain.

If you like mountain climbing, you would like the Blue Ridge Parkway. Walking, biking, and riding over the mountains is a real joy, but if you like challenges you’ll like rock climbing at Blue Ridge Parkway.

With an elevation of 3,175 feet at one of the lookouts you can see valleys, mountains, and farms. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a great place to visit.

I don’t remember seeing anyone rock climbing along the Blue Ridge Parkway so I’m not sure why this stood out to me. I do remember that it was beautiful and that fact has led me back there twice in the past few years.

Note the Days Inn stationery. I remember sitting at the desk in our hotel room in Beckley, West Virginia working on this on our way home. I was so excited to be staying in a hotel and using the stationery – this is what successful business people do, right?! I had a glimpse of what my future could be. Even when I stay at the Four Seasons now, the excitement is exactly the same as I felt on this early trip. *Full Disclosure: If it’s a personal trip, I don’t stay at the Four Seasons. I stay at a Days Inn – or something similar.*

I guess I’ve been a travel writer all this time. Now, over 20 years after this trip report, I’m not sure if I’m a better writer than I was back then. And I think I’m probably a worse artist.


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