Every writer needs some time to get away from the daily grind and focus on their work. I took the first week of March to escape to the mountains of North Carolina. Having the chance to soak in a bit of cooler weather was a huge bonus. I arrived on Friday night and got right to work on Saturday, managing to knock out a little under 4,000 words on Virginia, the third novel in The Coastal Chronicles Series. I had set a goal of 4,000 words a day, so I thought I was off to a good start.
I kept my word goal low because I also wanted to take some time to recharge and spend some time with my family. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a little over an hour from the house and I try to make at least one trip into the Park during my visits. Since it had snowed the previous Thursday, my family and I drove into the Park hoping to find some snow still on the ground. We were not disappointed.
The snow started showing up in small patches, growing larger the higher we went, until the entire ground was covered on either side of the road. I had thought about walking a little ways on a trail at Newfound Gap, but it was windy and I didn’t have a warm enough coat on to venture too far. If I could have this view every day I think I would be much more productive.
A couple of years ago, elk were reintroduced to the Park and I’ve been wanting to see them ever since. I’ve had a few close encounters with elk during camping trips out west, but these are Smoky Mountain elk. On our way out of the Park I decided to stop at the Visitor Center gift shop. I’d hoped to find a wall calendar I could give to a photographer friend. I’ve been trying to convince him he needs to visit North Carolina with me to capture some great photos of his own. Unfortunately, there were no calendars for sale. Does no one use wall calendars anymore?
There is a wide porch outside the Visitor Center that overlooks a large field where the elk have been known to graze and perform their mating battles. It was getting close to sunset and I’d hoped we would see the elk, but it didn’t seem meant to be. I climbed back in the car and we started for home. God was smiling on me, though. Less than a minute out of the parking lot I spotted them; a herd of at least 30 elk grazing at the far end of a field. We stopped and I jumped out to take pictures. They seemed very calm and accustomed to people; I really wanted to pet one, but I was smart enough to keep my distance, just in case.
For the rest of the week, I spent at least four hours each day working, with small trips into town. I spent additional time doing research. There is a lot of information to take into consideration for this book and I’ve struggled to find resources online. Thursday was supposed to be my last full day before flying home Friday. Snow had been in the forecast off and on, but when it started falling it was so tiny I didn’t expect it to stick. Thirty minutes later the flakes had grown in size and we had about half an inch on the ground.
It was magical watching it fall and I had a hard time focusing on my work. When I did drag myself away from the window, I ended up getting into a real groove with the story and had to be torn away from it when my brother and his family came over for dinner.
I was granted a some what mixed blessing on the final day of my visit. I was scheduled for an evening flight out of Asheville but the plane failed to arrive! Since it is a limited service route, I couldn’t catch another flight until Monday. My Spring break was extended an extra two days. 😀
To celebrate Spring, books one and two of my Seasons of Faith series are on sale! Summer Storms is free and Winter’s End is only 99¢