It’s like the “senioritis” that hits high school kids when the warm winds of spring begin to blow. An inability to concentrate, a longing to pack the car and hit the road, and indifference toward all of your daily responsibilities. Except for me, it’s not the spring, but the fall – and I’m closer to and being an AARP senior than a high school senior. It’s triggered by the intersection of cool fall weather, turning leaves and the approach of Election Day.
It started in the fall of 1990 – after a particularly brutal campaign season. I decided to decompress by hitting the road and driving the entire length of Skyline Drive and the most of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was mid-week after peak leaf season – the road was deserted, the trees were about bare, and there were just miles of driving ahead.
I had only been on the road for a few hours, but after just a few hours, I was absolutely hooked. It took a week to drive from Front Royal, Virginia to the Smoky Mountains and back with all of the hiking breaks and overlook stops. But ever since – for the past 20 years – I get the same itch to hit the road at the same time every year.
Every year I do basically the same path, and find new spots to explore in a little more depth. And since 1990, I’ve occasionally added a dog, or my wife, or a kid to the trip. But no matter the company, it’s the solitude that is most rejuvenating.
So this fall before you get caught up in the holiday season, you might consider packing an overnight bag, grabbing a copy of Leonard Adkin’s book Walking the Blue Ridge and the ultimate driving music with the movie soundtrack of Dances with Wolves, and hitting the road.