The good people over at Long and Short Reviews have set forth a list of topics for their Wednesday Blogging Challenge in 2021. I encourage you to take a look at the list and join in, whether you actually post on your blog or write about the topic in your journal or simply mull it over in your head. If you do post, though, leave a note and the link to your on-topic post in the comments here so we can all enjoy it.
Travel. Remember when we did that? But global pandemics and stay-home orders did not confine my gallivanting in a serious way. I’m giving the maximum number of Michelin stars to the following places:
1. MAGGODY, ARKANSAS
Where to eat: Ruby Bee’s Bar & Grill serves up downhome fare with a side of curiosity about you and your reason for being there. For quick bites, you’ll find burgers, fries, and a gaggle of teens at the Dairee Delish.
Where to stay: The Flamingo Motel…if your standards aren’t exacting
Things to do: Readers will want to check out the charming independent bookstore just down the road in Farberville.
How to get there: via the first book in the series, Malice in Maggody
What to expect:
Her marriage over and career gone bust, Arly Hanks flees Manhattan for her hometown: Maggody, Arkansas. In a town this size, nothing much ever happens, so Arly figures she’s safe as the town’s first female chief of police—until the husband of one of the local barmaids escapes from state prison and heads for town. And that’s not all. An EPA official with ties to polluting the local fishing hole has suddenly vanished off the face of the earth.
As if two manhunts aren’t enough to contend with, a body has been discovered at the pay-by-the-hour Flamingo Motel, shot clean through the neck with an arrow. For some reason, Maggody’s residents—all 755 of them—have gone tight-lipped, stonewalling Arly’s investigations, and Arly hasn’t a soul to trust but her half-wit deputy.
Relevant quote: I Brake for Buchanans
2. WALDEN POND
Where to eat: Henry Thoreau’s table provides beans, but nature provides a bountiful feast for those who know where to look
Where to stay: In the woods, if you wish to live deliberately; otherwise you might find accommodations in nearby Concord
Things to do: Visitors to these woods may enjoy walking, reading, and ant watching, along with other activities of solitude
How to get there: via the book Walden: or, Life in the Woods
What to expect: Walden by noted transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau, is a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings. The work is part personal declaration of independence, social experiment, voyage of spiritual discovery, satire, and manual for self-reliance. First published in 1854, it details Thoreau’s experiences over the course of two years, two months, and two days in a cabin he built near Walden Pond, amidst woodland owned by his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson, near Concord, Massachusetts. The book compresses the time into a single calendar year and uses passages of four seasons to symbolize human development.By immersing himself in nature, Thoreau hoped to gain a more objective understanding of society through personal introspection. Simple living and self-sufficiency were Thoreau’s other goals, and the whole project was inspired by transcendentalist philosophy, a central theme of the American Romantic Period. As Thoreau made clear in his book, his cabin was not in wilderness but at the edge of town, about two miles (3 km) from his family home.
Relevant quote: “How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.”
Where to eat: The Goat and Bush in Lancre Town
Where to stay: The Inn of the Fifth Elephant, on the Hubward side of Wilinus Pass (watch for the elephant head sign)
Things to do: One seldom does things in Discworld. For the most part, things do as they please and one goes along for the ride.
How to get there: via the first book in the witches’ tale, Equal Rites
What to expect: (Please note: Discworld has many neighborhoods of interest to the traveler—Lancre, Rincewind, Mort, and some that simmer and slither just below the surface of what can be seen. In this travel guide, I recommend starting your journey in Lancre.)
In Equal Rites, a dying wizard tries to pass on his powers to an eighth son of an eighth son, who is just at that moment being born. The fact that the son is actually a daughter is discovered just a little too late.
Relevant quote: “It is well known that a vital ingredient of success is not knowing that what you’re attempting can’t be done. A person ignorant of the possibility of failure can be a halfbrick in the path of the bicycle of history.”
4. DUNNET LANDING
WHERE: Dunnet Landing
Where to eat: Most any home in the village, with fresh haddock being served almost daily
Where to stay: Mrs. Todd will likely have a room available and waiting for you
Things to do: Wander the fields in search of herbs, listen to Captain Littlepage’s tales of the fog army, or pay a visit to Mrs. Blackett over on Green Island
How to get there: via the book The Country of the Pointed Firs
What to expect: A female writer comes one summer to Dunnet Landing, a Maine seacoast town, where she follows the lonely inhabitants of once-prosperous coastal communities. Here, lives are molded by the long Maine winters, rock-filled fields and strong resourceful women.
Throughout Sarah Orne Jewett’s novel and stories, these quiet tales of a simpler American life capture the inspirational in the everyday: the importance of honest friendships, the value of family, and the gift of community.
Relevant quote: “…we always keep the same hearts, though our outer framework fails and shows the touch of time.”
5. Jesus Creek, Tennessee
(shameless self promotion)
Where to eat: Eloise’s Diner, where you’ll find the best biscuits and cornbread in the world. Also the place to catch the latest news about the town’s residents
Where to stay: Twin Elms Inn
Things to do: The Goober Gala is the town’s biggest organized event, but visit any time of the year to enjoy sleuthing, genealogical research, and watching the skies for extraterrestrial activity
How to get there: via the second book in the series, All The Crazy Winters
What to expect: First there’s the spectacular blaze that totals the antebellum home of genealogist Oliver Host. Then the appalling murder of librarian Estelle Carhart, a lady too softhearted even to collect fines for overdue books. Delia Cannon, a library volunteer and something of a genealogist herself, suspects a connection between the crimes and begins quietly to investigate. She doesn’t yet realize that she already knows too much for her own good — or that she and little Jesus Creek, Tennessee are in for trouble galore….
Relevant quote: “For simpler times and a simple life, vote for a simple man.”