By Dee Dixon
Most of you know I love to travel internationally. Of course, the pandemic put a serious dent in my plans. I had two trips booked for 2020, one to England and one to Amsterdam when COVID-19 literally destroyed my dreams. Not to be out-done, however, I decided to visit Charleston during the Thanksgiving holiday. It turned out to be quite a good decision. Although Charleston is drivable, I decided fly. I just had to get on a plane, if just for one hour. Charleston was fantastic. So much Black history, there. My word! I took Black History tours, visited Museums and historic houses, cycled through some incredibly beautiful neighborhoods and ate some delicious food. I especially enjoyed visiting the Angel Oak Tree on St. John’s Island which is estimated to be 400 to500 years old and still living!
I was totally unfamiliar with this town, sometimes called “Little Washington,” until I received a two-night stay gift certificate from the Elmwood 1820 Bed & Breakfast Inn last March. It was a random out-of-the-blue invite that ignited my curiosity. So, after doing some research which revealed this would be a 4- hour drive in the direction of the Outer Banks, I made the decision to go for it. After all, it’s hard to pass up “free,” right? Next, I “persuaded” my daughter Nikelle and her 10-year-old son Chase to accompany me. Their presence added another dimension to the experience, making it a true road trip. We were pleasantly surprised upon reaching our destination. The town was quite small but quaint nonetheless, and the Elmwood Inn itself was beautiful, ornate, warm and inviting. Our hosts, John and Richard were amazing, making us feel right at home from jump-street. We started each day with an incredible breakfast out on the front porch and our activities included strolling through historic “Main Street” for shopping and riding bikes through the town. We also visited an estuary, an Underground Railroad Museum and took a most relaxing boat ride on the Pamlico River. We very much enjoyed our time there and Chase said he liked the Elmwood 1820 Bed and Breakfast Inn “much better than a hotel.”
Like my parents, I was born in Asheville. I can’t count the number of times we visited there during my childhood years. With my dad driving, the road trip to Asheville was always extremely exciting as he expertly navigated those daunting, mountainous roads. While reflecting upon these memories, it occurred to me that not once had I ever driven to Asheville myself. So, this past May, I packed my bags and drove there to celebrate my birthday. It was both an uplifting and disappointing solo road trip. It was uplifting because I felt empowered, doing it alone. My hotel was in the middle of a shopping center which was great. I ate great food at Earth Fare, which was just a few feet away. Thank God for GPS, as I easily visited my grandparents’ old home place, the Biltmore House and more. A Black History tour took me to other familiar spots, like the black district called Eagle Street, that made by spirit come alive. My greatest disappointment was the lack of cultural diversity. I didn’t see any Black shops in downtown Asheville (they still say downtown, lol) nor did I find any Black art or artists. My tour guide stated young African Americans simply don’t come back to make Asheville their home. I can see why.