Monday, March 25, 2013

Mapping a Cross Bones Rediscovery of My Roots

Last week I looked into the eyes of tomorrow’s community-destination marketing (DMO) executives and the future is very promising indeed.

Old enough to be the grandfather of most of these students, I had several reasons for jumping at the invitation to drive up to Appalachian State University (ASU) to share the background that shaped my understanding of community marketing and what I see as the future.

I’ll blog more about my observations from that presentation in the future, but during my drive, it struck me that before I was recruited to jumpstart Durham, North Carolina’s DMO in 1989, I had little awareness of this part of the country nor to my knowledge did I have any roots here.

I was born and spent my early years in the Yellowstone-Teton nook of Idaho, and by then had lived and worked in five other states.  However, I had never lived east of the Great Divide until I moved to Durham, unless you count a month or so in 1967 along the French Alps, the southwestern tip of Switzerland and Provence.Reyn_on_Bike_1

I had hoped to ride the Cross Bones up to ASU, but that didn’t work out for this trip.  I was invited to come back, so the next time I plan to motorcycle this route:

  • Cut north for an hour from Durham, North Carolina where I live via NC 86 to Danville, Virginia (e.g. “Virgil Caine is the name and I drove on the Danville train.”)


  • I’ll be tempted to shoot across US Route 58 along the Virginia-North Carolina border past Martinsville to the Blue Ridge Parkway.


  • But I want to see more of Henry County. which I know from family history research that one of my maternal great x 5 grandparents named Shelton had petitioned to create in the fall of 1776. One of our ancestors in that line had paid for the legendary Patrick Henry’s schooling.


  • To see that part of my heritage I’ll cut up US 220 skirting Martinsville (of NASCAR fame,) then across the Faireystone Park Highway skirting Philpott Lake, then down the Wolverine Highway, turning west again on the J.E.B. Stuart Highway (US Route 58.)


  • In less than 14 miles, I’ll pick up the Blue Ridge Parkway heading southwest and ride it a little over 100 miles down to Boone, North Carolina, the home of ASU.  On my right as I ride will be valleys I know now were settled by another set of maternal great x 5 grandparents named Messersmith.

Overall the mileage on this route won’t be that much more than driving Interstates.  However, this scenic route with personal connections will take twice as long.  If I leave by 7 a.m. I can still be at ASU by noon with time to stop for breakfast.

On the way home, I  may drop down through Blowing Rock along two national forests to NC Highway 228 where I will take the 29 mile ride crisscrossing the origins of the Yadkin River, the state’s longest and past W. Scott Kerr Reservoir before heading east again.

My route home will continue northeast past Hanging Rock and then dip down to Guilford Courthouse where my paternal great x 4 and 5 grandfathers settled in 1776 after emigrating from Northern Ireland through Baltimore.  They immediately enlisted in North Carolina units to fight in the American Revolutionary War.

Different than when I moved here nearly 25 years ago, I now realize that a significant part of my roots had been here all along.  Maybe that is why this part of the country remains home even in retirement.

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