North Carolina Weekend

September 2018 Highlights: The Highs + Lows

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Dang, September, you came in like a whirlwind. Though I had the best of intentions, I only found time to eke out four blog posts, which may be an all-time low for me. That said, my posts have gotten longer and more time-intensive than ever—the photo-editing, oh the photo-editing—so maybe that’s just the nature of evolving something like a blog, which I’ve been managing for 11 years now.

In September, I spent 14 nights away from home, which I suppose is why the month flew by so quickly! I tied up some huge editorial projects—such as Airbnb magazine’s Nashville-themed issue, out next month—and some big content gigs. We also started video production on a pair of long-term video marketing projects we’ve taken on, so I guess you could say the month was a busy one from a work standpoint, as well.


We started out the month in the Shoals. If you missed my full recap of our three nights in Florence and Muscle Shoals, you can catch up on it here.

Weekend in Muscle Shoals, Alabama

I went on Nashville’s News Channel 4 to talk about fall travel. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed doing TV spots until I did it. That was fun!

I spoke at TravelCon. I’ve done my best to avoid travel blogging events for a decade now, and now I’m kind of regretting that as I met so many online friends who I’ve “known” for years now but never had the chance of hugging in person. It was a really great event—so well-organized with great content and speakers—and I’d happily speak again at the Boston conference next June.

I got to spend 36 hours in Austin with my bestie, Lemon. A week out, we both realized we could take a personal day, so I changed my flight in for TravelCon to stay with her and her two pups for a night (God bless Southwest and no change fees!). It was just the break I needed amid true chaos.

I spent a weekend in the Smokies with my Footlight Fannies. The four of us who worked together in a tiny office at sea back in 2011 still manage annual visits, and for the third time, they came down to Tennessee to see me—this time, we headed out to Dolly territory in Pigeon Forge!

Dollywood weekend in Pigeon Forge

We fell in love with Huntsville. I seriously had no idea how cool the Rocket City had become since I was a kid. Bonus: Their new minor league baseball mascot is the trash panda!

We had the best weekend ever in the North Carolina mountains with all my brother-in-law’s family. Josh turned 30 a couple weeks ago, and Kari turns 30 next week, so Rosa (Josh’s sister) and I decided to plan a combined family getaway/surprise party in Montreat to celebrate them both. The surprise part didn’t work out, but the weekend did. There were 25 of us: 16 adults, six kids, three babies and a puppy. It was an awesome fall weekend indeed!

North Carolina weekend

North Carolina weekend
North Carolina weekend

North Carolina weekend

We’ve got TWO murals coming—and soon. In fact, they’re going to be installed in the next 10 days—eek! One is by a local, 18-year-old artist we met through the community events we’ve produced; another is a muralist who lives in Miami and has painted some of the famous Wynwood Walls and reached out to me after reading my essay on our mural controversy this past spring. He’s arriving in a week and staying with us throughout the painting process. Talk about an immersive experience!

The murals will correspond with a big art festival SVV and I are producing. If you’re in the Middle Tennessee area, we’d love if you came out and supported us for River Romp on Oct. 13. It’s FREE to attend, and there’s going to be arts, crafts and craft beer aplenty!


I’m having a mid-life crisis. (I think.) Is it normal to question everything you’re doing at 35? Don’t worry, I’m not blowing my 401K on a Corvette anytime soon, but SVV and I are discussing some major changes for 2019 in a quest to live our best lives, so what I’m saying is don’t be surprised if we do something drastic in the new year that you didn’t see coming (*cue the suspense music*).

The world, y’all. Part of this mid-life crisis may or may not be the state of our country, and when I say “may,” I mean definitely is. The last few weeks have put me in a major slump, and I’m sure I’m not alone. I’m doing what I can to try to fight my way out of it (Ella snuggles, craft beer, time with friends and my niece, planning new mural installations, plotting fun new work projects, etc.). Still, it makes you feel powerless seeing what’s going on in your own country and realizing there’s no immediate change in the future and that we may never find our way back. I’m thinking of articulating some of this on the blog in a non-political way (if that’s possible—I don’t even like to go there), but we’ll see. I will say this: Thank God for a partner-in-crime who keeps me balanced!

North Carolina weekend

And to end that on a somber note (sorry…), help turn my mood around by giving me your good news from the past month!

All of my past monthly highlights can be found here.

  • October 1, 2018

    Hi Kristin! I’m going to list my thoughts because it’s Monday and I haven’t been able to string together coherent sentences all morning (blame it on the lack of sleep during the weekend!):

    3 things:
    1. I started going to Muay Thai classes last month and it makes me feel like such a bad-ass (not to mention it’s also a very good workout)! 🙂
    2. Whatever those “major changes” may be, I’m hoping it’s not along the lines of “I’m going to stop blogging”… I’m going to be SO SAD! 🙁
    3. Happy October!


    • October 1, 2018

      Ha, you don’t have to worry about that! C&C is going nowhere—in fact, a lot of the changes I want to make in 2019 are to free up time and mental space to get back to writing and blogging more, so *fingers crossed* 🙂

      Muy Thai sounds amazing. That’s one workout I’ve never tried!

  • October 1, 2018

    My advice: write that post — AND be political about it.

    You know that I’m very political and outspoken. One of few. And that does cause me some setbacks.

    But you know what? I’m a person with enormous privilege, and I have the benefit of an audience. It’s my duty to speak out, even if it ruffles some feathers.

    You are in the position where you won’t go broke if you lose some readers. You’ve built a big business with a ton of different income streams. You can afford to speak out.

    • October 2, 2018

      I’m thinking about it, but coming at it from a different angle!

  • October 1, 2018

    What a perfect time to say…

    1) Excellent presentation in Austin! I loved it so much!

    2) I hear you. Do what you know is right for you. You won’t regret it.

    3) Speaking up is your right, your right, and your right. Too many of us have been traumatized for far too long to continue being quiet.

    Keep up the great work!

    • October 2, 2018

      Totally! I just don’t want to be an angry voice screeching over a megaphone; I feel like that tactic doesn’t work in the present climate. I’m looking at exploring more overarching issues like bullying, which directly tie into everything happening, but more as we’ve encountered them on a local level in small-town politics.

      And thank you! That’s so nice to hear, Kristen! I had a BLAST at TravelCon and wish I could have stayed for the whole thing (but, speaking of politics, flew back early to host a fundraising event for our Governor hopeful!).

      • October 2, 2018

        The great news: you can respond with a calm intelligence that’s based on human rights, science, and law. And others will grow through your example. That will always be a win-win. And I’ll back you up.

        Yes, bullying. Pretty much everything we’re seeing on this front is based on abuse. Those who bully are abusing/abusers, plain and simple. And abusers need to be held accountable. 100%. It can just be dangerous to do so, one-on-one. Not so dangerous as a group.

        (Wouldn’t it be great if we had some kind of travel blogging support network for discussing all this? To help make a difference in this world? Kind of like our own little PSA corner on each website?)

        SO glad to hear you had as much fun at TravelCon as we had listening to your talk. It was truly one of our highlights.

        And CONGRATULATIONS on why you had to leave TravelCon early! BRAVO!

  • October 2, 2018

    Spending time with the best friend is always therapeutic!

    • October 2, 2018

      I agree! Highlight of my month!

  • October 2, 2018

    <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

    Agreed on all fronts!

    • October 2, 2018

      Let’s buy an MCM compound and fill it with puppies!

  • October 2, 2018

    I’m still in denial I’ll miss y’all on round two of Bloomington but yay for more murals! Big changes are scary but I think more often than not they’re for the better. Excited to see what’s in store for y’all!

    • October 3, 2018


  • October 2, 2018

    I booked a trip to Iceland and will be going this month!

    Personally, prefer NOT to read about politics on my favorite travel blogs. We’re SO over saturated with it on all other forms of social media that it’s nice to have a space to go visit that’s free from all that. But if that’s what’s on your heart, then I guess you need to do what’s best for you.

    • October 3, 2018

      Hi Kelly! Thanks so much for the input. And I agree—so much of my stress and anxiety has to do with what’s happened in our country in the past few weeks/months, which is why I said I want to tackle some out-of-the-box topics “in a non-political way” (which may not be the best way to phrase it…but this is not gonna be your mama’s Facebook rant, is what I mean) 😉

      To clarify, I’d be writing more about the intersection between art, small-town government and tourism—NOT what’s going on in Washington. Developing a community improvement public art program has not been for the faint of heart, and as mural tourism booms now more than ever, I feel like travelers might be interested in (and deserve to know) what all goes into creating such travel draws—including sacrifices made and challenges faced. Since our big controversy with some old folks not upholding the First Amendment started earlier this summer, I’ve had more emails than ever from small towns who want to emulate a program as we’ve developed, so I really want to share more of the nitty-gritty (including “the good ol’ boys club” mentality and how we’ve navigated such challenges). I know not everyone will care about art, and that’s totally fine, but I’ve had a lot of requests to write more about that, so I’m ready to bear all and not worry about the consequences for a change. We’ve been heavily entrenched in the tourism world for over a decade now, and I don’t really share much of the behind-the-scenes, but it is very much tied to how people travel.

      If this kind of thing interests you at all, here’s an interesting news piece (and direct parallel to our experience) about a mural being challenged in Florida:

      • October 3, 2018

        I would read that! I am glad it would focus on something other than what’s going on in Washington 🙂

    • October 3, 2018

      P.S. Congrats on the Iceland trip! It’s been 10 years since I’ve been there, and I’m dying to make 2019 the year we return finally.

  • October 7, 2018

    I feel like this year has been an ongoing mid/quarter/whatever life crisis for me. I’ve been thinking about things a lot as well, and I think I’ll change some things for myself in 2019. I need to settle down and reflect a bit more. I don’t think it’s a bad thing if we do this, so kudos for you! I’m looking forward to adopt a furry friend next year. I think this will be one of my biggest changes 🙂

    • October 15, 2018

      A furry friend would DEFINITELY help. Ella never fails to cure what ails me! 🙂

  • October 15, 2018

    I hear you on the midlife crisis. Also being 35, I keep thinking of making changes as well, you are not alone in that! I honestly hate politics. So, so much. But I do like to hear other peoples perspective on current events. In a thoughtful, well said kind of way. I believe no matter what you have to say it will be exactly that, so if it’s going to make you feel better, then do it!
    Some good news: my husband and I just spent 11 days in Iceland! Drove the entire ring road, saw the eastern and western fjords. So amazing! The couple we were with we are already planning another trip with for next year. And after your last few posts about Portugal and the Azores I threw that out for a possibility, so thank you!

    • October 15, 2018

      Who knew 30s would even be even more confusing than 20s, right? No one tells you that. But your Iceland trip sounds amazing. I went in 2007 and thought I’d have a chance to go back sooner, but it hasn’t come up yet—I think Scott and I need to bite the bullet and go next year as he’s still never been.

      And I hear you: I’m sick of politics, but I have some things I need to say about art and bullying from our own small-town mural-installing perspective, so I’m just biding my time until I have a free afternoon to lay it all out there. No Washington talk, I promise!

      And please please please go to Portugal! I have an Azores-planning post coming up, and I’ll give all the nuts and bolts of planning a trip there as I had no idea where to start myself. The islands, Lisbon and Algarve are fantastic—you can’t go wrong. And now I want to go to Madeira, which wasn’t on my radar till our most recent trip there either!

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