2012 Robbinsville, Cherokee, Gatlinburg and Eventually Nashville
Every story has a beginning and every one an ending. Truth is, every story’s ending is just the beginning of a new one. This year’s story begins with events that actually started as early as 2008. The annual trip in 2008 was to Durango, Colorado and it was the last trip I was to take while married to my second wife. I knew ON that trip that the marriage was in deep trouble and by the time I came home there was no doubt in my mind that my worst fears at the time were coming true and there was literally nothing I could do other than watch that ship sink in flames.
The 2009 trip, honestly, is a complete blur. It was a fantastic trip, I just don’t remember it without looking at pictures. I was done with my marriage to Tonya and embarking on a new relationship with Carrie by then. Carrie and I met in October 2008, Tonya and I were 6 months done by then and she’d moved out of the house and paperwork for divorce had been filed. By June of 2009 I was starting a new relationship, excited to see my brother, and bravely continuing on in traditions even though much of my life was undergoing major upheaval at the time. My mental and emotional state at the time, though, prevented me from being "present." I was all over the place mentally and emotionally and I am really thankful that Bill and Garrett were there with me.
The 2010 Trip would be the last trip Bill took with us married to Lynn and with his mother still alive. By 2011 he would be well on his way to divorce. In 2010 Garrett missed the trip because he was marrying Natasha. To accommodate Garrett's wedding we made a short trip around Florida. In 2010 we visited St. Augustine and surrounding areas. It was a "good" trip, but not really up to par for our standards. If 2009 was overshadowed by my life upheavals then the 2010 tone was set by Garrett's tumultuous wedding.
In 2011 Carrie and I had to go without Bill, his mother was not well and Bill took the time to be with her until she passed. Instead of riding for a week she and I went to Superbike School for two days and then rode horses for two days. It was a great trip that was better than 2010 but it didn't have the look or feel of our annual trips from before. 2011 was a "one off" trip, a chance to do something I'd always wanted and a chance to spend time just with Carrie.
For all the reasons above, the 2012 trip FELT to me like the first “real” annual trip since 2008. I felt back “in the game” and present for the experience. It felt like old times again, and I had forgotten how good that could feel. Bill was with us, Carrie was here too. Garrett couldn’t join us because he was in Germany, but there are hopes that we’ll have the whole crew together in 2013.
This trip, for me, felt like coming home again. I felt more “me” than I had in the last few years, more in tuned, more in the moment, more at peace. I was with people I loved, doing what I loved in the ways that I enjoyed it the most.
We picked this date because it coincided with Carrie’s brother’s wedding. Jason Danforth would be getting married on September 22, 2012 in Nashville, TN. We would trailer from Tampa to Robbinsville, spend 4 days there, spend a night in Cherokee, visit Gatlinburg and then trailer to Nashville for the wedding before packing up and trailering home.