The World is a Big Place

big city

Old Sid Pridemore never went nowhere much in his life. Never traveled farther than the forks of Troublesome Creek to pay his taxes, and to set once on a jury. That was yonder when the creekbed was the road and you had to travel by horseback, by wagon or shanks-mare. When final-last a road was built up Quicksand and an automobile could get in and out, Sid’s son-in-law, John Zeek Smith, talked him into going with him to Hazard in Perry County. Going to let Sid see a speck of the world.

Well sir, they got to Hazarad and old Sid’s eyes were big as turnips. He kept saying, “What’s creation come to?” John Zeek drove into Hazard and was heading down the main street when he suddenly mashed on the brake and came to a full stop. Old Sid, he said, “Don’t you see that red light hangin overhead? And old Sid said, “Why, go right on. We’ll miss it fully ten feet.”

—James Still “The Wolfpen Notebooks”

The tale reminds me of one Pap told me that happened way back in the day. I wish I could remember the names of the men who told Pap about their experience, but I can’t.

Two fellows had to go to Houston, Texas to pick something up. Neither had ever been out of Murphy and were afraid to go on the trip, but it was a necessity and there was no getting around it.

They made the trip okay and were feeling good about their accomplishment until their first glimpse of the city. They looked over at one another with fear written across their faces knowing there wasn’t nothing to do but keep on driving. But before continuing they decided it was best to pull to the side of the road and have a word of prayer.

The story also reminds me of a man who grew up over the mountain from me. His family and mine were friends. When he died my brother told me the gentleman had never been no farther than Asheville, a whole two hours away from his home. At the time I said I didn’t know whether to feel sorry for him or to be jealous of him. He worked a job that he retired from, raised a family, was part of the community. He seemed to lived a satisfactory life. Yet he never felt the desire to travel away from his home.

I’m no world traveler, but I have been to other locales that I greatly enjoyed and certainly see why folks get the travel bug and visit all areas of the world. Many even have a bucket list of places around the globe they plan to visit before they die.

Like the man I knew from just over the mountain in Moccasin Creek I’ve always been happy and pleased to stay close to home. Several years ago The Deer Hunter and I took a class called Financial Peace. We were the oldest couple in the class. At one point the instructor ask the students to share their retirement dreams. Answers ranged from visit every state in the US to travel abroad for months at a time. When it was our turn to answer the question we looked at each other and said “We’d like to stay at home and not have to worry about paying bills.”

Last night’s video: How to Make and Cook Leather Britches (Dried Green Beans) in Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    Darrell Keith Cook
    March 31, 2022 at 12:59 pm

    Hi Tipper,
    What is a shanks-mare?

    Darrell Cook

    • Reply
      March 31, 2022 at 1:02 pm

      Darrell-if you go by shanks mare it means you walked 🙂

  • Reply
    March 31, 2022 at 10:32 am

    My husband and I are perfectly content here at home. Every now and again we like to drive west for about an hour to visit Fall Creek Falls State Park, and maybe a trip to the Smoky Mountains a couple of times a year, and we prefer traveling the backroads to I75. I’m always looking for barn quilts, little churches, cabins and outhouses 🙂 We take a picnic basket and stop in a pretty place to eat. Even after a short trip not too far from home, it’s always good to get back.

  • Reply
    Rita F Speers
    March 30, 2022 at 9:01 pm

    I surely felt like old Sid a couple of years ago when I drove to Florida to visit a friend. I hadn’t been through Atlanta since I was 15 years old. (I was 66 on this trip) What a shock! When I got to Tampa and Clearwater, I concluded that since they ran out of lateral space to build roads, they just started building “up”! My older sister was riding shotgun and engaging in fervent prayer and reading the phone map to me. Golly! Glad I never need to go there again! I LOVE my little podunk town! I can find anything I need within 60 miles in any direction, and my current vacation spots are the Smokeys and the Blue Ridge mountains! So glad to live in the country!

  • Reply
    March 30, 2022 at 7:48 pm

    “In the day”. Love that phrase

  • Reply
    Dennis M Morgan
    March 30, 2022 at 5:27 pm

    Tipper your retirement plan sounds fine to me! I hope we make it.

  • Reply
    March 30, 2022 at 2:29 pm

    Balance of travel & home is great! Have enjoyed every place I’ve lived &/or visited. At times I’ve wondered if I was TOO content…maybe lacking ambition. It is a blessing now as 80 approaches to be content at home !

  • Reply
    March 30, 2022 at 1:54 pm

    I guess the one trip I wanted to go on more than anywhere was take a trip through the Shenandoah Valley in the fall of the year. I never had the opportunity to take this trip and I know I never will now.

  • Reply
    donna sue
    March 30, 2022 at 1:20 pm

    I am like Denise R. I love traveling. There is so much in this world I want to see. God made the whole earth for us to enjoy! And every place has it’s differences. It boggles my mind when I think about how God knows every single inch of the world – He knows every ant crawling on the ground in every country. He also knows every single person – their deepest heart’s desires, their past and their future, and He wants every one of them to know Him personally. Just think how many people have walked this earth since Adam and Eve. That’s a lot of people! I love to learn about cultures from around the world – their language, their food, their history, and their daily lives. Life fascinates me! All this being said – I am a definite homebody. I love my own bed, kitchen and bathroom that I don’t have to share with anyone else – meaning I don’t have to worry about what germs the previous person who stayed there left behind! Yes, I can be a little germaphobic, not obsessively, but I do carry my baby wipes with me. It is one of my idiosyncrasies. I like having my quiet time in my own personal space away from the world. Just me and my alone time. I need my privacy. I like having the world around me when I want to be there in the thick of it. And I want to be left alone from the world when I am in the sanctuary of my own home. But I can also be very hospitable in my home, and be very happy to have a little company or large gatherings. I am very contradictory. I know. My mood changes, yet I am the same person. I have the same interests everyday, the same passions. My love for the life God allows me to have doesn’t change. But my need for quite time versus public time does change, I just can’t guarantee when those times/days will be. I do know that God does, He made me the way I am to serve Him. He is the constant in my life!

    Donna. : )

  • Reply
    March 30, 2022 at 12:18 pm

    Growing up, I hardly left the county because we had no automobile. In my 13th year, I went to Washington DC with the School Patrol, to the NC Outer Banks for a family reunion, and across the US by car before there were any interstate highways and very few 4-lane roads. That trip was with my older brother and by oldest sister’s husband, both WWII combat veterans. The purpose of the trip was to pick up my brothers who are twins when they mustered out of the Army at Fort Huachuca. I saw the Grand Canyon, Painted Desert, Petrified Forest, Las Vegas and the Pacific Ocean as well as Dallas, Fort Worth, and Los Angeles. That was quite a lot in one year for a neighborhood kid.

    Later in life I traveled all over the US for business and pleasure and even spent 6 months in Spain with trips to Paris and London. I’ve lived in Florida and now in Texas for 28 years, but I miss the Smokies.

  • Reply
    Dorothy Waldon
    March 30, 2022 at 11:35 am

    When I was a little, I traveled to Texas with my parents and elder sister and her husband from the Appalachian Mountains of Eastern KY. Soon as we got to Texarkana and the sun rose early in the morning, I swore it was sitting on the ground. I had never seen such flat land.

    • Reply
      Darla Houston
      March 31, 2022 at 2:11 am

      Gracious yes that area is as flat as a pancake!

  • Reply
    March 30, 2022 at 10:48 am

    My maternal papaw must have thought he was really traveling when he drove from his home to Ashland KY. A distance of about 50 miles. I can only remember him doing it 2 times. My fraternal papaw born in 1885 never had a car and rode horse or walked to Ashland and helped lay the brick streets in town. Some of the streets are still brick but i have no idea which ones he layed.

    i have done quite a bit of traveling while i was in the army but some of it was places i didn’t want to go.

  • Reply
    Kimberly H. Glenn
    March 30, 2022 at 10:38 am

    You and I have the same retirement goals!

  • Reply
    March 30, 2022 at 10:17 am

    When I was a little’in we live in a little community with many of our kin folk. I’d rather stay to home myself. I and my wife have traveled some, but I couldn’t wait to get home. We are living your retirement dreams too Tipper. What has creation come to?

  • Reply
    Rooney Floyd
    March 30, 2022 at 10:03 am

    Jack Hall, who was a woodcarving legend at the Folk School, once said that he didn’t know how big the world really was but if it was as big the other way around as it was from here (Brasstown) to Asheville then it’s a pretty big place.

    On a different note, when I turned about 45 I finally realized what I wanted to be when I grew up: RETIRED…

  • Reply
    March 30, 2022 at 9:46 am

    My husband, daughter and I have in our earlier years traveled to a few different places in the US and only crossing the boarder to Mexico once and Canada once on our once a year family vacations. I thought when my hubby retired he and I would be traveling all over since we had planned well for our retirement. Well it’s been well over a year since he retired from truck driving and all he has done is want to sit on the couch. He said he has been on the road for over 30 years so the last thing he wants to do is travel. With the inflation of everything now days our well planned retirement funds are now, just paying the bills with a couple of much needed home renovations. Plan all you want, but people change, things happen, but life goes on. We either learn to be content or live a miserable life. I’ve chose to be content, thankful for past travels, learning it’s okay that life hasn’t turned out the way we planned and hopeful it will be better with each years God blesses us with to live.

    • Reply
      Darrell Keith Cook
      March 31, 2022 at 1:05 pm

      It is a blessing to be contented. I have been to far away places and met people that would give all to be in America.

  • Reply
    March 30, 2022 at 9:29 am

    A few years ago, my best friend’s job sent her to London, England for two weeks. She was allowed to take one guest with all expenses paid except the airline ticket. She invited me and I said no thanks! It was gardening time and I just wanted to be home. I have traveled all of my adult life never realizing the most relaxing get-away is spent fishing from a boat on one of Kentucky’s beautiful lakes.

  • Reply
    March 30, 2022 at 9:13 am

    I am like my grandaddy, I will go anywhere with you as long as I can be back at my home and in my bed by nightfall. Without my wife, I no longer care to travel anywhere. The closest town to my home is almost 15 miles away and it is a very small country town. When I watch the news and see all of the wrecks and the other problems around some of the larger cities and other places I think to myself Thank You Lord I don’t have to go through that everyday.

  • Reply
    harry adams
    March 30, 2022 at 8:47 am

    While studying engineering at college, one of my professors saw that I had a National Geographic. He asked why I liked to read that magazine. The answer was to learn about other places and people.
    My work allowed me to visit many of those countries. As I have grown old, I love travel to Europe where a building that is 500 years old is young and the people are not much different in their desires than Americans. Also like Dorothy, it is always good to come home.

  • Reply
    Michele Dill
    March 30, 2022 at 8:40 am

    When I was little, we lived in the same small neighborhood (of 15 or less houses) in the country that my parents grew up in. In fact, my mothers childhood house was the house next door to ours. I often wondered what it would be like to travel the world. So, I have done just that in my adulthood; traveled to countries that I have only seen on the National Geographic magazines that I checked out from the local library . But, now I live in a small cattle farming community. We like to say there are more cows than people. I will continue to travel, but like the other commenter noted “There is no place like home”.

  • Reply
    Margie G
    March 30, 2022 at 8:35 am

    Tipper, I really can’t add much to what you shared this morning. You said it pretty well. I laughed and had a chuckle even about the response to your class. This day and age I think there’s a many a person who’s gotten above their raisin’s and if YOULL listen to RICKY SKAGGS – DONT GET ABOVE YOUR RAISINS, you’ll see what I’m talking about here… lol I am only who the Good Lord made me to be and if THERES anything at all for me to boast of or feel proud of, it’s what he did for me cause I’m not much and that’s fine. I’ve traveled, ate big meals, hung with with big company and lived a few big times. But the greatest view I ever saw was the GRAND CANYON. My next travels will be to Utah and the 4 corners area. It’s gorgeous out there. I hope you all many travels and many safe returns home!

  • Reply
    March 30, 2022 at 8:33 am

    Flying into our small airport in East TN always brought a smile to my face as we decended back into the the mountains,
    I traveled for work for 40 years and seen some wonderful places and things, but this was where I always wanted to be

  • Reply
    March 30, 2022 at 8:31 am

    Tipper, my husband and I are living your dream retirement. Mine, too.

  • Reply
    Martha Justice
    March 30, 2022 at 8:10 am

    My husband and I have traveled some , we’ve been as far as the Grand Canyon. Traveled through many states to get there and back. Saw many beautiful sights but by far seeing our home in West Jefferson, AL was the highlight of our trip ❤

  • Reply
    Denise R
    March 30, 2022 at 8:04 am

    We love to travel and have a trip planned for Hawaii. But I can be a homebody as well! I love having a home base to return to, but getting away and exploring is fun as well. I guess I’m a contradictory person…………

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    March 30, 2022 at 7:50 am

    I am not a traveler. If I had to drive to Houston I would start by praying then pray off and on the whole way there and back. I do not do well in heavy traffic in an unfamiliar place. And riding is getting harder all the time. Eight hours in a car is torture.

    Before I retired, my wife and I went to a retirement class. The instructor asked what did people look forward to in retirement. My answer was really odd it seemed. I said, “Mature reflection.”

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 30, 2022 at 7:08 am

    When I was little my family lived in several different towns and states. I didn’t like the moving around and as an adult I feel the same way. I’m what you call a “home body” I like to be at home!

  • Reply
    March 30, 2022 at 7:03 am

    I agree with Sid, What’s creation come to? 🙂 Also in agreement with you and the Deer Hunter on your answer to want to stay at home…. Like Dorothy told Toto, there’s no place like home.

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