The far distant reaches of our planet often call with a very specific tone of seduction. A sexy whisper, a titillating chirp in the ear of the wayward tramp. The beaches of Sri Lanka or the valleys of southwestern Colombia have much more sultry dispositions than the hills of Virginia or the backwoods of northern Maine. The former are the cool kids, the latter are the plain Jane’s.
Luckily, as we all know through years of watching cheeky romantic comedies, the likeliest lovers aren’t always the best. Sometimes, the prize at the end of the movie is the person who is hiding in plain sight the whole time, the person who predictably gets a makeover just before prom.
My travel partner (and actual partner) Jenelle Kappe and I were overdue for a crash course in this lesson. Our rom-com chops were getting dull and we’d lost sight of the nerdy kid who sat alone at lunch. In our case, after a few years focused on far flung travel, the nerdy kid sitting solo on pizza day was the American interior southeast. Specifically Tennessee, North Carolina, and the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was a match made in heaven that none of us saw coming.