Written by Michelle Neeley, marketing intern at the University Press of Florida
On February 27, my friends and I set out on a journey of a lifetime. We were headed north—through Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee—and made stops along the way to enjoy the best of what each place had to offer.
Before leaving on the trip, I was reading through John R. Harris’ new book Returning North with the Spring, and noted the similarities between the route and timing of his trip and my own. I decided to try to document my natural surroundings in each place and observe nature’s gentle way of transitioning from winter to spring.
Although the trip was primarily for fun and friendship, it was also a unique time to observe the last days of winter up the east coast. Over the course of the week we experienced varied weather, from the brightest and sunniest days to the most cold and dreary. I was able to stand in some of the same places as John R. Harris and Edwin Way Teale before him. I was able to see for myself the difference in scenery and climate that a few hundred miles can give you. I was also able to celebrate the natural landscape of the East Coast and be inspired to preserve and protect it.
Stop 1: Tybee Island, Georgia
We were met with cloudless skies and comfortable weather on Tybee Island Beach. It was still too cool for swimming, in my opinion, but the weather was ideal for a barefoot walk on the beach. The transition to spring was well underway in Georgia during our visit.
Stop 2: Wilmington, North Carolina
Although Wilmington was warmer than Tybee Island at the time we got there, the areas closest to the water were incredibly windy. I only stayed on the beach long enough to take a quick walk, snap a few photos, and leave—any longer would have been unbearable!
Stop 3: Gatlinburg, Tennessee
After days of cloudless skies and endless sunlight, our time in Tennessee came with a wide variety of precipitation. From a severe thunderstorm to gently falling snow, the weather kept us on our toes. There were traces of spring in the landscape, new plants already starting to shoot up and the occasional flower, but all in all it still felt much more like winter as my feet crunched through the newly fallen snow.
Overall, the week-long trip was incredible. I will never forget the laughs and experiences I was able to share with my friends. I will also never forget the places we visited—having the special opportunity to delight in each unique landscape at the cusp of spring.