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Member since 11/2004

A Journey To My Country


White Oak River Near Swansboro, NC

Updated- July 4, 2020,- Writing is one of those things that operate on sparks of imagination.  Something starts to nag you and if it is truly important, eventually what is in the back of your mind ends up being a blog post or a book.

The fifth book published by my wife, Glenda and I is "The Road to My Country."  This is a paragraph that sets the stage for the book.

It's often late at night on a dark country road when people and places, both remembered and imagined, become the sparks that light the memory defining our lives.


As my wife and I glide through the black night on Union Cross Church Road, we cross a small creek, and it hits me. I see the long-gone millpond, the house with five fireplaces, and the mill itself. I see the shadows of three young girls, my mother and her two sisters, picking beans in their garden. Next, I remember the place as it was when I was young, an old, crumbling concrete dam with trees growing in the former millpond.


The memory fades as fast as it comes, and the dark road continues on into the night.

The story has been there for a long time and the first chapter of this book has been written for a while, but the rest of the pieces did not fall in place until recently. There seemed to be no urgency until North Carolina's state government decided to roll back years of moderate governance with the hope of turning our state into the Texas of the east coast.

However, my book is not about politics. It is about the North Carolina that I remember from my youth when I was growing up as the only child of a single mother in the Piedmont area west of Winston-Salem. It is also about our journey away from North Carolina, our return, and how our state has changed in that period of nearly forty years.  The crowd around the swimming pool looks a lot different than it did in the fifties.

Perhaps our short book is just me trying to figure out how I got to be the person that I am.  I grew up in rural North Carolina went away to military school, and then got my undergraduate degree at Harvard.  After Harvard, I moved to Canada to farm. 

My wife and I built a large cattle operation and lived for over ten years in the hardwood hills of New Brunswick. We had over two hundred head of cattle and grew almost all of our food. Then in a quick twist of fate, in a couple of years, I was working for Apple where I had a career of nearly twenty years including directly reporting to Tim Cook for a short time.

I have written a lot about my time at Apple including a book, the Pomme Company. I am one of the few people who worked at Apple and has written about the company without ending with any legal challenges from the company. However, when I published the book a few people still at the company were afraid to be in a picture that I used in the book even though it was taken ten years earlier.

This new book has very little about Apple in it and I think that is a function of how little Apple contributed to who I am and the mental distance that now separates me from the company. I have continued to use the company's products, but I remain convinced that Apple is all about the money.

I think my character was forged well before I got to Apple.  Perhaps certain things that had already burrowed deep into my subconscious before I got to the reality distortion zone of Cupertino kept me from staying even longer at the company.  That is not a subject of the book either, but you might be able to draw some conclusions.

I doubt that I would have survived and thrived as long as I did at Apple without the background that I brought to the company as a son of North Carolina with dirt on my hands.

Both North Carolina and I have changed a lot. I did not appreciate my home state until I stopped running from it and that was many years after I left it.  Why I was running might still be another story. 

My wife and I took title to my mother's homeplace in Mount Airy, North Carolina in 2002. Mother had come to live with us in Roanoke two hours to the north and could no longer take care of the large house and gardens that became Sobotta Manor Bed & Breakfast for a few years.  Going back to Mount Airy and also visiting our youngest daughter who had relocated to North Carolina at almost the same time helped us understand how much we missed being back in our home state.

We lived in Virginia for twenty years, but it was not North Carolina.  Living in Virginia did let us enjoy many summers, fall, and spring vacations to North Carolina's beaches.  It awakened a love for the Southern Outer Banks that never died and still is a slow ember in my soul.

We became full-time residents of North Carolina and lived on the Crystal Coast portion of the Southern Outer Banks for fifteen years.  North Carolina is a wonderfully diverse state.  The picture in the post is the large coastal river that I often enjoyed from my skiff or kayak.  The waters of the river behind our house and the uncrowded beaches of Emerald are a big part of why we chose to spend over decade in Carteret County. We lived in an area where the week of the Fourth of July can be a true delight at least when we are not having a pandemic.

Despite the headlines, I doubt our state will turn into the Texas east.  I have high hopes that the good people of North Carolina will stand up for the moderate policies that have made this such a great state where all sorts of people live in harmony.

I hope my book encourages others to look back and find those things which have made them who they are. A little "How did I get here and is this person the one I want to be," is good for the soul.

I think "The Road to My Country" is well worth its modest cost on the Kindle platform.  Even in paperback, it is only $6.99. 

If you are interested in more information about where we lived in Canada, try our book, A Taste For The Wild - Canada's Maritimes.  If you are interested in more about one of the top ten uncrowded east coast beaches, download our book, A Week At The Beach - The Emerald Isle Travel Guide.  It is a great way to take a trip to the beach without even leaving your easy chair. There are some good reasons in 2020 to make your visit to the beach virtual.  You will find some great family recipes in the book that help make that virtual vacation at home even better.


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