On February 29, 2016, the SDS Writer’s Retreat traveled to Flat Rock, North Carolina, to stay and share writing at the Highland Lake Inn and Resort.
On Monday when we arrived, most of us met at Highland Lake. It was so peaceful; Adrik played the trombone, Jake played the guitar, Iman had a ukulele, and they sang “House of the Rising Sun.” After everyone had arrived we went to Season’s, the on-site restaurant, where we had all of our incredibly delicious lunches and dinners (made especially for us, as we had the resort all to ourselves). The dining room was ours, and food and conversation were abundant.
In the mornings we’d have breakfast at the lodge, where we’d also lose our phones to Mrs. Camp for the entire day. Afterwards, we’d have a writing exercise for a couple of hours before having a break, when we would go to the lake, bike, color, read, play foosball, pool, or ping pong in the basement.
On Tuesday, we went down to the lake to write about the senses in our surroundings. It was funny to watch friends smell the lake and feel the shrubs.
Then we had a surprise visit from the Take a Hike crew. After that, we wrote short stories about the lake experience, and that night, we wrote horror stories and read them in the dark.
Wednesday, we visited the very beautiful Carl Sandburg home, Connemara. We took a tour of the goat farm, where all of the goats are descendants from the ones Mrs. Sandburg raised herself, and then had a guided tour through the home. We were invited to come back in the spring to see the kids, to hug and pet them as socialization of the kids was very important to Mrs. Sandburg. We were supposed to hike to the top of Glassy Mountain that day, but because it was below freezing, we opted out and wrote some stories about the Sandburg home instead. When we returned to the lodge, even though we were excited about not hiking in freezing weather, some of our group still decided to jump into the lake. In the evening we had a bonfire, which was actually more like a “candle” (private joke). We had homemade hot chocolate and fresh s’mores, listened to people sing and play instruments, and finished some horror stories from the previous night.
Thursday was a very sad day, as it was our last. We wrote postcards to two people of our choosing, and continued about the usual daily activities, until nighttime. Boy, were there some waterworks that night. Our prompt was to write about a true love story, romantic or familial, to share if we wanted. Most people wrote about “passed” loved ones, friends leaving, lost pets, and, though rare, about a romantic or happy occasion. We cried so hard listening to others tell sad stories while crying themselves. We were exhausted.
On Friday morning, we had breakfast at the restaurant, packed up at the lodge, and headed back home.
It was a lovely learning experience that I’m sure we’ll never forget.