Saturday, April 28, 2012

Road Trip, Day Three, April 26, 2012

Road Trip, Day 3, April 26, 2012

Today the theme was driving under radically imperfect conditions. We drove from Morgantown to Boone, North Carolina, going east and south through West Virginia, hitting the Appalachians, then east and south through a thin, long Appalachian slice  of Virginia, then along a spidery web of connecting country roads in Virginia and North Carolina before we got to Boone. 

An upside of this truckin' along was the spectacular vistas of spots along the Appalachian highways that overlooked expanses of green and treed valleys and bodies of water. Also fantastic were the concrete ongoing glimpse into American backwoods life as it's lived, the ramshackle houses, the patches of lawn being worked over by by some wiry skinny, hunched over, grizzled, massively bearded old guy, his dog chasing the car as we drove by, school buses dropping of clutches of kids in front of several of these houses, the kids scrambling off the buses and into their homes thrilled to have done with school for the day, like all kids everywhere, Baptist church after church, sign after sign proclaiming Jesus as savior, stepping into a tiny shack of a structure to pay for gas eked out rusted pumps that had seen better days,  wondering if the place even handled credit cards, standing in a short line behind overall clad guys paying for tobacco, pork rinds, and a few bottles of sugary soda pops, with all the by playing drawling, soft voiced chatter friendly and gracious, stepping up myself to pay and noting the woman behind the counter was typically obese, but very much liking her on the spot for her smile, the kindness and nice sense coming from her, her solidity, the twinkle in her eye, and all this just from her taking my credit card, processing it and asking me to sign. Come to think of it, these scenic vistas and concrete instances of local backwoods life were wonderful upsides.

The downsides included massive rainfall, sometimes chased by high mountain winds and outstripping our wipers' ability to give us functional  visibility, none of which was helped by patches of wispy fog which fortunately never blanketed us or lasted too long, or not helped by the narrow, twisting and winding mountain roads for that stretch of our route, for which we slowed to a crawl. Also tough were the constant road changes our route imposed on us with the names of the roads barely made out, or not at all, or changing as we drove them, compelling our occasional guess work. But we made our destination and only got lost, mildly ironically, trying to find our hotel, the Yonahlossee Lodge, buried in the mountainside just off Poplar Grove Road, with a 300 yard turn to the left on the Schuller Mills Road. But eventually we found it in all its resort splendor, with a large, tree clad mountain expanse forming the acreage as its grounds, only after stopping four, count em,' four different nice North Carolinians for directions and one even kindly checking the location on her computer. 

I love the soft spoken drawl of of people here and will talk to anybody about the smallest anything just to hear its music. Now a day later, rested and settled into Merlefest, I wouldn't 't trade that sometimes harrowing 8 hour drive for anything on the world except the return of my youthful good looks. Too tired now to talk for the moment about Merlefest but I'll try to if I can this daily account going.

I'll only say that I watched a little tv before I went to sleep and heard Jay Leno describing how Joe Biden always puts his foot in his mouth. He was speaking at NYU about Teddy Roosevelt walking softly but carrying a big stick. "I can guarantee you, " says Biden, "Barack has a big stick." 

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