Writer’s Note: I took only a few pictures today.
We pushed open the door after a restful sleep, no visitors in the night, to see four deer bound out of the field and into the woods. They were close enough for Mabel to think of high pursuit but too far for serious consideration. The morning was beautiful and I unfolded the captain’s chair to survey my kingdom and just enjoy the silence. No electronics for me this morning, I would enjoy the view without checking texts, emails, Facebook or sports scores. It was relaxing.
I am freelancing on this leg of the trip as Steinbeck only speaks of one town, Abingdon Virginia after stopping in Montgomery Alabama. He then mentions the states he crossed before getting lost in Lower New York. This has allowed me to see family and places of interest that were not referenced in the book. The command decision was made to bypass Abingdon as it would save time travelling through country I had already seen. I had also been extended a gracious offer from a good high school friend, George Ward, to visit his home in Kentucky. It sounded like a great time, plenty of space for Mabel, and for me, Civil War history and scenery. It was just too far out of the way but I hope to stop on a future visit to North Carolina.
We packed up and drove through the sloping hills stopping at the office to settle our bill. Karma again dictated our actions, no chances on the consequences of a dine and dash. I called the manager for the credit card payment process instead of reading the form; that would have been too easy. Dave was interested in how our stay went and I told him this was the most unique campground we had visited. He was also interested in our blog so here is the advertising plug. “We had a very enjoyable stay at the Chantilly Farm Campground in Floyd, Virginia. I think it would be a great place to catch an outdoor festival.”
The GPS was entered with our desired location and we were on our way via HWY 221 bringing us to HWY 52 just South of Hillsville. We drove through small towns in Virginia that shared the same basic concepts of the other small towns we had seen; a Main Street, an honoring of the war dead, a new section boasting fast food and grocery stores, and an old section, its dignity knocked down a notch with business in various states of success. The towns may look different but if you dig a little, they are very similar.
Random observation # 1: Burger King is very generous in sharing it’s cooking smells, if we want to smell them or not.
Hillsville looked to be the weekend flea market capital of the world. The tables were naked as I drove through and I wondered how so many markets could be supported. It seems like the whole town needs to buy a table if they were all to be occupied, that’s how many there were. But then who would be left to shop? There is always a small town event advertised that is just out of reach. It either occurred last week or will occur on the upcoming weekend. Car shows, fire department chicken dinners, outdoor concerts all seem like the slice of small town America I need to see, but to partake requires planning. I just haven’t figured out how to plan for this type of unknown. The trip is about the destination, as much as I hate to say it, because the journey is just too large to do in ten weeks. I can’t stay out that long. I need Sheri’s companionship, a permanence that comes with having to mow the grass, the kids coming and going. For some the open road is a dream, I find it disconcerting but not enough to head North.
We cross into North Carolina right around 11:00 and find ourselves on the Andy Griffith Parkway heading into Mount Airy. The Mayberry Inn Hotel, the Aunt Bea Gift Shop, and the signs for an Andy museum tell us that this is Andy Griffith’s home town. I instantly think of my old boss John Hugo, a big Andy Griffith fan, but I don’t stop to shop, today’s objective is about making time.
It rains. It rains very hard. It rains so hard I can’t see. This scares me because that means I can’t be seen. The trailer, with its little lights, is even harder to see. I don’t want to ride bracing myself for a collision but I kind of do, hoping that my flashers prevent it. The bridges are a welcome respite from the rain but it only lasts a few seconds and then back to the shudder of rain pelting the windshield. Thankfully the storm is short but it comes back for an encore.
Random Observation #2: A church on top of a small hill with a newly asphalted/seal coated parking lot is blocked by chain gate. The church van is parked next to the building, under a roof and surrounded by a 6-foot chain link fence. How bad are things when you have to build a wall around your church van?
I see what I think are tobacco plants for the first time as I cross into Yadkin county. The leaves look like elephant ears but I have only seen pictures so I'm not sure. An advertisement for Cheer Wine comes on the radio. What is it? I must try it before I leave.
Mabel needs a walk and I need a sandwich so I pull off at Yadkinville and stop at their park. It is new and well laid out with a walking path surrounding the bathrooms and playground. We sit in the parking lot, Mabel absorbing the shade under the camper, me in the chair eating a sandwich. We must have been quite a sight and I am surprised the police didn’t chase us away. People are sensitive about strangers these days. When I was a kid living in Mashashimuet Park, I would walk up to anyone and invite them home for lunch; let your kid do that today. There must not have been child protective services on Eastern Long Island in the 1970’s.
We are getting close to my folk’s home and pass denser concentrations of “Thank You Jesus” signs. I like them and hope they are placed with sincerity and not just because everyone else has one. In this part of the country it’s safe to go with sincere. The Food Lion is on my right and things are looking familiar, the GPS confirming we are on the right track. Before I know it, Mabel, Arabella, and I are down the driveway and I hit the horn to signal “we are here!”. Crickets. We explore the backyard thinking they are enjoying the cool waters of the pool. Crickets again. As we turn back to the car we run into them in the front yard, the house, closed-up to keep the air conditioning in, filtered out our arrival. It is great to see family!
Mable and I settled into the FROG (Front Room Over Garage) for the next few days, safe from the hazards of the road.
Thankful tonight to see my Mom & Dad.