Half a Wit

Spring Break

   Sat, March 14, 2009 - 7:42 PM
What I usually like to do is decide on a destination pretty much that day--or maybe the day before, at most.

I've never seen much of the east coast. And I've always been particularly curious about the Virginia/Carolina coast, ever since I read Misty of Chincoteague when I was old enough to hold a book, and watched Daughters of the Dust a few decades later (somebody should make a movie combining wild ponies and Gullah-speaking islanders in African-Edwardian best). And the immediate cause of my involuntarily country-western life of lonely phonecalls from endless highways is passing through North Carolina--just in time.

I know a lot of northerners who refuse to go to the South. They have a lot of very odd notions, and they are stupid, and they just roll their eyes and look superior when I tell them anything different (non-coincidentally, these tend to be the same people who refer to the entire stretch of the continental US between coasts as 'the flyover zone,' and assume that, if it is populated at all, it can only be by unibrow knuckle-dragging reactionary rednecks. OK, so a lot of it is, but nevermind....)

But I always have a pretty good time here. At the moment, I'm in this gorgeous, funky little town called Hot Springs North Carolina, up in the Smokey Mountains, in a bricky tavern by the railroad tracks. there's a fireplace, hot licking R&B on the sound system, a cheery waitress with one of those longboned mountain faces who looked pleased when I ordered pinot noir and a brownie sundae for dinner. Like a lot of places these days, there's no cell service anywhere, but there's a perfectly fine wireless connection.

I am camped right by a waterfall. The cats are with me, because they're now in training for a traveling life. They did better than expected.

It is always this way, when traveling. The first day or so is always cranky--all the preparation for getting away, all the things to get done before you leave. The second day is stressy--the perpetual feeling that you left something on, or something left undone, or will have an incredibly expensive mechanical breakdown in the emptiest stretch of highway.

The third day or so, it all falls away, and it's just the sweet slide of each moment unraveling. Usually also by this time, the radio gets really good. This part happened a day early--there is nothing quite so blissy as driving crosswise across old winding Appalachian two-lane highways with bluegrass playing on the radio. Especially when they do a bluegrass version of Vincent Black Lighting 1952. Especially when they follow that with one of the Carter granddaughters singing live from the studio--especially when she sings "Ring of Fire" in memory of her aunt June, all throaty sweetness.

Tomorrow morning, after I make my coffee in my traveling french press, and have a walk along the river, I am going to have a long soak in one of the private hot spring hot tubs.

I love road trips.


add a comment
Sun, March 15, 2009 - 12:42 AM
Meow! Travel-cats. I spent 4 years in N.C., I had a lot of preconceptions about the South but after living there for a while I discovered I liked it a lot. Safe travels!
Sun, March 15, 2009 - 6:47 AM
Where were you, Ian?

It is very--southy though. There was, for example, a Bible in the bathroom of the diner where I just had breakfast. It was open to the 2nd and 3rd chapters of the Book of John. I think it had been on that page for awhile. As it happens, I like John--he's the most mystical and least cranky of the gospels. But I'd have preferred Better Homes and Gardens or something for my bathroom read.

Also, I swear the oulfellas at the table by the cash register were talking about vampires with horns--at least until they caught me looking--then they glowered at me and changed the subject.
Sun, March 15, 2009 - 7:14 AM
sounds fabulous, truly.

How long are you tripping ? And how far north are you coming ?
Sun, March 15, 2009 - 7:55 AM
Have a great break, Shannon! It sounds like a great trip.
Sun, March 15, 2009 - 8:06 AM
I have to admit I haven't spent much time in the real South..but time I spent in Northern Florida and briefly Atlanta, was refreshing in the sense that people's manners and overall friendliness surpassed both the Bay Area and the NY Metropolitan Area by far. Of course, I'm not black or Hispanic..I'm sure that would be a different experience..but I suppose that carries through to just about anywhere..sadly.
Sun, March 15, 2009 - 8:56 AM
What a marvelous adventure! I look forward to reading more!
Sun, March 15, 2009 - 9:30 AM
I love reading about your trips. I travel by proxy best.
Vampires with horns!!!!I Wow.hope you get out of there safe.
Sun, March 15, 2009 - 9:54 AM
Probably not your way this time, BFG, sadly--though I definitely want to try. I have a work trip to New Haven CT at some point next year, which will put me in the vicinity, anyway.

Good god, did somebody open the Bible to the 'Book of John" for bathroom reading as some goofy idea of a hilarious pun? That would be--nearly sacrilegious!
Sun, March 15, 2009 - 10:38 AM
I spent 4 years in Fayeteville but also a lot of time in the Smokies, Blue Ridge Parkway, on the coast, etc.
There were plenty of those good ol' boys around but I loved the land there.
Sun, March 15, 2009 - 2:39 PM
hey shannon <wave>...I just moved to LaCombe, LA...I'll blow you a kiss. Traveling cats?? My poor cat is still recovering from the cross country drive, not happy.
Sun, March 15, 2009 - 3:34 PM

Wow, that is unexpected. Last I heard from you, you were dedicated to the desert.

Glad you turned up!
Sun, March 15, 2009 - 3:49 PM
Oh, I am desert dedicated but what the hey, you can do anything for six months.
Mon, March 16, 2009 - 5:05 AM
My cat sits pretty on the Jeep's console and knows to keep quiet on the way to the hotel room through the lobby. travelin' cat.
Mon, March 16, 2009 - 3:26 PM
That sounds like a fantastic trip. And I think that John is perfect potty reading.
Thu, March 19, 2009 - 2:27 AM
I read "Misty of Chincoteague" too and finally visited a couple of years ago. Assateague National Seashore, where the ponies are, is definitely worth at least a drive through, though there are campsites too. Some lovely old ponies have figured out the game and will stick their head in your window like Yellowstone bears. And this time a year on the marsh paths there might be colts.