Got a new block on this computer; Netnanny would not let me view my own site! I guess I am ####. Cool. Okay, that's even cooler. I saved this as a draft, and when it came back up, the #s were replacing a slightly less delicate word I used.
I would like to take a moment to try to explain the concept of a perfect road to those who fear curves. I've been on the Blue Ridge Parkway for the last couple of days, and yesterday I had one of those totally zen moments where you really understand what they mean when they say the road is unwinding before you. Your arms flex and stretch in perfect symmetry to the curves in the road, and the speed of your car moves you into a rhythm, and for just a minute, it truly seemed like the curves ahead of me were unwinding and the road moving beneath me while I was standing totally still...
Bliss. And that's not even mentioning the times when you are truly the ridge itself, and the mountains fall away on either side of you, or the strange calming effect of the ridgepole shadows that flicker over you from the still skeletal trees on either side. That is one good road.
I wandered into a couple other fabulous roads as well. I took a big long side trip to a small town called Elizabethton, from a tip I got from some old book (you can see what's coming, can't you?) about an underwater main street tour they held. TVA flooded the old town way back when, and, according to the book, the water over main street was so shallow, you could take a boat over and practically see the old timey folks going about their business in the watery streets. This had been one of the "must-see's" in my trip; I know I've mentioned it here several times.
I checked in with the Chamber of Commerce, per my fabulous guidebook, where I was met with a blank stare. Then an incredulous laugh. Then she called in all her co-workers to laugh as well. "Hey Bill! They doing that scuba thing over in old Butler now?"
Apparently my information was a bit outdated. No one had ever heard of the tour, but one man did remember back about 5 or 6 years when they had to partially drain the lake to do some repair on one of the dams. At that point, you sure could see Main Street; in fact, some buildings were actually sticking up out of the water a bit.
This just emphasizes my biggest peeve with this trip. I'm just a little too damn late. Tiki Gardens is closed, the Elephant Fantasyland is a rose garden, the waters have risen over old Butler. I'm only 25 years old and I'm already hideously outdated. Everything I wanted to remember one day, I'll never even get to see. Damn damn damn.
Still, the search did lead me to one of my favorite roads so far, highway 321 coming down off the mountains. It's a slow, windy, no windey, winedy, damn, is that not a word? It wound a lot, and popping up all over the place were the most delightful spreads, beautiful old houses interspersed with collapsing barns and shacks, some of which were still inhabited.
They have this strange vegetation out here, which I described earlier as the perfect setting to hide a body. It looks like layers and layers of old dead vines, and it covers everything in its path, so that you can't tell what the hell is under there. One old shack was only halfway devoured, and it looked like an American Gothic version of the living rock temples in Ethiopia and Syria, its facade peeking out from an entire hill made of vines.
Today I left the parkway again in search of another one of the circled towns on my map, a place called Love Valley. The only thing that I had written down was "Old West Town". Normally that is not enough to merit a circle on the map, but I had a foggy idea that this one was something special. Besides the fact that it's not really in the west.
And it was something special. Or I guess it's what it wasn't that was special. If that makes sense. It was an old west town, NOT an "Old West Towne", if you get the difference. This was not a town for tourists, though the tourists did come. But there are no cutesy stores selling turquouise jewelry, and faux leather vests. When the tourists arrive, they have to content themselves with the amusements that really were in the old west. Which means when I got there, just past noon on a weekday, there were about a dozen or so folks in sneakers sitting around on the porches. That's it. Sittin' around, chewing the fat.
I'm sure later it gets a bit wilder, as I counted at least 3 saloons. In fact, apart from saloons, there wasn't much else. There was a general store/homestyle diner that consisted of 3 video games (okay, so it's not all authentic), a selection of ice creams and snack foods, and some folding tables and chairs in the back, a saddle shop, a dance hall, and Miss Kitty's Boarding House. Cars are not allowed on main street, as it may disturb the slightly skittish horses that were tied up outside the dance hall.
According to one old timer, the town had seen some real craziness just the week before. Halloween and Easter are huge in Love Valley, and there were upwards of two thousand horses in this small place last Sunday. Hard to imagine. The only horse moving today was the one lazily pulling a carriage up and down main street. I suppose even with only a dozen tourists in town, the taxi service can't afford to shut down.
The hills around the downtown area were a little bit more up to date, but everyone was still real gung ho about keeping up the theme. Houses, sheds, and garages all had the wild west look to them, but the strangest things were the RV protectors. Love Valley favors the horse crazy transient, and there were tons of RV's in the surrounding area. But they weren't just left out. Oh no, that would ruin the image. They were shelved neatly under aged wood shelters, with western doo dads and cow skulls hanging from the eaves.
6 minutes till shutdown here in the library, so I have to mention one more thing that I just remembered. Totally a non sequiter, but whatever. My favorite roadsign ever was in Florida, where they had slapped a small "utility" sign partially over a large orange "ROAD WORK" sign, so what you saw was "Futility WORK".
Okay, everything else is shut down, gotta send before they kick me out.