Monday, June 30, 2008


Ibuprofen is your friend. So are earplugs and a blindfold.

Grey and still, with thick fog obscuring the forest’s edge a mere hundred yards away. Highway sounds are muffled and distant, and even the birds seem subdued. The fog makes it seem like the sky is exhausted from last night’s garish spectacle. Now it looks like the fog is closing in.

Mmm. Coffee. Good.

Road sign: “Are You Prepared to Meet God?” (Well, no, not really. Let me shave and put on a clean pair of socks, at the very least).

Bob Childress’ Rock Church on U.S. 221 in Willis. About forty percent white quartz and sixty percent sandstone in a grey limestone mortar. The walls are a compendium of all the rock forms and flavors of erosion in the area—a crazy quilt sewn in stone. I ponder Bob Childress for a few moments in this place where he left his mark, and come to the conclusion I would probably have found him an intolerable prick.

Long Quickee Mart stop in Willis, meeting our whoopee cushion needs, then on the road to Buffalo Mountain.

Blue sky, cool breeze, air smells sweet, rich and clean from last night’s storm. The summit is 3,971 feet.
Breathtaking views in all directions,

including south to Pilot Knob, N.C. Should be great pictures from here—everyone looks magnificent in this light. Long discussion of hay, et cetera, en route.

Chateau Morissette. I didn’t think I could get bored in a winery, but there it is. Maybe I’m just getting cranky because I’m hungry. The tourguide is all like, “wine wine wine blah blah blah” and I’m all like “yeah, yeah, whatever” and I am amazed at the scale of the place for a winery of this size. Okay, that tautology sounds pretty stupid, doesn’t it? Time for lunch, eh?

Lunch, dawdling, dog, time passes. Sunshine, breeze, et cetera. Chat up a trio of sport bikers heading north on the BRP and briefly consider harming one of them in order to steal his bike. Before I can formulate a plan, they roll out, a neatly coordinated ballet on six wheels.

Time for the tasting. It does take the edge off, and now it is seriously going to be nap time. By the way, Elvis is pouring. A single glass of chambourcin (…meh) on the patio. Yeah, I suppose I could get to like this; it would probably make a good autumn evening wine. Hard to believe I’m getting college credit for this. Great location, too—might be the prettiest site for a winery I’ve seen, even in Napa/Sonoma. That’s my Virginia chauvinism rearing its ugly little head.

Okay, Elvis is kind of a prick. A second glass—the ’05 Chardonnay—is in order, as the questioning is dragging on and becoming kinda tedious. Besides, what else should I do when I’m at the mercy of others, stuck in this beautiful place on a beautiful summer’s day? I mean really—suck it up and move on.

Back to the BRP, south to Mabry Mill. The parking area is clotted with Harleys and their clones, and their road-benumbed riders. I recognize what they are feeling from their voices and their gaits and the looks in their eyes. A day like this will eat you up, suck the marrow from you, and wring you out like a sponge. The word I used to use was “road-simple.” Yet I do envy them, and see the mark of the dragon on many. ((sigh.)) We never want what we have, and we never have what we want.
And where are the goddam Beemers? [When I found out, boy did I feel silly!]

Mabry Mill feels a little bit too much like Busch Gardens for my tastes. The extensive concrete sidewalkage, recirculating water and the long, convoluted headrace keep reminding me of a flume ride. And now that you mention it, I hate Harleys for their obscene vulgar indulgent infantile moronic flatulence. A pox on their house.

But there is a simple pleasure in the experience of learning. Everyone here is learning something. I lie down under a beech tree, which I am finally learning to recognize after all these years.

On the road again. A deer, balancing precariously with four feet grouped together in the universal posture, takes a dump in a field beside the highway. Funny.

Note: K1200GT parked on Main Street in Hillsville, outside the restaurant; Ontario tags.

Long, slow, peculiar dinner. Too much iced tea and ice water; suddenly I get very cold, as do many of us. The extended discussion of the Carroll County Courthouse Massacre on the courthouse lawn in the crisp night air exacerbates the situation, and it feels good to finally get back into the van for the long drive back to Selu.

The stars are brilliant even from the van on the interstate. I tell myself I see a shooting star, which may even be true. Ashley spots Jupiter rising low in the east and we try in vain to track it as the road twists and turns. When we arrive at Selu, the Milky Way is on full display for everyone to see, and I see two more shooting stars including one slow, leisurely green ball that moves gracefully across my field of vision from right to left. Here Jupiter is easy to find and plain; with binoculars, a Galilean moon is visible off its right side.

After some time spent laying on my back in the grass, I have no doubt this is where the drain field for the septic tank is. Yippee.Very tired, very late. More later.

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