Get Away on The Parkway

June26/ 2008

An invitation to a mountain hideaway provides the gateway to a getaway on The Parkway …. (say that really fast while holding a lighted match !!) … Duke opts for a Golden Domer, darn it …. and another Life Lesson for your laminated wallet card.

Blondie and I were offered this past weekend at a beautiful mountain home at High Meadows Country Club in Roaring Gap.  Roaring Gap in off I-77 North just west of Elkin.  We accepted the offer.

The chalet-esque home overlooks the 11th green of the renown George Cobb layout.  For those not up-to-date among upscale Western NC resort communities, High Meadows ranks high.  It is across the highway from the late Billy Satterfield’s Old Beau community.  Suffice to say we did not have to chop our own wood or churn our own butter during the stay.  The wireless Internet signal was strong and the large flat-screen was HiDef.  Roughing it in the NC mountains in 2008 ain’t exactly how Charles Frasier described it in Cold Mountain.

Blondie has a fondness for Blowing Rock shopping and I wanted to check out Chetola Lodge so Sunday AM we hit “The Parkway” (aka The Blue Ridge Parkway) which passes just several miles west of High Meadows.  It had not occurred to me until we were well into our Parkway Adventure but this was just the antidote for my lingering case of “The world’s going to hell and I can’t stop it ….”

It had been 8-10 years since we had been on The Parkway so I had to remind myself why it such a very special treat.  That it exists at all is a tribute to a by-gone era when “the guvmint” actually has a good idea and carried it out.  The Blue Ridge Parkway was a project of the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 30s that put able-bodied men to work on large-scale construction projects.  Try such today and the ACLU lawyers would be on you like rats on an overturned cheese wagon.  The vermin analogy was intentional.

Our journey from Sparta (230) to Boone (290) was right at 60 miles or about 90 minutes at 45 mph.  Anyone in such a hurry to speed on The Parkway should not be “on The Parkway”.  Driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway is “the experience” not simply the most convenient way to get to “an experience”.

Our journey took closer to two hours.  It would have taken “all day” if we had been a few weeks earlier when the rhododendron were in full bloom.  As it was, there was still enough purple and red and violet strewn across the meadows to elict the predictable awwwww …. around near-bout every turn.

If Josh Hamilton is a 5-tool ballplayer then Blondie is a multi-tool life companion.  Alas, a sense of direction is not among her innate gifts.  Other than “North America” is above “South America” and New York is “east coast” and LA is “west coast”, she ain’t exactly a walking compass.  Sparta is north of Blowing Rock so going “down” …. West was on our right and east on our left.  Coming back it was reversed.  I used to try and get her to think about how the sun rises “over there” and sets “over yonder” but I finally realized in the great scheme of things it doesn’t matter.  She knows that Nordstrom’s shoe department is on the first floor and their sportswear is on the second floor.  Kid inherited her Mom’s keen pigeon instinct ….. for department stores.

Meandering down “the Parkway” under no time restraints on a beautiful Sunday afternoon was an incredible elixir for my “useless concerns for the future of mankind”.BRP_NC_VA_NPS_Lg

For those of you not familiar with the Blue Ridge Parkway …. It runs thru the Great Smokies and the Blue Ridge from NC thru VA.  It has restricted access (No Trucks, No Trailers, No RVs).  It is just two lanes ….. one going in each direction.  Those two lanes were carved out of the wilderness with as little peripheral clearing as possible and hugging the mountainside with minimal out-of-bounds space.

There is zip/zero/nada commercial signage (aka No Billboards) just minimal National Park Service information, mileage markers, et al.  It is the simplicity of it all that grabs you.  The simplicity …. and the genuine affability of your fellow Parkway travelers.

There are lots of motorcyclists on the Parkway.  Everything from the stereotypical tattooed and leathered Harley cycle-dude (and his dudette) to the senior citizens in their “ordered all the options” two-wheel SUVs.  There are a smattering of bicyclists in their bicycle clothes and funny helmets.  And EVERYBODY GETS ALONG.

There are only a handful of facilities actually on The Parkway and they carry the predictable inventory of mountain arts and crafts.  Mountain people are really big on scented candles …. and CDs of blue grass music.  We stopped at several outposts because scented candles are like flashlight batteries.  You always think you have plenty …. But you never do.  Because I tend to notice friendly people, I noticed how polite and respectful folks were to each other ….. regardless of your means of travel, direction of travel or accent …. Folks smiled and waved and said “hi”.  No one mentioned “super delegates” or “the latest scandal in “____’s campaign”.

Remove “urgency”, “crowding”, “cacophonous hubbub”, and replace it with quiet, serenity, and an overwhelming realization that “Someone” much greater than “man” created all this.  Then people magically stop jockeying for the front of the line?  There is no “road rage” on “The Parkway”.  I’m sure there is the occasional flaming jeackass because flaming jackasses are pretty much omni-present.  But somehow “the Parkway” deals with them expediently.  Don’t ask …. Don’t tell.

That Divine Someone that created this world does High Def even better than Sony.  Who knew!

On the return trip we saw eight wild turkeys and five white-tails and a bazillion scenic “vistas”.

Blondie was in klitchy heaven on Main Street in Blowing Rock.  I bought a pair of red,white, blue seersucker slacks.

Next time we have the opportunity to visit High Meadows we plan to take a day trip up I-77 to Mt Airy and have a pork chop sandwich at Snappy Lunch.


Kevin White is the new AD at Duke.  Those of us pushing for Leo Hart said “darn it” or an equivalent phrase.  We knew from the get-go that there were a handful of possible candidates that had the actual AD-cred to out-point Leo.  Kevin White was such a candidate.  Leo and I and Duke Buck and Titus and the others are hardly your garden variety loonies when it comes to winning and losing.  We weren’t jobbed by “the media” or “the refs” or some black helicopter conspiracy.  A more qualified candidate was chosen over our candidate.  Darn it.  Life goes on.


I did even more cogitating than normal in that relaxed mountain environment.  When someone says something in a conversation that you know is incorrect, do you always feel compelled to correct that person as if by doing so you are somehow pulling a weed of ignorance from life’s garden?  I am finding myself less compelled to do so over the past few years.  It’s OK to let a few weeds grow.

If it is testimony in a high crime trial then “truth” is important.  If it’s a casual conversation with someone who simply does not know a specific subject as well as you do …. why risk embarrassing the person with a correction?  More and more I find myself thinking that the pleasantness of the moment overrides the credibility of whatever is being discussed…. (especially with The Real Bob Kennel! ).  Pleasant moments are far more valuable than how unbelievably misguided the other person may be.

If you adopt my approach as stated above, it does not guarantee that your conversational partners will do likewise.  Unless, of course, you only converse with fellow readers of this column ….. which is itself a very pleasant thought. Sure, if it’s a goggle-eyed lib loonie blaming Bush for Ted Kennedy’s brain tumor that’s another matter …. but why would you ever be in a conversation with such a nitwit any way.  Choose your friends with care to begin with and your conversations will be more pleasant.


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