Today, this site recorded its 100,000th hit. One-by-one, since April 2005. But for a mere thimble full, all were anonymous. Each following an image search. International nomads pausing here for a momentary sample of rural heritage. Then, with a click, departing for sites unknown.
No chestnuts by an open fire this season for me. No stockings hung by the chimney with or without care. No sharp-toed reindeer prancing on my already damaged and leaking roof. No credit crunch, unpaid mortgages, oil crises, or unsustainable bailouts. The time has come for me to face the Holiday's challenges directly.
Just finished fillin' out the log book for my 24th annual extended extravagant backroads expedition beginning Tomorrow morning at 4:30 am. Formless spontaneous shunpiking thru the hinterlands of Va., Wva., Ky, Tenn, and NC. Following the next impulse. As the marching bars show, long gone are the heady days when out-of-pocket expenses could be kept below $28-$30 per day - food, gas, shelter and incidentals like ice, an occasional spray wash to knock the dust and mud off the truck, scotch tape for map repair and, of course, essentials like my daily course of chocolate crème filled cup cakes. For the first 3 or 4 days I'll retrace old familiar tracks while performing all adjustments needed to shift from living in the burbs to living in my truck. Sixty five year old joints and ligaments need a bit of coaxing, you know, this trip eased by my new thermarest plus foam cushion combo called "Dreamland". On Day 01 I'll find State Road 215 in Transylvania Co. NC heading north up thru the headwaters of the North Fork French Broad River, then north along the Blue Ridge Parkway to a favorite Inn in Burnsville. On Day 02 I'll follow familiar backroads north thru the mountains of western North Carolina ending at Raccoon Branch campground in Smyth County Va. Early the next morning Day 03 I'll stop at the Sugar Grove Diner for pork tenderloin and eggs and my annual visit with Peggy Sexton to catch up on local news from the last 12 months. After replenishing gas and ice it's north via the off-track thru Bland, Giles, Craig, and Alleghany Cos. Virginia stopping when the light fails. With a long hard Day 03 drive I might make it to the Pocahontas Campground in Pocahontas County, Wva - Greenbrier River headwaters. Back in three weeks. Play those crazy bars.
Volunteers, typically young and single, gather in their spare time to shine trucks, dry hoses, maintain gear and listen to the scanner restless for the next adrenalin rush. Frametown, West Virginia. Braxton County.
Forget-me-nots gather to soak their toes in soggy soil along a forgotten ditch while enjoying Bingo calls from the community center up the hill in Pickens, West Virginia. Randolph County.
These are not industrial eggs automated from fertilization thru immunization, incubation, hatching, rearing then laying when the stupefied hen drops an anonymous egg into a trough that rolls thru robotic processing untouched by human hands all the way to the grocery shelf. Eggs matter out here in Braxton County, West Virginia.
Amid a vast chaotic tangle of junkyard scrap, someone chose order over disorder applying precision and internal relationships to stem the relentless tides of entropic disintegration. Mercer County, West Virginia.
Blocks and boards and a really cool sign helped me wrangle a proper response to the sarcastic question once asked when I admitted to be a wildflower photographer. "After all, how many pictures can you take of a daisy? (har har)"
The joy of it. An April morning drive to western North Carolina, fussin' over the gradual leaf bud decline especially at higher elevations, sometimes climbing up and over the Spring Line below. Then a night's repose in a sleepy motel dreaming peacefully about tomorrow's vital mission: rise by five am, belly full of breakfast by six, then push easterly into the Nantahala National Forest for my annual rendezvous with the rising sun at the Trillium fields. Dancing sugar plums for my hungry heart, a bubbling tonic for my anxious soul. Will they be out. Whilst savoring my coffee this particular morning at ten before, two Sheriff's deputies (in short sleeves at 33 degrees outside) strode thru the front door and arrested my waitress. "Put down the food," as they hauled her out and stuffed her into the back seat of the cruiser. After a moment of stunned silence the night waitress screamed, "I'm not gonna work another shift today." The cook screamed, "Why didn't you get her at home last night instead of leaving me short (of staff)." Above the chaos, wondering by now if the butter would melt I screamed, "Where's my waffle!" Eventually, all managed a chortle with a sardonic cough on the side.
Clay County, North Carolina Saturday 20 April 2007