Friday, July 2, 2010

Driving Rolling Rock

So many winding mountain roads as though built expressly for two wheels. here I was on vacation driving a splendid but four wheeled Fusion.This place looked nice- in the summer sun- give it a few weeks and then it will be leafless and frosty and a reminder that the Florida Keys are the only place to be in winter.We blew through the town of Boone in our motorized exploration of the mountains north of Asheville. Boone is home to the Appalachian State University -never heard of it- a fact supported by the sudden appearance of young people slouching along the sidewalks in a manner reminiscent of students the world over.Boone itself looked unremarkable enough, a variety of cute restaurant names, pubs and gathering places for the young and supposedly studious, but my sister in law had planted a seed in her sister's head and we were bound through this town elsewhere. Scooters are everywhere, at least when the sun is shining. Whether or not this rider has health insurance he is wearing the state's requirement on his head. One more reason to prefer Florida's flat roads.My wife's role as chief financial officer never ends and she had some papers to copy and fax or something so I resumed my important family role of chief dog entertainer, which meant she and I climbed the retaining wall behind Staples to get a better view across the valley.
There wasn't much to see from our grassy vantage point and soon enough Cheyenne and I were recalled to earth and resumed our winding drive to the place recommended by Geeta. We were to find lunch somewhere in the strangely named town of Blowing Rock twenty minutes from Boone.The primary requirement was shady parking for young Cheyenne, the secondary requirement was somewhere interesting to eat. The main tourist street was crowded so I dived down a leafy side road and found Cheyenne her spot. Which caused us to pass this place off the main drag, thanks to the dog's parking requirements, so we stopped in:The dining room closed at 2pm so I was ready to call it off but my wife is made of sterner stuff and the young woman in the dining room ushered us to a table saying "It's one fifty eight so we must still be open." We need to come back to this place this winter.
The town is called Blowing Rock because before Europeans showed up local Indians (Catawba and Cherokee I'm told) noticed windy cliff face conditions in the area and the tourist authority says there is a Romeo and Juliette legend featuring lovers from both tribes who met here and he, despairing, threw himself off the cliff but the strong winds blew him back up again into her arms. Aw! Sob. Gimme beer.Beer and fried green tomatoes go well together. My wife thinks this might be a version she wants to replicate, beans and a vinegar based dressing that she had never before tasted.I was ready to eat a sandwich and move on to Linville Gorge but we ended up with a two beer sit down lunch. Duck salad for her and fried scallop sandwich for me. I had never had such a thing and never expected it in this mountain fastness but I expect I just need to get out more.It was profoundly warm in the sun outside especially out of the breeze but the garden looked magnificent through the screen. It is perhaps another measure of my ignorance but Blowing Rock claims to be high on lists of desirable places to be among travel writers and "professionals" of that trade. It also claims to be well liked by Southern Living magazine. I like it too well enough for a lunch stop now.Our friendly young waitress told us Boone with it's box stores is the center of commerce but Blowing Rock, her home town, is the laid back place to be in these valleys. She did mention her impending move from home to China, and as she didn't elaborate we were left to speculate that she was either going to trade credit derivatives or to save souls. She was so sweet I don't think Goldman Sachs or the Honkers and Shankers Bank would want her ilk. Soul saving it is, I think and I expect they will enjoy having her around as much as we did.
This was decidedly not the place to ask to photograph her chest but after we had paid our $46 tab we hiked back to the car to make sure Cheyenne was enjoying herself as much as we were. A quick shot or two of some flowers in the delightful gardens and lunch was quite over for the day.We then started the sunny hike back to the main drag for a quick peek at Blowing Rock. There is a pretty little park at the top of the hill (NO DOGS) and a home made ice cream parlor which was attracting attention.This town should really be sickly sweet and cloying but there is something fresh and innocent and charming about western North Carolina that breaks down the skeptic in you. Even this lot didn't look like a movie set,they looked just..happy? I need to take a leaf out of their book.
I had competition when it comes to looking out for my dog.Women yes; dogs no. Grrr.Ice cream anyone? We were stuffed already thanks and the heat index was getting close to explosive.
Cheyenne's eye view of a 90 degree sidewalk.
We took a shady short cut back to the car, stopping along the way for a delicious discarded snack, an unconsidered trifle in a planter.Cheyenne was selflessly helping to keep North Carolina's prettiest little town looking it's best.