The hills in southwestern Virginia are old, worn and comfortable, and they hold the stories of my ancestors.
There is a sense of mystery here, almost a feeling of being haunted, but benevolently so. It’s just the ghosts of my daddy’s people, watching over one of their own.
The winding roads cut pathways not just through distance, but through time, and through memory. I spent hours and hours on them as a child, when we’d drive all day to spend Christmas or Easter or a summer week with my grandparents, aunties, uncles, and cousins (lots of cousins, of various degrees of kissin’).
In our ten days here on this trip, only my second as an adult, I have witnessed these things:
- Ramshackle houses with recliners and washing machines on the front porch
- A small-town building that serves as a combination elementary school, public library, and rescue squad
- Yards that hold chickens, goats, and barking hounds
- Spray-painted plywood signs for small engine repair, live bait, a vacant lot for sale
- Narrow roads that twist through the hollers, causing a 14-mile journey to take 45 minutes
- High levels of devotion to church, family, NASCAR, deer season, country music, cigarettes and beer
They are all part of me — just like bagels from the deli, evenings at the theater, city sidewalks, and never paying retail. But that’s a whole ‘nother journey and destination, and I’m not sure the RV can go there, but that might not stop us from trying.
We’re all set up at the Sugar Hollow Campground for the week. Here’s what we did today.
The famous sign over State Street, the center of which is the state line.
We must return to see it all lit up after dark!
Of course I stood in the middle of the street, one foot in each state. TN on the left; VA on the right.
We ate lunch — burgers, fries and shakes, of course — at the Burger Bar, rumored to be the last place Hank Williams, Sr., was seen alive. Here’s an intriguing blog post about it.
Tim went with the chocolate coconut shake. Tasted like a Mounds bar!
So many flavors!
Encountered this local lady in the Burger Bar. She made sure I noticed her dancing Santa, and she showed me her Tennessee Ernie Ford album. Like, record album. And yes, that’s her leopard print handbag hanging from her walker.
Could not make this shit up.
After leaving the downtown area, we went in search of the Resting Tree. We’d tried to find it on foot yesterday, and after nearly two hours of walking the park’s trails without success, we finally asked the park ranger how to get to it. “It’s just past the ball fields,” he said. “You can park right next to it.”
Slaves on the Preston Plantation took their breaks here at the Resting Tree in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s.
Some slaves were laid to rest there permanently, and it’s believed there were as many as 100 graves. This is one of three that remain marked, with bare stones.
Resting against the Resting Tree. Makes me look rather petite by comparison, yes?