Day 11: January 1, 2013
Cloudy Lookout

Comment via blog

Previous Day
Next Day
Site Home
Trip Home

It was raining steadily as I left Raleigh so any doubts I had about just hitting the expressway were washed away. I headed directly to the nearest I-40 entrance. With no particular plans, other than heading in the general direction of home, I turned to Roadside America early. It came up with a couple of things near Winston-Salem, North Carolina. One, a shell shaped gas station, I'd seen on the trip on which I'd first seen the acorn. The other I wasn't even aware of. In fact, I wasn't even aware of the place where it stands. I've always heard the name Winston-Salem and it seems to have never occurred to me that there was once a Winston and a separate Salem. They've shared a singe name since the 1890s so maybe it's not surprising that I didn't know of their separate beginnings but maybe I should have known of the restored Moravian village now known as Old Salem. There was light rain during my visit so I didn't explore the town but only snapped a picture of the roadside attraction I'd been alerted to.

The Mickey Coffee Pot isn't as big as the one in Bedford, Pennsylvania, which I've seen, or the one in Tacoma, Washington, which I haven't. It's more the size of the one at Lynn's Paradise Cafe, in Louisville, Kentucky. But it's a lot older than any of them. Created by the Mickey brothers in 1858 as an advertisement for their tinsmith business, this is the granddaddy of all giant roadside pots.

I had it in my mind that Snappy Lunch, of Andy Griffith fame, closed around 2:00 and, as Mount Airy came within range, thought I could probably make it. Nope, it was closed on my second visit just as it had been on the first. The sign on the door says 1:45 on Tuesdays. The website says 1:15. Getting in just before closing on Tuesdays is certainly uncertain. I was there at 1:20 but I doubt that, even if the website is generally correct, it would not have mattered when I arrived. I suspect the Snappy Lunch, like just about everything else in downtown Mount Airy, was closed for New Year's Day.

I'd returned to the expressway after the coffee pot visit but stayed on US-52 after taking it to Mount Airy. There was a definite tug as I neared the Blue Ridge Parkway but I settled for just driving under it.

At this point, Roadside America got a little help. Russell Rein, a.k.a. Ypsi Slim, travels lots of old roads like the Lincoln Highway and original US Highways. He has done the full length of several (2?, 12?, 20?) and US-52 is high on his list. On December 23, he posted that he was out on Fifty-Two and had visited the Big Pencil and the Big Walker Lookout. I immediately looked them up, of course, and saw that my return path would probably take me close. It did so here's the Big Pencil in Wytheville, Virginia.

I continued following Ypsi Slim's nine day old tire tracks toward Big Walker Lookout. The faux town of Virginia City is on the way but it's closed and for sale. I soon encountered a little snow on the ground and fog in the air. I knew before I ever started that there would be no scenic view from the tower today but hadn't considered that just seeing the tower would be a challenge. By the time I reached the Lookout, it was shrouded in fog/clouds. The lot was covered with ice and snow. On a clearer day, I'd have paid a few bucks at the BW Country Store and climbed the tower. Today I just chatted with the owner, bought some snacks, and moved on.

There was more snow on the north slopes of Big Walker Mountain than on the south but it was no problem beyond making things look colder. The building, which I'm guessing was once a gas station, is near the bottom where things are leveling out. Note the concrete block restrooms.

I rejoined I-77 near Bland, Virginia, and briefly wondered if my time on US-52 had taken me past the scenic sections I remembered. That was not the case at all but fog and, too soon, darkness kept me from appreciating them. It was still light when I went through Big Walker Mountain Tunnel but I drove an awful lot of winding interstate in the dark before finding a place to roost near Charleston, West Virginia.

[Prev] [Site Home] [Trip Home] [Contact] [Next]