Day 7: August 27, 2010
Nothing Could be Finer
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While I was at the Blue Ridge Music Center yesterday, I half seriously talked about returning today to catch some music. That soon became wholly serious. The fellow in the center's gift shop had told me of some motels in Galax and gave me directions. I made it there and checked into a motel. I needed to do laundry. There were no facilities at the motel but there was a laundromat not too far away. The idea of spending part of the morning doing laundry formed quite naturally and that's just what I did. Living on the road is not all fun and games.

I arrived at the Music Center a bit ahead of the scheduled noon start so strolled out to take a look at the amphitheater. Concerts are held here most Saturdays and a few other days throughout the summer. I even got a shot from center stage.

Banjo picker Jim Marshall usually heads up the Friday sessions but Jim is recovering from some minor surgery. I believe most or all of the four players who started things off today are typically here with Jim but I don't know their names. Just some talented and modest musicians who were more concerned with letting us know that Jim Marshall CDs were available than with getting their own names known. They did say that a spare guitar and banjo were available so that any unequipped players could join in. Before I left, another fiddler and another guitar player, both familiar to the group and both with their own instruments, had joined. The already decent sized crowd was nearly doubled by a group from an area nursing home and things took on the appearance of a segregated rock & roll concert; rockers on the right; rollers on the left.

The North Carolina border is just a few miles south of the Music Center. Peter Jefferson, the father of the guy who lived in that house I visited Tuesday, was part of the group that surveyed the boundary in 1749. This cabin and "outdoor pantry" are about twenty miles from the state line. The cabin was built around 1880 and occupied until the land was purchased for the parkway in the 1930s. Martin Brinegar built it entirely from materials found on site. Neighbors helped lift logs to form the walls and he took other logs to a sawmill to be cut into boards but, other than that, it was pretty much a one man project. I grabbed the last picture from the parking area at the cabin when I saw that two riders were approaching.

Fifty some miles down the road, Moses Cone had things a little nicer than Martin Brinegar. He built Flat Top Manor in the 1890s with blue jean money; At one time Moses and his brother Caesar were the largest producers of denim in the world. The twenty-three room manor now houses the Parkway Craft Center. I grabbed the last picture from the driveway in front of the house when I saw that two riders were approaching.

This is the Linn Cove Viaduct. In 1983 it became the last piece of the Blue Ridge Parkway put in place. Don't strain your eyes on the mist shrouded viaduct in my picture. There are many much better photos around. The mist seemed about to turn to rain as I pulled into the visitor center just beyond the viaduct and I put the top on the car before heading down the path leading beneath it. Things looked better when I returned and I again popped the top in hopes of keeping the string alive. It worked. I've seen rain on this trip but never while on the parkways and every mile of Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway has been driven topless.

I was starting to wonder where those North Carolina tunnels were when the first one appeared at mile 333. That's it in the first picture. As promised, I won't include every tunnel but I thought the rock wall leading to the tunnel in the second picture made it worth posting.

As day's end approached, it seemed I would either have to head several miles off the Parkway to find a room or continue on to Asheville. I chose to continue on. The only problem this presented was that, by the time I got checked in and organized, it was after 8:00 and I didn't feel like scouting out a restaurant. I decided to walk across the street to the Waffle House. On the way, I spotted what I though was a Budweiser sign in an almost unmarked building and decided to take a look. That's how I met Zack and discovered rootball. Rootball was created right here at Root Bar #1 by a former owner. The fact that Root Bar #2 doesn't exactly exist is part of the beauty of the place. When I asked Zack if he was the owner, he described himself as one of three "sharecroppers". There are three sand covered rootball courts behind the bar which I suspect may have been sliced from what was once a volleyball court. Two of the courts seemed in constant use. The third, in the center, has something like a flagpole rising from it and is probably only used when folks are desperate for a rootball fix.

I had one beer then headed on to dinner. I returned to listen to some quite good jazz/blues/country, try a couple of local brews that Zack picked for me, and watch a little more rootball. All this and not even a mile off the BRP.

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