Sundown Saturday we (since I was alone on this journey Z3PO was rapidly anthropomorphized) made beautiful downtown Fancy Gap,Virginia—a dot on the map, but I was too tired to drive farther in the dark, in the mountains. My accommodation was one of those one-story L-shaped motels that you once saw so much in the Blue Ridge and SmokeyMountains. Z3PO was incensed at the potholed parking lot. But the motel had a restaurant attached, or the other way around, not quite sure. I had a REAL hamburger, genuine beef, lettuce and a tomato with flavor. Two guys fromCanadawere unpacking next door to my very sparse (not even a phone) room and we started talking. They were antique buffs returning from a show inNew Orleans. They offered me a rum and coke and I accepted. We sat in plastic chairs, sipping our drinks, from very different climes geographically and personally. I have a folder of memories. This one was filed under how nice people can be.
Sunday dawned chill and clear, and I won’t bore you with how lost I got by following stranger’s directions instead of listening to my GPS. Tom-Tom and I have trust issues that we must resolve in counseling. Suffice to say, I visited Greenville, Tennesseetwice in one day and from different routes. It was HOT and I had the top back and my temper was a little frayed by the time I reached Pigeon Forge, a place I hadn’t planned to visit.
For reference, Dollywood is in Pigeon Forge along with scads of other entertainment attractions. I found the best attraction. ThePigeonRiverruns through Pigeon Forge (imagine that!) ThePigeonRiverisn’t very wide or deep. It gurgles and whispers over rocks. It is enchanting. As a kid, my parents took me to Cherokee,North Carolina and my Dad and I fished in such a river. I actually use the fishing part in Cardinal Desires.
Back on track: I knew the way to Deals Gap at last. I stayed in a hotel overlooking the PigeonRiver, could hear it when I left the balcony door open, which I did to a crisp mountain night, and (drumroll) the room boasted a Jacuzzi tub.
Next morning I saddled up Z3PO and it’s off to Deals Gap we go. Stopped for a Hardee’s country ham biscuit (not available everywhere—not in TX) and off I go to Tapoco,North Carolina. I was in high spirits and in love, of course, with Z3PO when I stopped at one of those fake but lovely mountain stores selling expensive, unique gifts. The sign that turned me around was “Moonshine,” and I thought that would make a nice present for my Ex. They didn’t sell moonshine, silly me, but they directed me to heaven. And I bought a beautiful candle with an extraordinary smell (reminiscent of sandalwood).
If I described heaven: A winding road by a gurgling river (served on the rocks), the air filled with yellow and black butterflies. Like manna from heaven, dogwoods dropped pink and white blossoms, into the open top of my car. The sunlight filtering through leaves. Fresh, crispy mountain morning breeze. And threaded through this natural beauty the musical purr of the Z3’s exhausts. The total sensory input was like music—made visual as well as auditory.