Wednesday's roadtrip

>> Friday, September 05, 2008

So yeah, on Wednesday I drove up to Boone, in the Appalachian Mountains, for lunch and just to make a roadtrip in the bug. I know I said I hadn't made a roadtrip in the bug before, and that's basically true though I did drive her out to Wilmington in the Spring for a conference--that was work, though, and didn't really count.

Boone is where I went to college, or where I finished my undergraduate education, at least. It's been a while since I've been up there. The Public Defenders used to do their Fall conferences up there, and will be returning to Boone again this November. The town's changed a lot in recent years--the Appalachian State University campus has exploded in size and the main drag has filled up with chain stores like Wal-Mart.

I don't know exactly what, if anything, I was looking for up there. The places I thought I knew have changed and the placed that haven't changed, I realized, were places I never really knew. Looking back, most of my life up there was tightly reined to the university, and there's much of Boone I never knew at all. The Parson's Special at the Boone Drugstore is still one of the best cheeseburgers I've ever had.

I took the camera with me, but I didn't take many pictures in Boone. I took three, in fact, and none of them are posted here today. I think when I go back in November there will be some places on campus I'd like to shoot; parking in Boone is tricky, with a lot of free short-term parking and a lot of long-term parking reserved for faculty and students, and I didn't want to mess with it. And, to tell the truth, there was something a little depressing about being an alien visitor in a town that had seemed like home not just when I was in college but even before and after.

It probably needs to be explained that my parents are originally from western Maryland, and my own childhood was full of trips up there to see grandparents and aunts and uncles during holidays and summers. The mountains always seemed like home to me, always seemed to be where my roots really were. Maybe, in retrospect, that had more to do with how misplaced I felt growing up in Charlotte than it did with the connection to family--in fact, it seems likely that was the case, now that I write this. Going to college in Boone was a matter of heading upstream from a place where I was sad to a place that had always been full of comfort and hope. And now that I'm relatively comfortable--with myself I mean, mostly--now the mountains are just another location. Beautiful, but once or twice removed; a place I stayed but maybe not a place I lived, or lived as much as I thought.

When I mentioned to my Mom what my plans were last weekend, she suggested I could take a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and that was a good idea. I took a long detour home, getting on the parkway south of Boone and driving towards Asheville. Had the Parkway been open all the way to Asheville, I might have stopped there for dinner before getting on I40 to drive home; instead, there was a detour off the Parkway about 90 miles out--I'm not sure what was going on, exactly, but the road was closed--so I got on 40 sooner than I intended and came on home again. I stopped quite a bit to take photos, about one-hundred-seventy-or-so photos, and ten of them are the images you see posted here.

I wasn't too happy with too many of the shots, to tell the truth. Maybe it was something in my mood: I think I have an alright eye, but most of my shots seem uninspired now that I look back over them. They could be anybody's photographs of the mountains. But whatever, here's a sampler of ten of the total.

It was a good drive, and I was happy. My lunch was good, and my spirits were high on the Parkway, and I slept well when I got home. (Indeed, I almost fell asleep in the shower, and scrapped an original plan to walk down to the corner for dinner in favor of making chicken soup and a roast beef sandwich.) The whiff of nostalgia wasn't enough to ruin an excellent drive. The car handled well, the mountains were gorgeous, and the weather was beautiful. And that was my Wednesday.


Shawn Powers Friday, September 5, 2008 at 4:27:00 PM EDT  


I want a Bug so bad. One of the old ones though, liquid cooled, not air cooled. Rag-top convertible. I don't care about color. Wife wants read.


vince Friday, September 5, 2008 at 6:25:00 PM EDT  

I love your bug, as does my daughter. In fact, she would be most pleased if I bought her one. Like that's gonna happen.

As for the pictures, I think you have a good eye. In another life I was a professional photographer, doing primarily weddings, but other stuff to. Both in the classes I took and by personal experience as well as the experience of others, you shoot a lot of pictures to get a few good ones. When I was doing photography, that meant rolls and rolls of film. And why it's so great that digital cameras now can take such great photos. Greatly reduced processing costs!

Jeri Friday, September 5, 2008 at 6:38:00 PM EDT  

I think some of our pictures turned out great.

I especially liked the butterfly and the river shot - although several of them were nicely composed.

It looked like it was actually almost too sunny a day for really good pictures, there was too much light for best composition and color saturation.

Eric Friday, September 5, 2008 at 7:27:00 PM EDT  

Thanks, folks.

There was definitely too much sun for really good pictures. If I take pictures of the ASU campus during the Fall Defenders' conference, the hypothetical plan would be to get up early (ha!) one morning to try to get that awesome dawn's-indirect-light.

As for the bug: at this point, I can't imagine ever not having a convertible bug. I think this car has been better for my blood pressure and general mental health than almost anything I've ever done; not trying to boast or rub it in, just saying that everyone should have one.

I mean, part of the time I was on the Parkway I not only had the top down, but I took off my sandals: driving through the mountains, barefoot, with the wind in your hair... I recommend it to everyone, even if you have to rent a car for the day.

kimby Friday, September 5, 2008 at 8:17:00 PM EDT  

Eric, i think the pictures look great! The country side there is gorgeous!

Leanright,  Saturday, September 6, 2008 at 12:58:00 AM EDT  

Beautiful County! Anyone clinging to Guns and Religion out there?

Hope you didn't experience a "Deliverance" Moment.

Anyone who has, please raise your hands, and squeal like a pig for me.

Ilya Saturday, September 6, 2008 at 10:51:00 AM EDT  

Great views, empty roads... A healthy doze of envy here. And I second Jeri's opinion on pictures. The close-ups were especially nice, but the rest of them are pretty good.

John the Scientist Saturday, September 6, 2008 at 6:51:00 PM EDT  

Eric - where in Western MD? You know Anne and I grew up in Appalachian hollers only a few miles from each other, right?

Unlike you, I grew up in those mountains and never left until I headed to the flatness of the Midwest for college, and then the flatness of the Russian Steppes for adventure. Japan in part felt like home to me because the culture reflects a certain clannishness that you would expect in the hills, and because there were mountains in my vision again.

Those mountains are in my blood, they are where my father is buried, and where I will join him and my mother when my time on this Earth is over. I have been condemned by temperament and vocation to wander the nation and the globe, but one day I will return home.

Leanright - I'm probably the right-most leaning regular of Eric's. Watch your condescension if you ever venture in my mountains - we own guns, but we also suffer at the hands of big corporations, and tend to be very independent-minded. We joke amongst each other, but outsiders need to earn the right to crack wise.

rbird Saturday, September 6, 2008 at 9:23:00 PM EDT  

BOONE!!! i do still feel like it is home, and i try to go there once a year. i even made it down there this past may with oscar, and he was chased by a cow.

Eric Saturday, September 6, 2008 at 9:26:00 PM EDT  

John, my parents hail from Frostburg, Maryland. They came to North Carolina when my Dad came down here for college; I was born down here and pretty much grew up in Charlotte.

Eric Saturday, September 6, 2008 at 9:28:00 PM EDT  

How in the world did Oscar get himself chased by a cow?!?

John the Scientist Saturday, September 6, 2008 at 11:48:00 PM EDT  

A little farther west than Anne and I, but same general tri-state area as Hancock. Tri-state to Anne and I meant WV / VA / MD not WV / MD / PA.

Random Michelle K Sunday, September 7, 2008 at 3:23:00 PM EDT  

Eric, that's how *I* think the world should look.

Anywhere else I've gone just hasn't looked right, and flat?


I love the butterfly picture and the picture over the water.

And mountains are difficult to shoot. I never get the sense looking at a picture that I do looking at them in person.

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