Tag Archives: North Carolina

Clams Make Everybody Happy 6

From My Mother’s Journal, July 6:

Left at 10:45 AM traveling along the Blue Ridge Parkway – a scenic drive. Lots of pictures taken. Stopped at the first place we could for souvenirs. Jeff got a book about rocks ($1.60) Becky bought some things and told us she’d pay us back. She owes us $4.08. We drove a while and stopped and picked up a few rocks for Jeff. Stopped at Crabtree Meadows for lunch. It was good. ($11.25). Stopped at a museum about North Carolina Miners. Saw three “long-hairs” lolling in the grass beside the highway, they had been inquiring about a job at the museum.

Gas is expensive along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Almost 50 cents a gallon! Stopped for worms for Jon’s fishing at Boone, NC.

Stopped at the Julian Price Memorial, the museum, and park ($2.00). We really enjoyed the cool weather at this park. A little bear showed up behind Jon as he was fishing. Becky was swimming in the lake when the bear appeared next to the bait that Jon was using for his fish. She said he jumped into the water fully clothed when he caught a glimpse of the bear. I think the bear was more interested in seeing if Jon had any fish, which he didn’t, so the bear left. No electricity or showers here. We rigged up the portable shower (cold water hose) for Becky and me to take our daily shower. We decided to stay here a while as it was only $2.00 a night.

July 8

Left the Julian Price Park at 11:25 AM. The Rhododendron are beautiful. We see only one genuine hillbilly in all the state. He was walking along the highway with a staff like he was used to walking from place to place. The last park was so pleasant we would have stayed longer if there were hot showers. Stopped at Cherry Hill shop for souvenirs ($2.15) and coffee (.47). Lunch at Bluff Lodge. Stopped in Cherokee, NC as we usually do. We love the Indian ceremonies but don’t take the time to explore as we normally would. At Mabry Mill we watch corn being ground the old fashioned way. Streams were diverted through a wood trough to turn the old wooden wheel. We visited the blacksmith shop. The blacksmith was forging some scissors. We stopped at the souvenir shop and I bought a spoon and some corn meal. Bought some post cards to send a thank you note to the Schleifs and to Jack Innes. At the end of a winding road we found Doughton Park.This park doesn’t look nearly as appealing at Price Park did. We only stay the one night.

July 9

The Parkway enters Virginia at 2:15 PM. We notice the beautiful orange wild flowers mixed in with yellow and white. I don’t know what they are. This Parkway, though not so smooth here, must be the most beautiful road in the world. Only saw one group of colored the entire time. I don’t know if they try to keep them out. I don’t know. The speed limit is 45 MPH and the road is litter free. The flowers look like they were planned but I know they are wild flowers. Park rangers patrol around the clock. The car uses almost twice as much gas in these mountains and hills than on the flat highways. Plus the gas is more expensive. What a way to run things, right?

We stayed overnight at a Holiday Inn in Roanoke, VA ($27.56) Washed hair, etc. Kids went swimming. Ate supper here. ($15.97)

July 9

As we start out again Jon starts a huge fight with Becky and Jeff. Both Becky and Jeff crying. They are unhappy and saying they want to go home. Robbie sides with Jon. I don’t know what the fight was about and I don’t care. Just wish they would get along. Stopped for lunch at Howard Johnson’s (11.60) Becky orders clams – we all ordered the clams. Seems to make everyone happy. Got some good apple candy made in VA.

Next stop is Natural Bridge Caverns. ($8.10) There are hymns playing from somewhere taken from right out of our hymnal, it seems. The long walk around the cavern and the bridge was worth it. The kids seem to be more calm and we are all in a general good mood. Post cards and drinks (.52)

Mileage 53,333. Mt. Crawford, VA 13.4 gal. $5.33

For the Love of Rocks

My parents took my three brothers and me to just about every state or national park from Texas up to Minnesota and across the entire eastern map of the U.S. As I recall forty three  state stickers were plastered to the back of the old pop-up camper. Purchasing the stickers at Stuckey’s became integral to the race to compile more stickers than any other camper. This was before “Survivor” type reality TV. No one was going to vote us off the campsite if we didn’t reach yet another far-off place during our usual two-week summer vacation. But my parents were fiercely competitive in their camping mode. Some states we visited multiple times, of course, because we had to get from here to there, and we usually took a different route from there to here.

This isn’t a travel blog.

Every other year our destination was Iowa, to visit the relatives, and every OTHER year it was North Carolina. Cherokee, North Carolina to be specific. We all loved the Smoky Mountains National Park. Something for everyone there. Fishing, hiking, swimming, wading across slimy rocks in swift, freezing water, drinking same water and coming down with the terrible heebie-jeebies, and watching Native American dances in town.

From each park I took, okay,  I stole a rock or two. Once I stole a frog. It was a huge green bull frog. The only reason I got that frog from Tennessee to Texas was because my mother never knew I had it in the car’s backseat until we arrived home. I was not allowed to keep him in my bedroom.

The frog got away.

The rocks from all over the US, I kept. I rearrange nature.

Weirdly, I was born loving rocks. Or dirt. Maybe mud. Definitely bugs. And usually snakes. Perhaps from watching my older brother. He was a digger. I am a digger. He went into landscape architecture. I am a master gardener. At least that is a good cover.  The truth is I believe in hidden treasure. So I keep digging.

Anyways, I grew up watching him, and wanting to be like him and have his stuff. He had a chemistry set. I wasn’t to touch it. Did you know chemistry sets have gum arabic? Did you know that gum arabic doesn’t have any flavor? He had a rock collection. One that he carefully compiled over years of saving to buy the bits glued to cardboard squares with their proper names in stiff typeset. I wasn’t to touch it. I especially liked the fool’s gold. I think I still have that one.

My personal assemblage of stone amounted to some weight as we visited a lot of parks and this collection process spanned many years. I kept them at my parents home hidden-in-plain-sight in the “rock” garden until I had a house and room for them. Much to my husbands despair I carted them around move after move. I used the rocks as decoration or as garden borders. About seven years ago we sold our house so quickly – it was such a shock because houses weren’t selling then either – that I wasn’t prepared. I forgot the rocks. The majority of them are still there in Sugar Land, Texas.

So this is much ablog about nothing.

But as an aside. I still have a large beach pebble from Maine (a gift from a friend), a lightening-glass chunk in turquoise (see movie: Sweet Home Alabama), an illegal stalactite (no, really, I took it before the laws), slate pebbles from the beaches of West Cornwall, England, some sandstone from West Texas, and I even took a stone from the mountain top where Ronald Reagan’s Presidential library sits. I’m really surprised that I got away with that. I did do a little surreptitious thing with my jacket and bending to “tie” my shoe. You see I had already been caught sitting on RR’s saddle and wearing his hat. (Wow. Stop! Within seconds we men in dark coats surrounded us. “The sign says ‘don’t touch’.”) I really had not seen the sign. I just wanted to pose for the pictures my mortified husband was taking. Unfortunately the camera was broken. Who knew? We took a lot of pictures we didn’t know we weren’t taking. I would never be able to show the pictures of me wearing the gipper’s hat and sitting on the worn-out saddle draped on the saw-horse? I do not lie. It happened.

This is the beginning of my new collection.

So for all of those who LOVE rocks as I do – rock on!