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Monday, October 4, 2010

MEMORY HIGHWAY

view from the parkway at laurel springs


Drove to W Jefferson for the first time in so many years I have no recollection. There was a period of several years I drove to Jefferson twice a week. A lot of memories along the way. The road was loaded with memories, like the Peak Creek Community Center that is half way from my house to Jefferson. In my 5th month in the mountains I went to a dance there when it was a place that had dances on weekends, country music. A guy singing with such a high opinion of himself no one else could ever match it. He thought he was on his way to stardom. I didn't even attempt to remember his name, knowing I'd never see or hear of him again.



My friend Pat was visiting from Charleston that weekend. Bill Pruitt took us to the place, or we took him. Driving along the highway, he pointed to various places he'd wrecked drunk, where he broke his collarbone and an arm, where he broke a leg and some ribs. Where he broke...where he broke. He spent a lot of time in emergency rooms getting patched up from never learning he couldn't drive when he was drunk. At a certain point Bill wanted us to go out to the parking lot. He was intent on finding us some white liquor. Across the highway at the then Gulf station that was closed, Pat and I sat in the back seat of the car of somebody we didn't know, drinking our first white liquor from a plastic milk jug. It was pretty nasty, not because it was white liquor, but because it wasn't very good white liquor. I didn't know that then. I just figured white liquor was nasty. Tried some Georgia Moon out of the liquor store another time and it was worse.



I took the Parkway to Roe Hunt Road and took that road to 88 and then on to Jefferson. Passing the church at Wagoner, the little curve there, I remembered seeing a black snake coiled on the yellow lines one day when I was headed to Jefferson. I spoke to it in passing, Not a good place for a serpent. When I returned later, the snake was not dead on the road. Must have made it across. I came upon a short stretch of relatively straight road that had passing zones for both ways, the place I waited for many a time to get around somebody. When it came into view it lifted my spirit when I needed to pass, when somebody wasn't coming the other way.



I remembered crossing the bridge where 16 goes off to the left by the country store. Beyond the bridge the landscape goes upward at a pretty fair rate. In the 4 cylinder Toyota pickup, I had to go into 3rd gear going around the curve at the top. The v-6 Buick went up there and around the curve like there was nothing to it. If I'd wanted to I could have squealed the tires going around the curve easily. On the way back I was a little ways into a passing zone before I noticed the broken yellow line, had about half the zone to get around the car, not a lot of space, checked the mirror to see if anybody behind me was on the way around, no, and I put pedal to the metal and launched the car around him like a rock coming out of a slingshot. I was ready for it this time. It felt good. I've never had a car that would do such a thing. I actually don't know how high the speedometer goes, but do know this car could peg it in a very short time. I like having a car that runs like it's new, has a nice interior and the external appearance is such that no thief would want it.



I remembered the curves on Jane Taylor mountain so lethal to motorcyclists from cities riding in the mountains on a pretty day, going up over the top toward Laurel Springs, an easy incline, no problem keeping up the speed, a curve to the right at the top, no big thing, then the curve never stops, it keeps on going, keeps on going. It's deceptive your first time into it. If you go into it too
fast, which is easy to do, you'll be easing toward the yellow line and across it quicker than you'll notice. It's a curve that you have to slow down before you go into it, because braking in it makes the problem worse. These city biker wannabes hug the yellow line around curves, never anticipating what everyone who drives in the mountains regularly knows--invariably a truck will come around the curve straddling the yellow line, and you better get out of the way quick. But you can't. Pop. That's it, cat shit. Helicopter ride to Winston-Salem.

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