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I have been to the mountains and I didn’t want to leave. No cell phone coverage. No internet. Sky–lots of it. Also more maple syrup than I technically needed, but that’s Highland County’s thing, so can’t really argue with it. It won’t make me popular at Monterey’s doughnut-selling shack, but I just think maple-glazed doughnuts are a bad idea. Maple-glazed chicken I could get behind–and my mouth in front of, and maple syrup on buckwheat pancakes tasted as maple trees intended in their infinite wisdom. The folks who still make the syrup the old way are a different sort than most Americans. Spend time outside. Touch trees. Wonder if bears might wake up too soon and cause some trouble at the sugar shack. That sort of thing. The early summery weather made it tough on syrup production this year, FYI.


During my two night visit last month during the Maple Festival, I was able to come up with t-shirt slogans that will make someone other than me not the least bit rich, tour several sugar camps, stare at countless gorgeous views with sun and shadow and mountains and meadows playing so well together-almost as well as maple syrup and Jack Daniels purportedly get along over ice. Perhaps the highlight was having wine and cheese alongside a rushing creek with some friends. For the rest of the story, you’ll have to read whatever else it is that I wrote in a travel piece for the May issue of Richmond Magazine.

As every mile of the Blue Ridge Parkway winds along the ridgeline of the mountains, it’s remarkable to realize that nobody has ruined it.  How un-American of us. Every twist in the road is beautiful if perhaps carsickness-inducing and the views of lush valleys and nearby mountains are stunning as long as you don’t forget to keep your eyes on the road now and then. The lack of concessions and convenience mile after mile is awesome. No plastic or vinyl or neon for hours at a time. It’s as if someone wants you to pay attention to where you are and doesn’t expect you to buy anything. Weird. 

Back when both of us could amble, we moseyed on and stopped at Mabry Mill at mile marker 176.2, and ambled along the trail there to live in the past just a bit–another of the parkway’s charm is it encourages you to pay attention to what where you are used to be, too–mills and log flumes and railroads and farms and such.


 I am not the brightest bulb,so this was the first time I actually sort of understood what purpose a log flume actually had in the real world. You mean it’s not just an old-timey roller coaster that gets people wet?

no fake log canoes in sight

Did I think those country log flume builders in days of yore were just ahead of their time, waiting for Disney World and Kings Dominion to come up with a ticketing and photo-taking system that would make the flumes economically viable? I’m a simplistic sort–I just like getting splashed at the bottom of the chute. I did behave myself at Mabry Mill and did not jump into the flume on a makeshift raft to see what would happen–my cause-effect sensor was operating that day so I had a pretty good idea of the potential fall-out, so to speak.

I’m back!