04 May 2012

Old Friends, Good times

Sunset over Boone
Last weekend I made a quick trip down to Boone, North Carolina, to visit my oldest friend in the world.  Tracie was the first friend I made when I moved to Mississippi from Wisconsin in the fifth grade, back when that new world I'd landed in felt quite alien to me, but perhaps not quite as alien as I seemed to my new classmates.  We drifted apart after college, but thanks to Facebook, we reconnected a few years ago and now when we get together, it seems as if no real time has passed.  You're lucky when you have friends with whom you pick back up where you left off, and Tracie is one of them for me.

I hopped a little USAirways nonstop flight from Hartford, CT, to Charlotte, NC, where my whirlwind weekend began.  I lived in North Carolina for two years while pursuing my master's degree in English at Wake Forest University, and I've visited Asheville a couple of times for work, but I'd never visited as deep into Appalachia as Boone before.  It's a staggeringly pretty part of the world, and it's easy to see why the city of Boone is such a mecca: it's a university town, with all of the grand funkiness and variety that that moniker implies, but it's also a a cultural center and a liberal oasis among the sea of conservatism that marks most of the rest of the state.

This is the view from Tracie & Rene's back deck.  I know, right? Pretty shabby.
Tracie and I had a grand old time reminiscing about the town of Petal, MS, where we had grown up.  Though I didn't graduate from Petal, I was very interested in learning everything about my former classmates and where the are now, and as Tracie was part of the planning committee for the 20th reunion last spring, she was armed with information and happy to comply.

At baseball practice
I also had the great pleasure of meeting Tracie's two adorable children and getting to know her husband a bit more (I had met him once, about 15 years ago, over a quick lunch). I spend quite a bit of time en famille, eating dinner, baseball practice, playing Matchbox, reading books, blowing bubbles, and just limin'. The rest of the time we were on the go, driving around to see the scenery, checking out Grandfather Mountain and its many enticements, and even meeting up with another friend from grade school who lives in eastern Tennessee for breakfast one morning.

Bob's Dairyland doesn't look too promising from the outside (that is, if you're in the market for some breakfast, not bbq), but it delivered. We chose it because it was approximately halfway between Boone and where Kristi lives in TN.  I ordered a chicken & egg biscuit and that biscuit was *amazing*.   There are many things I miss about the South, and food is definitely one of them.

Kristi & Tracie loaded up on grits and other Southern breakfast delicacies.  I kinda blew it by ordering coffee, which was nothing special, instead of getting sweet tea.  The three of us spent a good bit of time catching up and chatting about our former embarrassing moments with boys, etc, and then it was time for us to part ways.  Kristi had to get back to her family, and Grandfather Mountain was calling our names.  Tracie's daughter "helped" by taking our photo outside Bob's Dairyland so that we could all have a memento of our time there, but I'm afraid that she missed our faces altogether.

I can't recall the height of Grandfather Mountain at its absolute summit, but there's a suspension cable bridge atop it that is one mile high, and that's where we ended up that day.  I never thought I'd feel vertigo or anything like that while crossing it, so it surprised me when I was a little bit nervous when I was out in the middle of it. 

The Singing Bridge on Grandfather

More of Tracie's daughter's camerawork!
I stayed here while Tracie and Co went onward to explore
We spent some time admiring the view and then made our way homeward to get ready for dinner preps that evening.  Tracie & Rene were getting ready to regale me with some good old-fashioned NC barbecue with MS side dishes, and they didn't disappoint!  Before dinner I read books with the kids to keep them occupied 'cause goodness knows I'm no help at all in the kitchen.  Before long we were sitting down to a supper with ribs, pulled pork, fried green tomatoes, potato salad, homemade pickles, and more. Which made my husband jealous in the retelling, but what he envied most was our after-dinner beverage.  You see, Tracie has these connections.  And with these connections she traded some of her yummy homemade pickles for some peach shine.  It was a little rough at first but it smoothed out enough after a few tentative sips to finish it.  Tracie assures me that she will let it age a bit in her freezer and that she'll bring some with her on her next visit to New England. 

We stayed up that night poring over old yearbooks and watching an extremely dated video of the Junior Miss pageant for the class of '91.  Holy cow, but did we ever make some misguided sartorial choices! Not that I was in the pageant, mind you, but I can attest to the fact that at the time I deeply admired what all of the contestants wore. Ahh, the early nineties.  Good times.

I woke up the next morning to another gorgeous day, so after packing up my suitcase, we downed a quick breakfast and spent some time outdoors: big wheels, weeding, and hoeing were on the agenda, but then we settled down to blow a bubble or two, as Tracie's son demonstrates:

After that we made a quick trip into town for lunch and for one or two more photo ops in Boone before having to head back to the airport.  Boone is definitely a wonderful town that needs further exploration, and I was sad to be heading back to New England. If I had but world enough and time.  You know?

Local legend Doc Watson, encased in carbonite like Han Solo.  Or maybe this is just a bronze statue...

Okay, I loved this general store.  There were three row of barrels filled with old-fashioned candies.

I guess they don't call these the Blue Ridge Mountains for nothing

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a lot of fun! Your pictures are just gorgeous. I'd love to go visit that area.


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