by Robert Adcox
For anyone looking for a day vacation, there is no better experience than a spirited jaunt from Roanoke to Mount Airy. Sounds kind of boring at first, though, in a “we’re going-to-visit-Aunt-Helen-so-shut-up-back-there” way.
The trip along the parkway was more sedating than having been slipped a mickey in a mausoleum. Sometimes nature is, well, boring, and kudzu only serves to blur that experience. “Look, there’s a weeping willow.” How can you tell?
Finally, a change occurred, which saved me from near-total insanity: a T-intersection introduced itself to me -nay, saved, me from going out of my mind. “Hello”, it said cheerfully, as T-intersections are wont to do, unlike four way intersections which are too busy for such frivolity. “If you’re interested in heading south, I’d be happy to lead you to Stuart. Or, if you prefer something lighter, I have a very nice Mount Airy just across the state line.”
Mount Airy, as it turns out, is deceptively complicated for a small town. Seems that no matter which way you turn, you end up right back in another part of Mount Airy, unless you don’t turn. Then you end up in Level Cross, and not the one made famous by the guy driving iconic number 43.
Well, who visits Mount Airy without seeing the historic district? Yes, I saw Floyd’s City Barber Shop. I think the original Floyd still works there. Wish I had gotten to town before five. Then I might have gotten up a good game of checkers and asked if Ray Hollister ever got that vaccination.
As an aside, the historical district is a one way street. I learned that when I accidentally turned right and almost had a head-on collision with another dumb tourist. Whew. That’s all I’d have needed – to be cited by Barney under a 301.25, which would surely have led to my either being fined twelve dollars or spending two nights in jail. Rough stuff, I’ll tell you.
A very calm and serene trip to Mount Airy, followed by walking around in a very laid back tourist area, was the perfect lead-in to the trip home: gentlemen, start your engines.
Let me say right here and now that the moonshiners of the day could have put Europe’s finest road racers to shame. I drove, at daring speeds, over any number of switchbacks. I had the advantage of driving a relatively new car with front wheel drive. To have driven an old car with rear drive at those speeds through those turns without losing control would have required nothing short of world class driving.
Yup, Old School drivers would have put me to shame on those roads. Then again, it’s easy to be motivated to be a great driver when you’re being chased by federal agents for a libertarian view when it comes to paying tax on alcohol.
Today was about starting off slowly and speeding things up. Typical day for me. If the 45 mile per hour trip along the parkway was somewhat of a ho-hummer, the 70 mile per hour trip through those turns was an inexpensive substitute for caffeine. No side roads were anywhere near the stretches of roadway I was on, nor were there any other drivers or pedestrians. It seemed that the later the day got, the better everything felt. By the time I got home, my happiness with life was at full speed.
And it only took eight hours.