Are We There Yet?
November 13-19, 2017
By Jay Edwards
The drive into Asheville, N.C. is surrounded by beauty, especially this time of year when the color hasn’t yet dropped from the trees. We were taking our annual October trip with KM’s family a little later this year, and also a little north and east from the usual spot at Blue Mountain Beach in the Florida Panhandle, between Goatfeather’s and the Red Bar. As to that, all I can do is quote Bonnie Kathleen Blair, who said when she retired from speed skating, “It’s sad to know I’m done. But looking back, I’ve got a lot of great memories.”
KM commented as we drove through the curviest of Interstate 40’s 2,555 miles, “I had forgotten how beautiful this drive is.”
So now I’ve quoted two Kathleens.
We were headed to a small town about 15 miles east of Asheville called Black Mountain.
It’s known as “The town that rocks.” I read that and thought of the recently departed Tom Petty, but the kind of rocking Black Mountain claims is the front-porch rocking chair kind. It also boasts being one of the safest small towns in North Carolina and where Roy Williams began his coaching career, at the Charles D. Owens High School, where he coached basketball, football and golf.
We drove on and I heard my phone telling me I had a new text. I reached for it in its spot above the radio but KM intercepted it, saying, “No you don’t. Eyes on the road Mr. Funny Man.” She stole that last part from Annette Bening in “American Beauty,” and it has stuck.
“Is it Bob?” I asked her.
“Well?” I asked impatiently, waiting for her brother’s update on the Hogs-Ole Miss score.
“37-35, Arkansas driving on 30 yard line. Twenty-eight seconds left in game.”
“Oh fudge,” I moaned. (“Only I didn’t say, “Fudge.” I said THE word, the big one, the queen-mother of dirty words, the “F-dash-dash-dash” word!”)
I couldn’t believe I even cared a little, as lousy as the season had been. Bob had been a faithful fan and had driven into Asheville early to a sports bar so he could watch the game. He seemed put out with me when I declined, but I just didn’t have it in me.
A few minutes later my phone dinged again and I grabbed it, anticipating KM’s cat quick defensive instincts.
I looked down and saw, “Arkansas wins 38-37!!!”
Feeling happy about the win, we looked for an exit that would drop us off in the downtown area of Asheville. We drove around a few crowded blocks and finally found a parking lot with a few spots. The rain had stopped but it was cold and windy and KM spotted a bistro and grabbed my hand, pulling me towards its door. Inside the heat felt good and I ordered a beer and went with our waiter’s recommendation of the chicken sandwich and fries. KM chose a salad with salmon.
A few days later it was Halloween and Black Mountain had become a living Norman Rockwell painting, with children excitedly running down sidewalks through the falling leaves. I spotted a ghost holding hands with a goblin and was thankful some of the traditional costumes had lasted.
When we left at the end of the week, I felt some love for Black Mountain. No, not as much as I had for Blue Mountain Beach, because these affairs of the heart take time, the ones that are worth it anyway. But the Blue Ridge section of the Appalachians has its own kind of magic and I hope we’ll get back there some day.
See all of Jay’s past columns on our website at www.dailyrecord.us.