pages fly away 53

It was time to race on now.  I’d put so many miles on the Mountain Bluebird that it hurt my stomach to see the odometer.  It made me laugh out loud, but still hurt my stomach.  I knew they were tracking me, but no one had contacted me yet.  If they did, I could say I was on my way back and it would be the truth.  By the time I left Monticello, it was early afternoon.  The day had gotten away from me.  My idea was to hit up the Great Smoky Mountains, another extension of the Appalachians, and the Cherokee reservation there.

I took the 29 to Lynchburg and then cut over to Roanoke and got on the 77 south, heading towards Charlotte, North Carolina.  It was already late in the day.  There was a campground sign at a place called Lake Norman, but I didn’t see it in time to make the exit, so pulled off on the 150 and did a search on Google.  Karen led me to the Rock Springs Campground, nearly fifteen miles away. 

I had to cross the lake and then pass down a series of country roads to get there.  It was like no other campground I’d ever seen, more a grouping of pioneer cabins and shacks bunched together with a pavilion in the middle for meetings.  It was all closed up.  No one was around.  I considered trying to throw up a tent in the parking lot.  That was a sure sign of desperation.

My best bet, I decided was to backtrack to the Lake Norman Campground.  Now evening was falling fast and it was nearly dark.  When I got there, I had to drive through a tunnel of trees before reaching a gate, that fortunately, was still open.  When I reached the camp site it was a circular loop with mainly RV’s.  I had to go around twice before finding a small lane reserved for tents.  I pulled into the first spot, number 4, and almost collapsed with relief.  The whole trip had been too close for comfort, although comfort doesn’t usually produce too many thrills.  The forest was alive with percussion, the throbbing and clacking of a million insects.

That night I was had to use the bathroom and when I shined the flashlight on the roof of the tent, saw that there were at least two dozen Daddy Long Leg spiders on the mesh below the rain cover.  It was like an alien invasion, crowded together, fumbling around, their long legs all entwined.  I wasn’t worried, but a little freaked out, just by the sheer volume of them.  When I took the tent down in the early dawn, hundreds of them came streaming down the sides.  I had to shake it again and again.  Lord knows how many I’d be transporting across state lines, despite my best efforts to get rid of them.

The plan for the day was to drive to the birthplace of Davy Crockett.  I’d noticed that I could stop by the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, so made that my first destination.  As soon as I got on the road, it started raining.  So far, I’d been lucky.  Bad weather would’ve annihilated my trip.  I passed the outskirts of Charlotte and then got on the 74.  There were about 30 miles of road construction that required a lot of sitting and waiting.  Also, at one point some prick swerved over and nearly sideswiped me.  I had to pull over hard to the side to avoid a collision.  That could not happen on this trip.  It simply wasn’t allowed to happen.

When I arrived at the Carl Sandburg home in Flat Rock it was still raining.  A sign in the parking lot said that the home was closed, due to COVID.  I decided to walk and see what I could see anyway.  Carl Sandburg was a poet and folksinger, who also wrote an extensive biography of Abraham Lincoln.  After his death, in 1967, he was remembered as being the quintessential American.  I knew him mostly from a book of folk songs that he’d compiled.  Most of the songs I write have their base in folk, country, and blues, so I’m always happy to pay my respects given the chance.

No one else was on the grounds, and the rain fell intermittently.  There was a small open enclosure with some black and white photos of Sandburg, a few with his guitar.  He seemed to have been an earthy guy.  There was a lake in front of the house, and a creek you had to cross to reach it, but the house wasn’t open.  I walked up to it, but then returned to find some place to sit beside the creek.  Leaves were scattered all over the walkway and the bridge.

My attempt to meditate didn’t last long.  Voices came from the parking lot.  A group was coming down the trail.  The surface of the water was calm by now, outside of a few isolated drops.  When the visitors got too close, I vacated my seat and allowed them to take over.  Back in the car, I sat and counted my breaths, as quickly as if I’d just run a wind-sprint.  It wasn’t easy at all to focus, knowing that as soon as I left, I was on my way to see Davy Crockett.

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