Cue up the road trip mix tape! I recently had the opportunity to drive through part of the Appalachians with my “con” buddy, Betsy. Now I’m not a huge fan of road trips unless the Griswolds are involved, but I have to say, my journey through the Appalachians was truly amazing. It’s paradise for the eyes, and a balm for the soul.
Betsy and I went to Ice and Fire Con this year and decided to combine the fan convention with a road trip through the Appalachians. First stop, Mayberry aka Mount Airy! I’m a huge fan of “The Andy Griffith Show”. I used to watch it religiously. Surprise, surprise, surprise, I’m totes a combination of Gomer and Otis and proud of it. Betsy’s more of an Andy – smart and sweet. Actually, after a few drinks, Betsy lets her inner Goober out, LOL.
After a lovely drive to Mount Airy from Pembroke, VA, we were starving and decided to go to Aunt Bea’s for some home-style vittles. Aunt Bea’s turned out to be an “order at the counter” place staffed by young’uns that didn’t want to be there, lol. Indeed, some of them needed to be taken out back behind the woodshed for an attitude adjustment. The patrons, however, were small town friendly – the kind of folks that say “howdy” and ask about your day.
Lunch was a horror story massacre on my side of the table. I ordered chicken fried steak, coleslaw, onion rings, and hush puppies. I’m not entirely sure I chewed my food. I treated my plate like one big trough. I may have gotten some coleslaw in my hair. Okay, okay, I definitely got coleslaw and other bits of food on myself. Betsy had smothered steak, collard greens, green beans, and hush puppies. She seemed pretty darn satisfied with her plate as well.
We decided to head into downtown proper to scope things out. Mayberry is very charming. The streets are lined with little antique, memorabilia, clothing, and tchotchke shops. There were also a number of cafes, diners, bakeries, and ice cream shops. Thank goodness me and Andy ate before driving into town. I know my Otis side has no self-control whatsoever. If I go back to Mayberry, I think I’m going to eat at Barney’s Café next time. They have an incredible bakery and scrumptious daily specials. Damn me and my one stomach. I’ve never been so jealous of a cow.
After hitting the visitor’s center, we moseyed on down to the Andy Griffith Museum & Playhouse & Siamese Twins Exhibit. Yup, you read it right, Siamese Twins Exhibit. Apparently Eng and Cheng Bunker, the famous Siamese Twins from Siam (Thailand), settled in the Mount Airy area in the late 1830’s with Quaker sisters Adelaide and Sarah. They had 22 children between the two families. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that one. The museum and exhibit were small and quaint, just what you’d expect from a small town. It was interesting to see all the costumes. People were TINY back then. They obviously didn’t eat at Aunt Bea’s!
After about 45 minutes or so, we were ready to hit the road again. Onward ho, it’s off to Charlotte we go. The drive was breathtaking. So many variations of green everywhere you looked. The mountains have such a soothing influence. My ADD, hamster-on-X brain was actually calm. I kept imagining myself in a lovely log cabin by a lake surrounded by trees. And lumberjacks. Lots of lumberjacks.
By the time we made it to the hotel, we were starving again. What is it about sitting on your butt that makes you so freaking hungry? I wasn’t even driving, and I was hungry. Betsy and I opted for the hotel restaurant because it was convenient. It was a little higher end than what we wanted, but a nice change from Mayberry fare. We split a medium-rare bison steak and asparagus. Delish! The bison tasted a lot like beef. Flavorful, but slightly tougher.
We decided we needed supplies, so we found a grocery store nearby and stocked up on necessities – snacks and booze! We found some fried okra snacks that were amazing. Crunchy, salty, slightly sweet, and completely satisfying. It was tough not to eat the entire container with our Strongbow ciders. After chatting for hours, we finally called it a night. It was a great end to a great day!