We headed north on 85 to Spartansburg , and finally turned inland, headed for the mountains. I was finally on vacation. Junkyards filled with classic American metal, hot rod shops around every corner, cabins on hills in the distance and dropping temps made me breathe deep and turn up the Pandora. My head was spinning like a light house beacon as I explored the fantasy of living in the country. Brother Jimmy was checking on our progress and making sure that we didn't go missing in the wilderness, but even that would have been fine with me, nothing is better than a driving a country road on a nice day. We winded through the Pisgah National Forrest on the snake of a road 221 becomes in the mountains, descended into Linville and arrived at my brother Jimmy's house.
My brother Jimmy is a powerhouse of energy. He is a magician of a V.W. mechanic, can play nearly anything with strings, sings like a banshee and has dedicated his life to the Catholic Church. He and I have not always had a rosy relationship. It is our similarities that divide us more than our differences. Two people that have charged opinions and the nuclear energy to defend them, will often butt heads. I have taken great delight in provoking him and he counters with passive aggressive tactics that he never owns up to. There is a strange competitive undercurrent to nearly all we do and say, that makes it tiresome for us both. Who is more at fault is any ones guess, but it suffices to say it is a chore for both of us to endure the other. Still I have to say Jimmy has been a good brother to me. He kept my cars on the road for years, and used to come to the biker bars I played in as a kid, to make sure I was okay. All things must be measured in equal and I know we both carry more fault than either will ever admit. It is a family tradition that will last the ages.
We arrived at his house in the late afternoon and took the tour of his retirement digs (currently under renovation). We had tea and dinner and settled in for a night of cards and stories of the family. Whenever I get around people from my family, I grill them for answers about my Father and Mother. There is a lot of mystery that may never be solved, but each time I learn something new. It is these moments I live for, when no one is trying to prove anything, defend anyone or settle some ancient grudge that (as my ole Mum used to say) was stuck in their craw. We played rummy deep into the night and then, as our clan always does, we went from spirited talk to asleep on our feet in seconds. We all retreated for rest.
We awoke to steady drizzle and the thoughts I had of riding this beautiful areas trails, started to look dismal. I got an early start and headed up to Beech Mountain to find a bike shop and some advice. I arrived to more rain, a "closed" sign and realized it was Monday, a day most shops from here to Mars are closed. I searched my phone for a shop in Boone, called to find them open, set the NAV to the addy and headed off. Now in my head I am thinking fifteen miles is not that far, and I had no idea that my NAV (nick named Su Su) can be a sadistic bitch. She sent me up and down a road that Tour De France organizers wouldn't dare send elite cyclists to. I had some guy riding my ass the entire ride (because after all I am a Floridiot, the most hated of all N.C. invaders).
I found the shop and the requisite dismissive rat that worked there.
"Oh you are from Florida....ya well here's a map of a trail I take my girlfriend on....that might be good for you."
"Thanks man, I was hoping for some more stuff like I rode in Brevard, you know like, Sycamore and Dupont..."
His expression and tone never changed and all the trails he mentioned were 45 minutes to an hour away. I am starting to get the feeling this is not going to work out between us and we may need to see other people. I thank him and head back down to Jimmy's house.
On the way way down the mountain I see a sign for the longest zip line on the east coast and I get the idea it may be nice for Davie, Jim and I to do something we can all do. It would be really nice to create some memories together for a change. I pitch it to them like Robin Williams on crack, and (HOLY CRAP!) they agree to go. A phone call is made, an appointment is booked and as we head back up the hill, the sun comes out, proving to me without doubt, that (Deity of choice) approves.