Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Poop, the Whole Poop, and Nothing But the Poop

Old man Rodan at Lover's Leap Overlook, VA

Slowly but surely, the Halloween spirit is starting to creep over me, and it's about bleepin' time. Each year, shortly before Halloween, I make the pilgrimage to Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd County, VA, to partake of their signature buckwheat pancakes, and I almost always pick up a Halloween pumpkin or two while there (a tradition that began when I was a little kid). That's when I know it's officially the season. This year—today—was no exception, except that it was.

Ordinarily, I get moving well before the crack of dawn to arrive at the mill before they open at 8:00 AM because the restaurant is quite small and there's usually a crowd. Well, today, Kimberly and I decided to head up a wee bit later, and this proved to be a mistake. By the time we got there, a great milling mob had already assembled, and the predicted wait time was two hours. We had much on the day's agenda, so we said the heck with it; perhaps later in the day, we'd come back and try again.

Needless to say, there was a fair amount of geocaching to do out that way. It was at Lover's Leap overlook, on US 58, near Stuart, VA, that dear Kimberly suffered a slight mishap. As I made my way down a steep incline to hunt a cache, she took a different path to find a good spot to snap some photos. I had just reached ground zero when I heard her holler, "Oh, shit." She meant it quite literally, for she had just stepped in bear poop. At least, I'm pretty sure it was bear. Well, no reason to think it wasn't bear. Anyway. Awwww...ooooh....gaaaah! It's bad. I mean, it's some bad poop. She did a thorough job of cleaning her shoes, no shit, but regardless, we had to travel with the car windows open for a bit, and that early in the morning, it was dang cold.

Me, I found the cache and managed not to step in any poop—bear, bigfoot, or otherwise.

The other main activity I had in mind was to visit Camp Cheerio, near Roaring Gap, NC, where I spent a few weeks at summer camp in my early years—back when I tended to be more scared than scary. It was at Cheerio where I learned about the Wampus Cat and had numerous twisted but memorable experiences, and for quite some time now I've had a hankering to go back and visit the scene of those ancient crimes. Today, done and done. Fortuitously, there was a weekend event going on, so we were able to go in and wander about freely (though it looked like a dads-and-daughters kind of thing, so Kimberly stood out not unlike a sore bum). The place has changed a lot since I was there—back in the mid-to-late 1960s—but I found much of it quite recognizable, and I had several poignant flashes that took me right back to those long-gone days.

After exploring Cheerio, we hit the road again and found a secluded spot near an overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway where we had a nice little picnic lunch. Eventually, we aimed ourselves back toward Mabry Mill, wondering whether we might actually be able to get in. Upon arriving, about 3:30 PM, we discovered not even a slight thinning of the crowd, so—once again—we said the heck with it, reluctantly opting to forgo the buckwheat and bacon for this year. Instead, we headed to Martinsville and had an excellent dinner (veal piccata for me, baked ziti for the young lady) at Rania's Restaurant. This weekend is Mum's birthday, so we stopped by her place for a little birthday visit and didn't get run off. That's something!

I'm not thrilled about missing out on the buckwheat—probably won't get another shot at it till next year about this time—and the poop was no picnic, but the rest of the excursion was pretty danged awesome. I'll take it. Just for good measure, once we got back home, we put on It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. So, yeah, Halloween...come and get me.

Nice lady on the grounds at Camp Cheerio, overlooking Stone Mountain

Drinking wine. Eating cheese. Catching some rays. You know.

Pilot Mountain way out in the distance

High-altitude high

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