Truth.

A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.

Ariel Durant

Monday, November 23, 2015

Further up into the mountains


We spent most of Saturday and Sunday up to the Northeast.  Higher into the mountains.  Even at our lower elevations, the ridge lines and mountain tops were covered in frost all day long.  In the North Carolina Blue Ridge it was colder.  Not many people on the roads, even though Thanksgiving is coming up. We stayed off the bigger roads and just used small mountain two lanes. They don't get much traffic at the best of times and right now, with the cold, we hardly saw anyone.



It's 18 degrees outside right now, at about 0630. It will go on getting colder for another two or three hours, then start to warm up though it's not expected to get over 45 degrees today.

I have to run over to another county tonight to see some folks, and I'm not looking forward to that. It will be after dark before I even leave here, and I'm not much for being away from home after dark. Sometimes you just have to match other peoples schedules, though.



One reason we went so far up into the mountains is to get to some of the real general stores that are left.

Not the touristy ones, but the stores in very isolated communities that carry everything you need to get through the winter here.

There are three of these within half a days drive of my place.  If you went back to 1888, and walked into a general store, you would find everything from food, to clothing, to hardware, to guns and on. That's how these place are.

Once a year at least, we make the trip. Usually just before first snow, but we went a little early this year.





The people up in these isolated hollows are not particularly friendly. Most of them are elderly. Some of them have never seen the sea or been to Atlanta or any other big city.

They don't want anything to do with the outside world. To get along with them, you need to not ask stupid questions, or try to make small talk.

They don't depend on tourist money, or even want tourists around. The best thing to do is just be polite. The stores are an excellent source of hard to find , need to have items. I'm not loquacious myself so I get along with the people up there pretty well.  These would be really bad places to have an Obama sticker on your vehicle or to try to engage in political talk about "gun control" or the like. I have Confederate flag bumper stickers on my vehicle, and NRA stickers, so generally my wife and I are about as welcome as outsiders can be on our trips.

Yesterday we stopped at one of our favorite restaurants out in the woods at a cross roads in North Carolina. They have a great breakfast buffet. Eggs, bacon, ham, biscuits, gravy. Not fancy, but good. Good coffee.  Quiet place, the way I like a restaurant to be.

We did all our necessary shopping for specialty items, and ended up at the El Cheapo grocery store where we filled up the last little bit of space in the Cherokee with food supplies. If you put the back seat down and use the Cherokee like a truck, you can cram a lot in there.  It was a weekend well spent.




12 comments:

  1. Hey Harry,

    (captaincrunch)

    I can see the advantage of living up in one of those 'isolated hollow's' I know they are very, very insular and I would be 'shunned' if I moved to an area like that just because I would not have been born and raised there, or had generations of family in the area. That's just the culture they come from and I respect that. In our more modern transient culture of moving around for work and jobs, its hard to make roots or be ingrained into a tight subculture with the locals.

    When our country falls further down the cesspool of tyranny and despair. Isolated rural regions will retain the most freedom and autonomy.

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    1. If you moved there, I think you would gain acceptance as long as you were willing to show up in the church on Sunday. That's a must have attribute. The most important man in the area is the preacher in those places. He is the supreme arbitrator and somebody you don't cross. The second alpha male is usually the largest property owner with some age on him. Politically and philosophically you would fit in I think. But it would be a long time before you or anybody else was trusted. Those people have never had anything but harm from outsiders and they don't trust anybody. Generally with good reason. Also they usually collect ginseng illegally, run stills, grow marijuana, pan for gold and gems on government land, poach game for the larder, and just pretty much live the way they always have and to hell with anybody or anything that tells them they have to change.

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  2. That sounds like a fun trip. You are so right about those little backroads general stores and the mentality of the folks that work there. We have hit up a few here and there.

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    1. I expect you get along pretty well with the deep hollow folks. Usually a guy who goes up there with his wife and kids is ok, because generally somebody bent on causing trouble doesn't carry along women and children. So your family traveling up in there together would be ok. I wouldn't go up there without my wife on a bet, myself.

      I just try to be respectful of their habits and get what I want and go. Asking questions, even innocuous questions intended to be friendly, can be a really bad idea back in those "off the grid" mountains.

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  3. There was one of those general stores about 10 miles from where I grew up. It was complete with the pot bellied wood stove and retired farmers sitting around a checker board. They carried everything from motor oil to pickles to bolts of cloth and sewing notions. If they didn't have it, they could tell you where to get it. Sadly, they closed their doors a number of years ago and another good thing from the past is gone.

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    1. The general store can't survive if there are Walmarts etc around. They can only make it in really isolated locations where driving forty or fifty miles to a town is in the too hard category for most people. That kind of environment is getting harder and harder to find. I agree with you, it's another good thing from life as it used to be that is vanishing.

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  4. That would be interesting to go to stores where people look at you in an interesting way because you are an outsider. The closest I got to that was when I went to a Mennonite community to buy some things. I wanted to take pictures, but thought that might be disrespectful.

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    1. We have a Mennonite family here. How they got here, or why, is beyond me. Like you, I would not have taken pictures of them because I simply don't know anything about them. Of course, you could also say that as they are pacifists, it really doesn't matter what they like or don't like. But I see your point.

      People way up in the hollows look at you suspiciously. They don't trust outsiders at all.

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  5. What kind of things are in those old stores that make half a days drive worth while? I'm intrigued! You'd get to Scotland in that time from here!

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    1. All sorts of hardware, like candle lanterns, kerosene lanterns, blades for two handed saws, hand tools built to last a life time, manual hand tools that are hard to find now because everybody uses power tools. Chimney sweeping gear, good, rugged outdoor and work clothing that is not trendy or fashionable but imminently practical. Ammunition sold by the case, guns that have been traded in, kitchen accouterments nobody but Lehmans sells anymore. Just about anything that you would have expected to find in a home one hundred years ago. For instance this time around I got a good wash wringer that you clamp on to your steel clothes washing tub and wring out the clothes. Stuff you just can't find anywhere else, and that's designed for actual use.

      There's also the fact that it's really nice to get way up in the mountains where there just isn't anything or anybody. It's very peaceful and beautiful. No Mexicans throwing diapers and McDonalds bags out of the car window onto the highway. No swarms of bicyclists in their little spandex suits, blocking the whole road. No big motor homes stopped in the middle of the road while the pin head driving tries to read a map.

      It's just a really nice trip, and you never know what you'll find or what you'll see.

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  6. I'd never live long enough to be part of the community. Also don't have much patience with preachers telling me what to do. However, I generally get along just fine with those folks. Sure helps to know something of fishing, hunting, small boats, and shine making. I grew up in a place where it used to take at least 3 generations to really fit in. That's changed now and it ain't all bad.

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    1. These are pretty closed societies. Christian Identity was big up there ten years ago, though they have largely broken up since their guru died. I don't think you'd want to live there, but it's a nice place to visit. It feels "clean", somehow. The people haven't lost their bearings. Everything isn't "ok." They have strongly defined ideas of right and wrong. They don't do multiculturalism or political correctness. I always feel more hopeful when I come out of the deep North Carolina mountains.

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