I’m just a suburban dweeb, so some of this will be old hat to some of you. I spent the weekend in the southern wilds of Virginia, between Covington and New Castle (corrected, see comments) in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Allegheny highlands section. I’m not trying to brag; it was pretty cheap. We were in a cabin with a nice, vigorous stream (Potts Creek) running past in the back yard. No Internet, no cable, no cell phone reception, no MSNBC. People come here this time of year to look at the trees. This is why:
Today our excursion was to the Craig County Fair, in New Castle. Arts and crafts. BBQ. Hippies with long hair and beards who hate the government. I could totally fit in. What’s not to like? Well . . .
As you could guess, these were not Obama voters. Nobody really wearing politics on their T-shirts (Exception: some dude, long blond hair in a pony tail, cut-off pants and bare feet, with a picture of a KKKer on his shirt, labeled “The original boys in the hood.”). Lots of Confederate flags in evidence; camo everywhere too. Apparently it’s “Confederate History Appreciation Month.” We saw maybe two black people the whole time. I had enough sense not wear my Caucasian T-shirt.
Ideological outposts at the fair occupying booths were limited to some churches, the NRA, and these folks:
The sign on the bottom right says “Craig County Citizens for the Constitution.” The store behind it — the “Emporium of Fine Books and Essential Goods” — was interesting. Books on cooking, home repair, firearms, and urban guerrilla warfare. A book on the latter topic by one Mao Tse-Tung. Army training manuals. Yup. Books on the Civil War, the Founders, children’s books, and Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. Did they know he was gay? Actually, I bet the store owner did. He looked like a smart cookie. Different types of dehydrated and freeze-dried food in big coffee-can sized tins. Seeds. All the essential items. A grim-faced lady by the powdered food behind the knife counter was dressed like Betsy Ross, but I don’t think it was meant as a costume.
There were booths for the American Farm Bureau and Virginia Tech, the VFW. I don’t think these folks hate government. They hate change — stuff the government does now that it didn’t used to do, representing people who used to lack representation. I’m not lawyering for them; I really don’t know them well.
One striking thing about this part of the country is the frequent juxtaposition of the houses of rich and poor. And there are a lot of poor folks here — people living in trailers and ancient, broken-down houses. There is also the juxtaposition of poor peoples’ residences and stunning scenery. Like this (vacation pix alert):
People are friendly; if you look one in the eye, you had better say hello. I happen to like their music:
I don’t care what the hell they’re singing about, as long as they can pick.
I once thought I’d like to live up on a mountain. I’ve looked at a few homes. Downside of living on a mountain: you have to drive up the mountain. The road might be a mess, and it takes a long time. And that’s in good weather. Another big drawback, Asian restaurants are thin on ground.
In the George Washington National Forest the roads are mostly well-paved. Perhaps the Feds get the credit. People can live in pretty remote but accessible places. I don’t think I could live here, but I’m sure I’ll be back to visit.
There are black bears in the woods, big ones, not far past our backyard, up on the ridge line. I’d like to see one.