I smiled back. Took the bottle of homemade Apple Jack Wine, and had my first sip. It was as if I had taken a bite out of the most perfect, sweet Golden Delicious apple. The alcohol burn came short and late in the tasting. I was taken aback at how smooth and lovely it was.
In between conversations, the four of us gently passed the bottle around our circle. Talk was the kind that was intermixed with stories and bits about ourselves. Friendship was sealed that night. A rite of passage that aligned our hearts and put a connection for us in the land of The Blue Ridge Mountains. I think we all became blood sisters and brother with Sarah and Jerry. When I later shared that thought with Sarah, she confirmed the feeling as well.
The events leading us here were not in our vision or thoughts. We were trying to avoid a tropical storm as we were leaving Florida. Keeping our eye on the storm movement, we tried to time our route and daylight hours to get northward to Pennsylvania on dry roads.
Getting close to the northwest border of North Carolina and where Andy Griffith was born, our gut tells us to stop and batten down the hatches. Well, not just gut, but every radar picture has a serious cloud pattern of Red and Orange coming to head us off at the pass. For those who don’t know the color system on weather radar, Red and Orange translate to Black and Blue for unsheltered creatures and fiberglass motor homes.
We pull over. Lauré calls a random campground that’s not too far off the highway in some small town called Elkin. She is greeted by a warm and super friendly voice that uses phrases like ‘y’all’ and ‘sure, Honey’.
Our knowledge of North Carolina is limited and not necessarily positive. Most recently, Bills and Laws that promote discrimination to the LGBT community. The state’s current Hate Crime statute does not cover sexual orientation or gender identity. Needless to say, we had no intention of spending any time or money here. We just wanted to get across the state as fast as possible.
And then…God says “Wait a minute. I think you’ve got some learning to do.”
Storm forces us to stop before we get across the border to Virginia.
Byrd’s Branch Campground has a spot open that can accommodate Earl. On a Friday night. Not common in the campground world when you don’t have a reservation.
And that’s when we met our new and life-long friends, Sarah and Jerry Byrd. And that’s when we began a month long discovery of what makes North Carolina special.
More in our next blog…but I can tell you this. If y’all fix'n to come this ah-way, s't a spell, and have your own taste of th't Apple Jack wine.