Thursday, April 19, 2012
Light and Airy
Getaways are meant to live up to their name. They should also offer a chance at a different cuisine, provide diverse activities – and when six grandparents are involved – have the options of ease of pace and a place to sit. Thus when my brother Mike and his wife Jeannette flew in from Dallas they had advance assurance that all of the above would be waiting. They joined forces with our sister Cynthia, her husband Jon and Jim and I as we journeyed to Virginia’s Blue Ridge for a long weekend to kick off their visit. Cynthia and Jon have a mountain retreat in that Commonwealth. The delightful thing about going from the Low Country to the high country in mid spring is that you get to enjoy the season twice. As we drove up some 3,000 feet, dogwoods were still in full flush – especially my favorite pink variety. Flowers were budding and trees of all kinds were just unfolding their leaves displaying hundreds of shades of green. The Troneck’s home is just over the North Carolina border and we spent most of the first day of our getaway in that state in the town of Mt. Airy. Fans of the Andy Griffith Show know that Mt. Airy is the model town for Mayberry and it is dedicated to that concept with shop marquees and local products bearing not only Andy’s name, but his cohorts, including Opie, Floyd, Helen and Thelma Lou. Shops sell everything from candy to crafts. There is free parking along the street and free lots behind most of the shops along four blocks. Because it’s the mountains there is hardly a flat spot anywhere so walking can be tiring. Mt. Airy’s midtown features an intriguing museum plus a stone plaza outfitted with tables, chairs a vending machine and rest rooms. This was the men’s Mecca. After a couple of forays into intriguing shops with the cadre of six, we installed our better halves in those welcoming seats and they sat happily chatting and people watching as we women shopped in earnest. Good for us all. And very good for that local economy. At lunchtime we drifted downhill to The Snappy Lunch, the only local business ever mentioned in Andy’s show. It’s a family owned institution from the early 1960s. The signature dish, a Pork Chop Sandwich, is a large slab of tender meat prepared right in the front window and guaranteed to stir the salivary glands of passersby. This spicy concoction, twice the size of its enclosing bun, is served “all the way” with chili, Cole slaw, pickles, mustard, onions, relish and tomatoes. Busloads of people are decanted in front of the restaurant daily to enjoy this treat and long lines begin to form about 11 am. In mid afternoon we loaded our packages into two cars and went home to take a nap. That night we traveled up another mountain to a local winery which had a restaurant featuring a western glass wall and an outdoor terrace overlooking a lovely valley. As we sat satisfied after an excellent dinner, lots of catching up, as well as the recapping of a day of loving companionship, Mike suggested the headline for this column. I think he got it just right.