Hey gang! Sorry I missed you last week, but with the chaos of turning in pieces for CES coverage and flying to and from Vegas, I just couldn't keep up. I'm sorry I hurt you; give me another chance and I'll make it up to you, baby. Here, let's talk about the Tar Heel State.
Okay, you probably saw this one coming from a mile away. But as I've referenced before, sometimes you've got to just take the Best Song Available. I actually found quite a few North Carolina-themed tunes that I really liked, but too many of them strayed into "Carolina as a woman" themes and violated my (arbitrary, useless) rules about serenading the WHOLE state. So why not James Taylor, right?
I almost got divorced in North Carolina. My wife and I decided to pack up the car on a whim and spend a weekend camping in the Smoky Mountains, so we road-tripped down to Tennessee and spent the weekend hiking and arguing because I was not in a great mental space and was feeling pretty angry at the world, despite her best efforts to cheer me up.
On our way out of the park and back home to reality, she convinced me to take a detour so we could see more of the park on our way out. We wound up lost inside the State Park for over an hour before her map-reading skills told her all we had to do was take "Parson's Branch Road" to the highway. As I made the right turn in our rear-wheel drive Camaro, I noticed a sign that said something to the effect of, "THIS IS A PRIMITIVE ROAD. EMERGENCY SERVICES DO NOT RESPOND TO THIS AREA. THERE IS NO TURNING AROUND. 4 WHEEL DRIVE ONLY." What could possibly go wrong? It was only like 3 miles of road! And the highway was RIGHT THERE.
What followed was a two hour white-knuckle hell ride as I tried to navigate a twisting, crumbling snake of loose rock that switchbacked across the same flooded mountain stream 13 times or so. Each time I would pull up to the rushing torrent, well above the safety line on our wheels, and say something like, "if we die I'm going to be so f&$^%ing pissed at you." Then grit my teeth and surf our car through. We bottomed out, we scraped the car on tree branches and rocks, we got stuck in loose pits of dirt, and at one point I stopped the car and got out to scream into the woods, but we survived. "Finally!" Kat exhaled, "all we have to do is make a right at this intersection and we're on the highway home. We made it." I turned right.
And the road was blocked by a rockslide.
We couldn't bear Parson's Branch Road again; it was a one-way ticket anyway, and we probably would've murdered each other had we tried, so we took the highway the opposite way. We stopped at a gas station/biker resort nestled on the (I'm told) world famous "Dragon's
Wing Tail," a windy stretch of asphalt famous among motorcycle riders, and my wife asked a state trooper for directions. The only way he knew was a multi-hour detour through the hills of North Carolina.
(In telling my wife I was writing about this story, she said, "That's the angriest I've ever seen you. I figure if you were at all capable of murder, it would've happened then.)
So we wound up flying along the Cherohala Skyway on our way back home in the late spring, and I've got to say it was absolutely beautiful, even in my rage-altered state of mind. It really made me want to go back and see more of North Carolina; we have friends near Asheville who are due to get married soon, so hopefully I'll get an excuse to visit again soon.
North Carolina, I picked you this song because I can close my eyes while listening to it and see the rolling hills of the lower Appalachians and the beautiful trees shooting their bright, hopeful green buds toward the sky. I haven't seen much of your state yet, but I'm definitely a fan. Hope you like your song.
Next week we tackle North Dakota! What do you think of Randall's pick for North Carolina? Have you ever fallen for the old "primitive road" trick? Let us know in the comments!
Runner-Up: "North Carolina" by The Devil Makes Three
Most Laughable Suggestion: "Gone to Carolina" by Shooter Jennings