For the second time only this trip, we took a cab, back the two highway exits we had walked the day before to get from the “Hickory” stop to Hickory, NC, itself. Our cabbie was a piece of work. He turned the radio down to hear our destination, then cranked it back up as he floored the old Crown Victoria out the hotel entrance. On the highway he tailgated the guy in front of us, who pulled to the left lane to get out of the way. He raced right up to the next guy in the right lane and stayed there until our exit. Not just weird, but seriously rude. He shouldn’t have a job that requires interaction with other human beings.Once at Winston-Salem, we went looking for lunch and browsed our phones for something to do. I have been threatening Jay with an art museum visit, but the only serious collection in the city was more than a walk away and was showcasing still lifes, anyway, making it easy to say “whatever.” So we started walking.Making our way down a hill past the big office buildings, we encountered a small entrance to a trail that the sign said connected the business district with old Salem. Onward and downward along a stream we walked, arriving finally at Old Salem, which is setup, like Williamsburg, as a living museum. We bought tickets and wandered about this strange land of 19th century buildings, cars parked along asphalt streets, and occasional exhibits with character actors, or historical interpreters, as they call them. In a fascinating exhibit at the gunsmith shop, two men worked on long-barrel rifles, used back then for hunting, mostly. They could build them from scratch then and now, although even then they imported the barrels from Europe because they were cheaper than making locally, although some gunsmiths did. Showing us the forge, I learned that the word “blacksmith” is literal, as the guide warned us not to touch anything as the charcoal would cover us in soot. Pretty cool stuff. We visited a baker, where I bought a loaf of cranberry and raisons bread, imagining that I could share it at the station. They also let us try out some “sugar bread,” the oldest local recipe, which you probably know as “Krispy Crème,” which was founded down the street from there.
On the walk back to Winston, we ran into one of the more remarkable characters of the entire
trip. A man walking towards wore full jogging gear. As we passed, Jay called out something about the heat, and the man stopped and said, “Yeah, I’m running 40 miles.” Wow. He then asked us what we were doing. On a tour, we replied, and he asked with which group. Just us, and we started to explain. He understood us completely and finished our thoughts, and started offering what he could do to help, starting with offering to donate to the cause. He was great! He gave us his about.me page and said he’d share the blog with people, and that he really liked what we were doing. No sooner had we each turned to go the other way than he came running back, “Heh, let me give you my email.” So we agreed to take a picture together, then share it on our blog and his own pages. We were thrilled to have met someone so enthusiastic and encouraging to us.
Back at the Winston-Salem bus stop, we still had an hour to kill, and the Greyhound man said the bus our bus was an hour late. Used to it now, we wandered off to a more comfortable place. Since I still had the loaf of bread I had bought, I grabbed some napkins and asked the coffee shop for a couple paper plates. Back at the station, I struggled to slice it up (adhering to historical accuracy, the Old Salem bakery doesn’t slice bread… not invented yet) with a plastic spoon in order to offer it about. This turned into an entirely new adventure, seeing who would accept a messy piece of bread from a stranger. The memorable moment was the lady who flagged me down for another slice, she liked it so much, and the man from Sierra-Leone who loved the bread and gave me the run-down on West African soccer.
Once on the bus to Wytheville, we have to consider our options on getting back home. Here now comes the story of Brandy, which I will write in a subsequent post. Brandy saved our evening and settled our plans for the final two days of the trip. Love Brandy!