Richard Dansky (rdansky) wrote,
Richard Dansky

The Union Generals of Pilot Mountain

Friday night, Melinda and I were supposed to go to the beach. It's one of those things that you're supposed to do when you live in the Triangle - just up and take off for the coast some weekend - that we've never done, and it certainly seemed like a good idea, at least until we saw the weather report.

Not beach weather. We'll leave it at that.

So instead she found us one night at a bed and breakfast out by Pilot Mountain, which I had always wanted to traipse around because it's an interesting looking geological formation and I like rocks. (Note: if you go to the wikipedia page for "monadnock", which is to say "a freestanding mountain that generally has no business being there", you get a picture of Pilot Mountain.) And so we went out there, and got called "cute" by our waitress at a restaurant in the tiny town of Pilot Mountain (which Andy Griffith renamed Mt. Pilot on his show, doncha know), and watched one of her coworkers get a giant bouquet of flowers at the cash register from her grinning beau. The restaurant, incidentally, was a Greek/Southern fusion kind of place, which was to say it was a southern style restaurant apparently run by a Greek family who loved fried and feta in equal measure, and who cared not a whit that the establishment's name - "Soppers" - conjured up images of sloppy 'cue. And yes, it was quite good, in case you were wondering.

And then in the morning there was traipsing, and wandering, and lunching, and on the way to our second adventure of the day (Hanging Rock, because traipsing around just one giant monadnock isn't enough for me, damnit, and they had waterfalls that were eminently traipsable from the main parking lot, and, oh, the hell with it) we stopped at a flea market in the slightly larger town of Mt. Airy, which is so loaded with Andy Griffith stuff it might as well be wearing a white suit and calling itself Matlock. Seriously, we drove into town on the Andy Griffith Freeway, which, if you think about it, is kind of awesome, if a little fast-moving for its namesake. Matlock, as you may recall, did not hurry much.

The flea market was mostly wrapped up by the time we got there. Clouds were threatening rain, stalls were empty or being packed up, and many of the vendors had turned their backs on their wares to settle in with lunch. There were a few farm stands, a few shlock stands, a few "I'm cleaning out my attic" stands, and a few small businesses built into permanent sheds - slim pickings that would no doubt frustrate the guys from Storage Wars into fits of drunken rage. Didn't matter to us, though - we were there just to wander around a bit, and if anything spoke to us, great. And if not, well, great.

The last table we stopped at was being dismantled as we got there. The proprietor, an older guy in long hair and biker leathers, told us he was just going to compact and cover up; the flea market management had said they'd watch out for his stuff because he wasn't going to be able to make it on Sunday. Church was priority. We nodded, and poked at his stuff, which he kindly offered to move for us to make things easier. He told us a bit more about the flea market, too - that most folks took off around noon, and that it was a slow day, on account of the weather. And as we talked, I spotted a deck of playing cards on his table, replicas of a deck issued in 1863 featuring portraits of Union generals on the cards. 

"That's got the Federal officers on it, don't it?" he asked. I nodded. He looked me over. "Fifty cents." I handed him a buck, and with great ceremony, he handed me my change. I thanked him, he thanked me, and then returned to closing up shop. 

I haven't opened the cards yet. I'm not sure I ever will - if General Hazen doesn't have a card, I'm going to be terribly disappointed, and I'd rather live in anticipation than know the truth and be made sad. Instead, I just tucked the cards into the glove compartment, and we drove off in direction of blue sky and sun, and interesting rock formations.  
Tags: civil war, monadnock, pilot mountain, playing cards, vacation
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