Saturday, May 9, 2009

Ramps and Bacon and Cornbread...OH MY!

Flag Pond TN. and Other Great Places!

What a unique name…Flag Pond. I’ve seen its name posted for an off ramp on I-26. I’ve always wanted to visit the place, and now…I have.

I’m kinda doing something about checking the small communities out right here in my own backyard. It’s been raining for almost ten days straight, so today I just said to heck with it. I’m tired of being shut up in the house, and here is Flag Pond…just 30 miles to the south of me as the crow flies…and they are cookin’ up a mess of RAMPS! I gotta go…I don’t give a damn about getting wet…I am not made of rice or worried about the chrome on my bike. None of that really matters, since it’s been over six weeks since I washed my bike last anyway. After a couple thousand miles (coming up on three thousand now), my bike looks like a rat bike with all the oil sticking on her sides…

All right…do you guys know what ramps are? I didn’t. I posted something about a ramp festival up in West Virginia. Someone came back and told me what they were and what to expect at a ramp fest. Well….I’m gonna tell you guys what a ramp is…and why it’s such a big deal up here in the Appalachians!

“Well, a ramp is a little wild onion that grows on top the mountains ‘round here. A lot of people, they eat them raw. We’d cut them up, put them in eggs, put fatback in there and fry them up real good. A lot of people pickles them things. I guess I’ve eat a thousand bushels of them things. They won’t kill you. I freeze a few. I told you I can everything but I do freeze a few ramps so I can have them year ‘round. But I like them. They’re awful good.”

— Haywood County resident and storyteller Carl Presnell, from the CD recording of An Unclouded Day: Stories and Songs of the Southern Appalachian Mountains (used with permission from the NC State Humanities Extension project called The North Carolina Language and Life Project).

I’m telling you, I was excited about coming to Flag Pond to join in with their festivities of the day!

I downloaded the directions; I hate those directions from Google any more. Lately here, I have been given street names that are not even worthy anymore. Not even on the map anymore…except theirs. ARRGH…you know I turned around once…thinking I had missed the road I was to turn at…found a couple of local ladies working in their home garden…hollered down at them, asking how to get to the road I was looking for. Nope these gals have never heard of the road, but they asked me where I was heading… “Flag Pond….” “…AWWWW Gal just stay on this road…it’s straight ahead. Just bear to the left at the Y…and you’ll be in Flag Pond.” I smile and thank them profusely…you know you have to really be nice…they were nice enough to stop their work to help you…Off I go…I’m smiling…what a great ride this is turning out to be.

I’m on Hiway 19W heading south toward Asheville NC. Not far ahead, I come to Flag Pond… the festivities are at the Elementary School…it’s not hard to spot. Flag Pond doesn’t appear to be much larger than a few blocks or so…but its people are sure friendly…helpful…and gosh darned happy!

Pulling into the parking lot… (The front lawn of the school) I’m stopped by a friendly parking attendant, who tells me she’s not going to charge me for parking! She loves my bike! Man sometimes I love being on a bike. I pull forward and find a great parking spot up ahead.

I’m off the bike and walking up a slight incline toward the lines I see ahead…I can also hear music…country music…ahhh OK.

Up ahead under a canopy are a batch of gals…line dancing I guess…its entertainment. Uh huh…all the same, the gals must have worked hard to learn the steps and keep in line with each other…I clapped when it was appropriate to do so…they were all such nice gals anyway…and deserved it!

I was following my nose…oh my lawrd…it smells sooooo GOOOD! I’m being inspected by the crowd…I’m not local…and I’m dressed like a biker in a T Shirt and chaps. Hell I’ve seen lots of folks here wearing biker T’s…most are in pick up trucks, hauling kids, and HD stickers on rear window. But the food is smelling soooo fricken good!

I walk over to the food line…it snakes all around the parking lot…I by pass all the people in the line…walk over to where they are serving the public…check it out…then down the line to see where they are cooking the Ramps, tators, bacon, soup beans (red beans), corn bread, cole slaw, pickles….I need a bib.

All these people are watching me cut in front of them, by passing the line…but once they figure out I’m only there to get pictures of the food…they quickly forgive…and even become helpful with displaying the items… Oh did I mention the meal above…with all that good stuff was $7.00 and it includes a soft drink too.

I stuck around for the Ramp eating Contest, and I listened to Winfred Shelton Gospel Group…he’s a sweet old man…but I didn’t get pictures, it had started to rain…but I was having some fun!

The ramp eating contest is done…eating the dang things raw…I just don’t think I want to do that…yuck…these guys must have been eating this stuff since they were babies…

I left after the ramp eating contest…I wanted to take a road that advertised it’s self as having switch backs and advising truck drivers to find an alternate route.

I haven’t been on this road before…it’s the rest of 19W South. Better known as the old Asheville Road. Years ago, before I-26 came along…this was how you got over the mountains to Asheville NC. Mom has spoke of it often…only she couldn’t remember the route number…I knew this had to be it as soon as I saw it…what a grand road…yes there were switch backs,

and waterfalls, and all manner of greens…it was a calipee of wonder…you know how it is in the forest in spring…all the trees have their fresh and tender green leaves out now…all of them representing a different shade in the spectrum that is green. Simply thousands of shades of green…God sure knew what he was doing when he made the color green!

I stopped at this place to get gas…and across the street is this great old building…no one seemed to know what it started out to be…but over the years they told me it had been a general store, a gas station, and a library….a library? Yeah…I see…OK…

Moving along from there, I came upon US 19E. This road will take me back north again. I’ve been on it before…last year…on a lost ride…it was great. I didn’t follow it all the way up to Roan MT. instead, I turned left at Spruce Pine…made my way over to Route 226 north, and followed that into TN. and back home again.

The ride? It was wet for the last 50 miles. It was the kind of wet that is not blinding, not a nuisance except for the fact you have to slow down for the switch back turns…and the long sweeping curves…it was another perfect day in paradise folks…I’m asking you, do want to try to top my ride? Of course you do…but you’d just about have to come here to do it…You know…I call this my job…and it’s the best job I’ve ever had! Today…162 miles…the map says 146 or something like that…I made some u turns…got lost a few times…and had a blast!

Be prepared for more pictures of nature. I'm waiting to get my own PC back to edit the pictures. These are not edited...and could sure use some cropping...ah...well it will be home soon nuff... Till then, you guys just ride...I will too.