One of the best things about living in North Carolina is the easy access via highways and country roads to the middle of nowhere. You can get in the car, drive a little bit, and find yourself in a place you've never been, and maybe didn't even know existed.
The husband and I put the littles in the car this afternoon with every intention of driving to one of our favorite mountain towns, Blowing Rock. But along the way, we saw a sign for West Jefferson, and having some vague memory of having heard of it, we took the turn.
It's a cute enough town, and the scenery is so breathtakingly gorgeous, and the sun was shining, and there was ice cream.
Shatley Springs is up here." Once, maybe 8 or so years ago, my mom and her friend and I took Katie to Shatley Springs for a family-style dining and shopping experience. I thought I remembered it being fun, and even though the husband remembered it differently ("You said it sucked!"), I convinced him to go down the road another 20 miles and check it out.
The shining jewel of Shatley Springs is the restaurant. I am a sucker for biscuits and gravy and country ham and butter and grease and all manner of artery clogging delicacies, all piled high on platters and bowls and brought to my table by a woman 20 years my senior, who insists on calling me ma'am. As a bonus, there were some little shops and Julia loves a gift shop, so I thought we'd all have a great time.
We pulled down the gravel road to the Shat and as it came into view, Sean said "What the hell is this?". A collection of barn red buildings, the largest with a wide porch running the length of the building, the Shat resembles a hillbilly Hilton. You half expect Jed and Granny and the coon dogs to come out to greet you.
"Atmosphere! It has atmosphere!" I grinned.
We park and get out of the car, taking our time to unbuckle kids, get out the stroller, and collect our bags. We notice that there is an older gentleman on the front porch, hooked into a sound system, singing. How quaint.
"Is that 'Silent Night'?" I ask, listening. That's weird, but still quaint.
As we make our way down the parking lot, the guy moves from Silent Night into a spoken word piece, the music swelling behind him. He is talking about the power of Jesus, which is a little odd outside of a restaurant, but we're down with Jesus, so we roll with it. The husband goes into the restroom and the children and I stand outside and listen to the guy, who is doing a lot of talking about the blood of Jesus, talking about a LOT of blood, and Julia is clearly uncomfortable. I look around and notice that my children are the only children. In fact, the husband and I are the youngest people in the audience by at least 40 years.
The husband comes out of the restroom and he is making crazy eyes at me (the eyes that say 'what the fuck is going on here!') and he says "Did you bring me to some sort of seniors Christian retreat?"
I couldn't help it, I burst out laughing. The fellow up front is really going good now, and nothing he is saying is funny, and the old people are giving us the stare down. We hustled the kids into the stroller, across the parking lot, and back into the car. The husband is still not entirely convinced I haven't tried to rookie-doo him into a evangelical retreat at the Shat. He confused and sweaty and clearly rattled.
"Did you hear that guy?" He says. "He started talking about the bottle of Jericho and I knew we had to get out of there."
"The bottle of Jericho."
"Battle. The Battle of Jericho."
"Whatever! We're CATHOLIC! I don't know all that stuff."
Of course, he later insisted that he did, indeed, know it was the battle of Jericho, but got confused with all the old people, and thought he was talking about a bottle of Geritol. The entire episode was so disorienting that I'm inclined to believe him.
What a good day.
2 hours ago