so we headed up into the great smokies, passing through a tourist-trap hell-hole called gatlinburg, tennessee. weird place with the largest tony roma's sign i have ever seen in my life, and we snapped a few photos out in front. weird theme park atmosphere... i guess folks have been drawn in by dolly parton's dollywood. a country-music based theme park... possibly one of the lower levels of dante's hell?
we drove on into the park, got pulled over by an overzealous park ranger who clocked us doubling the speed limit, talked our way out of it, and stopped at a nearby campsite. we grilled and drank whiskey and stared at the immense poplar and birch trees swaying above us and felt the breeze and the starlight. i passed out easily and quickly; michael and willis stayed up a bit later than the rest of us and saw a wolf trot through our campsite.
next day, woke and hopped off some cliffs at "the sinks," with water cold enoughb to clinch yr jaws tight and grit out a yelp. cold cold cold. bathed with our dr. bronner's, lathered up and hopped off the cliff once again against the roar of some nearby waterfalls. drove over the smokies, through the park, and on into celo, north carolina, an 1100 acre community abiding by the old ways of the quakers: every decision must be concensus-based and there are no leaders. we played the school house there after dining with the kids and the teachers. they have goats, pastures where they grow their own food, a bike shop, welding shop, and all sorts and sundry of beautiful ways for kids in awkward years to get through.
before the concert, we headed to the local co-op... the only co-op on the east coast still run completely by volunteers. they had a shed filled with old clothes and i replaced much of what i'd lost in the highway luggage tragedy. i walked away with a fantastic sweater covered with knitted suns and sunflowers and leaves and other nature ephemera.
we then headed to the community pond and took a plunge off the dock and swam with the beautiful country scum lining the top of the pond. cold and clear once the scum gets cleared.
the concert was fantastic, with a full house in rapt attention and a good vibe,generally. i was handed a note before the show to announce that ben, a student, had been invited to prom, and would find his invitation in his locker. after the show, we played a "blues jam" on the solitary chord of E for close to an hour. there were awesome dancers wearing tie-dyed shirts worn completely through, and the room felt magic and alive. it was an awesome change of pace.
that evening, we took a night hike through darkened woods up to mister wetzell's place... a meadow atop a nearby mountain peak. nobody had any flashlights, so we stumbled through leaves and through branches and made our zig-zagging way up the mountain. i ran into trees, face-first, on several occasions and have the scrapes to prove it. we reached the top, took some whiskey slugs, and headed back down, the downhill a much easier track to follow.
we then drove back to the beautiful home of bob and geeta mcgahey, our gracious hosts. they'd built the log cabin themselves back in 1979 and had a hand in the running of the nearby arthur morgan school (where we played). woke the next morning to geeta bustling about dined on fresh baked bread and strong coffee.
headed over to dave zitlo's treehouse manor.... he literally lives in a tree house and it's so freaking fantastic i can hardly explain. walked back into the woods, bathed in a fast-flowing creek framed by old-growth birch and poplar, and smoked spliff while listening to the wind and gentle roar of the creek. then back to the van, on the road, stopping for a fantastic ice-cold swim in another river. by now, we were clean, safe to say.
now i sit in chapel hill and feel whole and in a very good state of mind. tomorrow, manhattan, hopefully in time for jackie gendel's art opening.