I swear I'll stop with the mountain reports - just as soon as my bosses stop making me race to the craggier quadrant of Carolina. Not that I'm complaining. Okay, maybe I am - but I really have no reason to. After all, I could be babysitting a city budget meeting, or framing up some victim's picture in a high school yearbook. Instead, I spent much of the day strapped into the cockpit of my unmarked news unit, field testing inertia while enjoying some soothing tunes. Destination: damn near Tennessee. That's where the Chief Usher of the White House was scheduled to appear shortly after breakfast. Seems the leader of the free world wants a kick-ass Christmas tree and as we learned last year, that kind of thing can best be scored on the edge of the Appalachians.
Soooo, once again I saddled up before sunrise, backed out of my suburban driveway and hauled glass in a westerly direction. Along the way, I re-learned a valuable lesson: Slow the $#&@% down! See, I drive rather ... aggressively. It's a trait I inherited from my father and while I've mellowed quite a bit over the years, I'm still a leadfooted flatlander at heart. Combine those genetics with an approaching deadline and an old yearning for steering wheel cigarettes and you have a 'slinger on a mission. That's not so much a problem on the open interstate, but when the roadways more resemble a Roadrunner cartoon, perilous conditions can ensue. Thus, I should have seen that hairpin curve coming - as there were signs posted everywhere. I didn't. What I did do is drop a few choice words as the two lane blacktop I was churning into gravel suddenly fishtailed around the side of a mountain. I made it, barely. I white-knuckled it the rest of the way, knowing that while Ford Freestyles may not fly, they sure as hell do bounce.
Of course my near-plummet was all but forgotten by the time I rolled into River Ridge Tree farm. While there was no sign yet of the White House staff, there were a couple of dozen well-wishers on hand to witness the official evergreen selection. No sooner did I produce my fancycam than those good folks surrounded me and whipped our their own mini-lenses. What followed was a surreal, high altitude standoff in which the citizenry of greater Creston eyeballed the camera-fella. Just when things were about to get weird, they noticed the F(ox) Word on my fleece. Next thing I know, I'm being invited to family get-togethers and asked to pose for snapshots. Where those photos will end up I don't know, but when in Rome - shut yer piehole and chew with your mouth shut. Luckily, the White House staff pulled up about that time and my sudden celebrity wafted away like a mountain breeze. The rest of my time there was something of a blur and before I knew it I was back behind the wheel, navigating switchbacks and dreaming of my next trek uphill.
Which, with my luck, should be around Thursday.