7

My departure from Star was greeted with warmer, less windy weather, and largely trafficless roads which, to begin with at least, wound through a quiet wood, down into a valley, and over a rushing, narrow river, before entering the next town: Troy. This tearing downhill into a valley of course meant that I had to climb back out of it, but I was feeling exceptionally sprite and energetic after the solid breakfast of that morning and the peaceful slumber of the previous night so I was really able to enjoy it, and my groin, surprisingly enough, felt almost normal.

It wasn’t long before I arrived and passed through Troy. Located on the edge of the Uwharrie National Forest, Troy is pretty much like any other 19th century-founded town today; it has an historic and quaint town center bustling with life which, as you move further from, turns into a suburban wasteland peppered with the typical fast-food joints; convenience stores; auto-body shops; decrepit, vacant buildings; shoulders littered with glass and rubbish, or no shoulders at all; sidewalks chipped and gashed, with knee-high weeds growing between the cracks, or no sidewalks at all. In general a sense of poverty impresses itself upon one, and it’s quite a great relief once one makes it through, and past the leaden-eyed stares from the zombies toddling around the parking lots, into and out of these hovels and their automobiles. It’s standard disappointment cycling through these outer rings of rubbish revolving around their more life-affirming nuclei.

I had a relaxing, scenic lunch on a bridge spanning the PeeDee River, not far beyond the western boundary of the Uwharrie Forest. Possibly the first proper, relaxing lunch I’d taken the entire trip. In the near distance was a dam, its reservoir on the other side flowing through at a regular, even rate. Gulls were gliding to and fro over and under the bridge, and a variety of waterfowl bobbed along stoically in the river below. Herons taking flight along the shoreline; wading in the shallows on their elegantly long legs, taking the most punctilious of strides. The sun dazzling on the shallow waters below, every ripple like a shattered piece of glitter reflecting brightly. Or the sun, nature’s own disco ball, and everything twinkling and sparkling to the rhythms of the music of existence. It was a paradise, even with the dam in the background, compared to the couple of towns I had cycled through to that point—though one doesn’t need a great shock of nature when surrounded by the ugliness of man—all we’ve created, all we’ve conquered, the towns we’ve built and let fall to ruin and then rebuilt and circled round with soulless structures born of an architect’s nightmares…

I camped along the boundary of a harvested farm field and a wood, just beyond the town of Oakboro. It was one of my more enjoyable campsites, partly due to the fact that I actually got there before dark and was able to pitch my tent without the need of a flashlight, but also because of the utterly peaceful setting in which I found myself the next morning—the sunrise spectacular, a conflagration beyond the gaunt, leafless trees, following a break along an imaginary horizon between shelves of clouds, before being smothered as it rose higher by those very same clouds; the calls of chickadees and titmice flittering above in some nearby trees; and the abundance of various mosses and lichens scattered along the tree line. I listened to Mozart’s Requiem while cooking and eating dinner, my little tent light dangling above me illuminating the cozy nucleus I encapsulated myself in.

Lying back in my sleeping bag, the light above me now dark, I listened to the dogs howling at the moon glowing faintly through the soft fuzz of clouds, and barking at God only knows what. A bloody cacophony, to be sure. Occasionally a pickup truck would go by on the road thirty or forty yards behind me, with their fat, deeply treaded tires smacking on the asphalt, exhausts roaring disdainfully. I fell asleep eventually, only to wake up a short couple of hours later to a pair of horned owls calling to each other, one of which was quite near to my tent. Entertaining for a few minutes, but after another twenty I soon grew tired of it. There’s little to do though, but lie there and…

1 thought on “7

  1. Jay Norton

    Scott, Thanks for the Up-dates. Sounds like you are in S carolina. Hope it is getting warmer for you. Take care U Jay

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    Reply

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