Saturday, July 19, 2008

"Woulda" "Coulda"

"Woulda" and "coulda" played an important role in moving from Plan A to Plan B today. We would have talked about the home of Sidna Allen if we could have relied on the tour schedule. However, tours of the home of one of the people involved in a courtroom shootout in the late 1800's were cancelled.

We would have talked about our visit to the Blacksnake Meadery if we could have traveled down a long, winding lane narrower than our truck's wheel base. Finally, we would have talked about our visit to Foggy Ridge Cider if I could have driven down a steep driveway to a small parking lot that appeared to require that I back uphill to leave the parking lot. Strike one, two, and three.

Enter Plan B. We decided to take Route 58 (The Crooked Road) to Stuart to see what the town was like. On the way we stopped at the Lovers' Leap Overlook. The photo does not do justice to the majesty of the view. There must have been about eight hills/mountain ranges between the valley and the horizon. On a clear day . . . Wow.

It was mid-afternoon when we arrived in Stuart. On two blocks on Main Street, there were fewer than eight cars, and some of the stores were closed. The stores that were open were a tanning salon, the Coffee Break cafe, a clothing store with a wedding dress in the window along with a sign that read "Justice of the Peace on Premises," El Rancho Mexican Grill, and Honduras Coffee Company.

We opted for a closer look at the Honduras Coffee Company. It was both surprising and puzzling to find the equipment and range of choices for coffee comparable to that found in the best urban coffee houses. The menu also offered a range of sandwiches that sounded very good. The coffee, iced tea, and a whole grain cookie were really good. The only explanation for the empty streets from one of the salespersons was, "Sometimes we're very busy, and other Saturdays it's like this."

Since it was Saturday and we were near Meadows of Dan, we headed to our favorite spot--Christopher's Pizza to listen to their Saturday night band, Barbershop Grass. On the way, we saw this interesting sight which I will leave unaddressed or uninterpreted. I'm sure there is a logical explanation, but I thought it best to keep driving.

Once again, the meal at Christopher's was excellent: chicken wings and stromboli. Both items were done to perfection. Shu later brought around a new dish for us to sample. I believe it was a pizza frite--fried pizza dough covered with powdered sugar and frosting. I'm sure there must be a more complete way to describe the dish, but more importantly, it was fine pastry, either as a dessert or as a breakfast pastry.

I think this has been our fourth stop at Christopher's in three weeks. The people are very friendly and a couple of the regular customers are beginning to greet us on these repeat visits. Shu and his staff make it a point to greet everyone, spend time talking with them, and chat with them as they leave. Shu also welcomed members of a group home to dinner. The residents come on a regular basis and were dancing with each other and staff members.

To us it appears that although Shu's name is on the title to the property, the people of Meadows of Dan "own" this gem. All the old items hanging on the walls have been donated to him, and the emotional investment the community members have made in the business and, more importantly, in the lives of the staff and other customers make it clear to us that Shu's dream will be realized (see the earlier entry "Shu's Dream").

I was talking with Maynard, the landscaper, when he asked one of the customers who was leaving, "Herb, are you armed today?" Herb said that he was and then proceeded to pull his slingshot out of his back pocket. I asked questions about the carving of slingshots, and Herb answered in detail, announcing at one point that he numbers each of the items he carves or makes. He had slingshot number 2481; his seven-foot walking stick was number 2642 and dated 2007. Mr. Rohr is a champion slingshot artist and was proud of his accuracy scores in competition. He showed me his "bullets," that is, the metal balls (about 5/16" in diameter) that he uses in competition. "I buy these by the ton." I don't know the weight of these balls, but at a good speed, they could do some serious damage. Finally, he added that he uses an elastic strip from a medical supply house for the elastic piece that holds the "ammunition."

He related the following story: "It seems there was these two fellas from up North, Illinois, I believe, who were talking about how they were the fastest in speed target shooting. Well, I challenged them to a match."

Maynard then summarized the match. "Herb got off 18 shots in 60 seconds, and 17 hit the target." I didn't ask about the distance and size of the target, but the thought of picking up the "bullet," putting it in the strap of the slingshot, aiming and firing with accuracy in about 3 seconds was pretty impressive. As further proof of the results of his skill was his final comment: "We haven't seen those two boys since."

When I asked if I could take his photograph, he willingly agreed and struck this pose.

Shortly after saying good-bye to Herb, I heard Shu saying good-bye to Cecil and his wife who had celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary last week. Cecil said good night and then drove off in his new truck.

Only at Christopher's Pizza: Real Good Food and Really Good, Genuine People. We're going to miss these fine people as we move on.

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