If you can identify this lyric, I will give you one dollar: “Yeah! First off, is what you to do me……get rough, attack my self-esteem.”

Now, without further ado, here are three more new slideshows to sink your teeth into. The digi-cam is getting a sweaty workout lately, hasn’t it? I’ve been all over the place and I need to document everything. I don’t feel like I have many pictures of what I’ve done in the past, which makes me sad. I have very little pictures of stuff I did in high school or college – that’s actually a good thing, I suspect. Heh. Anyway, I’m making up for it now. I just had an idea, though – I may scan some photos soon and do an old-school Jeff slideshow. Some old pics. Yeah. Anyway……..

The slideshow for Mayberry, which in real life is actually Mount Airy, NC was quite a trip, literally and figuratively. As I mentioned before, the town was the setting for the old TV show “The Andy Griffith Show”, and it honestly seems like they just turned off the cameras and left the town as is. Walking around this downtown, I felt like I was actually in a television show or on the set, except it was real people living real life. Check it out. There’s one of me crouched down on something – it’s actually a black suitcase that is shaped like a horse. Steph tells me it looks like I’m going to the bathroom. So be it……anyway, there’s also another photo of a preacher, which I just had to take. He was yelling god stuff at people driving by, and the picture just begged to be taken. Enjoy.

– Next we took a drive through both Virginia and North Carolina on the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway. I’d been here before, but only on the stretch in central Virginia during my drive around the country in 1995, so it was great to see a little more of it. Some real nice shots here, including cattle. I love cattle. I love how they all just raise their heads and stare at you as if you were a 14-foot wide alien. I always wonder what the hell they’re thinking. Are they thinking? I can imagine they might be saying to themselves, “dammit, just for once, let’s kill one of them and see how they taste. Whatever. One highlight to this part of our adventure – we stopped at a park called the Cumberland Knob and when we got into the park, lo and behold, there was a group of the cutest elderly people I’d ever seen. About seven of them were all sitting together in the shade under a tree. They were in a semi-circle, jubilantly playing some bluegrass songs, and playing them well. Banjo, fiddle, stand-up bass – everything. The rest of the old folks were sitting in a semi-circle just opposite the musicians, and some were standing up and dancing a jig, others were sitting down, sipping lemonade and clapping along. There was food cooking on the smoker, drinks in the cooler, people laughing, talking and just enjoying themselves while the sun shone down like a bright ray of hope. It was pure joy watching those people. There are truly no problems in the entire world when you’re up there enjoying yourself like that. Inspirational. I hope when I’m old and retired I can enjoy myself like that.

– Finally, we have the most surprising stop on the trip, which was the The Pilot Mountain State Park, about 30 minutes north of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Steph and I had a few hours to kill before our flight back and we saw the signs for it, so we said “what the hell” and got off the highway and investigated. Thirty minutes later, we’re 3,000 some-odd feet up in the air, gazing down at some amazing, breath-taking scenery that froze me in my tracks, much like the same feeling I got when I first walked into Fenway Park in 1979 – awe. From one of the highest points in the park, Steph spotted a tiny lizard, perched on a large rock and undoubtedly content as a lizard can be, motionless and likely oblivious to the human taking its picture right above. The last picture in this set is from Old Salem, NC, where we stopped afterward to have lunch in a delightful little place, situated outside under some all natural and good ‘ole shade.

From there, it was off to the airport, into the long steel, airborne tube and back to the cold, hard realities of Monday mornings and working. But I had a slight smile on my face all day, knowing full well that the reason I work is because I can do things like this and see the things that I saw this weekend. I work to live, I do not live to work – and I never will. I try my best to get up each day and be grateful for and remember that all my limbs are 100% functional and my brain is 100% operational (mostly, ahem). Too many people don’t have those luxuries – and that’s what they are – luxuries. Don’t ever forget how lucky you are to be functional. It’s one of life’s simple gifts and too many times we take it for granted. Too many people don’t care to see beautiful sights, comprehend what a beautiful country we live in, or stop and let themselves have their breath be taken away by the fact they’re standing 3 or 4 thousand feet above the ground, or that a group of simple people playing a few instruments can be having such pure fun. Never forget how lucky you are to open your eyes, stretch and wake up every morning under your own power – you only get it once.

Song now playing: Cracker – “Brides of Neptune”