Our first adventure, getting here.
The very first time I came here in the fall of 1999, I came with three other friends who I had just made and our minds were ripe for adventure. We were four young college boys with a car, some money, a destination and a whole lot of time to kill. The man at the helm of the Acura Integra, may not have been the brightest and most focused young indvidual, bless his soul. However, in the passenger seat sat yours truly, accompanied by two other passengers, squahsed in the rear, with a mind for getting there that day, whatever happened.
We first set out around 4 in the afternoon. Thinking there was no rush to get there on time, we hung out at Greensboro's Four Seasons Mall. Thinking we'd better get on the road however, me made off for our destination around 6pm. Now Boone is only a two hour drive from Greensboro, so here's where I begin to try and explain how it ended up taking us four hours to get to Valle Crucis which is only a half an hour on the other side of Boone.
Dave, our navigator, being the absent minded individual he was, and with the added distraction of four jovial young lads chattering away, somehow managed to miss a crucial turn. Now, the moment of "oops" didn't come immediately of course with our attention diverted to the conversation in the car at the time. I mentioned at some point, that perhaps we had missed a turn, because I saw a sign for Asheville, NC. Knowing my western NC geography at least roughly and remembering that there was something on the directions about hwy 421, I began to suspect something was wrong.
Now, the time it took us to realize this put us somewhere around Statesville, NC, which, without a map, I couldn't tell you where it is. So, the unthinkable happened...four men got out of the car and asked for directions. Our benefactor set us heading up 321 as an alternate route, but even with our new found direction we managed to miss the turn onto the freeway that we were told to take. So thinking quickly, I yell for Dave to get on the next exit and go all the way around the cloverleaf...up over the bridge, back down, under the bridge again, then back up, to get headed in the right direction.
It being early autumn, darkness falls around this time but we manage to get through Boone and on the way to Valle Crucis. We take the proper turn onto the street where we should find the conference center but we drive right past it, not having known exactly what to look for, and find ourselves on a narrowing mountain road, in the pitch dark of the NC mountains. Deliriously tired and hungry, and halfway amused at the fact that all of our dorm mates were probably worried that we had been kidnapped or had driven off the mountain, we decided we should turn around in someone's driveway. Being the imaginitive people we were, fear set in as, mid three point turn, a light comes on in the house. Half expecting a mad redneck with a shotgun to come chasing us off his property, we skidded out of the long driveway as fast as we could back in the direction we came.
I'm not sure exactly how many times we passed the conference center, nor can I quite remember how many times we called one or two of our dorm mates to have them tell us what to look for, in the hopelessly black landscape, but after another treacherous three point turn on a narrow road, after pulling into the stench of a waste water treatment plant, we found our destination. Now at 10pm, confused at how we could have possibly missed it, we ran inside and told our story of adventure gleefully to our dumbfounded friends. Maybe it was a ploy to mask our dissappointment at having missed dinner. Either way, we were sure to be able to find it again, the next time.