In all my travels across this country, I have to say that there really couldn’t have been a better place to come home to than North Carolina. We really do have a little bit of everything you need right here in our diverse little state. We have the beach, mountains, flatlands, swamps and illegal immigrants. The state is even shaped in such a way as to point at the rest of the country demanding that the rest of the states bow to it’s superiority.
Clearly Virginia isn’t paying attention because it’s just up there laying on its ass. Tennessee is trying to be defiant but it can’t spell “defiant” and Oklahoma is kind of an 8-bit wannabe.
Despite what you have heard, it is NOT legal to marry your sister in North Carolina. On the other hand, oral sex isn’t legal either but who is really checking as long as you’re not doing it in the Home and Garden department at WalMart. Even then I think it’s just a written warning. Oral sex with your sister is ok, just don’t get married.
Boy, did I just run with the sick turn that took, didn’t I? Back to relative normalcy . . .
My growing up “formative years” were spent in our state capital, Raleigh. It’s got all the big city life you need with malls and clubs and museums and damn near anything you can imagine to keep your nights and days occupied. You can also drive 20 minutes out of town and get yourself a healthy dose of quiet country if that is what you’re looking for as well. I don’t care where else you take me, Raleigh is always going to be my favorite city in the world. Hopefully someday they will lift the ban and let me back in.
For now I’ve made my home in what I’ve come to call The Hillbilly Mothership. This is different from The Redneck Mothership (AKA: Dunn, NC). Rednecks and Hillbillies are different. Rednecks live in trailers, drive trucks with tires bigger than their homes and single-handedly keep the cheap-ass beer industry alive. Hillbillies live in shacks, don’t own a vehicle that can’t tow a plow and the stuff they’re drinking isn’t made “at no damn fancy brewery”. A hillbilly will also kill and eat pretty much anything that wanders onto his property. You may want to send in a warning flare before entering and even that doesn’t guarantee anything.
West Jefferson, NC is where my brilliant ass currently resides. West Jefferson was chartered in 1917 and was little more than a train stop for the Northwestern Railroad, also known as the “Virgina Creeper”. As time has passed, “Virgina Creeper” can now be cured with Penicillin and a soothing salve. If you want any history beyond that, click the link I provided as they seem rather serious about it over there and in case you’re new to my blog, I just don’t do a whole hell of a lot of “serious” up in this bitch.
Purgatory -er, I mean- West Jefferson is still just a small, quiet town nestled away in the mountains only 20 miles from both Virginia and Tennessee. Population as of 2009 – 1,135. This is serious, North Carolina country, folks. There are more women than men. Given what I have observed around here, I suspect the women are eating the men. There are no African Americans here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not even the least bit racist, it’s just not something you’re going to see around here. A large chunk of this town still thinks it’s 1917.
The biggest source of income for the town is tourism. It’s small, quaint, vaguely historical and you can’t beat the damn view. When the leaves change colors in the fall, it’s gonna get busy up in here! (From this day forward, these people are to be referred to as “Leaf Peepers”. Thank you, Tom, because “Goddamn Slow-ass Drivin’, Squirrel-pointin’ Fucks” just took too long to type out.) So what I thought I’d do is take you on a short tour of West Jefferson 1) because I like you and I want to share the quaint little town with you and 2) if I show it to you here maybe you’ll keep your ass at home and not be in front of me driving 10 miles an hour pointing at squirrels playing with their nuts.
So let me show you around . . .
This here is the view standing out in back of the house. The mountain you see is, for lack of anything better to call it, Mount Jefferson. I have indicated here where I’m going to be taking the next picture from, or where I took the next picture from. I’m having issues with tense today, bear with me.
Not bad, eh? It really is a great view and you really should see it in person, but do me a favor and warn me first. Also, if your car has Florida license tags on it, I already hate you. I’m just sayin’. Your car really does go faster than 20 mph uphill, I KNOW it does! I did it yesterday, which brings me to the next picture, taken from that place up there that is really high . . .
The town itself, well it’s pretty much what you see there above that red line. The rest of the pictures I show you today were taken down there, above that line, on one road. The main street in town. S. Jefferson Ave. We really haven’t jumped on the placement of a Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd like everybody else has, but then there’s really nobody here that’s brought it up. I’m just sayin’.
Now for the Saturday afternoon stroll . . .
That is it, people. You are more or less looking from one end of town to the other. It’s around 4:30 in the afternoon on a Saturday in the middle of July right there and that’s what you get. Basically what that means here is that I really needed to get moving because everything was closing in about a half hour. Seriously. 5:00, so we gotta go!
(In case I haven’t mentioned it, you can click on any of these images to get the larger versions. For those of you that found your way here by way of The Bloggess, this process is known as “embiggening”.)
You may have noticed that something looks a bit out of place in front of our little tavern. It would seem that West Jefferson is full of “artsy” types that like to paint stuff. There are murals painted on walls all over town and random sculptures placed in odd places all done by local artists. Some of them are very nice and tasteful and some just don’t make any damn sense. We’ll start with the aesthetic attack in front of Black Jack’s (also the title of my next rap song).
As odd as a fire hydrant with a mountain scene painted on it may be (technically, it’s not even legal), at least this work of art has some kind of function. It serves a purpose and can potentially save lives. If you’re not careful and looking for it, it is invisible and you will stub your friggin’ toe, but it has a statement and it is displayed in an appropriate place. There are “less fortunate” works to be found.
There is no sign or plaque with this. There is no title. It has the artists name on it, in the back, on the bottom. It isn’t even displayed anywhere relevant to . . . anything. It’s just stuck in an alley between a couple of stores. Since it doesn’t seem to have a name, I have taken it upon myself to give it one, because I am cool like that. Henceforth, this work shall be known as “The Irrelevant Whatthefuck”. I’m sure it wouldn’t be to hard to find the artists’ tie-dyed, bare basic, patchouli reeking home and ask him what the meaning of it is, but that just sucks all the fun out of educating the tourists in my own special way.
I haven’t gone to verify this yet, but if I had to place bets, I’d say that this art gallery belongs to the same artist that made “The Irrelevant Whatthefuck”:
Another “artist”, of sorts, is located just two buildings away from “The Irrelevant Whatthefuck’s Blue as Fuck” shop (this is the Bible Belt so it probably isn’t called that and I’m going to Hell but I bought my tickets for that trip a long time ago). This is Tri County Monuments. The good folks at TCM make headstones, and they are very proud of their work. Their choice of “display models”, however, is just a tad questionable.
Yeah, I’m going to Hell for sure, but you’re all laughing so at least I know I’ll have company.
One of the more popular features of downtown West Jefferson is Good Ole Days Ice Cream in the building the locals refer to as “The Old Hotel”. Oddly enough, it’s the back side of an old hotel. There have been many things in this store over the years, the last of which was a beauty parlor, but the quaint, “old timey soda fountain stand” feel has made the current resident fairly popular with the locals and tourists alike. I’d like to find something funny to say about it at this point, but seriously, the place is just cool and you’re not going to find anything like it in your big-ass city.
So you may be asking yourself, “What is there to do at night in this fine little town”? Quick answer, not a goddamn thing. Alright, alright, that’s not totally true. You can take in a movie at the Parkway Movie Theater. You’ll get to pick from 1 of 2 movies and you’ll never see anything there that’s rated “R”. They just won’t allow that kind of filth in this town. (Clearly, they have not caught on to me yet!) If you want anything more than that for some evening fun, plan on at least a half hour drive and unless you’re a 21 year old college student, you’re going to be overwhelmed there too. (I’ll talk about Boone, NC in another post ’cause that’s my college tromping grounds and that is a WHOLE other story!)
Finally, I come to West Jefferson’s claim to fame and believe me when I say, this is some goooood stuff right here! There is only one food in the world that is absolutely superior to any other. That, of course, is bacon.
No, we don’t make bacon here. We totally should, but we don’t.
Second only to bacon, is cheese. Cheese is never wrong, ever, no matter what the recipe. No one should ever have to say, “Do you want cheese on yours?” because cheese is where it’s at! Well folks, cheese is made in West Jefferson! Not just some old milk in a bucket, but all kinds of cheese. Cheddars flavored with all kinds of different tastes . . . including BACON! I mean, check this place out, friends! Ashe County Cheese is the BOMB! If it tastes yummy and you can jam it into some cheese, they’ve done it. The store even has samples set out on the counter. I don’t know why all the kids hang out in the next town over, ’cause my ass would be hangin’ out at the damn cheese counter!
That is just the store. It gets better and this is why I’ve saved this part for last. I’ve linked several times to TheBloggess’ post about the Giant Metal Chicken, made many references to it and I even own my very own Little Acrylic Giant Metal Chicken which it now annoys me I did not take down and photograph for this next part. (I will fix this tomorrow.) Across the street from the Ashe County Cheese Store is the Ashe County Cheese Factory where the making of the cheese actually happens. It even has an “Observation Room” where you can go in and watch the cheese dudes make the cheese. But if you’re here, Jenny, most likely because this entire post just pingbacked the living shit out of your site, I did not bring you here for the cheese.
I brought you here because I will SEE your Giant Metal Chicken and RAISE you not 1, not 2, but THREE Giant Metal Cows!
I bet your giant chicken doesn’t lay eggs. My giant cows are actually full of milk! (Yeah, I know, it doesn’t sound right to me either.)
Ok, I’m done. Jenny’s Giant Metal Chicken will always be cooler than my cows. I’m sorry Jenny. I was just really excited about my cows. I won’t let it happen again.
All in all, West Jefferson is a great place . . . to visit. Living here is a bit of a snorefest. Don’t come here if you’re looking for work, unless you can make cheese. Cheese with bacon in it. There are a few businesses here that keep the townsfolk employed, and of course there are the shops down the main street. If you want anything more than that you have to go 2 miles up the road to the next town which is only marginally bigger and you may be surprised to find the name of that town is just Jefferson. They have a Super WalMart over there, but cheese factory trumps WalMart so we are easily the greater community.
I eventually plan to make it back to the city, or even the beach again because Wilmington, NC also rocks the Atlantic coast with style. Next trip I manage to make down there, I’ll snap some more pics and show you the other end of the state. In the meantime, I’ll kinda shut up for now and just leave you with a bunch more pics that I took yesterday. If you still like what you see, I invite you to come on up and take a look around!
Unless you’re from Florida.
Tell me about where you live and why it’s better than someplace that makes it’s own cheese!
Or come and worship with us at “The Irrelevant Whatthefuck”.