Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: TOURIST TRAP (08/20/15)
- TITLE: The Misplaced Compass
By Marty Wellington
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This little town is a bit off the beaten path for those traversing the Blue Ridge Parkway or on the way to local tourist attractions. There's not much calling out to visitors to stay and linger in the tiny community. But, it holds a treacherous secret for the unsuspecting traveler. Beware, lest you too become trapped in its snares as my daughter and I did this past summer.
Unbeknownest to us, we encountered the web not long after we took the spur off the main highway to find something to eat. Highway 107 was not our friend. Now for most people finding a quick meal at a fast food chain wouldn't be a problem, and in no time you're back on the road to your latest destination. However, my daughter is vegan so finding an appropriate meal can be challenging especially in smaller communities. Thank heavens for Annie Android and Gabby Google—they pointed us to a couple of vegetarian/vegan options in no time. Well, at least we thought so...
Seriously, can two someones with an Android (no, two Androids) and a Google map get lost or trapped in a town of 2,600? Well, maybe. The first little cafe that came up in our search sounded great, but by the time we found it, it was closed PERMANENTLY. The next one was closed for a mid-afternoon siesta. Then, after several trips up and down highway 107, we finally spotted something way off the road, behind a long gravel driveway--the Soul Infusion Tea House and Bistro. Tucked under a shady canopy, the brightly painted farmhouse looked a bit deserted—maybe even closed. The daughter wasn't quite sure about it. Not long after, I caught sight of a little natural food store off to the right. What about stopping there? Maybe we could find some sort of snack. Nope, the daughter wasn't giving up for something more sustainable. And, besides, she honestly hadn't even seen the natural food store. Her sideways glance told me I was crazy. So, I kept driving, believing there might be something better down the trail. And, I kept driving for something like five miles out into the wilderness, all the time thinking I was headed north by northeast toward Tennessee and some delicious alternative to our hunger. The daughter kept trying to tell me we were headed in the wrong direction, but I just couldn't believe it. Somehow that five miles just felt “right.”
By the time I decided to listen to Alice, our handy, dandy Google map gal and my lovely daughter, I was something like seven miles southwest of Sylva, undeniably going in the wrong direction. Somehow in all the drama of searching for some yummy vegan delightfulness, I had misplaced my inner compass. Or had I? Maybe Sylva didn't want us to leave...
As we drove back into town, I convinced my daughter that, yes, there was a natural food store just ahead, near a garden center. We spotted it just in time to miss the turn-in. Another trip down Highway 107 ricocheted our little Hyundai on a fast track back to the natural food store. Staggering out of the car, we made our way into the little bulk store, full of all kinds of great supplies—that is if we had a kitchen, a Vitamix (oh yeah, we had one of those in the trunk, just no electricity to run it at the moment), and an army of kitchen tools. The packaged goods looked promising--tortilla chips, jams, chocolate bars and chewing gum, though, not quite what we had in mind for lunch/dinner.
Dejectedly, we climbed into the car and turned back onto our favorite Highway 107.
Soul Infusion was now our last hope, that is IF it was open at 4 pm in the afternoon. Lucky for us the little farmhouse turned bistro was open and serving a variety of vegan goodies to two road-weary tourists.
And, after a fine refueling meal, we were on our way out of town and on our way to the granddaddy of all tourist traps – the dreaded stretch between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
It would seem that Sylva was just the warm-up.
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