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Editorial: Chug a lug at 5 mph …

It’s a silly song, really. Like most singer/songwriters, it definitely wasn’t considered among his best – not by him or many others.

I’m the son of a 3rd generation farmer

I’ve been married 10 years to the farmer’s daughter

I’m a God fearin’ hard workin’ combine driver

Hoggin’ up the road on my p-p-p-p-plower

Chug a lug a luggin’ 5 miles an hour

On my International Harvester

Last weekend, my wife and I went to Franklin, N.C. to hear one of our favorites – Craig Morgan – in concert. He didn’t disappoint, putting his all into every song, interacting with the audience and putting on an overall excellent show.

Back to that song in a bit.

We’d never been to that part of North Carolina. Franklin was a nice little town, part hometowny and part touristy. The Appalachian Trail passes through, and many of the businesses cater to hikers. My favorite? Of course, the Lazy Hiker Brewery. I know how to be lazy. I know how to drink beer. So it was a perfect stop before the show.

Leaving town the next day, we decided to take the scenic route – US 64 East out of Franklin. We live just off US 64 in western Davie, so we thought it would be fun to drive on US 64 from Franklin to Morganton. Seven hours later, we made it home.

US 64 is four lanes going out of Franklin. It quickly changes to two lanes. The signs stating no trucks with more than two axles should have been a clue.

We plodded on.

All of a sudden, there was a river beside the road. A beautiful river, flowing over rocks. The road became curvy, very curvy. The curves didn’t end for 10 miles or so. I was driving, so my wife got the best views of the river, waterfalls and surrounding mountains. We averaged about 15 mph through that 10-mile stretch. Some curves were so sharp that we almost had to come to a stop to maneuver them.

But it was a fun drive, one I would recommend to anyone who happens to be in that part of the world, is not in a hurry, can drive through curves and like scenic vistas.

Eventually, we made it into the town of Highlands. I had never been there, either. It reminded me of Blowing Rock on steroids. It is a beautiful, well-planned town, apparently inhabited and visited by people with money – lots of money. Money, it turns out, doesn’t equal compliance. There were signs everywhere saying that masks are required, even on the sidewalks. Of the couple of hundred folks we saw on the street while driving through, one was wearing a mask.

The road was still curvy, but not nearly as many as we headed into Cashiers, then Sapphire Valley.

After stopping for lunch in Hendersonville (I highly recommend Never Blue), we headed east again on US 64 toward Bat Cave and Lake Lure.

Then it happened.

A traffic jam.

We were in the middle of apple country, and although reports said yields were lower because of late spring freezes, the trees were filled with apples. Roadside stands were busy, offering everything from HoneyCrisp apples, to apple doughnuts, to fried apple pies and apple souveniers. Those roadside stands got busier as vehicles pulled in, tired of traveling at 15 mph in a traffic jam.

Enough vehicles pulled into these stands so that we got close enough to see the culprit of the traffic jam. Guess what? There was a tractor up ahead. It was pulling an old corn combine, an old combine red in color. It was an International Harvester.

– Mike Barnhardt