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Meeting John Henry in Normalville

Got into Pittsburgh on the redeye yesterday -- no sleep -- can't ever sleep on planes, even with 3 seats. Picked up rental car, drove out to Seven Springs mountain resort, where I checked into the hotel/ski lodge for The Mother Earth News Fair. On the way to my room I asked the housekeeper about barns in the area. Well, she was local and she started giving me directions. A maintenance guy came along and joined in -- he was local, then 2 more women, and they all started giving me directions at the same time, me scribbling down notes.
How about a place to eat, I asked, in a small town, not at one of the restaurants in the lodge. Vikki, the housekeeper said, well, the locals all go to Seymour's in Normalville.
Normalville? No way was I NOT going to a place with that kind of name.
After a half hour's drive and many stops for photos of barns and houses (and the '50s tableau in the photo that was unexpectedly on the side of a small road), I arrived at See-More's All-Star Grill in, sure enough, Normalville. Authentic! The real America, in many ways. Not a trace of hipsterism, or cappuccino or kale or wi-fi. Local tractor drivers, farmers, people who work with hands.
I had the breakfast special -- "Cream Chicken 'N' Biscuits/MashedPotatoes/Corn" and it was delicious. I started talking to the guy next to me at the counter. He was lean, maybe '50s, pony tail, silver earring, turns out he harvests wild ginseng. Which got us into mushrooms, deer hunting, wild foods. We hit it off and shook hands as I left -- strong grip. Told him my name, and he introduced himself: John Henry, he wasn't kidding, I said steel driving man, huh? and he said yeah…
One thing I've learned when traveling to never-before-visited places is: Ask-ask-ask. I used to venture out solo, but now whenever possible, I ask people. Barns, food, coffee, music, new hip city neighborhoods…If people see you're interested in what's on their turf, they'll go out of their way to help. Here, several times, cashiers walked out of their stores with me to point out directions…
Had a great day yesterday with cameras, drizzly rain notwithstanding, the excitement of newly discovered territory…
Lots of interesting stone masonry in area. This is a chiropractor's office on the road to Seven Springs.


Anonymous said...

sounds like an interesting trip/visit.

me, love that stone (chiropractor's office)..Looks like it used to be a home.

have always loved stonework.

Island Woman MJ said...

Great trip start! Looking forward to reading more as this journey goes.

Anonymous said...

You are so right about the ask, ask, ask. I travel by motorcycle mostly and always on the smallest/quietest roads. I have never found anyone unwilling to share their favourite restaurant or camping spot. Good advice Lloyd.

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