USA: Driving and jiving on the Crooked Road to vibrant Virginia
By Paul Harris on 9 October, 2009
Time had been kind to the old red Buick. The chrome wasn’t quite so shiny now and the upholstery was sagging slightly from too many journeys to count. But the V8 engine still sounded sweet, and the car had a grace about it that is rare in vehicles these days.
Not that time seems to matter much here in south-west Virginia. The traffic is probably just as sparse as when this big old convertible first took to the roads nearly half a century ago, and the towns have a pace about them that doesn’t cater much for anyone in a hurry.
Which probably made it the perfect location for a road-trip adventure in a 1963, Virginia-registered rental car with nearly 100,000 miles on the clock. We took it along The Crooked Road, a 253-mile highway that winds through areas of Virginia accredited with giving birth to America’s music. The trail is steeped in heritage and dotted with historic towns where the same style of music has been in the blood for generations. Cruise into the town of Floyd, for example, and set your watch to about 1959. Townsfolk will tell you things have changed here since then, but it’s hard to find any immediate indication.
You can still buy a single nail from the local hardware store, and the ‘country breakfast’ they serve in the Blue Ridge diner is the same as it has been for decades – good, local produce and arrestingly big portions, albeit in a cardiac kind of way.