Weekend At The Nu-Wray Inn

I guess it’s the sort of thing old people think (if not obsess) about. Some idealized period in our lives where, looking back 3 or 4 decades later, things seemed to make sense or at least we had some illusion (or delusion) of control. You might call it a “Captain of our fate” period. 

 Picture it—the late ‘70s—graduate school at a small university in the Southern Appalachians. Marijuana is always on the crisp mountain breeze, young men adrift in a sea of intelligent, attractive and single young women, mountain trails to be hiked and your only real responsibility is to do what you love best—learn.   

Almost 40 years, 2 divorces and retirement (from a career whose nobility and social impact was just so much naiveté) later, it all seems like a dream.  So many things have happened—so much life lived chasing self-deluding and short-sighted ambitions. It’s nothing short of amazing to realize most of life’s choices are based on an arbitrary adolescent appetite or a frivolous perception of some transient, inconsequential set of circumstances.  

 There was this mountain—a few hours from the university—you loved to climb back in those days—in between term papers and casual affairs with some Girl-Of-The-Month. The mountain never changed—no matter what happened or didn’t happen—what went right or wrong—it never changed—just the enormous mass of earth rising into the endless sky and the changing seasons—eon after eon—indifferent—perfect. 

You find yourself remembering, then considering, then deciding.   

 One day you announce to your long-suffering wife you want to return to the mountain. She has long ago figured out that you’re basically a harmless old nut and these occasional screw-ball attempts at memory-lane adventuring are OK—so long as they’re out of town where no one knows you. She goes on line and books a room at an old inn in the nearest town—a forgotten little burg where, who knows, you might spot Sheriff Andy getting a haircut at Floyd’s Barber Shop.  

 You and the long-suffering spouse arrive at the 120 year old inn late.  The inn staff—all 2 of them—have gone home. As you turned on to the town square with the obligatory Confederate Soldier monument you could swear you saw Sheriff Andy’s 1963 Ford Galaxy squad car turn the corner. Per an earlier phone call placed after making a wrong turn in the vicinity of where “Deliverance” was filmed, you find your key and directions to the room in an envelope taped to the deserted front door. The note asks you to lock the front door behind you after you come in.   

The room is like a time capsule—it looks like it was decorated by Aunt Bea after she’d had a few too many Elderberry wines. The lobby looks straight out of central casting for a John Ford western.   

There’s still a little daylight left so let’s go out, walk around town a bit—have an ice cream float at the drug store, check out the Bijou—maybe catch an installment of a Roy Rogers serial.   

 You walk—everything’s closed. You read the plaque under the Confederate soldier.  It gets dark, gets cold and begins to rain. You head back to the inn and realize you have locked yourselves out.   

You knock, then pound on the door—silence within. The wife stays and continues to knock and call out. You circumnavigate the building looking for an unlocked kitchen or delivery entrance. In the back you spot an ancient, cast iron fire escape with its rusty ladder rungs bolted to the weathered clapboards. The second floor door may be open.   

You wonder how Sheriff Andy might react if he saw a 64 year old Yankee tourist climbing a rusty fire escape in the dark and rain.  You go to check on the wife and, as it happens, you won’t have to chance being thrown into the cell next to Otis after all. A guest has heard your wife calling and banging and opened the door. You go in and up to your warm, dry room.   

 Maybe Aunt Bea’s decorating isn’t so bad after all.   



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2 Responses to “Weekend At The Nu-Wray Inn”

  1. Nelson Cheang Says:

    Hello, OT
    I leave some message in fotoblur about your new article.
    Thanks again for your great image to make a short period of quiet after my busy day.

  2. orion Says:

    Hi Nelson–I appreciate that you work very hard. I’m very pleased you find visits to this site relaxing and enjoyable. Giving people a chance to relax and reflect a bit is exactly what this site is about–I hope you will tell others about it so they can relax and enjoy it too. Thank you again for your visits and kind comments. Orion

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