Goin' Down the Road Feeling Glad
Cruising is ageless.
In fact, the High Country Travelers, most likely the oldest classic car club in the area, has been cruising through the southeast for nearly 27 years. Its current membership ranges from 20 to 80 years of age, and everyone has at least one thing in common - a passion for classic cars.
Additionally, the majority of the group has a special friendship that blossomed many years ago and continues to be nurtured on a regular basis.
It all began in October 1983 by area businessman J.E. Greene and has become a significant part of life that is not taken for granted, the members agree.
As a group, they don't necessarily participate in local cruise-ins, but they do take a two- or three-day trip out of town each spring and fall. And the return trip back to Boone always ends with a stop along the way with a tradition that's as old as the club itself.
Mary Clawson Miller, one of the charter members, bakes a pound cake before she leaves home and serves it after everyone stops one last time before splitting up and heading in different directions - until the next time.
Just last weekend, the High Country Travelers enjoyed a return trip down memory lane with a drive to Mayberry USA, also known in the real world as Mount Airy. It's become one of their favorite destinations of late due to its close proximity and the laid-back atmosphere in a place that speaks loudly of Americana and all that's fast becoming a part of the past. Just like their classic automobiles. Most members remember "the good old days," and love to relive them together, at least twice a year.
Club members recall their first trip in October 1983, when 18 of them --including their kids - piled into eight cars and headed to Natural Bridge, Va. It was a wonderful trip, they all agree, but just the beginning of even greater things to come.
In the earlier days, when not only the cars were younger, but so were the drivers, distance was not such a factor, so off they went to places like Nashville, Tenn., Atlanta, Ga., Charleston, S.C., etc. Not too many journeys have gone without good laughs, a few frustrating breakdowns and even the services of a tow truck or two.
Someone shared during a time of reminiscing last week, "It's a good thing we've had Wayne and Joyce (Hampton) with us all these years!"
The couple owns Hampton's Body Shop and Wrecker Service in Boone and has summoned more than one of their flat beds during club excursions.
The High Country Travelers club has seen a lot of stability through the years. They know one thing for sure, one member said, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
If anything at all is in need of repair or immediate attention, they will work in one accord to put it back together again. Only one trip has been missed through the years, but the members vowed to not let that happen again.
Some members have passed away, others have moved away and some have moved on to different hobbies and interests. The club is currently about 30 members strong with no dominant leadership, just a well-tuned agreement that each couple take its turn as trip hosts on a rotating basis.
Membership is by invitation only; it's important to the group that it not become too large or stray too far from it founding roots and core beliefs that includes much respect for one another.
Read more about High Country Travelers in October, following its actual 27th anniversary celebration slated to be held in east Tennessee.
Current club members, in addition to those in the photograph are: Jamie Critcher, Ricky Critcher, Joe Edwards, Patty Edwards, Steve Greene, Teresa Greene, Evelyn Griggs, Ansel Hartley, Betty Hartley, Glenda Hodges, Jimmy Hodges, Toby Hampton, Ellen Hampton (children Leah and Andrew), Dwayne Hampton, Tonya Hampton, Chad Miller, Joe Miller, Lynda Miller, Connie Polk, Garrett Norris and Sherrie Norris.