Marshall is the County Seat of Madison County. It is a small town that looks decidedly Mayberry. Except with an economy that wasn't great before 2008 and is now struggling. They've got the courthouse in the center of town and a single Main street the comprises the entirety of downtown. It's one of those places that is half-way along it's journey from a defunct mountain town and hippy/yuppie enclave. The coffee house survives because of the courthouse across the street and it serves a decent cup of coffee and mundane sandwiches.
Marshall is perched on a small plain along the banks of the French Broad River (wisecracks aside, the name of the river is derived from the fact that it was one of two rivers named the Broad River and it flowed through territory controlled by France way back when). The railroad goes through but the train depot is now an art store. Clearly the world is passing Marshall by.
Outside of town we drove up Route something-or-other, also known as Turnpike Road. Obviously, Turnpike is a North Carolina Mountain word meaning "single-lane, dirt and gravel road that twists and turns and descends precipitously on both sides". We survived the drive mostly because we didn't encounter a car coming in the other direction.
The trail ride was everything one expects from horseback riding when one does it rarely. Fortunately it was short enough to not inflict damage on body parts that are unaccustomed to riding a horse. The views were fantastic and the trail guide, an authentic mountain dude who spoke a language probably more closely related to Scottish than English, was very helpful. Good times.
|I held the esteemed station at the rear of the processoin|
|Rolling hillsides for miles|
|Rusty (at least that's what we called him). I didn't|
understand a word he said but he seemed
knowledgeable, smoked Marlboros and cussed a
fair amount. Perfect trail boss.
|A trail ride wouldn't be complete without a cow in the path|
|Mad camera skillz and a stylish cap.|