Scenic Drives: Sailing the Blue Ridge

Blue Ridge Parkway, Tennessee & North Carolina

by Samantha Adler

Food for Thought: Christa's Country Corner

Newland, North Carolina

by Samantha Adler

I had taken the Blue Ridge Parkway from Virginia to Tennessee to meet Cassia in the Smokies. The scenic route is one of my favorites with misty mountain views, lush wooded landscapes and loads of wild flowers. However, the nature of the windy mountain road added about two hours to my trip (sorry Cassia!) and didn’t offer much in terms of lunch options.

The Parkway boasts a few country restaurants and eateries amongst its vast forests. These are few and far inbetween and are mainly tourist sites like Little Switzerland, a pitstop filled with restaurants and shops imitating a Swiss mountain town. But, just off the parkway on Highway 181 in North Carolina, lies Christa’s Country Corner. The perfect stop for a quick, delicious lunch.

Christa’s resembles a small log cabin on the side of the highway; humble and warm. This pitstop serves as both a country store and deli. Before turning off the parkway, I had read raving reviews about their yeast buns and daily BBQ specials. Unfortunately, it was a bit too late in the day for the yeast buns. So I got a pimento cheese sandwich on a freshly baked potato bun.

It ruined pimento cheese sandwiches for me. For the rest of my road trip through the south, no other sandwich came close to the mouthwatering one at Christa’s. It’s a combo made in sandwich heaven. The cheese is perfectly salty, creamy and full of flavor, while the bun is light, toasty and a little sweet. I’m drooling while I write about it.

The store also has a variety of local sodas, jams, candies and other food goods to accompany a tasty sandwich. The staff was extremely warm and helpful, eagerly offering  sandwich suggestions and asking about my trip. They gave me my first dose of southern hospitality.

Christa’s Country Corner is the perfect stop for a cheap, delectable, best-sandwich-of-your-life lunch break!

Samantha's Definitive America


by Samantha Adler

The rolling forests of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are entirely engulfing. With their blue and green hues, dewy crisp breath, lush foliage, and temperamental, seasonal mood swings.

A seemingly odd find in the heart of the American wilderness was a parking lot. An empty, expansive lot, dropped atop a mountain.  

That asphalt slab was strangely patriotic. Even amidst the defining, impressive backcountry, I felt a surprising fondness towards the lot. It was a familiar and comfortable sanctuary after five hours of driving through, up, and over many mountains.

The US has always been a wild country of explorers and adventurers. Now, we’re leading modern expeditions in Jeeps and Priuses.

Repetitive lines on blacktop mark a place to rest, park your gas-powered stead, and admire the complexity of this huge country. Whether you’re cutting through the suburban jungle, city bustle, towering forests, or flat, flat desert.

Parking lots are the watering holes of America, a microcosm of its diversity, its good and its bad. To dogs waiting patiently with tongues wagging, notes of kindness left stuck on windshield wipers, helping hands carrying heavy loads for those in need, laughter from impromptu cookouts on pick-up beds. To unwanted stalkers, boisterous and vile exchanges, newly discovered dents and paint chips, and hidden dangers in the absence of street lamps.

These parking lots are definitively American to me. They’re relics of a country of explorers behind the wheel.