Trip to USA : County Lines, Cars and Tazewell

Before traveling to the States, Rhonda had asked Jayna and I if we wanted to visit her dog rescue in Tazewell. Of course, we both jumped at the chance to see for ourselves the conditions under which Rhonda operates @tarc, and perhaps there was a chance we could meet Glory, the infamous raccoon. As I was quickly learning, any trip to anywhere in the US involves many hours of driving but we had stops along the way, such as in Bristol.

The main street literally straddles the state line, Virginia on the left, Tennessee on the right.It appeared that a gathering of classic cars was due to descend on the town and a few were already waiting in the parking lot we had pulled into.

I had flashbacks to Grease as I marveled at this beautiful vehicle.

They just don’t make them like this anymore.

Also on show was this example of a classic Chevy truck.

It seemed that everywhere I looked modern Dodge Chargers, Mustangs and other muscle cars were in no short supply, along with entire fleets of Harley Davidsons. Although we have some in the UK, they are a rare treat and always draw a crowd. Here, they were commonplace.

Rhonda took great pains trying to indoctrinate me into the Southern culture. I picked up a little of the lingo – thanks in large part to her husband Scott – and as we journeyed she made sure that country songs were playing on the radio. Bristol is also known as the birthplace of country music and although we couldn’t investigate further, signs were everywhere.

Time was getting on so we jumped back into the rental car and trekked towards Tazewell County. Every stretch of highway presented a new photo opportunity.

Mountains framed every shot and dense forests covered them all. I half expected a T-Rex to come striding out from between the trees. Yes, of course, we have trees and forests in the UK, but these were thicker and denser than I have experienced before.

As we entered Tazewell County, affluent properties slowly gave way to the ‘hillbilly hell’ I have often heard @rhondak speak about.

We saw dogs chained up in less than ideal situations, a dog on a roof, and many people sat on their porches as an air of menace permeated the street. I feel certain that if we had stopped there would have been a confrontation, if not a shooting.

Eventually, we made our way to Tarc, the destination for many donations from Steem. We were warned that the house was a ‘fixer upper’ but that the land it came with was the main motivation for its purchase. I don’t think we were quite prepared to see the conditions under which Rhonda – despite her health conditions – works tirelessly for the welfare of dogs in the local area.

Rhonda explained that even were she to have the funding to completely renovate the property, just getting someone to come out and give her a quote on something as simple as burying a sewer line was nigh on impossible: nobody in the local area wants the work.

As we pulled up a cacophony of dog barks filled the valley. Tarc currently houses over fifty dogs, all excited to hear the return of Rhonda. Eventually, they settled enough for Rhonda and @catherine813 – an awesome volunteer for Tarc – to bring some of the dogs out for us to walk around the property.

Once we returned to the house, Rhonda went to see if the infamous Glory was accepting visitors. She came out to inform us that we were likely to be shredded, but nonetheless, we slowly entered the house to at least catch a glimpse of the wily raccoon.

You have to remember that this is a wild animal. Rhonda rescued her when her mother was killed and released Glory when she was big enough to fend for herself. Despite that, Glory keeps breaking into the house, causing damage such as the hole seen in the photo above. When alone, Glory can be the sweetest thing, curling up on Rhonda’s lap or around her neck. However, with the smell of strangers in the house, she was quite prepared to bite Rhonda. This is the closest I got to Queen Glory.

After experiencing the conditions under which Tarc operates, I have an entirely new level of respect for the great work that Rhonda and her volunteers such as Catherine and her mum do. Know that every single dollar donated to this worthy cause is focused 100% on the welfare of the animals.

Later that evening we were due to visit a local restaurant, with its own brewery, for a bite to eat and a drink or three. Although its website claimed it shut at 11 pm, as we arrived at 10 pm we were informed that the kitchen had been closed for an hour. Despite claims to be working towards attracting tourists, Tazewell County has a long way to go before I can recommend anyone visit the area. Instead, we went to the main street where Rhonda took photos of the visiting tourists outside the courthouse.

We ended up visiting one of the few places still open for business, a Sonic drive-in. The burger was ok, but not as nice as I imagined the restaurant and craft beer to be.


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