I was on vacation last week, and I decided to spend it in the mountains of Western North Carolina, where I attempted to find Sasquatches mating for a book of erotic Sasquatch photographs I’ve been planning for decades. I didn’t find any amorous Bigfeet, but I did find a tiny, secret tribute to old Volkswagens hidden along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The tribute is part of a diorama in the Linville Falls Visitor center along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The diorama, encased in a large, plexiglass box, shows a bridge I can’t recall the name of, but, like almost every substantial bridge I’ve seen, is the first of its kind because of something something concrete sections something something pylons something.
It’s what that tiny model of a bridge is populated with that interested me: Volkswagens. A cluster of tiny, lovely Volkswagens, and one tiny, lovely air-cooled Porsche 911.
The little cluster of cars on the bridge, arrayed with a gleeful contempt for actual traffic patterns or the rules of driving, are all old German iron. There’s two Beetles (they seem to be late ‘60s/early ‘70s era, but it was hard to tell), a pair of Type 2 T3 (think Vanagon) cargo vans, a first-gen Golf/Rabbit, and I’m going to say that truck is a VW-MAN or a VW LT heavy commercial truck, because why not?
This is clearly an improbably array of vehicles for an early 21st-century tableau of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and suggests that whatever unnamed Park Service employee set this up was a Volkswagen fan, and made this little secret shrine to the cars that he or she loves.
I’m delighted to see this; what could have been a boring, generic placement of cars to fill out a visitor center display instead becomes a little reminder that there’s enthusiasts of all sorts everywhere, hidden in plain sight.
Have you ever driven on the Blue Ridge Parkway, by the way? It’s stunning. It’s a fantastic road, smooth and winding and achingly, relentlessly beautiful. If you’re at all able, get in your favorite car and go for a drive there. It’s a relatively low-speed road, so if you have something old and happier away from the relentless push of the freeway, you can really revel in it on the Parkway.
And don’t forget to pay your respects to the tiny shrine to old VWs and a Porsche.