Friday, December 1, 2017

Creedence Clearwater Revival – "Green River" (1969)

Stoppin' at the log where catfish bite
Walkin' along the river road at night
Barefoot girls dancin' in the moonlight

The Southside Railroad, connected Petersburg and Lynchburg, Virginia.  Construction of the railroad 132-mile-long railroad began in 1849 and was completed in 1854.

The Southside Railroad's High Bridge
over the Appomattox River (1854)
After the Civil War, the Southside eventually became part of the Norfolk & Western, which later merged with the Southern Railway to form the Norfolk Southern, one of the four largest railroads in the United States.  Today the Norfolk Southern operates over 21,500 miles of track and has annual revenues of almost $10 billion.

The Norfolk Southern continued to run trains over most of the original Southside Railroad route until 2005, when it gave the right of way to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.  The DCR ripped up the tracks and converted 31 miles of the former rail corridor into a rail trail that’s been open to hikers, bikers, and horseback riders for about five years.

I recently loaded up my new hybrid bike and drove to Farmville, Virginia, a town that sits smack dab in the middle of the rail trail – which is officially known as High Bridge Trail State Park. 

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I arrived in Farmville a little before 3:00 pm, which meant that I had only about two hours to ride before it got dark.

The Prospect postmistress lowering
 the American flag at closing time
I parked at the former Farmville train station and hit the trail.  There wasn’t enough daylight left for me to get all the way to the western terminus of the rail trail and back, so I turned around after riding to Prospect, a tiny hamlet that’s ten miles from Farmville.

On the way to Prospect, you cross Hard Times Road:

Like most rail trails, the High Bridge trail is relatively flat and straight.

There’s not a lot to see along the western half of the trail, which was just as well given that I needed to cover 20 miles in two hours.

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After stowing my bike in my SUV, I headed for Third Street Brewing, a small brewery that’s located right on the trail in Farmville. 

A flight of four beers from Third Street Brewing
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There aren’t a lot of fine dining choices in Farmville, which is home to only 8000 residents.  

My Third Street server and a couple of my fellow tipplers pointed me in the direction of the Fishin’ Pig, a large and popular local joint that specializes in barbecue and fish – but you knew that as soon as you read the name of the place, n’est-ce pas?

The friendly Fishin’ Pig bartender recommended the fried catfish, which was an excellent suggestion.  One of the founders of the Fishin’ Pig is a gent named Shorty Osborn, who’s the inventor of both “Shorty’s Famous Seafood & Chicken Breading” – the secret to my tasty fried catfish morsels – and the product’s slogan: “Catch ’n’ Release in the Grease.”

I ordered a doppelbock from Parkway Brewing (Salem, Virginia), which hit the spot.  I was tempted to order another, but my hotel was a half-hour’s drive away – discretion is the better part of valor, they say, and I decided that one was enough.

The Fishin’ Pig draft beer list
I hopped on US 460 – a four-lane divided highway that was functionally indistinguishable from an interstate – and headed west to Appomattox, Virginia, where I stopped at a Dairy Queen for a hot fudge malt before checking into my hotel.

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Why didn’t I choose a hotel in Farmville instead of one a half hour’s drive away?  (My second day’s ride would start where I left off in Farmville, so I’d have to drive half an hour back in the morning as well.)

I’ll tell you why . . . 

Here are excerpts from the online reviews of one of the hotels that had rooms available the night I was going to stay in Farmville:

Hotel was very much neglected.  The rooms were very dated and worn looking with furniture, carpeting, and bathroom.  The mattress was old and uncomfortable.  The bathroom was falling apart . . . . Smelled of urine.  Found hair in shower, and pink mildew.  One of the grossest hotels I have ever stayed in.  Should be torn down and rebuilt.

Old rooms, not very clean, room had been smoked in, tub leaked, toilet was loose, carpet was stained and dirty.  Refrigerator wasn't very cold and was noisy.

Would not recommend to anyone, room was filthy . . . so much so we were afraid to eat the free breakfast.  People partying outside the rooms all night, loud and obnoxious

Filthy rooms, all smell of dirty ashtrays, COCKROACHES!

The next hotel I checked out sounded even worse:

ROACHES. As soon as we turned on the light there were at least 4 roaches – 2 running across the table and 2 on the wall.

Entire hotel smelled like stale cigarettes including our “no smoking” room and the lobby/breakfast area where a “no smoking” sign was clearly displayed.  The continental breakfast was as sparse as any I have ever seen.

Unclean, noisy, green substance in sheets, beetle-looking bugs inside of bed sheets, and unfriendly man at front desk.

The shower curtain smelled so bad of mildew.  The toilet bowl and seat were dirty.  The knobs on the air conditioner were broken off. 

The room had an odor so we had the window open for a few hours to air out.  There was a live cockroach in the bathroom.  The sheets were not clean (there was hair from the last person who slept in the bed).  The staff didn't smile, and didn't act friendly.

Here’s what some of the recent visitors to a third Farmville hotel had to say about it:

VERY OLD.  Needed updating badly.  The bathroom was the smallest bathroom I've ever been in. The shower was so small (perhaps a 48" square) you couldn't bend down to wash your feet.

Literally the worst place I have ever stayed.  The room was gross and had one towel.  There were bugs and the room smelled awful.  At night, there were men hanging out outside of room having a party who I’m pretty sure were not guests.  Never again.

My wife woke up with bed bug bites all over her body.  Day one I took the bed bug to the office to show the hotel staff.  My wife noticed something on my shirt and killed it with a napkin and [it was] nothing but blood.  She freaked out with all the bites on her. . . . Basically didn't get any help from any staff workers about the bites.  

Is it any surprise I chose to drive half an hour to stay at the Appomattox Inn & Suites after reading dozens of customer reviews like these?

Great location for visiting the [national historical park].  Hotel appears to be new so it’s in perfect condition.  Our room was immaculate and the bathroom had a glass shower and plenty of room.  For me, the mattress was the best thing about the room – it was soooo comfortable and I had a great night's sleep.  The breakfast included in our reasonable rate was good and the entire staff was friendly and helpful.  Parking was plentiful.

Appomattox Inn & Suites
This stunning hotel is maybe 2 years old at best, but it shines like brand new! . . . This hotel has it all: inclusive breakfast, wine and snack bar, outdoor pool, exercise room, impeccably clean everything!  Very nice beds and bedding, perfect A/C that actually really works, kind and accommodating staff throughout the hotel.  You won't be disappointed; we will certainly return.

The cost for my night’s stay?  Only $80 (plus various taxes) – which was no more than what the Farmville hotels would have charged.

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“Green River” was the title track on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s third studio album, which was released in August 1969.  I remember buying the album shortly after its release – I was a senior in high school in the fall of 1969 – but I never listened to it much.  (The big single from the Green River album was “Bad Moon Rising,” which is one of my least favorite CCR songs.)

CCR’s Green River album
The song’s title refers to Putah Creek, a large creek in Napa County, California, that was dammed in the 1950s to form Lake Berryessa.  John Fogerty, CCR’s lead singer and principal songwriter, enjoyed family vacations on Putah Creek when he was a child.

Fogerty took “Green River” from the name of a once-popular lime-flavored soft drink that was bright green in color.

Here’s “Green River”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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