Oddfellas Cantina – Floyd, Virginia

I was in a complete funk this morning. It has rained for two straight days and I am trying to get my garden completed before Laura’s photo shoot on Friday, which is looking like it’s not going to happen. I’m in the rain with a slate bar (google it) attempting to dig yet another post hole, which has since notched up a bit to ten feet in what I feel will be a vain attempt to keep the deer out. I haven’t seen much of the sneaky bastards since our coyote invasion, but I have a nagging suspicion that they will be immediately drawn to heirloom tomatoes, potato sprouts from Utah, fresh wild garlic and all the other assorted plants that we are trying to grow in our raised garden beds.

The geologist in me is a bit fascinated by the variety that I am finding in the holes dug for various bushes, posts, and foundations. Red Fat Clay, alluvial stones, flint, chert….you name it, I’m finding it. I’m also cursing the day we decided having a farm, albeit small, on a ridge in Giles County seemed like a good idea. I’m coated with red clay, hopelessly sliding around and the dog is trying, in his doggy way, to help. Which is frustrating as I watch him merrily prance across the just planted beds with carefully cultivated seeds and just sprouted seedlings, all in the sport of playing with a plastic bottle that must, oh, just must, be buried at the far end of the garden area.

Then I look around. The mist is rising off the river. A squirrel is merrily barking at some distance from me. My tools are all around me. My 95 pound yellow lab is now sniffing at something that I will never understand with my human senses, something no doubt enhanced by the plastic bottle that he has managed to somehow recycle. I’ll likely be dealing with the effects of that particular oddity tomorrow, but for now, he’s in good shape. I look at my woodshed, wondering how much, and in what order I should put up the hardwood that grows all around us and I gather from numerous sources. And, (as a writer, you should never begin your sentences with and) I realize – this is a good life.

As I stand in the rain, with my slate bar, wondering where to plant Laura’s lilies, I am mentally transported, for just a moment, to Reno, NV. It was there that I journeyed, albeit temporarily, to work on a NASA grant for planetary-plastic-elastic-tip-deformation-mechanics. Yeah. I roll that way. For all of you whose head just hit your keyboard, I’m right there with you. That was the most frustrating, irritating job in the world. Ok…maybe the second most. But, it was a great experience! I punched a vampire in the head (more on that later), was arrested for jogging and absolutely fell in love with Chimichangas. Did I spell that right? Probably not. But it is so much fun to say, right? There was a food truck on the walk home from the University to my apartment, which was a very cool apartment, if I must say so, and they had the best Chimichangas ever. Or so I thought.

Until I went to Oddfellas Cantina in Floyd, Virginia. Until yesterday, I always needed an excuse to go to Floyd. After all, it is about an hour’s drive from our house, in the middle of nowhere, to Floyd, which is also in the middle of nowhere. The coolest thing is, though, if you live in the middle of nowhere, is giving directions. In this case, it is: Get off the 114 exit off I-81 North. Make a left. Drive to the stoplight. Park. You’re there. I love this place. So, with clay covered clothes and a partially recycled water bottle in my future, I call my adventurous wife and we head out on a brief road trip.

Oddfellas has the best Chimichangas in the world. Period. If I were wealthy, I would have them delivered to my house. By Salma Hayek. But I’m not, and Laura would be really mad (that’s my wife, if you are wondering) if Salma arrived at our house with a Chimichanga. George Clooney would be ok, but Salma, no. We take a scenic route, admiring the rain, so gently falling and I arrive yet again at the conclusion that this is one of the most beautiful places on earth. We duck into Oddfellas and wait a bit to be seated – by the same waitress that I have been seated by for the last six years. That is an accomplishment in an area that is not quite vagrant, but populated by college students. It is in the middle of blackberry winter, so Laura is freezing. She orders a cup of seafood stew…then things become decadent.

These guys get all their seafood from the same purveyors as I do; Indigo farms. In short, it’s fresh. The soup arrives immediately, and Laura has to take it from me for a picture. She is warmed immediately, and we notice that local, wild oyster mushrooms are on the menu. Oh, yes. We’ll take some. We don’t really even talk. We just eat. The mushrooms are sublime. Laura is busily destroying the bread basket when I knock over my iced tea, an admitted obsession of mine: the tea, not the spilling. I am horrified, despite the limited number of guests at such an early hour, but the server helps me clean and I notice a tiny Yin-Yang symbol in the floor. Wow. I’m now glad I spilled my tea. I order, of course, a Chimichanga, with local beef, and Laura orders a Blue Crab and Arugula Salad. Whew. It is amazing.

I can’t say too much about the restaurant. It is worth every second that you spend in the journey to get there. There are so many unique features in the place itself, down to their homemade cookies, which Laura is obsessed over, and the music venues that they promote. Go to Floyd, eat, have fun and for God’s sake, get the Chimichanga. Even if you just take it home.

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