By Lynn R. Mitchell
We stopped at King’s Gourmet Popcorn Saturday morning on our way to the Blue Ridge Parkway and said hello to Ron King. He was making caramel corn (you can see him through the open window of the food truck stirring). It was mid-morning and he had customers beginning to show up ahead of the lunch crowd. With caramel corn in hand, we said goodbye but as we passed by hours later, he was swamped with folks sitting at the picnic tables eating some of the goodies he offers.
The big new sign at King’s Gourmet Popcorn.
Ron King is a ray of sunshine in the blight that is Afton Mountain with its old abandoned buildings. This local celebrity has repeat visitors stopping by as well as tourists, hikers, bicyclists, locals, and everyone else. Watching the out-of-state license plates that pull into the business is an activity in itself, and sitting at the tables is a great opportunity to meet people from all around the world. Thru-hikers from the Appalachian Trail as well as those hiking in the area find a place to stop and grab something to eat and drink. Bicyclists who regularly travel the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive are also grateful for a spot to rest. Ron’s bright yellow food truck and cheerful red picnic table umbrellas offer an inviting respite for travelers. We hope his business thrives and grows, and perhaps it will prove to be the seed that begins the rebirth and rebuilding of Afton Mountain that was once upon a time a bustling tourist watering hole.
Oh — and if you stop by, ask for Ron. He’s the cheerful fella who will probably be making batches of popcorn or pork rinds.
If you go:
Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
August 9, 2014