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Words by Daniel Wakefield Pasley and Emiliano Granado. Photographs by Emiliano Granado.

 

Swimming Hole Guide via An Impromptu Event the Result of A Roadtrip Between Colonial Williamsburg
And Pittsburgh, Pa

 

9 JULY 12:30PM: IT’S HOT AS BALLS AND YOU’RE WALKING because they didn’t have cars or golf carts in the seventeenth century and so they don’t have cars or golf carts in Colonial Williamsburg.1 You are working “Behind the Scenes” for Travel and Leisure, you are photoshooting.

Even though the Reenactors know because they’ve been told that you’re working Behind the Scenes (BTS), that you’re an insider, that you’re in the know, it seems like they don’t/won’t break character. It’s like Disneyworld, they took an oath or they’re in a guild or some shit, they’re professionals.

You fuck with George Washington because in a way it’s your job, at least today it is, to fuck with George Washington. You try to get him to say something anything wrong or anachronistic or incongruent or whatever. You ask him what Martha was like after everyone went home and the servants went to bed, was she crazy or what? You talk about his wooden teeth were they Walnut or Birch? and did they warp?, and you quiz him on what little you know about Valley Forge which isn’t much—canoes or rowing across the river, lots of frost and ice, wet feet, etc. But this dude is like the Royal Guard, he’s a beefeater, he doesn’t budge or crack or nothing – later you wonder if comparing a reenacter playing George Washington to a British palace guard is sacrilegious or wholly unpatriotic or similar but fortunately you’re too hot care and you forget what you’re thinking about anyway.

The Town Drunks are different story. Once a riff-raff, always a riff-raff. When prompted, if nobody important is listening, they’re willing to drop the Ye Old Lingo for sport.

You head over to the Slave Plantation. On the way you consider a Turkey Leg lunch but pass because seriously it’s too hot to eat. You pass a drum and fife parade and a real cannon and you miss the George Washington’s First Annual Message to Congress reenactment.

10 JULY 2:45 PM: YOU ARE IN A HYUNDAI IN WEST VIRGINIA HEADED WEST AND NORTH on WV Route 39 somewhere between the George Washington (purely coincidental, or is it) National Forest and the Cranberry Glades Botanical Area on your way to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to photograph a bridge.2 It’s hot and you’re hot because it’s August. You’ve got time to kill and just off the highway there is a river. People be swimming and splashing, they look metaphorically and physically cool, they look comfortable, they look not-hot. Something is happening and you want to be a part of it. You stop, turn around and park on the side of the road where between two cars you put your swimsuit on.

You wade into the river with your camera and walk over to a loose collection of people lounging on some rocks. They know they’re being a spectacle, they know they are spectacle-worthy. They don’t care.

After lowering your core body temperature and shooting two rolls of film you get back in your car and continue West on the 39 which soon becomes the Highland Scenic Highway and which Scenic Highway soon deposits you in Summersville, West Virginia, a super-depressed old-timey factory town of yore located just north of the Gauley River, a river you later learn is famous for its challenging whitewater. It’s dark and but in the middle of town there is a country-looking, cotton candy-smelling magical or fantastical, based on it’s unexpected and sudden appearance, event or  fair of some variety taking place.

10 JULY 8:45 PM:  YOU WALK AROUND WHAT TURNS OUT TO BE THE NICHOLAS COUNTY FAIR and look at the young people in love riding Ferris Wheels and The Sizzler and you hear country music coming from the main stage and you see families waiting in line for cotton candy and elephant ears. You get a corn dog because you really like corn dogs but never actually eat them often. Eventually you need to leave because you need to get to Pittsburgh to take a picture of The Hot Metal Bridge.

  1. “The world’s largest living history museum in Williamsburg, Virginia—the restored 18th-century capital of Britain’s largest, wealthiest, and most populous outpost of empire in the New World.” Colonial Williamsburg 
  2. Two sets of trusses on shared piers, 1174’1″ total length, 48.4′ height, built 1887. More information.