The Week Before Turning West

It was time to leave the Low Country behind. I’d been on the Georgia and South Carolina coasts for three weeks and was looking forward to getting to the mountains. Asheville and the Smokies were in my sights.

Neglecting the direct, faster interstate route I spent most of the day crossing the Carolinas enroute to a campground just west of Asheville. I apparently need to get better at reviewing satellite maps and customer reviews because this place came with more than sufficient I-40 noise. But they had me when I saw about 100 American flags lining the drive onto the property. 🇺🇸

While setting up I noticed my fresh water tank was still full, which surprised me. I had inadvertently filled it to the point of overflow before I left Myrtle Beach. I’d meant to just put in about five gallons because I suspected I had a fresh water leak. I’d seen water draining from the underbelly twice in the past couple weeks when the tank had water in it. But now it still contained its full 60 gallons. And over the next few days nothing leaked, even with the pump pressurizing the system. So, I dunno… leaks rarely fix themselves. 🧐

Thursday morning into the afternoon I futzed with my pellet grill power source. I was tired of the two 12-volt power cords plugs coming loose so I installed a more secure, tighter connector. But getting the too-large gauge wires soldered onto too-small connector pins was an exercise in losing patience and sport cussing. Finally done at nearly 3 pm I cleaned up and headed out to visit the local breweries.

Early Friday I headed northeast for 90 minutes to Grandfather Mountain. I purchased my old guy $20 admission online, as they were limiting the number of people who should be in an outdoor environment. Covid, of course. They told me masks were required. I chose to not hear that very well. Everyone was outside for crying’ out loud!

(Our country’s inane mask fetish was reportedly in strong enforcement at the Biltmore Estate, according to TripAdvisor reviews. And they have apparently reduced the tour and winery experience but kept the fee the same. So I decided they could suck sand and keep their ridiculous $90 entrance fee.) Back to my day in the mountains…

Grandfather Mountain was okay, not great. Very pretty, but I could’ve gotten pretty without paying the tourist tax to get it. Can’t believe I fell for that; I usually don’t. But, hey, it was just $20 and I got the pleasure of breaking a mask mandate. Plus, the mountain sits just one mile off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Back in the spring of 2018 I drove most of the 469 mile road starting at the south end of Skyline Drive, which is the 105 mile long extension from the BRP running south from Front Royal, VA through Shenandoah National Park and then connecting with the north end of the BRP. Back in 2018 I  dropped off at mile marker 389 to head into Greenville. I was looking forward to completing the last 80 miles of the southern section. So I entered the parkway at marker 305 and slowly and enjoyably made my way south to the parkway’s terminus at mile marker 469 near Cherokee, NC. Glad I did. The entire pathway is beautiful and the way south is no exception as it winds through a variety of ecosystems. I had completed the combined 674 miles of beautiful roads. I still would like to experience this road in the fall…

Along the way I saw a wild turkey, a huge vulture doing what vultures do, two soaring hawks, lots of flowers and two bikers proudly flying the colors! I said a quick prayer of thanks for the birds & bikers. We’ve got to get a handle on the bullshit anarchist movements in our country. Just as I exited the parkway a hard rain hit it. My truck needed a bath so that was good.

Asheville Area breweries

Gotta say … plenty to choose from! Arrival night I started close to my camp. BearWaters Brewing Company has two locations; the closer one in Candler is a sweet spot on the Pigeon River. I especially liked their Papertown Pilsner and Junk Show Pale Ale – Round Two. Plus, they have a taqueria with great tacos and an awesome kale with garlic pumpkin seed dressing. Added chipotle chicken to it and it worked! One of my top ten salads.

Boojum Brewing in Waynesville has a couple solid offerings worth mentioning: Hop Fiend and Greenstone NZ made with New Zealand hops, both IPAs (although I haven’t been in a very IPA-ey mood lately).

Another creekside joint, Frog Level Brewing Company has an awesome location. I enjoyed their Salamander Slam sitting by the rippling stream. They had great looking groceries but I wasn’t hungry, dang it.

Given the spectacular weather Saturday I headed into downtown Asheville. A covey of breweries are clustered in a couple block area. Burial Beer has a great patio and very good German style Contrition Pilsner. Around the block Green Man is a small place with a small crowd and Sunseeker, a German pils, is also very decent. I must be in a Pils mood…

Twin Leaf Brewery was the last open place in this little area. Their (again) German style and aptly name Pilsner Beer was above average. They had a Disneyesque foot traffic pattern for Covid purposes that first made me feel like I was being corralled through a gift shop. And they gave me an empty beer can to place and leave on my table so they’d know to fumigate my area when I left. One gal even came by and exchanged the empty can because it said I-6 not I-10… I apparently didn’t sit on the right stool. WTH?!

I’m so weary of stupid, unnecessary Covid cowering. Deciding to leave because I’d reached my daily capacity for Covid compliance craziness I saw a young lady biking wearing a mask. No CO2 poisoning potential there… Whatever. This country’s testicles have retracted. We couldn’t tame the Wild West today if it was made into a spread and served on white bread with no crusts.

A Good Visit

I headed into Greenville to visit Melba, my good friend from the good ol’ GTE days. We spent the afternoon together with our friends Cathy & Dan at their home. Dan grilled up excellent steaks and veggie skewers. We had a great time although it passed by way too quickly. It was sooooo good to see Melba again!

Then, Well, Crap!

I left Travelers Rest (just north of Greenville) to upgrade Synko’s suspension in Rock Hill, near Charlotte. When dropping her off at the RV shop I had my head up my ass and blew out the truck’s rear window making a too-sharp turn backing into the drop-off spot  Sonofabitch! At least Safelite in Charlotte was able to get me in same day. I decided to forego the insurance route so I could get her done same day. Add $320 to the trip budget…

And with that, I’m headed west. Should be back in G’Vine by Monday. I’m ready.