Continuing our winding path back towards Colorado and our soon to be fixed bus, we left Gainesville bound for North Carolina to visit my mom and stepdad in Wilmington. I know, not the most direct route, but we had not seen them in nine month, and we assessed we had plenty of time before the transmission is back and installed in The Big Kahuna.
Our little Geo Tracker, Loki, has a tiny little 10 gallon tank and gets surprisingly poor gas mileage for such a small vehicle, so we are forced to stop every three hours for gas. This actually works out great since our decreased tolerance for long drives has led us to a rough three hour cap on any leg before a stop. So we make it efficient: stop for gas, take care of rest stop needs, pick up food to go, and hit a geocache. We managed to time the stops so that we had one in each state, allowing us to keep up our streak of finding a geocache in every state but two we have visited this year.
We had a great visit with Mom and Tim in Wilmington, grilling bison on The Green Egg, a dinner out at Le Catalan on the Cape Fear Riverwalk, the consumption of much wine, which lead to a couple of evenings of badly sung classics to Tim’s excellent guitar and banjo work. We even introduced them to geocaching during Rex and Ginny’s afternoon walk, thoroughly confusing the two labradors with this unnecessary hunting of things that are neither furry nor alive.
After three days of gradually worsening weather, we headed generally west towards Asheville, thinking we might get out from under the massive downpours beginning to pound the Carolinas, assuming that the further from Hurricane Joaquin we got the better off we would be. Alas, Joaquin was merely an indirect element of the worst deluge the Carolinas have seen in decades, and we effectively drove right into some of the worst of it. Slow careful driving on nearly empty highways allowed us to make Asheville in time for a late afternoon meal with my brother Jason and Jill at Nine Mile, a cool little Jamaican place just off the interstate.
Asheville is one of those great cities associated with art, trendy events, ethnic food, and street entertainment. You know, hippies and hipsters. I am hardly the first to compare it to Portland, OR or Austin, TX. They have even tried to adopt the “Keep Asheville Wierd” slogan originating in Austin and later aggressively adopted in Portland. For me this simply means lots of good food, craft beer, and entertainment. Nine Mile delivered on the first two.
We said our goodbyes to Jason and Jill and continued west as far as Knoxville before stopping at a Townplace Suites, on hotel loyalty points of course. South Florida, Central/North Florida, and North Carolina are it for family and friend visits during this road trip. From here on to Colorado it is just one big multi-day sprint and the hope that our bus is ready or nearly so when we arrive.