In our post-Congaree sogginess, Cami and I booked it back to New Bern dreaming of a dinner of wholesome vegetables to put an end to our Sweet Theory-induced carb craze. After some sumptuous shopping in Wilmington, we had spaghetti squash, zucchinis, basil, and a host of other colorful greens ready for a feast.
In the morning, we polished off the last of our donuts and fell into our “lazy Sunday” routine. Simplicity and inactivity never felt so good. Our trip to Florida had jammed three National Parks, multiple meet-and-greets, and over 2,000 miles into little more than a week. It was a whirlwind tour that left me positive that I would return to Florida someday soon. While I had struggled with the oppressive heat and humidity, the hospitality that we experienced was second to none and all of the National Parks down at Florida’s southern tip warrant further exploration. Oh, and then there is Disneyworld, that’ll take at least a few days… Looks like I will be seeing you soon Florida.
After a day filled with cooking, The Martian (which I highly recommend), and half-hearted preparations, I hit the road early on Monday. I realized, as the mid-morning sun rose behind Sam that I would be heading west for awhile. That was a first. The entire trip thus far had been a smattering of eastern, northern, and southern travel. Now, I would have to contend with blinding sunsets in place of bleary-eyed sunrises. I might even cross a time zone or two… Pretty exciting if you ask me. It also meant, however, that I was leaving the relative familiarity of North Carolina and the East Coast. One last safe harbor lay ahead of me: Asheville. From that point forward, I would be venturing into a part of the country that I had never explored before.
In Asheville, a few of my best friends in North Carolina were going to converge for a few days, continuing a tradition that had begun when we all lived in New Bern. Black Mountain, a small city just east of Asheville, would be our playground. There, Mary Carroll, a former colleague of mine, and Griffin were embarking on their latest adventures: raising a child and entering the world of agriculture. Our friendship had solidified quickly upon my arrival to New Bern, largely because they took me under their collective wing. Without them, my two years in New Bern would have been wildly different. As a result, there was no way I was going to miss out on an opportunity to spend time with them in Asheville. Luckily, my immediate friend and CrossFit partner-in-crime, Chris, was also able to join in on the fun. With this cast of characters, I knew that Black Mountain was going to be nothing short of amazing.
Over the next two days, we collaborated in the kitchen, cleared fields for springtime planting, climbed mountains awash in fall foliage, basked in the light of the setting (and rising) sun, wandered Asheville’s Riverside Art District in a progressive lunch, and pondered the various afflictions and blessings inundating our world. Being surrounded by a group of people willing to seriously discuss major issues affecting our world who can instantaneously transition into tearful laughter for no particular reason is both comforting and inspiring. I feel so lucky to have been so quickly assimilated into this wonderfully nurturing group of friends. I am not entirely sure when I will see them next, but it will no doubt be a joyous occasion.
Until next time friends!!! Next stop, Great Smoky Mountains National Park!
Map for the Day