Memories made while breaking bread
November 27 - December 3, 2023
By Jay Edwards
We’ve been fortunate this year because we’ve gotten to travel again, something, like most people I suppose, we always enjoy. We didn’t do it for a few years there. You can probably figure out why. Sure you can. That plague. But this year we made up for those lost days away from home, by visiting Asheville, Crested Butte, Glacier National Park and Asheville again.
It’s not that we like Asheville the best, it’s that we have Alexis there, our daughter, and trying to convince a mother she doesn’t need to go see her daughter again because she just saw her in September at the son’s/brother’s wedding, well, that was another argument I lost.
So we took off the week before Thanksgiving to Appalachia again. For me it’s an 11-hour drive, not much different timewise from those annual journeys through Pine Bluff, Hattiesburg and the Mobile tunnel on our way to the cinder block house called Summer Winds on Blue Mountain Beach off Highway 30A. We don’t take that trip anymore, the cinder blocks having been sold and removed, to make room for one of those Huckabee-like high rise homes. But I digress.
Our first stop on our way to Asheville was in Brinkley, because the driver was hungry and because KM, my traveling companion, agreed, saying, “I can always eat.”
I ordered my usual, the Texas bacon chicken melt with the smothered and chunked hash browns (onion and ham for those of you IHOP regulars). Soon, our waitress Melba was setting it down in front of me, hot off the grill that steamed just a few feet away. Even sooner, Melba was back, picking up the empty plate in front of me while KM took another bite of her cheesy scrambled eggs and sipped the good coffee. It’s hard to beat Waffle House.
We made it through Memphis with no issues and by the time Jackson came into view, food was on our minds again, but we just grabbed some nuts and popcorn and kept pushing. We made it to Cookeville, east of Nashville, just after dark, and the guy working the desk at our Holiday Inn mentioned Texas Roadhouse for dinner, which we’d never been to but it sounded good and took thinking and decision making off the table. The beer was very cold and the beef tips and rice very good, and Malcolm was a great waiter.
The next morning the Holiday Inn cinnamon rolls were the highlight, which was the real reason I’d picked that hotel the night before, because our brother-in-law Mike raves about those cinnamon rolls so much.
When we got to Knoxville, KM wanted Mexican food and we soon spotted a place with a lot of cars in the parking lot. We were seated and given drinks and salsa but no one ever came to take our order. So I got the attention of a girl working there and said, “No one ever came to take our order.” She nodded like she understood and walked off. It wasn’t long before we’d eaten and were walking out the door to get back on the road, leaving the forgettable fare behind. It would be the last bad meal I’d eat over the next four days, that included chicken parmigiana at Pomodoros Greek & Italian Café, steak salads, fish tacos and cheese grits from Forager’s in Dillsboro, and barbeque at Luella’s in Asheville.
The Dillsboro dining was suggested by Alexis’ boyfriend Sam, after he’d led us on about a three-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail. So I only have 2,146 miles left to complete it, and around 697 miles to catch up with Alexis.
Our last night was spent at our Airbnb, eating steak, taters and salad. Sam brought me a bottle of Redemption Bourbon, which I’d never had and which is very good. Did I mention how impressed I am by the young man?
The evening was completed with carrot cake from the French Broad Chocolate Lounge. If your ever in Asheville be sure and get some. It’s impossible there’s any better. We hugged Alexis and Sam goodnight and headed home the next morning, with another 11 hour drive ahead, and a stop at a Waffle House somewhere along the way.