This trip had the element of rain or the threat of rain throughout the week. On Friday and Saturday's drives, we hit a lot of hard, can hardly see in front of you type rain. On Friday we stopped in at LSU in Baton Rouge. Roy is an alumni and hadn't visited the campus since 1983 or so. Siri was giving us wrong directions once we were on campus, but all the ways around the campus came back to Roy. We stopped at Tiger Stadium, better known as Death Valley and walked a little through the campus. It was a busy football weekend with Auburn being the weekend's opponents. We found the bookstore and as we perused all things Tiger related, the heavens opened with a brief but heavy downpour. By the time we had purchased a few things, the rain had stopped and we were able to walk back to the car and then head out to Brook Haven, MS. It rained practically the whole time on that portion of the trip and we were so happy to be able to stop. We were so worn out by the stress of LSU traffic and parking and heavy rain that we opted to eat dinner in our room. Roy walked to the nearby Krystal's hamburger place. I had a salad and chili and it wasn't too bad. It rained all night and it was still raining on Saturday morning. We were encouraged that the rain had lightened up and hoped for an uneventful drive to Chattanooga with a stop at Dreamland in Birmingham. No, the rain was moving ahead of us and by the time we were at Jackson, the drive was intense and focused. Trucks should have bigger lights on the back and silver trucks blend in with the gray rain. By the time we stopped at Chicky for a bathroom break and ice tea in Meridian, the rain had lightened up a tad but we were not out of the rain until we drew close to Birmingham. Our stop at Dreamland was just that, dreamy. No, it was all ribs and sauce, with a few new t-shirts added to the collection. Oh and banana pudding. The waiter that had served Dena and me in May was our waiter again. Dena and I didn't know his name but we called him sunshine. After the rush because it was all things UAB football and Crimson Tide, Sunshine came to our booth and asked if I had been there several months ago with a friend...yes. His name is Robert and we had a delightful conversation. Before leaving we not only loaded up on cute t-shirts but we loaded up on BBQ sauce. The drive to Chattanooga was uneventful but we arrived a little later than we had hoped for. I was kind of feeling guilty because I wasn't going to call our niece who goes to UT-Chattanooga. Turned out that she was with her mom and they were visiting our niece who goes to Rhoades College in Memphis. It was reenactment weekend in Chattanooga. We had a southern bell and a union solider boy eating breakfast by us on Sunday morning. As we began on the back roads of Tennessee and North Carolina, the sun broke through the clouds. Roy and I were able to participate in a beautiful church atmosphere right there in Sequisha. We stopped in Waynesville and then headed for some Mexican food in Asheville before going to check in at the Biltmore. It seems ironic that after the traffic and chaos at LSU and the torrential blinding storms that we would be rear-ended as we checked in at the entrance of the peaceful estate. If you are staying at the Inn you stop for the card that you place in your windshield for the duration of your stay. As I was following the directions of the gate keeper, I heard a horrible, horrible noise. I looked at the panicked expression on his face and said, did I run over one of the cones? No, a car had just turned into our back bumper. Roy was in his element, getting info and taking pictures of the cars. The couple that hit us were very nice but when the man driving who only has vision in one eye said he didn't see us....I had to stifle a giggle. At first his wife kind of had an attitude but when she realized they were fully at fault and all the gatehouse people were stating the obvious of what happened, she relented and became very pleasant to talk with. The Biltmore Estate police had to come and investigate the accident. He did us a huge favor and wrote up the report and took statements from us. So glad that no one was hurt, just surprised. I hoped that this wasn't a foretelling of the week ahead and it wasn't. Roy and I checked in at the Inn and we had a lovely view overlooking the terrace and the Biltmore House in the distance.
Wednesday was our next rain filled day. We eased into the day with breakfast and then reading in the library. Since it wasn't too heavy of a rain, we felt good about venturing to downtown Asheville. There is an indie bookstore there that I love, not as much as Square Books in Oxford, but I totally enjoy browsing through. Roy was smart because he got a cup of coffee and sat in the coffee bar while I spent a lot of time going through the rows of books. I love buying regional authors on trips and I had a huge selection both in fiction and non fiction. Let's just say that by the end of our time there, we walked out with two shopping bags full of books. All of them were mine with the exception of one book Roy found. We went to Mast General Store in Asheville since it is located downtown and then headed back to the Inn. It was beginning to dry out but it didn't matter because we had a reservation for high tea at 4:00. Believe me, it is only the rain and Roy's love for me that got him to be a somewhat willing participant. He kept saying these are great appetizers and I didn't have the heart to tell him then that this was it. I think he was very happy with the location of our table...in the corner. We sat near the pianist who on cue, just as I was going to ask him if he could play the Rachmaninoff music used in the movie Somewhere in Time, he began playing it. Loved that all his sheet music was on his iPad.
The forecast for Thursday had been for partly cloudy skies but throughout the day on Wednesday the rain chances began increasing. Fortunately those showers never developed and we were able to get back out in the countryside on Thursday. More about that later.