When I woke up this morning, it was a little after 7:00, and I realized that I was the only person in the room. What the heck! No one is going anywhere today, so where did everyone go? So I walked over to the large common area to discover that the “free” all the cereal you can eat breakfast was in progress and ended at 8:00. Call a thru-hiker anything but late for a meal, so I joined the crowd. During breakfast, we were entertained by Bob’s (sort of) famous “How to Successfully Thru-hike the Appalachian Trail” speech.
After breakfast, we packed and vacated the cottage (10:00 am check-out), and adjourned in the common area to relax on the sofas in front of the fireplace and generally killed time until the 1:00 pm shuttle to Hiawassee. It was a great time to catch up on my journals and all things internet (except the news, which I am avoiding like the plague). You may find life much more enjoyable if you avoid the news.
Finally, we were on the road, bound for soft beds and town food. Remember several days back when I mentioned four muddy dog feet passing my tent at Hawk Mountain campsite? It turns out that those feet belong to a full on Siberian Husky and I was sharing what space he would allow me to have during the van ride to town. What a magnificent animal.
My home for the next two nights will be at a Holiday Inn Express. Not only will this provide a warm place until the weather becomes survivable again, but I hope to gain some knowledge to prepare me for my next career as a brain surgeon. I had arranged several days prior to share the room with “Cutest Couple on the Trail” (they still don’t have trail names, so I’m sticking with this for now). So, as I was checking in, I’m describing them to the lady at the registration desk when I see the piece of paper that I gave them with my contact information laying on the counter. She told me that they had arrived a little earlier and were out in the search for food.
Once I got to my room, I called my better three-quarters to check-in and noticed that every emergency vehicle that this town could possibly support was across the street with lights flashing. I had fears that a thru-hiker had been hit while crossing the road (at this point we are all walking around with a thousand yard stare). About that time, “Cutest Couple on the Trail” arrived, and informed me that it was a car wreck. After the call, I walked down the hill and found out that a man had a seizure and drove his truck directly into a power pole. They said his injuries were pretty serious, which was sad news.
While I was there, I just happened to notice that Bacchus Beer and Growlers was just 10 yards away (wink, wink), so I stopped in to enjoy my first beer in over a week. They have 15 craft beers on tap, and one of the best small store curated collections of craft beer I have seen. As I was having a great conversation with the proprietor and enjoying my sample flight, one of the authorities came in and suggested that they shut down because they would be without power for several hours while the pole was being replaced. Bummer.
The next item on my agenda was based on obtaining even more calories. Since it was in sight, I headed for Daniel’s Steakhouse to wreck havoc on their AYCE (all you can eat) buffet. Daniel’s is a true piece of Southern Americana that you are unlikely to experience anywhere else. A local favorite, it is decorated with “Gone with the Wind” memorabilia and the entree section features mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, fried apples, fried chicken, fried pork chops, and biscuits. The soundtrack playing in the background was a Patsy Cline-like singer going through a greatest hits selection of old church hymns. So, I noshed through four fried chicken breasts listening to the likes of “Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” “Softly and Tenderly,” and “Just As I Am.” Honestly, it was a bit strange, but oddly comforting at the same time.
The rest of the evening has been spent catching up on the journal and watching weather updates. It is supposed to get down to 20 degrees here in town, so I hate to imagine what it will be like in the mountains. For those that chose to brave the elements, I hope you stay safe.