Friday, 21 November 2008

Dandridge - Asheville (November 20)

Day 67

Beautiful day – too beautiful in fact, as I kept stopping to snap scenery. I would see a gorgeous view, take pictures, carry on and five minutes later see something even more tantalizing. Part of the route, along Highway 70, took me through the valley of the French Broad River, and my, what a broad she was. She had everything : curves, foliage, rocks, rapids and gossamer sunlight caressing her soft surfaces. Meanwhile hairy masculine mountains muscled in on the background, the temperature rose to 50 degrees and I passed into North Carolina. This state greeted me with two huge uphill sections and it was like being back in Oregon's Cascade Mountains or the Immigrants' Pass in Utah. I got hot going up these hills, but then coming down the other side the sweat would cool, and I had to put on coat and gloves again. Did the glaciers and rivers ever stop to consider how their handiwork would impinge on us poor cyclists?

In Asheville a lady asked ME for directions and because she was looking for a road on my route, I was able to help her! Here I made my way into a suburb and the road I was on forked and the left fork was called Bear Left Road! Made my way to Bill's house and he came out to meet me because it was pitch black. A jovial chap with a soft voice that put me in mind of Jack Nicholson. He worked as a doctor and his wife, Nina, was an artist (her paintings adorned the walls) and she had pretty ornaments, and a collection of stones with the date and place they were found written on them. They had springer spaniels, and I also met two of their grown up sons, Wes & Martin, and they all seemed the embodiment of a good looking all American family. Nina had a social engagement to attend, so Bill served up the soup with pork and beans in it, and spaghetti bolognese.

I was already apprehensive about playing Scrabble with him, because he had showed me his 'study programme' on the computer. This programme displayed the top hundred most common six letter bingo stems (like study cards) and for each he had memorized a mnemonic with each of the seventh letters that could be added to make bingos. He had added cartoons and images to aid the memory process for some of the bingos. For example, with ADEINRS he had a photo of two men frolicking on a beach and an animated graphic of a tin of fish opening and closing (RANDIES, SANDIER & SARDINES). He wanted to send me email links for this stuff, but it reeked of homework to me and would put me off what is essentially a fun experience for me. I was right to be worried; he beat me 3-0. Admittedly he drew both blanks in two of these games and was able to use each for a bingo, but I couldn't play for toffee. I made one bingo in three games (TRANCED) which is hopeless for me, as I average over one per game. He played seven (ONANIST, LANNERS, STUNTED, SAUSAGE, GRATINE, TRAWLING & GRAINIER). To make matters worse I played heaps of phonies, each of which he challenged (QUAIR, AHO, VIZ, AES, NATTIES & SNATTIER) some of which I know to be SOWPODS words; however it must have been tiredness that caused me to play WARFE.

It snowed overnight and I was greeted by the first carpet of the stuff since western Kansas. Wes made me prepared a breakfast that could have graced any hostess tray, with slices of orange and kiwi fruit, beside eggs and bacon. He had to go for an interview with UPS and Bill had to get to the hospital. Martin was a college student and had taught English in Columbia for a year, where his girlfriend lived. Nina had left early to queue up for a new Blackberry that came out today (or Crackberry, as Wes called it). She was 14th in line and there were only 20 of them. When she got back her sons took it off her and she didn't get a look in.

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