The drive to Asheville, a city in the mountains of North Carolina, was great. There were NZ style roads (one lane each way, through farmlands) before we reached Charlotte and then easy climbs and declines on dual lane motorways.
We arrived in Asheville just before our Kiwi friend, who lives in Bristol, TN. We made her drive an hour and a half to see us. Just to be fair. We were up more than 2,000 miles by this point!
Asheville is a hip town, famous for its breweries and stores (best described as hippy stores, burning incense and selling everything from carvings and artwork to knick-knacks). We thought it best to visit a brewery which we had been recommended – Wicked Weed (from the below quote).
NZ brewery Garage Project (one of my faves) has a similar philosophy – their Pernicious Weed IPA is named after the same quote. Wicked happened to have a Pernicious IPA themselves, so we gravitated there.
But, you ask, who were you meeting? Well, it was the (locally) famous Jess Cartwright from WCYB Bristol TN – well known for her Kiwi twang! As expected, she is starting to lose it (despite her insistence that she is not!) She did enjoy talking to Kiwis again though! Here’s some photos from Wicked Weed (including one of Sara and Jess!):
We supped a couple of pints here before moving on to another bar, that Sara cunningly knew had a trivia quiz on that night. Jess and I were ignorant of this fact as we entered the bar through a (dodgy) alley and down some mysterious stairs, up till the point where the trivia guy arrived at our table with answer sheets!
Due to our lack of US-specific knowledge, we enlisted a couple from Texas to help, and finished a respectable 4th position in the quiz. Afterwards we went upstairs for a feed – yes, more burgers!
We bid Jess adieu, and headed to our hotel.
The next morning, we craved (badly) NZ-style coffee, so a quick search revealed a nearby cafe of high repute.
A short walk later, we were enjoying AMAZING coffee AND avocado on toast, on a glorious (if chilly) day!
After breakfast, it was back on the road to Raleigh, the capitol of North Carolina, to catch up with the legendary John and his wife, Hope.
These guys had work till after six, so we stopped in Durham for some hydration at a neat spot that used to be a garage (this is a common use of old garages, apparently, in the states).
We arrived in Raleigh, brought our things up to John and Hope’s apartment, and were off! John had arranged for us to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in IMAX 3D – which we all enjoyed (it was better than expected) and I was impressed with the digital work to include a number of (now much older) characters – no spoilers there, I hope!
Afterwards, we went to the BEST meatball restaurant. Sara and I thoroughly enjoyed our meatball sandwiches and the mac’n’cheese was probably the best I have had since I’ve been in the states. Friends will know I’m definitely a connoisseur of this art.
John is a MASSIVE fan of the Kentucky Wildcats college basketball team, who were playing that night – so after dinner, we headed back and enjoyed a beer while watching the game. The result is not important (sorry John!)
It has been such a pleasure to catch up with our American friends, and it is incredible that such genuine friendships were formed (so quickly!) and have lasted over the years and distance. With all of the guys, and now with their wives, it is just so easy and natural in the way we got back on the same track (more behaved this time!!!)
This was reinforced the next morning when John pulled up the videos from our first meeting eight years earlier…. it was very funny reminiscing!
After coffee and rice crispies it was back on the road – next stop Petersburg!