Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sleeping with the Mountaineer...

I didn't have much of a drive yesterday from Greenville, S.C. to my next stop, Asheville N.C. After taking my time over breakfast at the Hampton Inn, I wound my way up U.S. 25--the same U.S. 25 that once passed through Piqua, aka the "Dixie Highway." (You can read about it here.) I found my way to a commercial area south of Asheville, where I found: free parking, a bookstore, a movie theater, and several restaurants. What a great way to spend the afternoon!

So I browsed some books; found one I'd like to buy, but it was $35 so I'll order online; I walked around the square--it was one of those "new urban" type developments, very nice and I'm guessing pricey--I saw "The Avengers" (good fun), then had dinner at a restaurant called Travinia, which appears to be a chain.

Not as good as La Piazza in Troy, but pretty good. The server made my martini just right, and the service was quick. The veal chop was very good--and it was "free range," so there. I did have some sort of crab dip beforehand, which was good, but which suffered from a particularly American condition I call "over-the-top-ism." Which is to say, so often good is not good enough. There must be more--always more. You want fries? Seasoned fries? How about loaded fries? Loaded fries, how about topped with gravy? You want a super-combo? How about a blizzard? And so on.

So the dip was--let's see: crab meat, shrimp, artichoke, cheese, and something else. I was thinking, any three of these ingredients would have been fine--this is just overkill. But it was good and I ate it all.

Backing up a bit, earlier in the day, before I headed into the theater, I took some time to use free wi-fi to book a hotel for the next two nights; I didn't like hunting for one the night before.

So I went to and found a cheap place: the Mountaineer Inn: $55 a night. Do you remember the old Roadrunner cartoons, where Wile E. Coyote puts out a bowl of poison, covers it with birdseed and puts a sign, "Free Lunch" on it--and the "free" works? Well, that magic $55 worked on me. I didn't look too closely. I did see it had lots of good reviews.

So now it's about 7:30 pm or so, and I'm finished with dinner and I'm finding my motel. There it is!

I'm sorry my phone doesn't have a camera--but then I'd never figure out how to download the pics anyway. If I could, I'd give you shots of the place, with a giant, painted sign of a Mountaineer, and the front of the building with "Mountaineer Inn" in bright neon--with the "E"s backward. If you remember the old logo for Mountain Dew, you have an idea of what the Mountaineer looks like. They also have a picture of Mammy Yokum (look it up and you'll find a world of fun). The owner is a Greek fellow, who when he found out I am a priest ("what kind?" "Catholic." "OK."), had lots to say about religion, world affairs, particularly the Middle East, and a few other things. If I get a chance, I'll ask him how he ended up here.

The building is designed to look like it was built out of logs--and maybe it was. While obviously old, it is in good shape and the grass closely cut. Then I get to the room...

First check: turn on the air conditioning. I can't find anything like a thermostat. But it's not hot so I open the windows. No screens. The front door also has a door with slots, which I think is meant so I can do what I promptly did: latch the outer door and keep the inner door open.

The room was pretty simple; the TV looked like what we had growing up; although it was color and it was hooked to cable. Remote didn't work. And--to no surprise--no wifi.

But for $55 a night? No problem. Everything was clean. Despite some cheerful neighbors who were celebrating something, I slept like a log, and didn't get out of bed until my neighbors did, around 10 am.

Looking at this place, I'm experiencing Deja Vu. When I was boy, our family would take driving trips, and my mom and dad were expert in finding cheap places, just like this. I have the surest feeling I've actually stayed in this place, maybe 40 years ago, but there's no way to know for sure. Of course, if you've traveled throughout the eastern U.S., you will find places just like this all over.

So what's next? Stay tuned...

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