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  • Chuck and Megan Marra

Day 5 - Durham to Knoxville. The Adventure Begins... August 23/24 2020

Updated: Jun 6, 2021

We left Durham this morning at 8:30; half an hour later than we wanted to leave, and half an hour earlier than we thought we’d actually leave.

Sophia pulled us through narrow roads as they wound to the right and then left out of the small area where Laura lives, and after a quick $8.00 gas stop (yes.. eight dollars. At $2.09 a gallon, I don't think we're in California anymore Toto) we were on the 85 south, headed for the 40 west and the Blue Ridge Mountains, and beyond that the Smokey Mountains. Our goal for today was Knoxville Tennessee.

The I40 through the Blue Ridge is not what this Californian thinks of when I think of a highway. It's four lanes cut through the thick old forest that surrounds you, until it opens up on the mountain tops to reveal vistas that kept making us say "Wow", and Megan would start taking pictures. We called our youngest son, Matthew, who was traveling the Pacific Northwest taking stunning pictures of Oregon (, @matt.marra on Instagram). We can't wait to get together and compare photographs.

Sophia hummed softly down the quiet highway. We came upon a small truck just chugging along in the right lane. I flicked the thin turn signal lever down to prepare to change lanes. The car in back of us, in the left lane, slowed down! What was he playing at? It took a few seconds before I figured his game out: he was letting me into his lane. (Clearly, Toto, now I know we're really not in California anymore.) This sort of odd behavior continued all day. I signal. Some complete strangers let me over. I was careful to always do the same. Clearly, they are all in on it; four quiet scenic lanes of very polite and considerate drivers.

We stopped in Ashville to grab some brunch. We ate at Biscuit Head. Their slogan: Kiss my Biscuits had us! Megan had called ahead and placed an order for us, so it was ready as soon as we parked. Everyone was eating out side in the parking lot basically, so our little Sophia got lots of attention as we arrived.

Megan ate Eggs Benedict with pulled pork on a Biscuit, which came with maple syrup, but Megan instead ordered a side of hollandaise instead. Oh yes, it was great.

I had a vegetarian option of Eggs Benedict on a fried green tomato, a smokey hollandaise sauce served on top a very large biscuit. We ate outside on socially distantnced plastic tables. The food was wonderful and the coffee was deep and rich. The biscuits at Biscuit Head were light and savory and warm, and started us on a Great Quest for Biscuits of the South East. Megan only wishes she had been more adventurous with some of the amazing gravies, but basic eggs benedict won out. Stop in have a great breakfast and buy a bag of biscuits and jam for the road. "Put some south in your mouth!", as they say there. The casual bohemian atmosphere of its customers added to the breakfast and Sophia was quite a conversation starter.

Every bit as wonderful as it is to drive an Alfa Romeo Spider across America, it turns out to be Americans, truly kind and wonderful people, that really made the trip special.

We had planned to visit the Biltmore Estates, but got a little lost along the way. Our

Siri sent us the wrong way and some wonderful lady out for her daily jog, who we drove past twice as we were lost, stopped us and gave us the correct directions. I loved that she just sort of hollered to us as we passed, in such a patient and pleasant tone of voice. Another joy of a convertible!

Back to the Biltmore Estates, We decided not to go in once we got there, because they only offer tours of the house and grounds that take a 6-8 few hours, and we only had an hour to spare (we had to be in Knoxville.). We pressed on and plan to return to Ashville when we have more time for biscuits and Biltmore.

We continued west on the I40 and throught the beautiful Smokey Mountains, and made it successfully to Knoxville just before a big storm hit! We got Sophia safely tucked into her cover, and were able to park right outside our room at the Best Western, which was very strictly following the Covid-19 precautions, so it was a safe harbor!

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