Waking up to the thought of all you can eat, free continental breakfast was solace for spending way too much money on a less than decent motel room. Amanda beat me to the front office and breakfast area and was already deep into conversation with the establishments owner when I arrived. A nice gentlemen very much like Thomas, our first warm showers host, he seemed to be suffer at the hands of a waning town and economy. We ate and drank coffee while talking about how crazy governments can act, learning that bananas are sometimes more effective weapons than bombs.
Our ride today was fairly direct, we were heading to Burnsville with a stop at Mountain Gardens. US 19E is a newer more direct version than its predecessor and roads today are paved with zero though given to the terrain they pass over. That translates to hills, several of them. When we finally made the turn off US 19E we were a bit spent; we need to earn our mountain legs back. Wrapping around mountains and hills the road following the curves of the terrain; passing hollers and farms, affluent mansions and humble bungalows. Finally excited to follow the South Toe River and ride along its flat banks, we crossed it as quick as we found it. Our serpentine path finally wound its way to the edge of the Pisgah National Forest and the quiet tranquility of Mountain Gardens.
We abandoned the bikes, leaving them with a very hesitant puppy. After a bit of stretching and cooling of attitudes we had finally made it. Joe, his interns, and apprentices are on the constant pursuit to grow and learn as much as possible about the medicinal and non-medicinal properties of herbs of both western and eastern decent. They also grow an abundance of food crops including wasabi. Inspired and awed we were giddy to get back on the bikes, Amanda talking about living in hobbit houses and myself wanting to build bermed greenhouses. Definitely a worthwhile detour!
The remainder of our ride was to a warmshowers host in Burnsville, we took the more direct and westwardly Highway 80N back to the main road. Having heard horror stories of US 19E we were not excited to see the buzz of the highway as we approached, however as if the answer to an unsung prayer the road was under construction and two lanes of the highway were paved yet closed to cars. It was our own private highway! Our luck continued for nearly the entire ride, with the paved road ending 100 yards before our hosts driveway!
At the end of the driveway we were greeted by Jim & Mary their frisbee loving pup. They live in the loft above their business and were ending the business day as we pulled up. After getting the bikes settled inside the warehouse we all gathered in the kitchen where Amanda helped Mary make dinner.