We left Courtney's parents' house in Florence at around 8:15 a.m. We're driving her sister Kristen's red Suzuki to Nashville where she's moving later this month. It's loaded down with clothes, two lamps, a set of pots and a a set of golf clubs for C's brother Chris. You can cram a lot of stuff in a hatchback.
Today's driving was pretty reasonable - we're just getting warmed up. Florence to Asheville, NC, is only about 230 miles. At mile 120 we stopped to use the restroom and C took the wheel. She lasted about 60 miles, then I took over again. We station-hopped for most of it, catching the entirety of A Prairie Home Companion on NPR.
There's not much to see across the mid-section of South Carolina, but as we got closer to the border of NC, we were in the midst of rolling hills and verdant forests - the foothills of the Appalachians. We caught a brief glimpse of the Blue Ridge Parkway as we crossed a couple of trickling rivers and valleys.
When we arrived in Asheville, our first stop was the Grove Park Inn. C wanted to stay here in celebration of our anniversary, but we couldn't quite swing the price of a night's lodging. Instead, we settled on a day at their spa - the first spa visit ever for each of us. We ended up spending 5.5 hours there. I felt a little self-absorbed, pampering myself for that long, but it sure was enjoyable. I spent my time bouncing between the eucalyptus-infused steam room, the 140-degree sauna, the mineral pool and the various hot tubs. When I needed a break, I relaxed in the fireside lounge with my book. All of this lazing about was broken up by a 50-minute deep tissue massage.
Bye the end of the afternoon, we were exhausted! Who'd have thought that being lazy would be so draining. We left the Grove Park Inn and checked into the Renaissance downtown Asheville. C got this for $80 on Priceline.com - a fraction of what a night at Grove Park would've cost us.
We rounded out the evening with dinner at Bistro 1896, a sidewalk cafe downtown. The mountain air was a welcome respite from the humidity of lowcountry South Carolina. Dessert at Marble Slab topped it off, then we headed back to hit the sack.