Day 20: Wednesday 3rd October: the first non-riding day

I slept really well in the downstairs bedroom at Don’s house, despite it being a little stuffy with the window closed and no air conditioning. With a late start planned, I showered and crept upstairs, the first to wake up as usual. On the veranda, I sat and looked out towards the mountains but could see no further than a few feet due to the early morning mist – it’s this that gives these mountains the name “Smokey Mountains” as early settlers believed the hills were on fire and the mist was smoke. Today was to be our first non-riding day since leaving Aaron’s house as we rode in Don’s pickup back to Asheville while he rode his GS to get it serviced. We took the opportunity to attend to some chores with Dean buying as new pair of riding boots (his were very worn and offered little support) and new trainers; and me finally finding an ATM that would accept my travel card and let me draw out some more dollars. We also had lunch in a little family-run Mexican restaurant, where the grilled chicken salad was very good.

Back at Don’s house we attended to our laundry before heading back out to dinner. Don had chosen a restaurant called Caffe Rel that was next to a petrol station and looked unassuming from the outside. Inside it was all kitch Italian, but one look at the menu said we were in for a treat. The chef was trained at a place on the east coast that only trains 5-6 chefs per year and the food was exceptional. I had a plate of shrimp cooked in white wine and basil served on bed of bow-shaped pasta and it was delicious. The other 3 were all looking forward to getting back to Don’s where they had a home-made all-American Apple Pie to eat, made by Don’s housekeeper, but as I can’t eat cooked fruit they decided I should get a take-away dessert from the restaurant. So I ordered a piece of the Belgian chocolate cake to go. With organic ice-cream bought from a store on the way back to Don’s we were all set and that’s when I opened the container with my cake in. I know Americans have a reputation for being big eaters, but the portion of cake the waitress had given me was simply HUGE! It would have fed a small family, but undeterred, and because it was delicious, I attacked it with gusto, almost managing to finish it, much to the amazement of my fellow travelers!

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