Notes from the Carolina Roads

Coffee at Pilot

I don’t much like coffee, but I like cream and sugar mixed with coffee. I am especially fond of the French vanilla cream, but I put so much of it in that I need a strong coffee to stand up to it.  IMO, the best coffee for my purposes is the Sumatra coffee at Pilot. Pilot is a truck stop station, which usually has the least expensive gas on the highway. The bathrooms are clean and they are usually lively places, so I stop at Pilot whenever it is reasonably convenient.

McDonald’s is okay in moderation

Above is the McDonald’s in Asheville, one of the fancier McDonald’s I have visited. It was hosting lots of old people while we were there. My father always complained about old people when he used to shop at Pic-n-Save.  He said they were so slow and they always just stood around in the way. And I used to make fun of him. Maybe you have to be almost old yourself to make these kinds of judgments because I am beginning to understand his point. It took ten minutes to get at the straws, napkins and catchup.  Evidently how many napkins to take and whether or not you need a straw is a decision that requires more thought than some people can give it in less time.

I have been eating at McDonald’s since HS.  They used to give you a free Big-Mac for every A you got, which was a good marketing strategy. I didn’t get many free Big-Macs, but I did get to think they were good. Some people go on about fast food being bad for you, but it doesn’t hurt in moderation. “Nothing too much” is a good life guide. I used to have a minor cholesterol problem, but then I got a low dose of Lipitor and the problem was solved. Any problem you can afford to buy off is not a problem; it is merely an expense. I call my daily dose of Lipitor my “cheeseburger tax.” Maybe someday it will kill me, but not today.

Granny’s Country Kitchen

It isn’t always fast food. Other food can have lots of calories and cholesterol. We stopped off at Granny’s Kitchen just past Hickory, NC. Chrissy & I both had the pulled pork and French fries. Chrissy didn’t eat all of hers, so I helped out. We have been trying to go to local restaurants when we travel to get a little more of the local flavor. The trouble is that there is less & less local flavor that is worth eating unless you have inside local knowledge. Various franchises are pushing them out or at least away from the places convenient to the major highways.

Boutique hotels

We stayed at the Grand Bohemian hotel near the Biltmore Estate. It is in the Biltmore Village, a kind of ersatz central European hamlet set the southern hills. The Grand Bohemian is part of the Marriott’s “Signature Collection” of boutique hotels, i.e. ostensibly ones with special or unique character. It is different, but I don’t know that I like the character. It is European-like and made to look like a hunting lodge. I used to visit one like it near Bielsko in Poland. That one was used by the Hapsburgs in the 19th Century. It had character and I liked it. But the one in Asheville is not a hunting lodge. Hunting lodges are set out in the forests and fields. This one is surrounded by busy roads … and the ersatz village.

These Central European style buildings are just not suited to the Carolina climate. They are designed to hold heat and support roaring fires. These are things that are not really appropriate in North Carolina. It doesn’t get very cold around here, but it is hot and humid a good part of the year. Of course, our modern society defeats the weather with air conditioning, but still it looks funny all buttoned up in a hot climate.

Weird weakness

The hotel has a nice health center, however. I don’t use treadmills very much. I prefer just to go outside and run. But these had TVs attached, so you could just walk along and watch TV rather than couch potato it.  I lifted some of the weights. Something strange happened last week. My right arm got 1/3 weaker.  I noticed I was  bit clumsy and when I tried to use the one-hand weights, I found that my right arm couldn’t do curls with 45 lbs, as usual. My left arm did okay with the 45lb (which I have been using for 30 years BTW), but with the right I could do only 30lbs. Otherwise it was normal, just a lot weaker, but really only with the curls.  I can still do chin-ups and presses. It also sometimes has that tingling feeling, like when you sleep on it. If it doesn’t get better maybe I will have it checked out.