Onward I steered, the highway eventually skinnying to two lanes, my car climbing steeper and steeper grades, coasting down the other sides, all of it a daydream of hills and forests and streams.
Asheville presented itself under gray skies, winter still clinging. I spent maybe an hour downtown, instinctively walking the grounds of Thomas Wolfe’s childhood home, grabbing coffee and wandering aimlessly before getting back behind the wheel.
Driving again, the road still rising, misty blue ridges in all directions, ghostly, ancient.
There’s a reason Wolfe is deified for his jottings about western North Carolina. “I turn and find again the things that I have always known: the cool sweet magic of starred mountain night, the huge attentiveness of dark, the slope, the street, the trees, the living silence of the houses waiting, and the fact that April has come back again.”
I chanced on taking the longer, slower path and am the better for it.