I’m probably one of the dreaded types of Uber customers. I love talking to my drivers as much as possible and quickly gathering their life stories before I likely never see them again. Before my driver picked me up today, for my ride to the airport, I could see that he’d been rated highly for his “excellent conversations”. So, I felt no hesitation prying to collecting that he was a preacher’s son, who had an older sister, and enjoyed frequent vacations to the Vegas area.
Sleeping in an airport isn’t a rare thing to do, but it’s something I’ve not done. I’d be crossing that item off my bucket list tonight. Louisville’s airport is small. There are two terminals, dozen and a half gates in each terminal, two coffee shops, a Chili’s To-Go, a KFC (obviously), a Brooks Brothers. But there’s definitely no sleeping lounges or overnight staff.
My connecting flight from Dallas landed in Louisville at 11:30pm. I brushed my teeth and washed my face in the public restroom, like it was the most normal thing in the world to do. I live in my head such a large amount of the time, I did sincerely believe for a few minutes that I was totally not odd.
An old woman with mismatched baggage and confusing clothing, hobbling with a limp and using a cane, was my bench-mate for a while as I read, trying to make myself tired enough to forget where I was. I watched all of the flight attendants and pilots walk out of the terminals and go down the escalators to leave for the night.
Around 1am, a woman arriving early for her 5am departure joined me a few seats away and, seeing that I was trying to sleep, informed me of a meditation room off to the side of one hallway. I decided to check it out, but was offput by the fact that the windows were blackout and the door locked from the outside. The last thing I needed was to be overlooked sleeping in a meditation room and locked inside until further notice.
My hilariously overly anxious self propped the door open with one of my books and hung a note on the door that read, “Do not lock! Room in use!” Hahaha.
Unfortunately, the meditation room was at least ten degrees cooler than the rest of the airport. I couldn’t warm myself, even after adding a few more layers of clothes to myself from my suitcase. At 3am, I left the freezing room, and laid down on the ground in one of the hallways, nearly underneath a bench. The benches of chairs all throughout the airport were connected by armrests that couldn’t be moved, so laying on the bench wasn’t an option.
Somehow, I fell asleep for a solid couple of hours using my backpack as a blanket and having my suitcase strapped to my arm. I was awakened by the sound of giggles and the shutter noise of a camera. I popped up to discover two young girls taking pictures of me. Can’t really blame them. I would’ve been doing the same thing if I saw someone who liked like I did.
Martha picked me up right at 6am, and so started our road trip to Asheville, NC. The newest member of Martha’s crew is a precious little Cavalier Spaniel, who joined us for the girl’s trip. Her name is Lady.
It was dark for the first hour or so of the trek. I’m always surprised by how little sleep I need to survive while traveling. The drive was relatively uneventful. We stopped every couple of hours to use the bathroom and purchase snacks. I did take an hour nap at some point in Tennessee (to awaken and realize Martha had taken videos of me sleeping and sent them to Aunt Ro and Aunt Annette in our group chat. I’m sick of being photographed in my unconscious state).
Ro and Annette arrived to the Airbnb only seconds before we did, by some sweet chance of serendipity. Our home for the weekend was accurately named “Off The Beat Inn Path”. We were submerged by country life. The property was a trailer that had been added onto to make it a three bedroom arrangement with a pull-out couch in the living room. An animal sanctuary was our front yard and chickens roamed freely, mostly, in a large gated area behind said abode.
The four of us unloaded our bags quickly and loaded ourselves back into a vehicle. We were determined to get on a hiking trail. Aunt Ro had found a 4 mile loop on the side of a mountain relatively close to where we were.
Martha’s little Cavalier, by default, joined us for the hike. She was a trail trooper, with her little tiny legs. Poor Martha, she also gets to hold the title of a trooper. The weather in Indiana up until this date has still been cold and drealy. She doesn’t have her hiking legs for the season yet. I think her sisters got a little sneaky, too, and took a longer trail than what they’d informed us. It was completltey gorgeous and enjoyable, by my account.
I was so happy to be a tag-a-long for this trip. Being the oldest sibling in my family and the better planner between Ethan and I, I’m usually stuck with deciding details and making reservations for every trip, which I love. But being the daughter/niece on this weekend getaway, I was a child again, along for the ride. And I couldn’t have loved it more. I didn’t have to drive. I didn’t have to plan. I don’t even know if I paid for any of my own meals. It was like going to an all inclusive resort.
With all of us having traveled a good amount to make it to Asheville, we were tired after our hike, although it was only 5pm when we returned to our Airbnb. The sun was shining perfectly on the cottage’s front deck. It called to us. We took off our shoes and each found lovely places to lie in the sun until another activity dawned upon us. I would’ve been content to lay there the rest of the night, but we did need to eat dinner. Travel + RoadTrip Foods + Long Hike = Deficit of Calories. I was useless as far as coming up with a dinner plan, perhaps being the most tired, mentally. Martha was next to useless, being the most tired physically. It was up to Roanna and Annette to sustain our lives. I went inside to wait on their decision, and must have fallen asleep on the couch, though, I don’t really remember laying down or having the thought that I should nap. The next thing I knew, the girls came home with pizza and it was time to eat and drink wine.
I think every member of our entire family enjoys, to some degree, the analysis of personality. We like to understand ourselves and each other as best we can. Someone brought up the Enneagram personality typing system over dinner and that wound up being our after-dinner conversational topic. It’s become something of my favorite hobby to pretend I know what I’m talking about as I diagnose people with their childhood wounds and adult fears and worries.
Visiting the Biltmore Estate was our only to-do aside, from feeding ourselves, on Friday. Oh, the Biltmore Estate was breathtaking. I wanted to be in an 1800s novel taking place within that building with everything in me. Oh the history. Oh the beauty. I have been infatuated with history since my mom made me read George Washington’s war journal when I was six. I can just feel the memories and the facts coming together to recreate events in my mind. I was lost in my head the entire excursion, imagining all that took place during years past in the precise location I was standing.
The grounds were perhaps even more astonishing. We walked the gardens of the estate longer than we were inside the mansion, I believe. We took off our shoes while we walked in the grass and admired the flowers and immense attention to detail. Martha and her sisters are very well educated in botany and other types of biology; they were able to name so many of the plants we saw. I’m glad we all had similar appreciations of the landscaping.
The Biltmore Estate also has a winery, which was a surprise to all of us, at the end of the tour. And you’re a damn fool if you think we didn’t head straight there upon learning about it’s existence. Martha and I split a glass of the Biltmore’s featured dry red, and chose to bring a bottle of it home with us.
The sun shone on the cottage’s porch in the same way it had the evening prior. It called to us in the same tone of voice once again to remove our shoes and bask in its glory. How could we decline?
After our sunshine session, thus began our quest to find dinner. We knew we wanted BBQ; we were in the southland after all. It took some time, perhaps because we were already so hungry, to make a selection, but eventually found peace deciding upon Buxton Hall Barbecue.
After dinner, we strolled down the street and found a random, mostly unnoticeable “modern” artwork store. I hate to admit this about myself, but I’m bad at spotting “good” art. Of course, if I see something beautiful, I know it’s beautiful, but if I’m being presented with something representative of depth, it’s hard for me to see in picture form. Words? I can interpret words. I can tell you if words have depth or not within the first syllable. But drawn art? I lack skill.
With that being said, I’d made an entire lap around this hipster art gallery without one single piece catching my eye. Being ready to leave, I went to find the other girls, and they were enthralled by an installment of an artist called Seth.
It’s odd, the way art works. I’d walked by Seth’s installments at least once during my perusing of this gallery, but I didn’t see his art until I saw it through Martha’s eyes. I had to read the little poems and look at his pictures like I was inside her brain. The next thing I knew, I was tearing up. Martha was tearing up. Roanna was tearful. We were all holding our favorite pieces of his works, reading them quietly and reflecting inwardly. There’s a story inside every person; sometimes it takes someone else’s story for your own story to be unveiled, though.
Pictures directly from Seth’s website. These and more of his works can be found here
Liv – Authentically