On the way we had a brief stop over in Clemson, SC. This was more or less my idea because I've always fancied them to be the most SEC-esque program outside of the SEC. Seeing Howard's rock was, for me, the highlight of the afternoon. The stadium is not too far from the center of the campus and has a very "collegiate" feel to it. The campus itself displays a very interesting mixture of the modern and the historic with regards to the architecture and is located within immediate vicinity to a few bars, shops, and restaurants. Seeing all of this reaffirmed my excitement for our future home-and-home series with this particular band of Tigers.
After Clemson we drove through Greeneville but, with our goal of reaching Asheville before sundown, did not take the time to peruse the downtown area. This was foolishly against good advice from our readers but it has given me an excellent excuse to return to the Palmetto state.
An hour-and-a-half later or so we were smack-dab in the middle of downtown Asheville, NC. The city is more, ummm, "liberal" than many in the South, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. It is very clean, well organized, and full of a myriad assortment of bars and restaurants. After checking into our hotel we moseyed around the downtown area for a few hours. We ate at a brew-pub with an excellent menu selection (andouille pizza=fantastic) and exceptional live music before a brief stint of bar-hopping. If you enjoy having a wide selection of locally brewed beers from all over the South at your disposal (see: "if you are a Southern male"), I would recommend the Biergarten. While not a "true" Beer garden, their selection is matched by few and surpassed by even fewer. After the Biergarten we walked a block to the "Frog bar," or "the Flying frog," or something along those lines.
This bar was obviously a higher-end bar for the fancy haircut crowd. This became apparent after learning that, despite the "$2-off all whiskey" drink special, we were paying $7 for a glass of Makers Mark. Despite this obvious attempt at socio-economic segregation, we invited a bum to snag a drink with us. True story. He wanted a few quarters so he, according to his own words, could buy a beer.
"Well," I said. "I don't have any change but, tell ya what, I'd love to buy you a beer!"
He followed right along and sat right next to the both of us at the bar. He got his beer (a Budweiser... he orginally asked for a Bud Ice) and turned out to be an excellent conversationalist. He described to us all of the local "swimmern' holes," told us about his grandcildren, and divulged into the intricacies of petroleum economics. He was thankful for his free beer and temporary friends but, being a nomadic bum, eventually made his departure just as we were heading in for the night.
Next up: Nashville, TN with a lunch break at Gatlinburg's "Pancake Pantry" and a brief visit to Neyland Stadium.