After taking the Cherohala Scenic Skyway from Robbinsville, NC towards Chattanooga, we arrive in Tellico Plains just in time for lunch. As we enter the town, we spot the Tellicafe and decide to give it a try. Our expectations are low given that we haven’t really had good luck with restaurants on this road trip. But part of me hopes to be surprised. We enter the cafe and find the main dining area mostly full, but since we’ve fallen for this before as a sign of good food, I try not to get my hopes up. The waitress seats us in a second room that has only one other couple in it. We sit in a big cushy booth and study the menu.
A display on the table advertises their desserts with the special highlighted as “Cinnamon Napolean Cheesecake.” It’s described as cheesecake baked in a pastry, sprinkled with cinnamon and served with ice cream. I am tempted, but decide I should eat real food for lunch. The waitress comes over and I indulge my now triggered sweet-tooth with sweet tea. The waitress takes my drink order and says, “I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who wears socks with my Chacos!” I am confused at first, forgetting that I’m wearing my Chaco hiking sandals, let alone with socks. Then I realize what she’s referring to and I laugh. I’m impressed that someone her age would walk around in socks and sandals. When I was that young, I would have been too embarrassed. Now days, I like my comfortable sandals and warm socks when the weather warrants it just fine.
The food comes and it’s the best meal we’ve had in days. I ordered the stuffed shells special and the shells taste like they’re home made. While I could have done without the thick layer of mozzarella melted over the pasta already stuffed with cheese, I simply lift off the extra cheese and enjoy the hot pasta below. The sweet tea tastes just like my grandmother’s used to. Best of all, there are no signs in this restaurant telling us how to behave.
After stuffing myself on stuffed pasta, I’m still tempted to order the dessert. Only the thought of cheesecake stuffed inside a buttery pastry shell stops me from ordering it–it sounds too rich. It’s really the ice cream I want. I decide to wait for a chance to get just ice cream.
We head on down the road in the rain, which seems to be intensifying. About an hour later, I am dozing off in my seat when suddenly something cold and wet hits me on top of the head. I look up and discover the sunroof is leaking. My husband loves his cars and takes tremendous pride in getting a ridiculous number of miles out of them. This 1990 BMW is a low-mileage car in his book–it hasn’t even crossed the 200,000 mile mark. But, the paint looked like it was every bit of 21 years until we had it repainted a few months earlier. However, they partially disassembled the car to paint it and when they put it back together, the sunroof seemed off somehow. Well, we just discovered how. As it continues to rain, each time Pat slows or accelerates or turns hard, more and more water runs in on my head. I zip up my rain jacket and pull up the hood, trying to stay dry. Soon, water is running in streams when Pat stops hard. It pours into my lap now, soaking through my pants and leaving me sitting in a wet puddle. I am reminded of Pat’s winning argument as to why we shouldn’t hike in the rain today–he didn’t want to end up riding home in wet underwear. I’m certain that if we’d gone hiking in this rain, my underwear would be drier.
Pat finds this hilarious. Of course, his underwear is still dry. But as the situation worsens, water starts running in from his side of the sunroof and even from the trim piece that the rearview mirror is mounted on. I remind him that he knew the sunroof didn’t close properly and he was supposed to get it fixed before we left Columbus. He goes from laughing to annoyed and informs me that he did have it fixed, but no one could tell it would leak. I sit silently in my wet underwear and sulk. These are the moments in marriage when you know you’re being ridiculous, but you just can’t help yourself. Really, I celebrate my husband’s attachment to his cars. After all, he’s saved us tens of thousands of dollars in the course of our relationship that has contributed to our ability to afford the things we find more meaningful. But right now, I’m a little irritated that I let him talk me out of buying a new car.
About the time I’m soaked through, we arrive at the entrance to 75. However, it’s backed up and the entrance ramp looks flooded. When we look up the highway, we see brake lights and slow-moving cars. We decide to cross over to 58 and come into Chattanooga the back way. We follow the GPS, but it has us making multiple turns that seem like they’re taking us the wrong direction. We’re pretty sure we’re lost when we find ourselves on a country lane with a fallen tree laying halfway across the road. We are able to pass unimpeded and after one more turn, we see 58. In the meantime, water continues to stream on me as Pat maneuvers through the turns. It’s gotten to the point of such complete ridiculousness that even I cannot continue to sulk–it’s just too funny. Each time Pat turns and a new stream of water pours on me from a new place, we burst out laughing.
Finally, we find ourselves home. We pull up outside the entrance and unload our gear from the trunk and onto the covered walkway where it’s protected from rain. It’s raining so hard that our stuff gets wet even in the split second that it’s in the rain. As we haul our stuff up via the elevator and pile it up on the living room floor, all I feel is tired. I can’t say I regret the day–it was its own kind of adventure–but I’m relieved to be able to get out of my wet underwear.