If you ever visit Columbia, South Carolina, go to a coffee shop called Cool Beans. It's full of cigarette smoke, but they give you your drink in a real mug. My mug was a solid, squarish shape and it was mustard yellow. The best thing to do while you're there is sit around a table with four old friends and talk about what you've all done since you last saw each other. At least, that's what I did.
It rained almost the whole way back. Visibility was fine until the sun set, when all the truck drivers on Interstate 81 turned into demons straight out of hell. It's like they get on their CB radios and yell, "C'mon guys! There's heavy traffic, a downpour, slick roads, and patches of fog! Let's all drive twenty miles over the speed limit . . . and ain't nobody gonna slow us down!" Every time a truck passed me, it would kick sheets of raindrops onto my windshield, temporarily blinding me. I started playing a grim game called "Race the Trucks": whenever I saw a truck's headlights getting bigger in my rearview mirror, I would get into the left lane and speed up to pass the entire length of cars that was driving too slowly in the right lane. Then I'd move back over, hoping that the truck, upon passing the same line of cars, would get behind me. It actually works; however, it's also terrifying.
But I was saying. Between daylight and dark, there was a lovely stretch of road just after I exited Interstate 77 onto I-81 north and was heading through the mountains toward Roanoke. The mountains huddle right up by the interstate there, but I could only see the closest ones because the air was dim and foggy. The Appalachians are very quiet anyway, but when they are scarved with fog, the silence gets deeper. They seem mysterious and secretive--if you hid in them, they would protect you. And that same characteristic makes them frightening as well.
That was the best part of my drive.