Tuesday, February 28, 2006

06-25 Ashville North Carolina

Ashville North Carolina (week one)

I’m in the heart of the Appalachian mountains. Driving from Virginia into North Carolina was a combination of mountain driving, fog thicker than pea soup and a light gray rainy day. I drove as cautiously as possible, and after a number of trucks continued to wiz by, I noticed there was quite a line behind me. Using my large RV tail lights as a beacon through the worst part of the weather.

Safely arriving at my small campground called Hominy Valley RV park. Only 6 campsites, but all pristine new sites hugging the backside of a mountain. The only extra is a viewing platform at the top of the mountain. Ekk! I had a field mouse get in the camper, apparently through the hole for the kitchen sink pipes. Cute little fella though. But, I had to evict him anyway. And the hole is now blocked. Whew.

I traveled the back roads past numerous apple farms, deep valleys each with their own stream or river flowing over huge boulders, on my way to Chimney Rock. A great mountain look out with a 26 story elevator inside the mountain to the Chimney Rock viewing area. Everyone ohing and awing over the views. One man asking if someone was from Florida and stating how much he hated it. Would never go back. Me thinking, thank goodness. We don’t need people who hate, in Florida, thank you very much.

News Article in the Asheville Citizen Times, Mountain News. Sept 15, 2006. Parents of a local football team tried to raffle off an Uzi rifle. Publicity killed the idea. The parents (75 of them) stated, “the only ones losing at this are the children”. “Nobody disagreed with it”. Yah right, Get a clue!

Ashville is a very fast growing town surrounded by the Appalachian mountains. Many retirees are moving here and homes typically run from the low $200K to the mid 10-20 Million dollar range. Land is very expensive and you’ll see many mobile homes on the outskirts of town. Affordable housing for the local workers.

I took a trolley tour of the downtown Ashville area and was very disappointed in the tour. Relatively little to no history and a very unforgettable guide. Basically the town built up as a sanitarium for the healing of consumption, later known as TB and mental illness.

The Biltmore Estate being the major attraction in the area. And well worth coming to this area. The Biltmore being the largest privately owned home in the U.S. The other homes in the area are beautiful and the Grove Park Inn is the best example of Park Lodge style hotels on the east coast. An awesome structure. I’ll be taking another tour of Biltmore later this coming week. I’ve been there a couple times already. The wine is wonderful.

For the outdoorsman, this is definitely an area worth exploring. With the Blue Ridge Parkway running through the region, Mt Pisgah, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and so many other parks in the area, I could spend weeks just exploring the hiking trails alone.

Oh, the National Park system has re-introduced elk to the area and they are thriving. It’s estimated that over 250 are now in the area.

I should mention the shopping. My friends, Bob, Mark and Pat, oh and Canadian Jimmy, would go crazy in the downtown area with all the shops, boutiques and cafés all surrounded by a high concentration of art deco buildings. The largest TOPS shoe store, Mast General stores, a huge independent book store and of course the famous furniture factories and stores (Tyson’s with over 300 brands) are all in the area. The area has exploded in regional and fine art within the past ten years. I was talking to someone touring the area and they said they saw the biggest concentration of “hippies” since the 60’s and 70’s, apparently at some art event.

My Roving Reports are coming quickly to an end. I sure hope you’ve enjoyed them and have gotten some ideas for your own travels and adventures.

1 comment:

Mexanese said...

If we would have to stay on the east coast and in NC, this is where we would like to settle. we also got married here it is so beautiful. I think though, from the year that this was written and watching the flux of people rush to the area... we will neither be able to afford nor enjoy the almost quaintness of it anymore. The art district itself has GROWN, the hippies are in full force still and Biltmore is still the lovliest thing there... and the wine keeps getting better *)But alas Asheville has become very "fashionable".