Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Visit to Asheville

This past week, my friend Sandy and I went to Asheville, North Carolina to visit a mutual friend, and to tour the Biltmore Estate (I'll save that for the next posting). Here's where we stayed, a log house built in the 1970s.

And here's a partial view from the front porch. Florida was humid when we left, so the cool mountain air felt wonderful. Bill, our host, said that he came out on his porch one evening and discovered a bear trying to get to a bird feeder in one of these trees.

Bill's living room.

Bill promised that if we were up for a hike, we'd be rewarded with a great view at its end. So here I am, ready for the hike and looking as rugged as you'll ever see me!

click to enlarge
This is the top of Bearwallow Mountain, at 4,242 feet. The view is for 100 miles and includes The Great Smokey Mountains. Because this mountain top is crossed by the Eastern Continental Divide, water falling to the left of it will eventually flow into the Gulf of Mexico, and water flowing to the right of it will flow into the Atlantic Ocean.

We enjoyed Bill's friends, including the couple who owns this magical house, also made of logs.

Roger is a sculptor, and the property is filled with sculptures, flowers and every sort of vegetable. I wish I'd gotten a photo of the tomatoes that were the dark color of eggplants!

This is a guest cottage on the same property.

photo by Sandy Gonzalez
How many interesting and convivial conversations have taken place in this circle, I wonder?

Asheville is a town that supports the arts, and we saw musicians everywhere. Conde Nast Traveler rates Asheville as the 4th friendliest city in the U.S.

Every Friday, from 6:00-9:45 p.m., Asheville's Pritchard Park hosts a drumming circle. This photo was taken as things were just getting started. By the evening's end, the perimeter's tiers will be packed elbow-to-elbow with drummers, and the space in the middle will be filled with dancers.

And you might imagine that when the scene above is multiplied many times, the sound is both awesome and mesmerizing.
We fell in love with the Battery Park Book Exchange, located in the Grove Arcade. It's also a champagne bar — how cool is that?! We didn't imbibe, but I did buy some art books.

Stay tuned for a look at the Biltmore,
home of George W. Vanderbilt.


  1. Asheville is such a charming little city - some great restaurants there for sure. I went a few years ago and stayed in an 'all green' b&b with fabulous views like your friends house. I'm dying to go back. Can't wait for your posts on Biltmore!

    1. Hi, Stefan - There are indeed a lot of great restaurants in Asheville, and I'm ready to go back for more. On our way back from Bearwallow Mountain, we also stopped at an excellent Amish sandwich shop in that vicinity, named Troyer's. Where dining is concerned, I came away with the feeling that one couldn't go wrong in Asheville.

  2. Welcome back, Mark! That's a great photo of you. Tom's brother has a cabin in Asheville, and we are thinking of visiting this fall. It's been a long time since we were in Asheville - almost 15 years!! I love the antiques stores and art galleries there.

    1. Thanks, Loi! I didn't have enough time to visit Asheville's antique stores (it was actually just a long weekend), but I did go through several art galleries. I would love to go back soon, and you are certainly well overdue for a visit to Aasheville!!

  3. Hello Mark, That mountain retreat looks so comfortable, I'm not sure that I could tear myself away, even to tour Biltmore.

    I love the image of the giant flatiron in Asheville. They have gotten all the details dead right--it really looks like a normal-sized iron blown up.
    --Road to Parnassus

    1. Hello, Jim,

      I fell in love with that flatiron, too. At first I wished I could have isolated it in the photo, bur now I see that the musician adds to the image. Apparently it's a natural spot for musicians to set up; we saw a different group there later.

      My parents had a flatiron like that, which they used as a door stop. I don't remember a shield or a number, but I do remember that cross-hatched handle!

  4. Dear Mark - it looks as if you all had a great time walking in the mountains, and enjoying the local music scene.
    I had to look on Google Maps to see where Asheville is in relation to Florida, and it appears that you had quite a long journey - a bit like us travelling up to the north of Scotland.
    What a lovely warm ambience the log cabin has and beautiful views to complete the scene.
    Glad you had a good break.

    1. Dear Rosemary,

      Sandy and I left at 6:05 a.m. and arrived at Bill's cabin at 6:03 — within a couple minutes of 12 hours. Florida is a very long state, so we were in it for about half the time.

      There's a rather strange phenonenom here in the U.S., with many younger people seeming to be reincarnated hippies, and Asheville has been rated as one of the top spots for hippies, though I wonder how such ratings are measured. We certainly found it to be a very friendly, easy-going town. I'm ready for a return visit!

  5. Dear Mark, Great to see you back. You actually look like a country gentleman rather than a rugged hiker.
    The interior of Bill's cabin looks charming and shows the expertise of an accomplished designer. Did you take more pictures of the interior? If so, would love to see them.

    1. Dear Gina,

      Thank you for that country gentleman tag, which I will gladly own — so much better than other possibilities!

      As a matter of fact, I didn't take more interior photos because our host was newly moved and in the beginning process of furnishing the place. But he has lovely taste and I know his retreat will be worthy of an extensive photoshoot in time.