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Aug 01

Exploring Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville was just over an hour away by car from our South Carolina campground and we had the option of driving over the mountain to get there or using the highway. There was no way we could pull the trailer over the mountain so we decided to take a day trip on the mountain route by car (and enjoy the view) and then return to Asheville with the trailer via the highway.

Check out this 10 best link to South Carolina:

http://www.10best.com/interests/travel-features/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-south-carolina/

Continental DivideThe mountain route was fantastic! The road twisted and turned all the way to the top where we suddenly came across a sign announcing the Eastern Continental Divide. For some reason this was completely unexpected and prompted us to do a little research. We learned that the Eastern Continental Divide is one of six in North America! It runs all the way from the New York area to Florida, separating the watershed of the Gulf of Mexico from the Atlantic Ocean. Geography buffs probably know this but, if you don’t, check out the map to see the other five.  The landscape sloped more gently as we drove down the mountain in North Carolina. We passed houses buried in the woods, red painted barns and colorful roadside stands. We stopped briefly in the charming town of Brevard, which, thanks to a moderate climate and cultural activities, attracts not only tourists but also those looking for a favorable place to retire.

What a great way to get to Asheville!  Our first stop was the Visitors’ Bureau to see what they recommended (realizing, of course, that they want you to spend the maximum amount of time and money in their beautiful city!) After figuring out our time frame and interests, we decided to take a Trolley tour of the city that day and return for the rest later. We chose the Gray Line trolley which has open sides so Bill could take photos. Our driver/guide introduced himself as “Uncle Ted” and told the small group on board that he was born and raised in Asheville. He embellished the tour with personal stories and reminisces which made it very interesting.

HomesWe learned that Asheville’s beginnings as a town go back to 1784 when Colonel Samuel Davidson redeemed his soldier’s land grant from the State of North Carolina and settled here with his family. The beauty that he saw back then continues to attract people to the area today. Our tour took us past many historic buildings downtown as well as beautifully maintained homes dating back hundreds of years.

Having survived the ups and downs of the civil war, the Depression, etc., Asheville has successfully integrated its history with modern day architecture, the Arts and a vibrant business environment. During our visit we spent some time in the downtown area which definitely has a lively atmosphere! Chic boutiques line the streets and malls, eclectic restaurants and cafes abound and musicians play a variety of instruments in the street.

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 We sat at a sidewalk restaurant after our tour, enjoying a beer from a local microbrewery and soaking up the scene. We saw everything from businessmen in coats and ties, stylishly dressed women, casual tourists as well as people decorated with tattoos and body piercing! It all seemed to meld together perfectly!

Over the years this town, surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, has attracted individuals with a creative spirit … artists, writers, musicians, architects, movie makers and more. And their influence can be seen throughout Ashville today. You can’t visit here without hearing stories about authors such as Thomas Wolfe and F. Scott Fitzgerald to name just two!

The River Arts District,  located in turn of the century industrial buildings along the French Broad River is home to galleries and working artist studios. You’ll find a wide variety of artistic works here so plan to spend some time. If you see an artist’s door open, you are encouraged to go in and have a chat … and, of course, buy a piece of original art! Make a day of it … quench your thirst at a Brewery, have a meal at an area restaurant … stop by 12 Bones, one of three local BBQ places that were highly recommended to us on our tour. Warning! We stopped by there at 4:05pm only to find that it closed at 4:00pm!

The nice thing about the trolley tour is that you can get on and off at any of the stops and catch the next trolley that comes by. We decided to stay onboard for the entire trip and make a decision as to what we wanted to revisit in a few days.

P1050772One of the stops was the Grove Park Inn, which we quickly added to the list. This remarkable hotel was built by Edwin Wiley Grove, known as the “Father of Modern Asheville”, and was opened in 1913. Although E.W. Grove owned the land on which the Grove Park Inn was built, his son-in-law, Fred Seely, was responsible for much of the planning and supervising of the building of the hotel. According to Wikipedia  “The hotel was built of rough granite stones and the expansive lobby is noted for its enormous granite fireplaces and expansive porch with its scenic overlook. It was advertised as having “walls five feet thick of granite boulders”. Four-hundred men worked 10-hour shifts six days a week. With only the use of mules, wagons and ropes, granite boulders, some weighing as much as 10,000 pounds, were hauled from Sunset Mountain to build the hotel.”P1050776

On our return visit we took time to admire the hotel from the outside and walk through the Grand Lobby to take in the incredible views of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the grand patio. We admired the 14ft. fireplaces at each end of the Lobby and spent time in the adjacent photo gallery reading about the many famous people who have stayed at the hotel over the years. As it celebrates its Centennial, the Grove Park Inn continues to live up to its reputation as one of the leading hotels in the United States.

CarsAs you’ve probably gathered by now, Bill has to get his car “fix” regularly so we walked a short distance to the Estes-Winn Memorial Automobile Museum  located next to the hotel in the Grovewood Gallery area. Established in 1965, the Museum contains a small, but interesting, collection of vintage cars as well as a 1922 Asheville fire engine. Enough cars to satisfy Bill for a while, at least!

Movie buffs will know that many movies have been shot in Asheville and the surrounding area, including several of the running scenes from Forrest Gump! Let us know your favorite movie that was filmed in or around Asheville! If you need a hint, check here!

P1050758You cannot come to Asheville without spending time at its most famous residence – the Biltmore Estate. It took us two days to explore and you’ll hear about it next time. Until then, keep Asheville on your Bucket List if you haven’t been here yet. It’s also a good place to return to, and if you don’t mind the cold, the Christmas season is a great time to visit … the decorations are incredible and it will be a Christmas you’ll never forget!

Click on the links below for Pictures:

On the way to Asheville

City of Asheville

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3 comments

  1. Marsha

    I love the Biltmore House. It’s amazing how modern it was ‘in the day.’ What luxury. Love hearing about your travels. Thanks for the updates and photos.

  2. Dave & Perla Dion

    Bill, Bill, Bill,
    I owned a large night club in N. Myrtle Beach, SC (now Thee Doll House) and at the same time owned Belvedere Golf and Country Club and Marina. At the same time I owned a very fast, modified 633 BMW. I was the terror of the NC roads. To bring this all into perspective I could have drunk all the liquor at the Club, got into the BMW and floored it and never be able to get from a “South Carolina campground” to Ashville in an hour.

  3. Wallace Wilcox

    I can not believe you would not come visit me while you were in Asheville! The trolly tour goes right by our offices on top of the BBT building, the tallest building in Asheville.

    Annette and I are glad you took time to see our wonderful city and surrounding areas. God bless you both with traveling safety. Have fun.

    Your friend,

    Wallace

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