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Published: September 24th 2019
I have heard so much about Asheville, I am a smidge curious about it. Don't ask me why. My previous ventures into the hinterlands of the Tar Heel state rendered me covered with smoke from the incessant smokers. I can only hope Asheville will be a bit more civilized.
On the bright side, Asheville is often called the "coolest" small city on the east coast. Is it the award-winning restaurants, hipster coffee shops, outdoor activities, or breweries? It is also known as "Beer City, USA." The Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar also sounds like my kind of place. Asheville must have something, since the Obamas visited a few years back.
Asheville is a city in the Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains. It is known for its "vibrant art scene and historic architecture." Isn't that what they say about all places that the travel pundits want you to visit? The famous Biltmore Estate is here, also known as the largest home (250 rooms) in America on 8,000 acres). It has 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces.
But on the plus side, the nation's most visited winery, the Biltmore Winery is
also here. The winery is now located in the old dairy. They make over 50 wines, so perhaps this might be a worthwhile stop. But whoever heard of wines from North Carolina? This place was built in the 1890s, about the time my grandfather came to California from Japan.
Asheville is home to the famous (and they say stunning) Blue Ridge Parkway, a 469 mile ribbon of highway, connecting Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smokey Mountains. Perhaps a short ten or twenty mile jaunt would be worthwhile. And the famous Appalachian Trail runs somewhat west of the city.
With about 90,000 people, Asheville is the largest city in western North Carolina. Live music is a big deal here, with a strong tradition of street performances, and outdoor music. Some Hollywood movies have been filmed here, including Bull Durham, Dirty Dancing, and The Fugitive.
Any famous people from here? How about Roberta Flack, William Jennings Bryan, O. Henry, Nina Simone, Jimmy Rodgers, Andie McDowell, Coach Roy Williams, and MLB umpire Jumpin' Joe West.
One small item of interest to me would be the Moogmuseum. Do
you remember the famous Moog Synthesizer, and "hooked on Bach" recordings? The museum features Bob Moog's pioneering legacy through experiential historical exploration. And I would get to play the famous Moog Synthesizer.
Other little known factoids: Asheville is home to the first forestry school in the U.S., the Biltmore Forest School in 1898. Why are the mountains blue? Trees here release isoprene that contributes to the blue haze over the peaks on a clear day. Most importantly, there are fifteen wineries in Asheville. Let's stop these factoids right now!
I did find two places, the Foothill Butcher Bar, and Rhubarb, a farm to table joint. Maybe one of these will be lunch? Or maybe we will find a bice microbrewery or winery cafe.
So, Asheville is not quite two hours away from Highlands. Maybe we will take a drive on Saturday before the 5:30pm wedding of my nephew. Maybe some of my cousins who I do not see very often will want to go for a ride?
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