A civic building and plaza in downtown Asheville.
Downtown Asheville, North Carolina
Joan's last Bucket List Rebellion side trip was a visit to the major city of the North Carolina mountain country, Asheville. We skirted the area on our way to Great Smoky, but Joan wanted an immersion of sorts into the city's downtown. So we drove some 60 miles back down US19, US74, and I40 right smack into the center of the city and found public parking. She had found a 'scavenger hunt' walking tour on-line that took us through much of the downtown area looking for plaques in the sidewalks that commemorated Asheville history and architecture.
One thing you notice pretty quickly here is that this place is not hurting. There are multiple construction projects blocking the sidewalks and cranes dotting the skyline. Downtown, at least, is very vibrant with what appear to be fairly happy people walking in every direction. Judging by the number of young women walking around in revealing shorts, I have to believe there is a college or university somewhere nearby, but we didn't really run into any campus buildings. (Another clue is a street named 'College'!). 'Loft' signs indicate gentrification, and the number of bars, restaurants, and shops suggests an active urban life. If this part of North Carolina is 'Trump country', it must take on a different flavor here - these folks do not appear to be hurting much, if at all.
The tour itself was kind of fun. There are a total of 30 stops ranging from Thomas Wolfe's home (Dixieland), to an art-deco civic building, to 'The Block' a section of town where blacks hang-out (this was part of the 'diversity' section of the tour). We had a one-page print-out from the internet describing the stop and a map (that wasn't always accurate) to give us the directions. In a couple of instances, construction projects had obliterated the sidewalks, and the plaques in them, so we had to guess at what we were supposed to be looking at. I guess the 'scavenger hunt' part of the tour is trying to find the plaques. But the tour served the city well and helped give an understanding of the history that made Asheville.
After the tour, a walk of maybe a mile and a half, we went back to one of the restaurants we had seen, a bistro on the sidewalk, and ate lunch with a delightful bottle of Albarino wine. We had views of Asheville's flat-iron building and listened to street musicians playing across the way. We then located the parking garage where we had parked and I was pleasantly shocked that they only wanted $3 for about four hours of parking.
Asheville is a very welcoming city! (17.1.73)
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