Monday, July 7, 2014

Asheville, NC and the Blue Ridge Mountains

After celebrating my niece Leigh-Anne's wedding in Charlotte, I headed over to the Asheville area for a few days with my brother John, sister Janet and friends Mike and Sheri. On our two hour drive over, the first stop was the North Carolina Arboretum.

Janet was birding, John and I were searching for Mike and Sheri.
There are more than 434 acres of preserved nature, 65 of them are cultivated gardens peppered with interesting art. This installation amusingly reminds me of "Field Hands" that John and I saw at the di Rosa museum of modern art in Napa, CA.

Field hands!
There are 10 miles of hiking and biking trails plus many diverse settings in the arboretum but don't miss the Bonsai Exhibition Garden.



You could spend days here before exploring all of what the arboretum has to offer. And make sure you check out the Collections Gallery, exhibiting folk art for sale by local craftspeople. Then we headed to the house we rented in the mountains for the next few days. Up a steep and narrow dirt road we discovered Highwoods.

Our house called Highwoods.
Hotel Note: If renting a home isn't your style, check out the: Hilton Asheville Biltmore Park.

A great bargain, we found this house on VROB - Vacation Rental By Owner. All four of us had our own bedrooms, the living room was a great place to hangout in at night . . .


but the outside deck with bbq was the highlight.

View from our deck.

On ten peaceful acres, Highwoods has several ponds and an authentic totem pole.

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One of our outings was to neighboring Mount Pisgah, which is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. At an elevation of 5,000 feet, the Pisgah Inn offers casual rooms clinging to the side of the mountain, each one with great views such as this!

The highest peak in far right is Cold Mountain.
There's a casual but delicious restaurant up there but be careful, weather can change in a heartbeat. With little warning, this great view shifted to torrential downpours and then this . . .


You can see why they call them the Smoky Mountains. Mount Pisgah is great for cyclists, bikers, hikers or travelers in cars. We also visited downtown Asheville.

Lexington Ave...I felt like I was back in NYC!
Tons of art, galleries, crafts, and restaurants. One cool place was the Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar located in the Grove Arcade building.

 
My two favorite things rolled into one!



The Grove Arcade was built by E. W. Grove in 1929. (He also built the Grove Park Inn.) The size of an entire block, it's filled with interesting shops and restaurants.

John, Mike and Sheri test driving rockers in the Grove.
And you can't go to Asheville and not see the Biltmore Estate at least once.


George Vanderbilt erected quite a country home: 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms and 65 fireplaces!

Koi and Lily Pond
The conservatory, which houses a large variety of exotic plants.


There are vineyards and wine tasting rooms and even a petting zoo! Here are 3-week-old Angora goats. So sweet and soft.

Mike and I at the Biltmore.

View of Biltmore grounds from back of house.
And after touring the inside of the house and during another downpour, we decided to have lunch at the Stable Cafe located in the . . . you guessed it, the former stables.


It was really quite delicious. We ordered a Muffuletta sandwich served on a focaccia type bread that was crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside. It was stuffed with marinated olive salad, mortadella, salami, mozzarella, ham and provolone. Oh, and a little something green to make it healthy.

Muffuletta
Stable Cafe Sampler
We also ordered the Stable Cafe Sampler for two - spice-rubbed smoked ribs, pulled pork barbeque, rotisserie chicken, coleslaw, collard greens, white beans with bacon and kale and house-made sweet pickles. A feast! And don't forget the sweet tea.

Janet and Mike birdwatching at the arboretum.
And this is a birder's paradise. Janet observed about 30 species of birds in Asheville and its surrounding areas. She was surprised by the amount of Indigo Buntings and Eastern Towhees she spotted. I myself didn't find many birds but I did have a Quaker siting!


And what would a visit to North Carolina be without a farewell breakfast at Waffle House?




Waffles and grits, anyone?



5 comments:

  1. I'm o glad you enjoyed your trip to Asheville! I love it here, and you named off some of my most favorite places! <3 Jen

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  2. This was a great trip! I can't wait to return to do some hiking and curl up with a book at the Book Exchange in Asheville

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