Asheville, North Carolina. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, this picturesque locale was the second stop on our recent road trip through the southeast portion of the Appalachian Mountains range. We spent a fair amount of the trip wondering if the Blue Ridge Mountains were the same geographic feature as the Smoky Mountains. After asking a few questions of my friend Google, I’m fairly certain that Asheville (NC), Gatlinburg (TN), and Helen (GA) are all situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains. If life hasn’t thrown you enough confusion today, Google whether the Smoky Mountains are part of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Let’s get back to Asheville. Early settlers were drawn to Asheville for its natural beauty and climate. People with consumption (tuberculosis), such as George Vanderbilt’s wife, found comfort, if not healing, in the region’s temperate climate. So, that’s why did George Vanderbilt build America’s largest private residence in southeast North Carolina while, seemingly, all the other millionaires were building in Newport, Rhode Island.
First stop in Asheville was a little restaurant in the heart of downtown, Tupelo Honey Cafe. The food, especially the biscuits and honey that come to the table like chips and salsa, was very good. It’s a “new southern” style restaurant, meaning that the chef tries to come up with new twists on old favorites. I don’t really even remember what I ordered, the trout I believe, but the star of my plate was the wilted greens. Instead of collards or turnip greens, I received kale warmed in soy sauce with just a little bit of pork for seasoning. It was very tasty. I’d tell you more, but I felt like our waiter was ready to bring us our check as soon as we walked in with four kids (it’s not that fancy).
We spent a little time walking through downtown, but not a lot of time. For a community that gives off a “we’re just going to be laid back and sit around and get high and drink” kind of vibe, the people were a little more mouthy than I expected. We ran in to two verbal altercations (we weren’t involved) within the first 10 minutes of our arrival, and after about 15 minutes, Jack looked at me and said, “we can go now, Dad.” He had seen, and heard, enough.
Day two was a trip to Chimney Rock. A rock formation that broke away or developed from the face of the main mountain many years ago. Imagine, kind of, an old chimney that has pulled away from the main structure of a house. That’s what Chimney Rock looks like. It was a fun time just hiking up the steps. Stops along the way provided awesome views of the valley below and of Lake Lure. Once at the top, you catch your breath, enjoy the view and wonder, “what now?” On our trek back down, we took another trail out to a waterfall called Hickory Nut Falls. There is some debate, even among locals, as to whether or not these falls were “the falls” in The Last of the Mohicans. I’ve never seen the movie so I had no point of reference.
I have seen, however, Dirty Dancing, and the location where it was filmed is about one mile away from Chimney Rock at Lake Lure. Yes, you know when Leah found out that the boat tour included stops at the filming locations, we were doing the boat tour of Lake Lure. The buildings used in the movie burned a few years after filming, but we cruised the cove where the water scenes were filmed. Did you know, the movie was filmed in October and November? The crew complained about the cold water, and the set designers had to paint the leaves and grass green before the outdoor scenes in order to make it look like summer. Now you know. Nobody puts Baby in brown leaves!
Day three was Biltmore day! It’s really amazing to think that a home like that could be built in the 1880s. Just cutting the limestone and marble were monumental tasks, let alone constructing a home with that material that has stood for 130 years. I can’t even begin to describe the home to you, but I would suggest visiting in the spring or the fall of the year as there is no air conditioning in the house an it was quite stuffy when we walked through (for hours). I’ve heard the Biltmore at Christmas is a must-see, but I can’t imagine how crowded the place can get during that season. Something you may not know about the Biltmore…the landscape architect was Frederick Law Olmsted, architect of New York’s Central Park. If you’ve watched Downton Abbey, the Biltmore is a must see. It’s a must see if you haven’t watched Downton Abbey, but the home comes alive a little more for you if you can picture the staff seated around the servants’ dining table discussing the day.
And that was our forty-eight hour stay in Asheville. Oh, the best meal that we had goes to Corner Kitchen in Biltmore Village. Y’all know that I love me a restaurant in an old house, but the breakfast that we had at Corner Kitchen may have been the best meal of the trip.
That’s it for today. Go be awesome and smile. If you’re being kind and you miss, you won’t miss by much. Thanks for stopping by!