I've been out of town three of the last four weeks. As I sort pictures and memories now, I'm happy to share the fun.
Asheville, North Carolina is known as the Austin of the East. Truly, even to local Carolinians. Quirky, musical, artistic and beer-loving. Not to mention beautiful.
Denny and I stayed at the historic Grove Park Inn on a hill north of downtown Asheville.
Built in 1912 by hand from boulders (not stones, boulders) quarried at nearby Sunset Mountain.
When I walked into the soaring big-timbered lobby, it felt like entering a Harry Potter mountain lodge. The cage-fronted elevator, hand operated by a cheerful staffer, opens from a side door into a massive stone fireplace...the closest we'll ever get to travel by flue. Grove Park Inn elevator entrance--->
Our room was near F. Scott Fitzgerald's favorite room, which he chose for the view of arriving coaches from which he could spec potential feminine companionship. Zelda was resident in Asheville's Highland Mental Hospital at the time.
View toward Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains, on the opposite side of the Inn from Mr. Fitzgerald's favorite view.
If you ever visit Asheville, take the Grove Park Inn's historical tour, followed by lunch on Sunset Terrace for the view above. Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With the Wind, spent her honeymoon at the Grove Park. There are stories of presidential visits past and present. And you'll want to hear about the The Pink Lady, resident ghost of room 545. She's said to be flirtatious and to show up in photographs. Not mine.
Then stop in at the two galleries on the property, Gallery of the Mountains inside the hotel and Grovewood Gallery next door. I plan to buy everything in the galleries when I win the lottery. But especially the gorgeous and original woven bead jewelry of Amolia Willowsong. (Gallery of the Mountains)
<---Willowsong's Southern Skies necklace, photo by Cheryl Lincoln.
And a couple of these hand-carved hardwood rockers by retired surgeon Joe Godfrey (Grovewood Gallery). Carved to comfort your spine, I'm pretty sure the rocking does the same for the soul.
If you plan to go on a weekend, take yourself early or expect to wait because a big congregation believes in the Cafe's Sweet Potato Pancake. Fluffy but substantial buttermilk batter underwritten by sweet orange goodness with just enough spice, then jazzed by Grandma's Maple Granola inside. Cooked up, then topped by a dollop of whipped peach-butter surrounded by a generous handful of spiced pecans, it's the definition of righteousness. Add a light drizzle of orange-blossom-scented Tupelo Honey and you've got heaven.
Plan on taking half of it home with you--you'll be able to keep your jeans buttoned and it's just as good the next day.
Afterward you'll want a little walk to enjoy the mountain air.
And the sights. If you're lucky, the Flying Nun will bless you as he makes his rounds.