Asheville and Around
We went to Asheville, North Carolina, and points north of there the previous weekend.
Here and there in town we would cross over the French Broad River several times. I have stumbled across the French Broad River in several researches while trying to find the originals of my Hunter ancestors.
My great-g-g grandfather John Hunter (1775-1848) lived in Buncombe County for a time (Asheville), and that is where his children were born – or nearby Henderson County. He died in 1848 in Union County, Georgia. A Hunter family lived in Buncombe County (Asheville) who had a son named John Hunter (b1775) who married Polly Edwards – as yet, I have found no direct proof that the John Hunter of this family is my ancestor John Hunter.. but it probably is. And if so, his parents were William and Anna Caldwell Hunter. William owned a tavern at the French Broad River in the area.
The building on the left is the Buncombe County Courthouse and the building on the right is the city of Asheville City Hall.
There is a mall there in the middle of town that a guy named Grove created. It has unique stores and offices in the upper levels. Grove also created some a cure for yellow fever, or some other disease of the times.
In the downtown area we drove up and down every street there – more than a few times trying to decide what to do and where to eat.
There were street musicians here and there on corners. There were a group of elderly ladies in their red hats and purple dresses protesting something, I missed what. There was a hot band in a small park that people were gathered around. And all these people made it harder to find a parking place.
We finally decided on a Cajun barbecue joint. It was okay, but not all that great. The downtown area of the barbecue joint is about 6 to 10 blocks wide and 6 to 10 blocks the other way. So, that is between 36 and 100 blocks of the good life. Outside dining, inside dining, art shops, and I don’t know what all – but a lot of young carefree living – which seems odd for a mountain community.
The morning time of our first morning the lobby and the free breakfast area was crowded with young people in nylon sport clothing. We soon found out that Asheville was hosting a big basketball tournament.
Someplace squeezing myself between people in the lobby I picked up on a conversation of a husband and wife, talking to some new found friends, how each of them talk on the phone… for each to mock his or her spouse the held up a thumb and pinky finger up to the side of their face. The thumb and the little finger is now the universal symbol for a telephone. I didn’t realize it until I saw both them doing it and it looked so natural and I picked up immediately they were imitating being on a phone.
We have been to the Biltmore House before in Asheville, NC, when the kids were young in grammar school. We didn’t really consider going this time. We do want to go sometime during the Christmas season, we hear they really make the place a Christmas Wonderland. We thought however, it would be nice to drive up the long driveway, which is several miles long…. It is such a park-like setting around every bend.
You might remember the movie with Peter Sellers, - I think the name of it was “The Gardner” Much of it was filmed at the Biltmore Estate.
We drove through the entrance and got behind a group of cars heading towards the mansion. At one point was a couple of guards. Some he would wave on and some he talked to and some he pointed over someplace. When he got to us he told us to buy tickets. I said we didn’t want to buy tickets, we just wanted to ride around and look at things outside. He said, this is as far as we can go, go make a U-Turn right there (he pointed). I misunderstood him and thought he meant another drive a few yards away. I drove passed the place I was ordered to make my U-Turn.
“HEY!!!” He shouted. Opps! He came towards us really scowling. I did quickly my U-Turn, almost hitting two runners and a car.
On the way out we dropped by the Biltmore Gift Shoppe just outside the gate. Anna bought a small Gargoyle and I tried the various cheese samples that was laid out to complement the Biltmore Wine tasting even that was soon to take place.
Speaking of Gargouyles, here is mine that I have had a long time. It is perched on a bookshelf beside a replica of "The Sleeping Lion" which the original statue is in the Confederate section of Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta.
We went north to the little town of Burnsville, not far from the Tennessee border where a festival was to be taking place. The “come-on” we read on the net said music of all kinds and food of all kinds and arts & crafts.
To get there we drove through Yancy County which plainly doesn’t have any zoning laws. There were at least three, maybe more houses that old junky cars and old rusty buses in their yards…. Terrible sights to be beautiful rolling hill countryside.
The Burnsville Festival was a country band and maybe 5 or 6 arts and crafts booths. They had two food booths. One served booth served barbecue and the other booth served nachos and cheese and maybe corn dogs. It was our disappointment for the day. And they almost only had one. The owner of the barbecue booth owns a barbecue catering service near Atlanta. He told us not too many day ago he was searching the Internet looking for festivals and came across this one. He wrote and asked them did they need a barbecue vender and suddenly, he was one.
I noticed a lot of bikers in the town. Just by what I observed and I am wrong plenty, I think the bikers and the mountain farmers have some sort of comforting relationship. The bikers like to ride around mountain curves. And they farmer, down in the valley on his plow see them and wishes he was as free as a bird as they seemed to be. And the biker probably appreciates the farmer working Mother Earth. I noticed sitting around on benches in town they seem to respect each other.
The Burnsville Festival
Before we checked into our room at a motel in Mars Hill, NC., we drove through the little town of Mars. Hill. A couple of blocks from downtown is a beautiful college campus. I think Mars Hill College is the principle industry of Mars Hill, NC.
We checked into the motel. We asked the desk clerk what was going on in this area (far away from anything) that the only had one room left when we called and made our reservations the day before. She said two family reunions and a wedding. I asked her which one had more food – we would take that one.
The next morning after breakfast, which I already mentioned, I was pushing the luggage rack down the motel corridor and I was approaching an opened door. About that time the door across the hall opened as I was passing. A lady from inside the door that just opened said, “Good morning Sunshine!” And a man from the door already opened, said, “Are you talking to me or that gentleman?” – meaning me. She said, “The gentleman!”
And I said, “Morning Moonbeam!” But down in my heart I was saying, “I was noticed! Somebody actually saw me and commented!”
On the local TV news, which was broadcasted from Greenville, South Carolina, we heard of a big hot air balloon fest in Simpsonville, South Carolina, not far from Greenville. They were to have balloon rides going up and coming back down for about $10 or $15, long rides for a hundred bucks and other balloonists were having a race to a far away place… I didn’t catch where to. On the way back to Georgia we thought we would give it a try. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”, they say. What they don’t say is, “Venturing can be costly.”
Established in 1982, by the Greenville Chamber of Commerce to provide a local event center on patriotic and family entertainment.
The concept of the festival started when a movie company came to the Chamber of Commerce asking them to have a festival so they could use it as a backdrop for the movie “Hot Heir”, which was released as a 3-D movie, but never made it to the Greenville area local theaters. And after that, they just kept on having it as a tradition…. And a good money getter I might add.
We found Simpsonville near Greenville. We expected to see some kind of signs pointing to the balloons. There were no signs. We drove to the little town, through the town, and about a mile and a half on the other side were policemen and their flashing vehicles. Somehow, we got directed off the road onto a big field, probably equal to the size of four or five football fields. A group in bright orange tee-shirts collected $5 from us and told us to go that-a-way. Another group with the same type of bright orange tee-shirts directed us to a parking place…. The person in his early 20s used both hands and all eight fingers to direct us to the correct distance behind a car. He must have been a aircraft carrier flight deck placer wannabee. He did his job well.
We were told to go “over there” and wait for the shuttle bus. We walked “over there” to stand. A dark skinned man and his dark skinned wife approached. I think they had a child with them. They both had tattoos. The two were not very old. They were probably in their early 20s. He was wondering where he could find a motel with a Laundromat. We asked them where were they from. He was vague saying something to the effect that they go wherever they want. The more we talked, the more he said. He was a carnival worker. Either that morning or the day before when he reported for work at whatever ride he worked his boss told him he was 30 minutes late, so for him to take the whole day off. The guy said he could do better than that, he would take the whole week off. So, they were on the go.
He told us there would be a lot to do that this thing we were waiting to go to. In a several minutes I realized he had carnivals and rides on his brain. Even when he didn’t have to go to a carnival he went for fun.
I suppose he was a member of the infamous White family, a.k.a. Travelers, a.k.a. Gypsy. I noticed a few years ago, Gypsies were the only group of people, who were born into their group that it was politically correct to be prejudiced against, scorn them, say bad things about them, and make them the blunt of your jokes – and it was okay to say they are thieves and dishonest. It seems Gypsies need some kind of representation or a spokesman or something.
About a tenth of the huge park was for food and crafts and the other remaining area was for carnival type stuff like rides and games.
You had to buy tickets and they were your method of currency. At each place the price would tell how many tickets for what. Our lunch cost us 9 tickets. We had one ticket left over which we gave a mother to use for her daughter.
We had a hard time finding where the hot air balloons were to take off. And when we did, it was even harder to get a straight answer WHEN. The most specific time we could get was “Probably about 6pm”. The policeman who told us that, after he found out, said, “I’m as disappointed as you are.”
We got back on the road to Atlanta. We took a toll-highway to get out of the Greenville area, which cost $2.
Anna read aloud the latest book I am reading while I drove. She already read it for herself but did this for me.
No trip can be completed without a visit to an outlet mall. We went to an outlet mall in Commerce, which is between Gainesville, Georgia, and the South Carolina state line. Holly Hunter is an native of Commerce. They have a very big outlet mall there. Anna bought a watch from Seiko store. The manager was very wordy and clever. When she was paying for it she asked something to the effect were they an authorized Seiko repair store. He said, “No, which is probably a good thing. We are nice but not very smart.”
While Anna did some more shopping I enjoyed sitting on a bench on the walk like a wooden Indian and watched people walk by. It appears that Mexican fathers are more devoted to their children than us white folks are.
Also, speaking of Mexican fathers, I went to the rest room there and when I walked in was a Mexican man standing in the middle of the floor putting his toddler daughter’s clothes on. I felt a little awkward. Should I have unzipped my shorts, turn around and face the urinal, whip it out or what? Maybe I should have went to a stall and shut the door real easily, as not to cause a scene… heck, whatever I decided to do, it would be wrong. Luckily, he had her clothes on and they left before I got down to business.
Another “A Lot About Nothing” post