Saturday, October 20, 2012

Asheville and Blue Ridge Trip

We just got back from a mini-vacation to Asheville, North Carolina.  We had three objectives in mind: see Asheville again,  see the fall leaves, and go to Mount Mitchell, the highest point in the United States east of the Mississippi.  We succeeded in two of the objectives.  Here is a compact overview of what we did (Remember - it took us longer to do it then you to read it).

After leaving Willow at the pet boarding place with her clawing and whinning with a bewildred look on her face, we headed north.

We first stopped in Saluda, North Carolina.  Saluda is a pleasant  scenic little communilty with about a 3 or 4 block downtown main street with old antique buildings.  We stopped there because we read nice reviews on the Green River BBQ just outside of town on a high hill.  On their menu they did not offer pulled pork but offered chopped pork.  We prefer pulled pork.  They had a few unique items on the menu, one being Tomato Pie.  Tomatoe Pie wasn't worth all the ooohs and ahs on the reviews we read either.  The pie was too buttery, which has a way of staying with you.

When we entered the restaurant, about 1:30 it was crowded.  One long table with nine women and one elderly man were having a lunch - I think they all belonged to the same organization or the same family or something.  Out the window beside our table we could see some outside tables.  One table had about four outside workers taking their lunch break.  Another table a young couple sat.  I noticed the lady had shorts on.  You pay at the counter.  When the young couple came inside to pay I saw that she was not wearing shorts, she was wearing tight-ass jocky underwear.  They even had little same little logo figures all over it.  Her arm was also in a sling, but I wasn't studying the sling.  Anna's back was to the counter but I couldn't tell her to look because it would be obvious what she would be looking at and then everybody might turn around and look.  Before we left a lady came in and asked were they still open and they they were and she said GOOD! - She drove all the way from Ohio and wanted to catch them before they closed.  Her lucky day!

Our next stop was Hendersonville which was about eight or nine miles up the road.  I have a special interest in Hendersonville and the surrounding area. I suspect my great-great grandfather Jason Henderson Hunter was born in Henderson County and Hendersonville is the county seat.  My plan was to look over the countryside and terrain to get an idea of how it might have looked in the early 1800s.  The whole frigging place is paved over and buildings shooting up all over - and I think the slopes and hills have been bulldozed away many years ago.  We had reserved a room at the Hampton Inn in Hendersonville.  I decided I would not gain any knowledge on Jason Henderson Hunter by staying overnight there.  In the parking lot of the Hampton Inn we had reservations.  We called the Hampton Inn in Asheville to see if they had vacancies, then called and cancelled the reservations at Hendersonville which we had until 6pm to do so, then called back the one in Asheville and made reservatons.

Our new iphone, s-4 became very handy helping us on this trip on GPSing for us and supplying general information of things we wondered about on the trip.

Asheville was just a hop, skip, and a jump to the Hampton Inn on Tunnel Road.  We checked in and got our luggage in the room and went back out and rode around in the downtown area learning our way around.

We found the chocolate/coffee house French Broad River Chocolates.   We heard about it from our son Rocky and his wife Sabrina, they were in Asheville the week before.   We enjoyed sitting and eating unique kinds of baked goods.  We liked it so much we went back the next night.  The 2nd night was fairly crowded with college age young people, all casually lounging and doing their thing on their lap tops.

The staff were  jovial and laid back and didn't seem to mind if you justified your seat with buying things or not.

Wednesday morning we went on a tour of the city . . . or several tours.  On our first tour on the tourbus the tour guide lady told us the bus will make 10 stops.  You could get out if you wanted to and catch the next tour bus.  You have a little sticker symbol on your upper torso and the tour guide will let you get on.  She went on to say she recommends that you make the tour without getting off and decide what you would like to get out and see more of.  And that is what we did.  After the first go around tour, we broke for lunch.
That way we got the benefit of hearing three different views of tour guides.  The bottom lines were all the same, but the buildup and comments were different.  You get a more rounded view that way.

Two people who became world know writers, O'Henry and Thomas Wolfe were born in Asheville and are buried in the same cemetery.  Not much was said about O'Henry but I heard two different stories about Thomas Wolf and his interesting money-grubbing mogel mother.  It made me want to read LOOK HOMEWARD ANGEL.

Another writer, F. Scott Fitzgerald lived in Asheville for a while at the Grove Park Inn.  His wife was an inmate at a nearby insane asylum.  She died in a house fire at the facillity.  It was said Fitzgerald drunk up to 32 bottles of beer a day while writing.  His room was very near where people checked in for a room, and if it was a young cute lady checking in he would make his move - so the one of the tour guides said.

Charleston Heston lived in town for a while where he picked up acting on stage and moved on to the movies.  Another entertainer who lived in town for a while was the Yodeling Brakeman, Jimmy Rogers, he had a  local radio show.

We went back and spent more time looking around the Grove Park Inn.  The Grove Park Inn was created by Edwin Grove who made a fortune on a patented Scarlet Fever preventive medicine. 

The Grover Park Inn is a luxurious resort, listed as one of the top 20 luxurious inns in America.  On one of the wide corridor's wall are pictures of 20 presidents (10 Republicans and 10 Democrats) who have visited the place and other famous people such as Will Rogers.  We were just checking on how the uppity 53% lived.

On our break between tours we ate at Luella's's BBQ.  The same as the Green River BBQ they did not offer pulled pork, only chopped.  Both places served hush puppies with the bbq.  It must be a North Carolina thing.  Another thing about Luella's's, according to one of our guides, the building is the original A and W Dogs and Rootbeer Drive-In building. 
The tour(s) were great and it appears that George Vanderbilt and Edwin Grove both got the city a power start into the 20th Century by their pet  enterprises.

When we finished looking at the Grove Park Inn we went to the spot to wait on the next bus.  I counted about 18 to 20 other people waiting.  We were just about a full load already, not counting the ones already on the bus.  Luckily enough, what I didn't realize there were two sets of people waiting for two different tour buses.  So it worked out.  I mean it worked out on that stop.  On the next stop more people got on than got off.  And the next stop we were more than the legal capacity.  Then we drove up to the crowd waiting to get on the bus in the art district.  The driver had to tell them he could not allow them on the bus, it would be illegal, so he called his supervisor and they bickered back and forth on the phone.  The funny part was that his speaker mike was still on and we all listened.  He said one time, "Well, I got to tell them something!"  He finally told the crowd outside they would be sending another bus out to pick them up.  It seems that would be a problem every day as the people of probably 32 tour trips went back to their favorite spots and at the end of the tour day, picking up the amout of tourists would snowball.  Oh well.

That evening we had dinner at the Lobster Trap/Oyster House and I tried out their own beer.  It was pretty good, with a heavy taste.  The food was good too, and as already mentioned we revisited the French Broad Chocolate place....which by the way, the river that flows nearby is the French Broad River.

I should throw in now that the French Broad River is one of the few of rivers that flow north and as one of our guides pointed out, it has something to do with the continental divide.  Also, speaking of the French Broad River one of my Hunter ancestors' son owned a tavern on the French Broad River  nearer to Tennessee.

While I am pointing out genealogical things about my relatives and Asheville, one of my Killian relatives was one of the early pioneers of Asheville and had church meetings at his house when the circuit traveling Methodist minister came to town.  One of his descendants lived on a small portion  that would be the Biltmore Estate.

The next day, the last day, we packed our car, checked out, went downtown and had breakfast at Tupelo Honey Cafe, a place known for their breakfasts.  We split a huge pancake, an omelet, and an order of apple cured bacon.  While we were waiting the waitress brought over biscuits, blueberry jelly, and honey.  When we left we were stuffed.

When we left the cafe and I was getting my camera out of the car a young man approached us and ask us to use our parking space.  We said it was OK with us, but first we wanted to take some pictures in the park across the street.  He told us to take our time.

While we casually took pictues in the park the young man set up his vender cart. He was ready to sell sandwiches, or whatever.  His car was right in the street near the left taillight of our car, with the emergency lights blinking.  As we pulled off, he pulled in.

Recognize the post card below?  It is by J. Scott Graham.  I think it is similar to the photograph that was on the book 13 MOONS by Charles Frazier.  It does well representing the Blue Ridge Mountain Chain.  In a old S H Kress Co Five and Dime Building that is now an art and antique mall a few doors down from  the Tupelo Honey Cafe  we found a large print of the one on the 13 Moons cover and bought it.

We headed north up the Blue Ridge Scenic Highway to Mount  Mitchell, the tallest point east of the Mississippi.

The leaves were just about at their peak, beautiful!  At one of the lookout places where you could see a whole valley or a ridge of mountains before you two young ladies were there that just came from Mount Mitchell.  They told us to turn back.  Mount Mitchell was in a cloud that day.  You couldn't see anything but white.  We scoffed at the idea, saying it was fog and it would burn off by the time we got there.  Another person, sitting in his car stuck his head out the window and said "No it won't!"  We found out the hard way they were right.

We kept on going.  Not too long up the ridge the whiteness of a cloud surrounded us and we could not see more than 15 or 10 feet ahead of us.  I had to stay on the car in front of my bumper to see his tailights.  We drove that way for ten miles at about 10 miles per hour.

Then we saw an angel in the cloud looking at us.  We interrupted her deep meditation time.  Naw, I'm just pulling your leg.

We saw a ranger's station and visitor's center and pulled in.  We walked in the buildling and ranger lady was standing by her heater.  Anna asked her, "What is out there?" 

The ranger looked a little scared and said, "I don't know!"

We both had to use the rest room.  The women's restroom was down steps one side of the building and the men's restroom was down the the steps on the other side of the buildng.   We decided to both use the women's restroom.  Why separate when it was in strange lands?  We were the only tourists around . . . we thought.

We both went into the restroom. I used one stall and finished before Anna.  I stepped out of the stall and the door opened and in walked a middle age woman.  I said, "Sorry about that."

She waved her hand and said  "No problem" .

On the way back down the road where we came from I had an addtional problem.  I had no tail lights to follow close behind.  Instead I followed the center yellow line.

After several minutes I looked in the rearview mirror and about four cars were following me.  The fools!

After we got half way down from the mountain range the day was as sunny as we left it two hours ago.

We got on a different route to go home.  We went on Highway 74 going west across North Carolina.  For a good many miles we followed the Natahala River.  The river is rocky and shallow, perfect for white water sports. Some people have put up raft rentals up and down the river for the young at heart folks.  For the old farts they put up a restaurant overlooking the river to watch the white water rafting.  Something for everybody!  The food was too greasy.

Interesting this recreation area  of the river is only about 4 or 5 miles west of where my Ray and Trammell ancestor families lived in the 1800s and a lot of the Ray descendents still do.  We have been there  several times.

We entered Georgia in Fannin County, near the town of Blue Ridge.

Our last stop of our mini 3 day vacation was to get apples in East Ellijay.   When you go through north Georgia in October you must stop and buy apples in Ellijay.  It's the law. The big barn where we bought apples, sweet potatoes, and apple cider, the old country codger who waited on us came out with his home made Will Rogers wit, his warm grandpa image, and fair acting business man, all rolled into one.  I bet he has to practice on all the personalities he puts forth there.

Now, home sweet home.

Pictues we took will follow in a day or so, as soon as I pick out the suitable ones.

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