I had first visited Asheville, North Carolina in 2009. I was among hundreds of Lindy Hoppers (swing dancers) who spent close to a week there holed up in a hotel. We were taking dance classes during the day, taking breaks to fuel our energy and social dancing into the wee hours of the night. The strange thing that happens at dance camp is the days and nights blend together and you have no concept of time. It’s kind of like being in a casino without any clocks except our addiction is swing outs and rock steps. Most times at dance camp, you spend more time indoors than exploring the city hosting the event. Despite the hectic dance schedule, I got to spend a few hours at a time checking out local eateries such as Tupelo Cafe or having coffee at Double D’s Coffee and Desserts. All I remember from 2009 was that Asheville is a place worth visiting outside of a dance event. So when I was mapping out the Butters & Bambi trip, I made sure we were going to spend time in Asheville.
I’m so happy we did. Apart from the excitement of Birmingham with Todd and Charles, Asheville was one of the high points. The vegan food options were plentiful. We went to one establishment called “Bean” several times because we liked it so much. Not only was the food good, the waiter took a lot of pride in the restaurant. We stayed at Wilson’s Riverfront RV park, which was two miles down from the River Arts District. Many of the art galleries and artist studios were once factories and historical buildings. We talked to a few locals and learned that the area is going through a huge change. The locals are worried about what Asheville will turn into. They wonder if it will be too expensive for the current residents to inhabit in a few years. We strolled through the River Arts District art walk on Sunday. I ended up talking to a jeweler for a while, learning about how she makes her jewelry. She walked me through her studio and explained her process. It seemed like she really enjoyed living there. I asked her for suggestions on other things to do and she recommended the Blue Ridge Parkway.
I’m not sure why but I didn’t realize the parkway went all the way through North Carolina. I later learned that the parkway runs from Virginia through North Carolina. The elevation reaches over 5,000 feet in some parts of the parkway. We drove for an hour, taking in the views and stopping along the viewpoints. At one stop, we were looking at the peaks and valleys of the Great Smoky Mountains. I was trying to make sense of how far out I was seeing. While we were stopped, a man on a motorcycle stopped to take some photos and asked us, “Well, what do you think?” I didn’t have an adequate answer other than, “It’s really impressive.”
We talked to him for a while. I asked him what the other side of the route is like, how many times he has taken his motorcycle up the parkway, what the place is like in the fall. He said. “This place is the closest to heaven on earth. And the smells…they’re like an elixir…”
Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina, Jay, standing on the edge of the earth.
Categories: Airstream Bambi Trips