Finally, a road trip! And now, I’m going to do it twice in one week! Whodathunkit? But on Tuesday, some friends and I drove to Asheville, NC, for the day and had a blast. I actually haven’t been to Asheville since high school, when I went to the Biltmore Estate, but this time, we headed for the downtown. And now that I realize I’m headed to Seabrook for the weekend, I really have to get on top of sharing some of the photos. : )
Let’s see, where to start? Some grad student friends of mine had time off, especially now that one of them successfully defended his Master’s thesis. I’d say that deserves a day off, wouldn’t you? We started the day early enough to get a leisurely breakfast at the Potbelly Deli in Clemson, and then headed for Asheville.
After the usual driving round-about in order to find parking, we started off at Pack Square Park, and if anyone can tell me the name of that main sculpture/conversation piece, I would be interested. Yes, I do mean the big space station looking thing. But the memorial stones, designed like the buildings behind the “sculpture”, or to honor “Ellington’s Dream” of seeing those two buildings overlook the downtown and the lovely park.
We enlisted the use of our smartphones quite a bit, examining Google maps to see which streets had shopping and restaurants, and even veered off, curious to see what the Thomas Wolfe Memorial was. To my (possible) discredit, I’ve never heard of Thomas Wolfe, didn’t know he was an author, and had never heard of his books… so when we arrived at the memorial, the paintings on the walls were pretty cool, but we didn’t stay to view his boarding house. The people working the memorial were really nice, though, so I didn’t tell them we didn’t know anything about it.
My friends had decided in advance where we would eat, because there are two really good Indian restaurants in Asheville, so they voted for Mela over Chai Pani, but maybe we’ll go there some other time. The buffet food came with either a draft beer or a hot chai, but we voted for chai. To their delight, they found that Mela’s chai is just like what they get back home, so it was a good choice. It was delicious, but very gingery, which was a surprise to me. I didn’t know you could get all that ginger flavor into a drink… well, except for a ginger beer, maybe. They explained everything to me on the buffet line, and I’ve forgotten half the names, but I loved the fried eggplant and the chicken masala, as well as the lentil wafers and naan bread to go with everything. And the semolina pudding with cashews, cardamom, raisins and a few other things… it was absolutely scrumptious!
After stuffing ourselves, we had to walk it off, and made our way through the downtown. I’d heard there was some fantastic graffiti around, so I had hoped to get some good pictures. When we finally found these chickens, it was fascinating to see that the artists must have laid down canvas or tape of some type, over the brick, before painting them. If you look closely, you can see where the bricks become more visible on the edges.
From there, we’d heard that the Grove Arcade was a renovated historic building with shops, so we wandered that way, drooling over chocolate and ice cream shops on the way, as well as stopping at rock and mineral shops to examine geodes (all of us) and jewelry (me). It was a lovely building, but I think they tried to make it look older than it is, though the stairwells are obviously modeled on the Biltmore style. Which, in case you were wondering, we definitely didn’t have time to go visit. Biltmore Estate will have to wait for another day.
We decided to take the time to drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, stopping at the Pisgah Inn to have coffee or eat, if anyone was hungry by then. I was, so I had a delicious chicken pot pie, while we enjoyed the view from the restaurant windows. And made sure we took some pictures on the porch before leaving.
I drove for the whole trip, but I enjoyed the twisting back roads and now and then, we found a nice pull-off zone to take pictures, like at Looking Glass Falls. It also had a sign explaining that it used to be part of the Vanderbilt property, even as far away from Asheville as we were, which is amazing even to someone who knows how much of that corner of the state was Biltmore land, back in the day.
So, I do hope you’ll enjoy these pictures from our trip, while I get to work packing for the beach. My Seabrook conference starts tomorrow, but unlike usual, I don’t think I have to get up early and meet anyone in town, beforehand. So, I can finish packing and doing laundry during the morning, before heading out, instead of rushing! So nice. If you don’t hear from me until then, have a marvelous weekend!