During the first couple of rainy days in Asheville, I would look at the forecast for Saturday and think yes. Saturday will be my day. My voice will be back and it's not supposed to rain. And later on I figured I wouldn't be (as) motion sick by then. So we planned a long hike in the Blue Ridge mountains. Our first stop was the Visitor's Center in the Blue Ridge Parkway, a sort of national park highway that extends through several states with various scenic spots and places to hike and be outdoorsy along the way. I was impressed with the resources and quality of the visitor's center, shown below.
A park ranger steered us toward a trail that led to a waterfall, and after consulting the map, we were on our way. Unfortunately, the Blue Ridge Parkway winds quite a bit, and we determined after a few minutes that we should abandon our original idea and try a different path. It wasn't a hard decision to make, since we saw plenty of places along the road with parked cars and trailheads. We decided to try one of the trails along the road and hoped it led somewhere interesting. It was marked with white paint on the trees per usual, but we never saw anything indicating how far we'd gone, or where we were going.
Most of the trail was wide and clear enough that we could have run on it, but it was also a pretty steep grade. We hiked for over an hour in one direction and then turned back. Based on the tree line and all the climbing we kept thinking that the top MUST be close. But we never came to any kind of look out point or clearing. The path just seemed to keep going. We veered off on a smaller path near the top to see if there was a view. The only thing we came upon was an abandoned camp site that didn't look too old to me and the whole thing kind of gave me the creeps. So back down the mountain we went, setting a timer on my phone to remind us to drink from our fuel belts every 15 minutes.
We bought sandwiches at City Bakery before heading out and ate them when we returned to the car. We were both hungry and tired by that point, and those sandwiches were pretty much the best thing I'd ever eaten.
Before leaving the Blue Ridge Parkway we stopped at the Folk Art Museum.
First we looked at funny things in the gift shop, like these 3" musical instruments.
I jokingly suggested that we buy one of these hand carved wooden hats for our future dog and John pointed out that they cost about $95.
Then we saw exhibits of folksy art, like cornhusks made into dolls and other figurines.
Large moose statue.
Then it was time to drive a little further to Black Mountain, NC to taste beer at Pisgah Brewing.
Their bourbon barrel stout was also delicious, and I was happy that it came in 4 oz pours. This might have been John's favorite brewery, but it's hard to choose a favorite in a place like this. Like a lot of the breweries we visited, Pisgah is basically a giant warehouse with the garage door open. Across the parking lot they had a music venue with a little hippie festival set up. Those tents had booths with people selling soap and petitioning to legalize marijuana. You know, the usual.
John knew of another brewery in Black Mountain so we left Pisgah to try to look around the little town, and we took turns sitting in this rocking chair at the visitor's center.
I know you're thinking, "Black Mountain? Like, the Black Mountain?"
And the answer is yes, it's the same place where John Cage and his friends started Black Mountain college. We saw a historical marker about it in the downtown area.
We walked around and found a bakery where John got a pastry.
I offered to keep driving if he wanted to taste more beer, but I think Pisgah did him in. John was officially out done by the breweries of North Carolina.
Once we had returned to Asheville and washed the mud off, we went to Salsa's for dinner. We hemmed and hawed for a while before choosing this place, and we were so glad we did. It's like you can throw a dart at a map of Asheville and find a good restaurant. We both had an enchilada dish that was out of this world.
The next morning we had one final southern breakfast at Mayfel's, a New Orlean's style place that had some of the best vegan sausage I've ever tried and heavenly grits. It was a great end to our stay in Asheville.
And so our trip to NC came to a close. We both feel like we just scratched the surface in terms of food, beer, and hiking in the area. I hope we can go back!