Okay, we’re back. If you missed my first post from the first leg of the CT to LA cross-country road trip, check that out first in order to bring you up to speed.
So, we left off somewhere in between me almost burning down the Mountaineer Inn and trying to break into a room with a man in his blue underwear. From that point on things got much better. I was able to wake up, see, appreciate, and breathe in the warm refreshing air that is Asheville, NC.
I had heard stories about how wonderful of a community it was and I was about to learn how true those tales were. My main priority of the day was to go mountain biking. I have my bike along for this country wide trip and plan on using it as much as time allows. I sought out a local bike shop downtown after a delicious breakfast at Tupelo Honey Cafe, which I highly recommend, and got the low down on some mountain riding not far from town, in Bent Creek.
Side note: When traveling and exploring new trails, either on a bike or even for a hike, always bring a map. You have no idea how much it comes in handy, not just in case you get lost, but for a solid and confident day out in the mountains.
Before driving up to Bent Creek, my special lady, Catherine, was looking forward to seeing The Biltmore. My plan was to drop her off, hit up the mountain, then pick her up on my way back. Little did I know the driveway into this massive estate was 20 minutes up and 20 minutes down. It was insane. Never had I imagined a single residence could have this much square footage. This thing has 250 rooms and three people lived there at one point in time.
Ladies and gentleman, my rig and The Biltmore.
Aside from being a bit late to pick her up, I had a blast on the trails. This was a completely different style of riding than I was use to in Connecticut. I learned to ride on rocky terrain that really tested your balance as well as patience back home. You don’t get a whole lot of long downhill runs in Connecticut either. Here, in Asheville, the trails are smooth, patted down, and fast. So fast, in fact, that I had to force myself to pull back a little, reminding myself I didn’t know the trails and I was hitting high speeds on a trail teetering on a revine at one side.
We rounded out this solid day out with some awesome local beer at a newer spot to Asheville, called The Wedge. It’s an art studio that funds their own beer on site and is open to the public, daily. A pizza food truck lingering outside speckled with activities like horseshoes and amazing sculptures made this a completely unique experience. We felt like we were getting to see the true Asheville that the locals experience and not just seeing the tourist sites that many do.
To round out the night we were told we had to check out The Grove Park Inn right outside of town for some after dinner drinks from our new mountain man buddy, Wayne, who informed us he just got Direct TV. He likes that he can finally watch movies out there in the mountains. He never really saw many movies, that Wayne, but now he gets to turn in at night and watch As Good As It Gets; which I found to be hilarious. If you saw Wayne and heard his growling drawl-esh accent, picturing him watching that movie was something special.
Anyway, The Grove Park Inn, yes. This place was a throwback to old times, where F. Scott Fitzgerald would stay there while his wife Zelda got psychiatric treatment and former presidents took vacation. It was well kept, massive, and had two of the largest fireplaces I’ve ever seen. We stepped into the 1930′s era inside, with the same decor and service you would expect from a high class society of the 30′s. I ordered a dry martini and then a Yuengling. I took them to the fireplace, imagining what it was like to sit in this very spot when F. Scott was there…
Making a point to talk to locals daily is becoming a huge part of this trip, something we saw first hand change our day and night, in Asheville. And for that I thank Asheville and plan on returning sometime soon. Great people, amazing outdoors, and some of the best food and spirits in the country for sure.
Stay tuned for my next post coming early next week as we exit North Carolina and head into Tennessee.