Morning was a slow start – after a late night and dinner, and a five hour drive ahead, I have to admit that I am dragging a little. The wheels of the car go round and round….this is the sixth day on the road! It was a quick drive past the Alabama border. We were smart enough to keep far far away from the I65 after yesterday’s experience. It was I565, US72, I24 and I40, passing through Chattanooga and Knoxville before getting to Asheville. At first the plan was to check into the Dry Ridge Inn Bed and Breakfast in Weaverville, then getting dinner in Asheville. But the tummies were growling after lunch was munching on trail mix. Both Bozo and Cesar get grouchy when the blood sugar gets low. Besides, we were both anticipating some highly recommended authentic North Carolina BBQ at Luella’s in Asheville. My friend Carolyn had been in Asheville a few weeks before with her husband and found this place right on Merrimon Avenue. Nice and casual, it has the best spicy coleslaw (vinegar style) that I have ever had. We both had different versions of the spicy sauces (served on request). Bozo had the honey mustard with his andouille sausage, and Cesar had the sweet and spicy tomato with her pulled chopped pork. Brunswick stew was one of Bozo’s sides, too and that was very tasty. He also tried the Green Man beer, which was sweet but good. I went for the salted caramel ice cream, locally produced. Did I mention I was on a life-style diet change? Hmm. Well, it should be about 20% reward, and that awesome ice cream was my reward.
Driving for days at a time can make you goofy. I don’t know how truck drivers do it. On two lane highways, it becomes a mind game navigating around the clueless death grip drivers, the drivers who think that driving at the speed limit in the fast lane is going to keep the world honest, and the pushers who think nothing of riding your bumper at 80 miles an hour. If the lane plowers are trucks you might as well write out your will and go with god. Knoxville traffic was pretty close to driving through LA. I guess in the end it all works out, but it takes its toll. Still, you chose your battles and get out of the way as fast as you can.
After checking into the B&B, which is a really nice set-up with lots of room and tons of amenities, real value for the price, we headed back on the road (groan) to walk through downtown Asheville, a mere 9 miles distant. Burned off a few calories and stretched out the old muscles. Quite frankly, it was not what I expected at all. Carolyn hit it right on the head when she described it as Haight-Ashbury-ish. And in some ways it also reminded me of downtown Palo Alto, CA, before the 2009 revitalization. The shots I took around town hopefully give you a feel for the growing pains and the quirky mix of old and new throughout the town. There are several streets that I would call food corridors – you could eat your way through town all summer, and still have more places to check out before leaving. From the $5 to $50+, there is something for everyone. And many were tempting, to say the least. Can you gain calories from smelling food? I hope not.
We caught a really short view of Weaverville. Being a weaver, I couldn’t resist staying here. It seems to be a cute little down, more of the ambiance that I had expected to find in Asheville, which is larger and much more urban than I had anticipated. It’s also a little surprising to find that you have to drive to get to the different artsy sections. Shows how spoiled I have been. Keep forgetting that this is built up in what would have been farming community style, and that certainly wasn’t walking from one front porch to the next, or at least not without a horse!
Tomorrow we will check out the NC Arboretum, see the Biltmore Estate, and take in the Folk Art scene on Blue Ridge. I had the John C. Campbell Folk School campus on my list, but totally messed up by not driving there first before coming into town – a 2 hour round trip back track is not on my list, with at least 15 days left of driving. Yes, Mr. Micawber, something will always turn up!