My mom’s birthday is coming up and while presents are always appreciated, we prefer experiences :). So, off we set on a 7 hour road trip to Asheville, NC – land of dirty feet, drum circles, farm to table restaurants, craft beer and mountains – oh, the mountains!
We started our trip at “5-something AM” on Friday morning – with our car stuffed to the gills with luggage (yes, for a 48 hour trip). But with a road trip, you’ve got to have treats and snacks and things to do for 7+ hours in the car!
One of the best things we brought along was fancy iced coffee that my mom made for us – just fill an ice cube tray with left over coffee, let it freeze, then add a handful of cubes to your cup with skim milk and a little french vanilla creamer – yummy! Although, we both drank the creamy goodness before we let the cubes melt all the way 🙂
Once we set off from northern VA down to Asheville, the scenery quickly shifted from shopping centers to rolling hills to huge mountains. The view was serene and truly spectacular at moments. I’m not a huge fan of driving, but this was an easy, beautiful and relaxing trip down 81. And we made fantastic time! 🙂
Once we arrived in Asheville, we took a quick walk around, stopped in the visitor’s center to pick up maps and brochures, grabbed a late lunch and enjoyed the colorful people all around. The community really was a throwback to hippie days from the ’60’s – lots of bare feet, dreadlocks, live music on every corner and a few people that were more than likely a bit “under the influence” of one thing or another. It made for interesting people watching and gave us a chance to find something unexpected around every corner.
After realizing we’d landed in a bit of a twilight zone (seriously, couldn’t have been more different from DC – for one, people actually smiled at you on the street!), it was time to head to our hotel to freshen up and get ready for the evening activities. Before we did, however, it was time for a celebratory cocktail and giddy laughter as we tried, desperately, to take a decent picture…
We relaxed during a brief rainstorm, before heading out to the Asheville Agricultural Center for the 30th annual Paso Fino horse show going on all weekend. We managed to stop by both Friday and Saturday night to see the horses in action and take in a little Tennessee entertainment as well. My mom made a friend along the way too.
Kilby was a vendor at the horse show selling his handmade figures made out of horse shoes and scrap metal. He and my mom cut a deal to have a fly fisherman made especially for her – complete with a tie on the reel and a trout in his hand. Oh, and of course a bandanna and a cowboy hat, because this fly fisherman is a cowboy at heart. 🙂
Ok, so at this point, we’ve been in Asheville for approximately 8 hours. We really pack it in around here!
Saturday consisted of a hike in Dupont State Forest where the Hunger Games was filmed – yes, I did indeed hike in the Arena! We took a couple hour hike around 3 waterfalls, pretending we were Katniss and Effie, because frankly those characters fit us pretty perfectly!
I even braided my hair to get “in character”. 🙂 Hiking in the mountains was a highlight of the trip – you just don’t have that kind of climb close to DC and the scenery was gorgeous. Post-hike, we helped ourselves to a delicious lunch back in Asheville, at Solace. We were famished after skimping on breakfast, so promptly ordered a basket of their homemade potato chips and some local brews – Pisgah Pale Ale and a Highland Gaelic Ale. I followed with a steak salad, with grilled veggies and goat cheese…delish!
Once satisfied, we rested a bit back at the hotel before heading out for the night. Next stop on our agenda was a comedy show at the Altamont – a renovated theater in downtown Asheville. We actually rented a room above the theater, so it was the easiest commute ever to get to the show… just down the elevator!
The Pink Collar comedy show was pretty funny and had us laughing throughout the show. It was nice to sit down and talk to some Asheville locals prior to the show as well – it’s interesting to see how folks end up in Asheville…I had no idea it was a popular retirement spot, but it seems to call to ex-hippies and laid back folks. After the show, we made a late dinner stop at Mellow Mushroom (omg yummm) and called it a night.
Ok – we are officially 35 hours into the trip now!
On Sunday morning, we slept in a bit and took our time getting ready for the day. Once our tummies started to grumble, we made our way to Early Girl Eatery for a delicious breakfast. We started with pots of india spice tea and warm pumpkin ginger bread. Then, we split a black bean and cheddar omelet complete with home fries and a crumbly biscuit. Our eyes were bigger than our bellies, and we took our other entree to go and enjoyed it during the car ride home – a BL(fried green)T. It was deliciously southern :).
We made a couple last minute stops to see some of the Asheville art – at Woolworth’s and the Asheville Art Museum to check out a fine print art show before heading back to the car to start our trek home. It was a whirlwind full of beautiful skies, funky people, delicious food and special memories for me and my mom. It was a fantastic 48 hours spent doing the things we love the most. Happy Birthday momma!