...because home doesn't happen overnight.

After weeks of major technical issues over here (the blog was hacked, my laptop all but died then the blog crashed), I’m finally following up with more details on our recent visit to Asheville. As I mentioned in the post about our vacation rental, our visit was the perfect balance of relaxing and doing. Today I thought I’d share what we did when we weren’t happily holed up in the cabin.

We loved downtown Asheville and its various restaurants, shops and buskers. In my (rurally raised) opinion, it’s the perfect size – not too big, not too small. It was easily drivable and walkable even with little ones in tow. Finding parking on the weekends took some effort but it wasn’t impossible. We tried to mostly hit the city during the week when things weren’t as busy.

A few things I noticed about Asheville as a rookie tourist: 1) The vibe is super laid-back. Maybe it was the time of year, but the casual flannel-jeans-boots-beard dress code was right up my alley. (Minus the beard.) The rare “dressed up” person looked totally out of place. People weren’t in a hurry. They walked leisurely and waited patiently at crosswalks. It was a nice change of pace from the everyday rat race in middle America suburbia. 2) Asheville is quirky. In a good way. From the hippies to the clown buskers to the flat iron sculpture on Wall Street to the yarn-bombed fire hydrants, the city celebrates the colorful and the creative. You can’t not smile walking by a fire hydrant knitted in yarn. I tried. 3) Asheville loves dogs. I swear I saw more dogs than kids! It took us twice as along to get anywhere because Mabrey stopped to ask every dog owner “May I please pet your doggie?”

We browsed the Antique Tobacco Barn and the local Habitat ReStore (a weird thing we do in new-to-us towns) but Malaprop’sPaul Taylor and Bee Charmer were our favorite local shops. One smells like books & coffee, one like leather and the third smells like honey. We spent hours at Malaprop’s and walked out with a few books including this one for Everett. I really enjoyed walking through the Urban Outfitters brick and mortar, too. (We have a few here in Ohio but I’ve never been in one.) I loved the organic, rustic aesthetic. Does anyone else completely overlook a store’s inventory and ogle the finishes and fixtures for interior inspiration instead? I do it all the time. It’s easier on the wallet ;) I was also crazy excited to browse the West Elm Outlet (not downtown). It made me wish I had a whole house to furnish.

During our stay, we hit up several restaurants including Early Girl Eatery, Farm Burger, French Broad Chocolate Lounge, Chai Pani, Sunny Point Café, Biscuit Head and Blue Mountain Pizza (in nearby Weaverville). We didn’t eat a bad meal but Chai Pani, Sunny Point and Farm Burger were our favorites. Try the okra fries at Chai Pani and the B.L.A.T. (bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato) at Sunny Point. Yum! The kids loved walking through Sunny Point’s gardens behind the restaurant and playing on the spring riders. And if you eat breakfast at Biscuit Head, don’t plan on being hungry again until dinner. It’s so filling!

One day while Steve and Layne were doing their thing at ClimbMax (an indoor climbing center), I took Everett and Mabrey to Double D’s coffee and dessert bus. They absolutely loved it. Apparently, drinking milkshakes on the upper floor of a double decker bus decorated for Halloween is very cool when you’re 7 and 3. (Everett would like to point out the skeleton driving the bus.) We also took the kids to see Pan at a local sofa cinema one rainy day. Have you heard of these sofa cinemas? Basically, instead of individual seats, there are sprawling sofas with ottomans to prop your feet on and they give you real bowls for your popcorn. It’s almost like watching a movie at home except you aren’t responsible for cleaning up stray popcorn afterwards. It’s kind of awesome.

The city, the people and the food were great but what took our breath away was the scenery: the long range mountains, the changing leaves, the foggy skies. It made for one idyllic autumnal setting. We drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway and it was nothing short of dreamy. We drove through mountains and the tunnels opened up to the most amazing views. The switch from darkness to color reminded me of the movie Pleasantville.

We did the touristy thing and took pictures at one of the scenic pull-offs. Just to prove we had been there.

We continued driving up, up, up until we reached Craggy Gardens. We parked the car and hiked to the summit. Due to the high elevation (>6,000 ft.), the natural habitat was much different. The trees, already bare, were twisted and gnarled. The wind whipped and the temperature was ~20º colder than downtown Asheville. In jackets, we weren’t properly dressed for the weather but we toughed it out long enough to make it to the top.

It was totally worth it. We were in the clouds with a 360º view. I can’t even begin to describe how breathtaking it was. It was quite the experience. We’ve talked about it a lot since returning home.

We didn’t get a chance to tour The Biltmore (next time!) but we did visit The North Carolina Arboretum which was beautiful.

Steve surprised the kids with little slingshot-like gliders and a pair of model rockets. He and the boys worked on building the rockets in the basement of the cabin on rainy days. Once built, Steve found a baseball field behind an elementary school and helped the boys launch the rockets using these and these engines. They were a success. They went so high! Even with recovery parachutes, we lost a rocket in someone’s fenced backyard.

On the drives from the cabin to Asheville, we noticed a for sale sign on a plot of land. Curiosity got the best of us and we pulled over to scout it out. It was love at first sight. A driveway cut into the side of a mountain and led to a grassy knoll with long range views in all directions. (Just to give you some perspective, the little black dot near the electric pole on the green grassy area is Layne.) A hawk was circling below us. Steve and I talked about how cool it would be to build a simple, modest cabin and/or tiny house commune on the property and rent them out to vacationers. We were third-joking, third-dreaming and third-serious. We didn’t buy the land. It’s still for sale. But it sparked something that we can’t quite shake. Steve has had recurring dreams about the land which speaks volumes because he normally doesn’t remember dreams.

The last night of our stay was Halloween. A few weeks before our vacation, we bought SecondSkin body suits and each of us chose LED accessories to wear with them. I’m not exactly sure what we were but it was fun. The kids have worn their costumes several times since, pretending to be ninjas around the house. We took the kids trick-or-treating in the historic Montford district of Asheville. It was a blast! The people of Montford take Halloween to a whole ‘nother level. The homeowners would say, “I love your costumes!” And I would say, “I love your house!” I got zip code envy peeking through the windows when night fell.

The best part? Daylight saving time ended and we got an extra hour of vacation. I’m making a mental note to plan all future vacations so that they coincide with the whole falling back thing.

Overall, it was a wonderful getaway. I think we all left pieces of our hearts in the mountains.

P.S. – Thanks to everyone who gave recommendations for restaurants and attractions in Asheville! Your tips were so helpful.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

33 Comments

07.December.2015

Hackers are assholes.

But this post is awesome. Welcome back!

reply )

07.December.2015

Those costumes were unusual and fun!!! It sounds like you had a wonderful time and created memories! That is what is important.

reply )

07.December.2015

You were missed. Thanks for sharing your trip, it sounds so dreamy—and West Elm Outlet?!?

reply )

replied on December 10th, 2015

Those NC folks don’t know how good they have it!

reply )

07.December.2015

I busted up reading about your idea of “retail shopping”! You don’t know how many times my husband and I have gotten looks when gawking over merch displays and shop finishes, by both employees and customers. Sheesh! Can’t a girl admire good design when she sees it? I enjoyed your vacation photos, beautiful scenery. Perhaps you should buy the property. And not just because I am building a house soon and I would love to see all of your brilliant ideas, design and style on another home…Glad you are back!

reply )

07.December.2015

Yay! I’m so glad you made the rounds and saw so much! Asheville is so special. It’s a long story but I just got to move back here for a little while and scored a rental home just behind Trader Joe’s. I feel like I’m living a dream some days.

I’m also now curious where you found land for sale at a reasonable price :)

Latest Post: 4 Post Workout Recovery Tactics ~ http://thebarnncblog.com

reply )

replied on December 10th, 2015

Oh, it was not reasonable! It was in Leicester.

reply )

07.December.2015

Dana,
I’m so glad you and your family had the opportunity to relax and just be together as a family. As a former midwestern suburbanite who moved to NC a few years ago, I can only say that when a place captures your heart and soul, you will never regret spending as much time there as possible.

reply )

replied on December 10th, 2015

I’m teary. For real.

reply )

07.December.2015

Oh man, we have Chai Pani in Decatur (Georgia) and it’s so friggin amazing. Tell me you had the kale pakoras!

reply )

replied on December 10th, 2015

I was just about to say this! It’s one of our favorites! So good.

reply )

07.December.2015

Sounds like you did a lot of fun things. We really loved our trip there too. And Malaprop’s is a great bookstore. I always hunt for independent bookstores in cities we visit. And yum to all your fav restaurants, ours too.

reply )

replied on December 10th, 2015

We buy books like they’re souvenirs!

reply )

08.December.2015

My in laws did the same thing – went to asheville – loved it and bought some land. They are from Ohio as well.

reply )

replied on December 10th, 2015

Your in-laws must be very smart ;)

reply )

08.December.2015

Our town is definitely one of those places where people come on vacation and end up trying to find a way to move here. :) It’s an amazing place to live if you can make it work!
And yes, the casual vibe is our thing. Dressing up usually just means nicer jeans. ;)
Craggy Gardens and the Arboretum! Two of my favorite spots. So glad you got to check them out.
Where was that land?? :)

reply )

replied on December 10th, 2015

Don’t think I’m not trying to find a way to live there! The land was on Earlys Mountain Road. If there’s a heaven, that was it.

reply )

08.December.2015

“Six Degrees of Separation” – the house you trick or treated at in the picture 208 Pearson…..that house belonged to my cousin – he just sold it about 2 years ago. I spent many wonderful times there. I hope the new owners were generous with their Halloween Treats!!

reply )

replied on December 10th, 2015

No way! Too funny. All the Montford folks were super gracious. Easily the best trick-or-treat we’ve experienced.

reply )

08.December.2015

Sorry to hear about your technical problems – they are such a bummer. BUT your vacation was definitely not a bummer!! I have vacation envy! lol! Whenever I hear anything about Asheville, I think about this song by Steve Martin on the banjo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-r0U7qoa3v4

reply )

replied on December 10th, 2015

I love Steve Martin, banjos and Asheville so… LOVE THIS!

reply )

replied on December 11th, 2015

He lives about 20 mins from Asheville!

reply )

09.December.2015

Awesome mountain views, great photos and scenery. You must have had a wonderful getaway!

reply )

09.December.2015

Love how united your family is! Jolene, I’m with you – very envious. Great pictures and I’m sure you now have wonderful memories from this trip :) And children trying to be scary? Makes them look even more adorable!

reply )

09.December.2015

Glad you’re back after those technical difficulties! Asheville looks wonderful. My husband and I are planning a trip to Savannah this year, but after seeing your pictures, I’m kind of interested in Asheville instead!

“It made me wish I had a whole house to furnish.”

I have a whole house to furnish (Columbus, OH)! I just can’t ever make up my darn mind. I walk into a west elm store or a crate and barrel and think “All of my yes, all of this please, it would look perfect” and then I go home and try to picture it and can’t. I have a basic aesthetic down but god, I need someone else to pull the trigger for me.

reply )

replied on December 10th, 2015

I’m very good at pulling triggers for others ;)

reply )

replied on December 10th, 2015

If you have have an inclination to pull triggers on a house that has barely been touched since 1986, I have a job for you up here!

reply )

09.December.2015

I loved seeing Asheville from a non-native’s perspective. Next time you come, stay in our family-friendly Air B&B–10 minutes from Sunny Point!

reply )

replied on December 10th, 2015

I would gain 20 lbs! HAHA!

reply )

replied on August 4th, 2016

Anne! Would you post the link to your airbnb? Looking for a place in October. Thanks!

reply )

11.December.2015

Man, how did I not know there was a West Elm outlet so close to me!? And that land is gorgeous <3

reply )

17.December.2015

Thanks for sharing your vacation. That land looks beautiful. I’m all the way over in Australia and had to go and check out the land on a real estate site! Not knowing US prices it does look expensive but as soon as I saw it I know why you fell in love with it. Fate made you stop that day to look at the land. The fact that it’s still in your thoughts is a sign that it’s something you need to look into further. Thank you again for your inspiring blog.

reply )

30.December.2015

The whole place looks great when it’s Christmas! Try it out the next time. Hopefully, the climate change won’t affect it too much.

reply )




This blog is kept spam free by WP-SpamFree.