Today I had a funny feeling as we left Tennessee and arrived in North Carolina. As we got closer to Asheville, watching the drama of the mountains get increasingly spectacular, it just felt right. It felt like home. This was a strange feeling because we are very far from home. But we are always far from home because we don’t really live anywhere right now.
The mountains and the trees in Asheville are not that much different from the rolling mountains we’ve seen across the entire Appalachians. The trees are pretty similar in Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, even New Jersey. The weather, it’s the same here too, muggy some days, slight rain here and there, sunny skies, a definite stillness in the air. We’ve gotten used to the Summertime green in this part of the country which is an adjustment over the usual brown dryness of the West this time of year. In the places with the milder winters, they call it humid subtropical. We quite much like it. Except for the mosquitos. John hates those.
We paid $18 to drive through the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia near the start of the Blue Ridge Parkway and snuck in a couple of hikes in the area. We saw the eclipse from a mountaintop bluff with a few through hikers and borrowed eclipse goggles. We drove the length of Skyline Drive, and stopped for blackberry milkshakes, which one of the young hikers claimed were made from wild blackberries in the park. It made me want to just pinch the cheek of the naive kiddo living in his own fantasy world. John did see an elk, or perhaps a really big deer. I must say however, that even though the views in the Asheville area are just slightly more spectacular and are free, we are happy to give a few dollars to the Park Service because nature is pretty important to our general well being, and everybody needs to make a buck.
It’s funny because Asheville is not necessarily our favorite place so far. We haven’t actually chosen a favorite yet. I don’t think it’s fair to judge until we’ve seen a bit more. It might be that Asheville is just a bit too perfect. Yes, it is a little backwards to resist a place because it’s too nice. Maybe we just like our flaws. It could be that there are a lot of big box stores here which makes the place seem a little too easy for everyone to buy the same stuff. Sure, creative boutiques and vibrant small businesses abound, but they can often be tricky. I do have a strong hunch that we’re skeptical of Asheville because we haven’t had a good biscuit here, but perhaps we didn’t make biscuit hunting enough of a priority the first time we were here. My friend John’s wife Amy claims to make the best biscuits in Asheville and I have a hunch she’s right.
It isn’t necessarily that easy to get around by bike here, which seems to be pretty important to us. Despite the hills, it’s completely doable to cycle in Asheville, but it’s not as common as it was in Seattle. A cyclist did wave and ring his bell at us, most likely happy to see more of his own traveling by bike. I think it’s a bit easier to drive in Asheville, but we heard this is changing, especially during rush hour. So I predict cycling will start to be more popular. In Seattle, it was impossible to get anywhere at any time by car without fighting traffic. I think the people in Asheville just need to get used to riding in the rain. They will probably toughen up once traffic gets out of control.
There were no available spots in our previous RV park, so we’re now in a different part of town, not by a quaint river with an adorable whistle pig. Not with the soft and hard sounds of ducks and geese roving up and down the river banks. Instead, we’re right next to the freeway, so we have to do a little make believe and pretend the cars are waves in the ocean.
Still, there is a lot of excellent cycling in Asheville so we won’t be bored. I will certainly take advantage of the amazing running trails along the Blue Ridge. Magical things are more likely to happen in mountain towns. It might be all the great beer here. But I am pretty sure it is also the good friends.
My mom’s initials were BE, for Barbara England. It’s nice to just be. Traveling is exhausting. There are a lot of decisions to make on a daily basis because everything is always new. It’s nice to know a few things about a place. It’s nice to be bored a little bit, settle in, and watch the fall leaves change.