Thursday: 8:30am, flying standby out of Tampa, we luck out and all get on the same flight. Layover in Atlanta, we get to Asheville in time for lunch at the Early Girl Café, Asheville’s farm-to-table hot spot. One of our favorites. Next, we pop in to Tops where my wife’s sister, Justine, is one of the well, top sales associates. It’s my wife Ruthie’s birthday weekend, so naturally, several pairs of multiple styles are tried on and the AGL’s are selected.
No trip to Asheville would be complete without the obligatory visit to Malaprops Book Store, where we browse and I luck out in finding Rupert Sheldrake’s book on Morphic Resonance – not what you’d call easy reading, but very appealing to my scientific speculation interests.
Later in the afternoon, we check in at The Lion and the Rose B&B and meet innkeepers Jim and Linda Palmer, who happened to be from Tampa! After some brief intros, there was that “your name sounds so familiar” and it turns out, Linda was Ruthie’s first boss back in the 70’s. Anyway, the inn is gorgeous, a step back in time – unique Queen Anne/Georgian style residence circa 1898, faithfully restored to its original elegance, with high embossed ceilings, antique sitting areas, and a deliciously decadent breakfast line-up. The rooms were rather quaint with a very comfortable bed, modern bathroom, and a flat screen TV. Upon request, coffee was delivered to our door at 8am every morning, with the breakfast from 8:30 to 9:30. The dining room table was elegantly appointed, comfortably seating eleven guests. It was fun getting to know who was from where and what they planned for the day, although the highlight of the event was Jim’s fabulous breakfast du jour.
Dinner at Justine’s with the family, then retire to inn.
Friday: Up to the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Appalachian Craftsman’s Guild to shop for jewelry, ceramics, and woodwork. In the evening, we had cocktails on the porch at the Grove Park Inn, overlooking the scenic view of Asheville with the mountains in the distance. Dinner turned out to be a wonderful sampling of hot and cold hors d’ouerves.
Saturday: A tour of the River Arts district, strolling from one studio to the other, watching as the artists worked their magic in paint, metal, wood, and porcelain. Of special interest was the encaustic paintings of Constance Williams, the Asheville Glass Center, and the wild, splash-dash mania that is Jonas Gerard’s style. I was commissioned by Justine to do her a painting based on Jonas’ style, so on the way home, we picked up a big canvass and some paint. Ruthie’s birthday dinner was at the Biltmore Hotel and was divine and the service excellent. One of Justine’s best customers, is someone special at the Biltmore Hotel, and she saw to it that we were well taken care of. Beautiful sunset view and fine dining!
Sunday: Dreary, overcast day with a late start. While the group went for a walk to the graveyard, I painted downstairs in the garage. After several hours of pouring and brushing, a masterpiece was born. Unintended, the colors matched her living room sofa and pillows perfectly. A painterly nod to intuition.
Monday: Off to the Biltmore Estates for the in-house tour, the audio assist is a must in order to hear about all the people and events that culminated in the marvelous place. Toured the gardens as well, replete with tulips, dogwoods, and the early hint of Rhododendron buds.
Tuesday: Early flight out. A few anxious moments waiting for the ‘stand-by’ status, but we made it. Arriving back in Tampa to the usual swelter.
Visit the links provided to support any of the artists and establishments that we’ve highlighted here.
Have you been to Asheville? Have a favorite haunt that you’d like to share? Please leave a comment on this post to get the discussion going!