the new "freak" capital of the US
Asheville is known to most as the gateway to the Biltmore Estate but for me it's just a very cool town with great Art Deco architecture, a counter culture feel, a bustling music scene and one very can't miss pub in Jack of the Wood. Driving to Ashville for the second time was an exhilarating feeling. The first time had been as well but it was 12 years earlier and wrought with anticipation on finding a new utopia to call home. It wasn’t and I didn’t. This foray was merely for fun and represented a small portion of an already too short trip that my wife and I would have alone, being framed by visits to good old friends in Myrtle Beach and Georgia. My expectations where not nearly as high as on my virgin trip to what Rolling Stone has hailed the new ‘freak capital.” I knew a funky little town with lots of pubs and live music nestled into the Blue Ridge Mountains awaited us and I looked forward to exploring a new brewpub I’d read about but aside from that I was happy to wander the streets and show a new place to a new love that had not been in my life on my first trip.
We arrived later and hungrier than planned only to find the planned brewpub lunch stop not quite open. With only a five minute wait we did it right there and must have appeared ravenous beer groupies on entering a hallowed shrine after waiting what seemed an eternity. It was a great old wooden pub that recalled the best of Ireland with a funky counter culture twist sprinkled with a pinch of southern flair. We sat right at the bar which I love doing at brewpubs so I can speak with the bartender who I hope has some knowledge of beer. We were in luck and our man was not only in the know about beer but the town as well with a heavy dose of an entertaining personality as a bonus. (continued below in Fondest Memory)
Asheville is a great little...
Asheville is a great little hippie town! Reading the local paper gave me an idea about the sense of community and activism that the people have in Asheville. Overall I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the whole town.
Dragon, Michaelmas and the Fall Fair
I was very surprised or better to say dissapointed when I saw large, 15-feet long, costume of dragon in the Biltmore House. Its bright colours completely didn't fit to elegant interiors of the residence.
Well, I got to know that this four-person puppet is used to fight against one-person "hobby-horse" puppet symbolizing Saint George in weekends September through October. Do you know the tale of Saint George and the dragon? If not, open and read my picture 2. The dragon versus Saint George fight is a part of so called "Michaelmas": an English Harvest Fair. " Michaelmas" is a traditional English harvest celebration following in a custom honoring the feast day of the Archangel Saint Michael.
The first Fall Fair in the Estate took place in 1905. Now, the Fall Fair is called Harvest Home Celebration and takes place anually in September and October Friday through Sunday.
Skytop Orchards in Zirconia
We took about a 45 minute drive to the south of Asheville to tour the apple orchard in Zirconia and pick apples. A fun time was had by all. You just go in and get a basket of your desired size and fill it up and pay on the way out. They serve hot cider here, cider slushies, and oh, the best apple cider donuts, in fact, the only apple cider donuts I have ever had. $6 for ten of them. Can't beat that.
They have about 25 varieties of apple trees too so you're getting a huge variety of apples to choose from. Granted, this all depends on the time of the season during which you visit. Some apple trees were picked bare and others were under ripe. They also have Asian Pears and Peaches among other things.
A 'sitting area' inside the Inn
To give you some idea of the sumptiousness and elegance inside the Inn at Biltmore Estates, here is Barbara enjoying a peaceful moment with a grand view of the mountains. You can have a glass of wine here, work, it has it's own library, etc.