DAYTRIPPER: A Quick Jaunt to Asheville – Part 1

 I've been bad, so very bad. 
Has anyone else noticed that today is September 12th and that the last time I posted was July 21st???
So much has happened in this last 8 weeks: blueberry picking and the resulting blueberry pie and muffins, Watermelon Tomato Gazpacho from our garden, a going away party for Sarah, a 2-week, strict gluten/sugar free cleanse and the resulting mood swings and forced creativity in the cucina, among other things. I'll tell you about these in due time, but first I wanted to share with you my most recent trip to Asheville (while it is still in focus)!!!
I'll forego any mis-placed desire to self shame and just pick up where I am now...

Buncombe County, North Carolina  
35.5800° N, 82.5558° W
The Paris of the South, a.k.a. Beer City, U.S.A
Motto: "Any way you like it."

Folks, this was a dream in the making. I can't tell you how long I've been wanting to visit Asheville. Friends have been telling me for years that I would love it down there; turns out, they weren't wrong!
Now, let me preface this post (a second time) by saying that this trip was more a day-trip than vacation; we were gone less than 36 hours and our feet touched North Carolina soil for a mere 21 hours, including beauty sleep. Crazy, I know, but let me explain...

(L) Bluegrass busking outside the Old Woolworth's, (R) Detail of the art deco S&B Cafeteria building downtown

My friend, Emily, was heading down for work. To be more exact, she was traveling for a mandatory two-hour meeting on Tuesday (leaving Monday afternoon and returning Tuesday evening), and I just happened to, well, invite myself along, you know, as a car buddy, just to keep her from falling asleep on the long, six-hour trek. (No shame, here.) But really, I just wanted to go to Asheville!!! Triple bonus that it was with a great friend AND it was expense paid.

Stunned by the offer––not because she was disgusted by my outrageous nerve to include myself in her itinerary, but because she was not used to having psuedo-unemployed friends who could drop everything at a moment's notice and take a wild trip like this––she agreed to my request.

Kudos to my free-wheeling, free-lance lifestyle for keeping me open and for my intuition and desire for allowing this deviant behavior, because this trip was just what I needed to refresh!

Nothing like a little day trip or mini-adventure to wake up your senses, open you to new things and refuel your desire for life!

We had dinner once we got into Asheville (at the famed Tupelo Honey Cafe, no less), checked into The Marriott's Renaissance Hotel, slept like rocks, and then awoke early to take in the foggy mountain air on our walk to breakfast at The Early Girl Eatery on Wall Street. Two foodie home runs in a row!

I simply devoured my gluten-free Early Girl Benny (poached eggs and spinach over fried grit cakes, topped with avocado slices and house-made salsa). I usually prefer hollandaise on poached eggs, but this was absolutely delish! I love how gluten-free friendly Asheville is; there are either alternatives everywhere you go, or full-menu devotion. After buying Ron some local hot sauce, we headed back to the hotel to check out.

Next up: Part 2 –– The historic Grove Park Inn, shopping and blissful wandering.

DAYTRIPPER: A Quick Jaunt to Asheville – Part 2

So last time I left off at us checking out of The Renaissance...We are down in Asheville, North Carolina, remember?

Emily agreed to take me out to The Grove Park Inn,  to show me the renovations her and her team at the architectural firm 3North completed last year. What a beautiful, historic inn; it is definitely worth a look! I could definitely imagine myself in fall watching the sunset over the mountains from the back veranda, or in winter rocking fire-side in the Great Hall with a steaming cup in hand.

The interior renovations are gorgeous. I cannot image what it looked like before the new carpets, fixtures, furniture, lighting and columns were designed and installed. It has a fresh, modern air without being stale and while still maintaining it's historic vibe. The earthy elements of the natural rock walls and craftsman wood details give the high-ceiling lobby an inviting lodgey feel, which is just what this mountain-girl likes to see. I only wish that it was a little cooler outside so the fires would have been lit, how utterly dreamy and cozy that would have been!

We took an unsactioned tour of the grounds and interiors, even getting a lucky glance inside one of the rooms on the third floor. (Mikhail Baryshnikov slept there in 1984, just so ya know.)

The Grove Park Inn also has a spa, several restaurants, and cute and kitschy shops on sight including a women's apparel store called CLOTH and a sweets shop called THE PINK PIG, both of which Emily's team helped create.

Let's just say it was a whirlwind trip, a quick–too quick, if you ask me–glimpse into life in this gorgeous mountain city. Asheville deserves better than 36 measly hours and 2.5 meals. Upon departure, I sent her a prayer of love and respect and a promise to return soon. (I'm already planning our itinerary.)

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