Overlooks and steep curves lead to Black Mountain and Asheville

The Blue Ridge Parkway always provides incredible views both up close and on the horizon. Over a few short miles we experienced deer, wild turkeys and colorful butterflies. Rhododendrons towered over us and were in full bloom and the Smoky Mountains were amazing at every turn. We stopped at numerous overlooks and appreciated the spectacular beauty. We were lucky to spend the night at a friend’s home near Sparta with a view that made it hard to close the blinds and go to bed. We stopped at the Music Center and listened to some mountain music, and also visited the folk craft art center which is in the former mansion of the textile manufacturer Moses Cone, Flat Top Manor. Bikers, motorcyclists and runners all shared the winding road, the spectacular views and the great memories of the BRP.We left one curvy road for another as we exited the parkway and headed towards Black Mountain. Some rough and winding one-lane roads with blind curves brought us to Andrew’s Geyser in Old Fort, NC. It was a welcome stop after the white-knuckle ride. We learned that it was built as a tourist attraction and is not an actual geyser. It was named for the Vice President of the Western North Carolina Railroad.The town of Black Mountain has the motto ‘The Little Town That Rocks’. This is not for rock and roll or minerals; there are rocking chairs everywhere in town.Local pottery, antiques and other art galleries line the streets as do cafés and coffee shops. Black Mountain has a charming small town feel just fifteen miles from the big city of Asheville.Snuggled in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, Asheville has so much to see and enjoy including UNC, the Biltmore and its beautiful gardens and funky downtown. This trip, we concentrated on RAD (the River Arts District) and downtown. The amount of galleries by the tracks have grown dramatically since our last visit. Pottery, painting, sculpture, glass making, chair caning and basket weaving are all represented and the galleries and studios are so much fun to walk through and explore.

We had great meals and snacks at several terrific restaurants including a great Spanish tapas place, Cúrate.Local artists also display and sell their work in restored buildings like the Woolworth Walk and the Grove Arcade. There are great sculptures throughout the city including a giant flat iron in front of the landmarked 1927 wedge-shaped flatiron building. Another architectural feat is inside the Basilica of St Lawrence; the domed ceiling (58’x 82′) was designed by Rafael Guastavino and is the largest freestanding elliptical dome in North America.Live music of every genre is performed all day, everyday on the streets and in great venues like the Orange Peel. There is so much to enjoy and experience in Asheville, it is a wonderful place to return to again and again.

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