List Item #3: Asheville!
Location: Asheville, NC
Cost: Don't even want to talk about it. :)
Results: Wicked Awesome
One of the things that I've always been embarrassed about my life in NC is my lack of experience in the mountains. My family drove through them when we moved to NC and visited Brevard College when I was in high school, and there were a couple of other school/choir trips that took us through the area, but other than that, bupkis. Isn't that mortifying? I mean, here I am, living in one of the most beautiful states in this great nation, and I haven't experienced HALF of it? Pathetic.
I was complaining about this sad state of affairs to my friend Chris Kirk for the umpteenth time and he suggested that we rectify the situation. We planned a weekend trip, hitting the major things that we wanted to do. We wanted to see the Biltmore House, eat tons of food and tour Linville Caverns. We also wanted to hit up one of our favorite places to eat from college in Greensboro on the way up. We planned everything, booked the hotel and off we went!
Chris picked me up from work at 5:00 PM on 3/12 and we drove to Greensboro. We stupidly had not called ahead for a table at Pastabilities, but we were willing to wait. The food was pretty good as usual, but the memories were better. Chris and I used to hit up Pastabilities at least once every two weeks while we were in college. It was really nice to be there again.
After Pastabilities, we took off for Asheville. The weather was TERRIBLE, raining and windy, and it was nerve wracking to drive, but we made it to Asheville at about 11 pm and checked into our hotel, the lovely Renaissance Hotel (http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/avlbr-renaissance-asheville-hotel/.) We promptly passed out.
We had tickets for 9 AM at the Biltmore, so after a breakfast at the hotel, we drove there. Chris was unhappy at how early he had to be up:
Poor baby. Anyhow, the Biltmore was gorgeous and it was a very nice day to be there.I was clearly much happier about the hour than Chris, but then, I'm used to getting up early. And I had ice cream, which always improves my mood.
After we toured the Biltmore and got some lunch, we decided to drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway for a bit.
It was a beautiful drive and the pictures don't do it justice at all. The mountains really are blue, that part surprised the heck out of me. It was a nice winding road and I might have kept on driving except we had to get back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.
Dinner at Zambra (http://www.zambratapas.com/) was AMAZING. We got our reservation through Open Table and had no idea what to expect, but it was fantastic. The service was excellent and the food was phenomenal. I would go back there in a heartbeat, it is probably good for my wallet and my waistline that we're four hours away from it!
The next day we checked out of the hotel and headed back down I40 to Linville Caverns. I have always wanted to visit caverns, and Linville seemed like a good place to start. We drove on a state highway for a long time to reach the caverns and it was heartening to see small towns that have not been bled dry by the economic nightmare in which we are all involved.
The caverns were beautiful, tons of fascinating and weird mineral formations
and adorable little chicken nugget sized bats.At one point, our guide told us that the water under our feet was so deep that they couldn't measure it. There was something simply terrifying about that, so I took a picture. Doesn't look so scary now!
All in all, it was a fantastic trip. And now I can say I've been to Asheville!