We’d been looking forward to a stop in Asheville since we started planning this trip. Everyone we talked to had nothing but praises for the city, and we knew it would be a bit like home. The drive in from Tennessee was incredible, as we wound our way slowly up the Smoky Mountains and the air got cooler and cooler. We rolled into a small town just up the road, where we parked outside a friend’s hobby car shop. He was very generous in letting us stay there and hook up to electricity, and he even welded us a makeshift exhaust turndown to keep soot off our motorcycle. Steven had fun talking shop and checking out his current projects.
The next morning, we geared up and hopped on the bike for our excursion into Asheville. We knew we were running on fumes from the last trip, but thought we could make it to the gas station down the road. Of course, we ran out of fuel a couple of miles away. We coasted for a while, but pretty soon we were pushing it along the side of the road. Fortunately for us, a friendly local (as it seems there are many) offered a ride to the station. Steven jumped in his truck and was back in a few minutes with a can of fuel. As I waited, I took in the scenery and was also asked by another local if I needed anything. This experience only further prompted our love of the area. After topping our tank it was a smooth ride into town.
Coincidentally, there was a festival going on that weekend, right on the hillside next to us. It’s called the Firefly Gathering, and it was a weekend-long camp out with a very full and varied schedule of workshops and classes, all having to do with living off the Earth/primitive skills/sustainable living. It was funny when we arrived to see the event organizers staring at our bus, sure that we were there for the event. And we definitely looked the part! We were approached several times that weekend, with concern for our event registration and our “illegal” parking spot. We assured them we were allowed to park there by the shop tenant and also “We’re not part of the group, what is it all about?”. But everyone was very friendly and invited us to join in on the fun, which we would have been interested in had we more time to spend in the area. The class on solar energy wouldn’t have hurt our dry camping ambitions.
Asheville is similar to Portland, Oregon as everyone has told us. It’s just a lot smaller, sort of like the equivalent of the Alberta Arts District and Mississippi Ave. Lots of art, beer, food, and community spirit. The icing on the cake is it’s beautiful location in the mountains. We enjoyed wandering around town, found delicious lunch at a place called Farm Burger (shocking choice for us, I know), and took some time to sample the local craft beer scene. The variety of beer was great, everything from belgian styles to “West coast style” IPAs to sours and wild ales. There is something for everyone in Asheville. We were fortunate to be there on the day of Burial Beer’s one year anniversary, so we picked up a 750mL of their special release Aged Saison to savor at another time.
We loved the beer, but I couldn’t leave Asheville without trying their chocolate, either. I discovered French Broad Chocolate Lounge via Joy the Baker, and was eager to try it. My hot chocolate, infused with rose water, cardamom and chopped pistaschios, certainly did not disappoint.
We were a little sad to leave this place, and I think even more sad to leave the fresh mountain air. It was a good reminder of what’s near to our hearts.