Kristal and I took a long weekend vacation to Asheville to check out her old college and generally enjoy the mountains. For some reason, Blogger isn't letting me upload photos right now. On one hand, this is a shame, because I took some stunning photos of awe-inspiring mountain landscapes (the leaves were beautiful), but on the other hand, I have so many photos it's almost impossible to choose which to post!
We stayed at the Inn on Mill Creek. We got a free upgrade to a room with a jacuzzi tub, which was the most relaxing experience I can remember. The innkeepers are a young couple who have owned the property less than a year. They have fostered an atmosphere that is less stuffy than many B&Bs. We really enjoyed staying with them. The place is about two miles down an gravel track in the woods - great for star gazing. They have a dammed lake which runs a fountain a mile down the hill. Cool place.
We crammed a ridiculous amount into a two night stay. On Friday night we hung out in Black Mountain, having dinner at the Cellar Door (Kristal had fresh mountain trout - I had Ostrich!), then moving on the the Town Pump for a few local beers and music by a ridiculous Heavy Metal/Blugrass band.
On Saturday (after Belgian Waffles for Brekky), we went to check out Warren Wilson Collge. It's a crazy place. This small campus is nestled in small valley with acres of fields for crops and livestock, and fantastic views of the mountains. The students help on the farm, plus run recycling schemes, bike shops, blacksmiths - you name it: they do it themselves. Kristal took a look around the science building (nostalgia alert -- university science labs!), and we even broke into her Tardigrade lab to see what was up.
After that we hit up Chimney Rock and Mt Mitchell. Chimney Rock was crawling with school parties, so we did the main event and peaced out. The observation tower at Mt Mitchell was closed for refurbishment, so we didn't get the best view, but it was cool to be up that high (6,578 ft) where it got icy.
In the evening we headed into Asheville town centre. Everyone was pretty laid back, which I thought I would find refreshing, but instead I was annoyed at the lack of efficiency in the restaurant! What have I become!! In the end I chilled out (a Metropolitan helped), and we went to see Darjeeling Limited (funny Wes Anderson flick) at the local two screen theatre.
Finally on Sunday we caught Linville Falls and Grandfather Mountain on the way out. We didn't really know anything about Grandfather Mountain, and even asked the Assistant and the gate why we should pay $14 to get in! But it turned out to be a highlight. Halfway up they have a nature exhibit with Black Bears, Cougars, Deer and Eagles and a good museum showcasing the flora, fauna and geology of the area. Then at the top there is the 'Mile High' Swinging bridge, which was built at almost exactly one mile above mean sea level. Once over the bridge the 360 degree view is breathtaking. So, it was totally worth it.
Overall, it would've been nice to do some more hiking at the places we stopped at, but in the end, time didn't allow. Hopefully I'll get my photos online at some point. Western NC is definitely worth seeing.