Asheville, NC

A few weeks ago Jake and I joined his parents and his sister, Barratt, for a weekend in Asheville, NC. Actually, I joined them for a weekend. Jake joined them for the week. (I just started a new job, guys! I didn’t want to show up and then take off.) We stayed in the Pisgah National Forest, hiked through the Great Smokey Mountains, watched elk come out of the forest and graze in the fields of Cataloochee, and ate some REALLY good food.

I’d never been to Asheville before, even though it’s so close and I’ve got some friends from that area, but I’ve always wanted to visit—especially after hearing so many good things from so many people. This was a great opportunity to get into the mountains, spend time with family, hike, and just r-e-l-a-x. Some of my coworkers gave me lists of things to do and places to visit, including several chocolate shops, and Jake’s sister was armed with a similar list so we were very well set up with activities.

The one thing Jake really wanted to do was to visit the Moog Museum, which we did, and I have to say that it was pretty awesome. A tour of the Moog Factory takes just over a half an hour and you get to see everything Moog produces, from the itty bitty pedals to the HUGE multi-board synths that can fill up entire rooms. It’s all built and tuned by hand, and you get to see employees at Moog actually doing their thing which is really neat. For those of you who are curious about Moog, I highly encourage you to read up a bit. I had no idea who they were, why they were important, or even what they made, but it was a really interesting tour and a fascinating story.

We did one really big hike through the outer ridge of the Great Smoky Mountains’ Cataloochee park area one evening before settling in to watch elk descend from the forest to graze, which was a really awesome experience. The views from the tops of the mountains were really captivating, and watching the elk—a reintroduced population, by the way—was indescribable. Hopefully some of the photos below will better illustrate the experience where I’ve failed to do so with words.

While in the downtown area of Asheville, we visited Wicked Weed brewery—where I found the most recent addition to my favourite beer list, the Blind Faith Ale—and ate at Rezaz, who served some of the best and most well cooked steak I’ve ever tasted. Their roasted dates were also really good. We spent some time meandering through the city streets, visiting little shops along the way and making stops at the huge, monthly street festival and the local drum circle—an institution I would love to see Durham adopt. We didn’t jump into the drum circle as none of us had any drums to beat nor the selfless inhibition required to dance carelessly in the middle, but we stood and watched at the periphery. The persistent, omnipresent rhythm of the place was genuinely intoxicating and we all had a really good time.

Before leaving town, Jake and I made a point to stop in at Tupelo Honey and the Malaprops bookstore for one last taste of Asheville. Needless to say we had an excellent vacation and plan to return soon!