Monday, May 23, 2011

Smokey Mountain High

I've recently decided I need a vacation. And you might say, "Cheryl, didn't you just get back from some travel?" Well, yes, but that's the very one I have had no time to process and share with you yet. I've been so busy with life's have-to's, I haven't even done much art since I returned. Even the "Silly" drawing club I paid for and joined hasn't seen me since the first week of the month. The "Sun, Moon, Stars" Whispering is going on without me, as are the Strathmore Visual Journaling lessons with Roz Stendahl. I have been seriously AWOL. Of course I haven't been doing nothing. Not possible with us A-types.

I'm scouring the house for things to sell at a yard sale this weekend, filling out paperwork for passport renewals, planning the next trip, working in the yard between rain events, getting back to a daily hour of exercise, trying to relearn basic embroidery stitches. In other words, I have way too many passions in my life for any one to have permanent priority (and that includes my new love, drawing.) So for a while I've given myself permission to put down the whip and leave my life to go where it will. I know for a fact it will return to drawing very shortly.

Where to begin telling you about Asheville? Let's just say there are certain requirements the man and I have for what makes us love a place, whether it be for a few days or the rest of our lives. They would be many and complex, but start with this list: approachable art, a sense of history with an ongoing story, food that entices and excites, beautiful (and interesting) views, safe and clean public places, and a soupcon of eccentricity to keep you just a tad off balance, and wanting more. Of course, having all this also means you will find a community of the kind of interesting people who would create such a town.

We were only there for three days this time, but the detailed telling could take as long. Therefore, to keep it brief, I share these annotated photos, bits and pieces to wet your appetite. Check out some of the links for a fuller picture. And whatever plans you are making for your summer, either near or far from home, I wish you a grand vacation from your ordinary.

Asheville, Old and New

The porch of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial, Old Kentucky Home, is just a across a small quiet street from the Renaissance Hotel (our favorite place to stay), the type of odd juxtaposition of country and city found all around Asheville.

Historic architecture abuts a modern public park in the center of town.

Classic and modern blend in this lovely walkway adjacent the government center.
 Town with a View

Capturing (in a handmade watercolor journal) bits and pieces of the atmosphere from the club lounge at our favorite place to stay in Asheville, the Renaissance downtown. Walking distance to almost everything you see in these photos.
Set among some gorgeous mountain views on all sides, the town itself is a very hilly walk, reminiscent of a little San Fran or even Portland.

Destination Attractions
The view from the club lounge was to this amazing structure on the North hills of town, the historic Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa.

You cannot visit Asheville without taking a walk through history at the largest privately owned home in the country, the Vanderbilt estate, Biltmore House, set on the South end of town. Be prepared for a hefty entrance fee.

Street Art
This is only the tiniest sampling because it is EVERYWHERE, both civic, commercial, and private.

The peaceful inviting courtyard of a Thai restaurant.

Details of tile work at the Roger McGuire Green Amphitheater.

Wall mural outside an Italian restaurant.
Public Spaces
Empty stalls await sellers and buyers.

Sunning ourselves and sketching in the center of Pack Park complex to the tinkly musical mix of  workers at lunch, tourists at play, and water fountains and falls.

Some of it is in the buildings and the art, but much is in the constant street performance, intentional and not, of some of the more eccentric residents and artists. Sorry I have no picture, but I promise this is the truth: a bearded young man in full nun's habit riding a sort of double decker bike through downtown traffic at rush hour!
Bold colors are not unexpected.

Alley entrances to homes graced with collage art.

We didn't get a chance to imbibe at this punnily named bar but we did indulge in sampling oils and vinegars at Olive and Kickin'.
More choices than you could sample in an entire summer in town. For two nights we gave up "regular" food to indulge our dessert fantasies. 
Chocolate heaven, no jokin'!

Chocolate heaven has a dark chocolate couch.

In chocolate heaven you can also order wine and beer to increase the pleasure of the cacao high.

Stupefied by Highland Mocha Stout Cake, or was it the Spicy Nibby Brownies (with cayenne and cinnamon), or the Lavender Creme Brulee?

"Peace, Love, and Noodles."  If you have to eat a real meal, you might as well do it where there's a party going on. 
Best ever fortunes!

Is this woman enjoying herself? You bet!


  1. thanks for the tour. enjoyed your beautiful photos. i have a quilting friend who just returned from Ashville as well. they had a grand time. miss you over in the whispering class.

  2. One of my favorite places to visit is Ashville, NC. I LOVE IT!!! The artists studios by the water are a wonderful place for a stroll. If you didn't get a chance to go to the Antique Tobacco Barn, make it a definite stop like the Biltmore. It's an artists heaven. Thanks for sharing your wonderful pics!!!

  3. Thank you for sharing another part of the world. Also, you personal insight about getting thinks done is right on.

  4. Love the sketch! Beautiful photographs

  5. Hey - I enjoyed that tour of Ashville - it made me want to go, and I've heard a lot about it. That dancing stone carved woman at the Thai place looks just like the stone carvings at Angkor Wat in Cambodia - I just got back from there last week. When Thailand finally conquered Cambodia (I think some time in the 14th century, although it was hard to follow our guides English at times) they took all of those beautiful dancing court women back with them to Thailand. Life does get busy - it just feels like a roller coaster and all you want to do is get off and relax with a bit of art. I'm enjoying your journey.

  6. I enjoyed your tour too.....chocolate heaven...ohhhh :~)Love your 'capture' in your handmade watercolor journal.