Just three quarters around the US during our first year on the road, and the one town that surprised us most has to be Asheville, North Carolina.
When I told Hali we were headed to Asheville, North Carolina, after visiting Uncle Rolf on the coast, this was her response, “Asheville? What’s in Asheville? Heard of Nashville, but nope, not Asheville. What’s in Asheville, the hillbilly museum of modern art”?
Not me, Asheville has been on my radar since we set off last May. It surprised me to read a year or two ago that Asheville is considered Beer Town USA. Coming from Portland, I wanted to find out how this little town, on the edge of the Smokey Mountains, surpassed Portland as Beervana. And wanted to surprise Hali with this little gem of a town.
As we approached Asheville from the east, it immediately reminded us of Portland. All of a sudden we were driving in foothills lined with pine forests speckled with ash trees.
In town, the arts district was typical of any neighborhood in Portland with the French Broad River dissecting east and west. Beards seemed to be fashionable in breweries. Nineteenth century architecture was prevalent although more plantation style. Locals were friendly and engaging.
We booked a room through Airbnb for three nights in a quiet neighborhood a mile or so off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Our host herself, is a local artist who composes some of the most curious clay creations. Miles of hiking trails weave through the forest just out the back door with spectacular vistas of the Great Smokey Mountains.
Asheville is certainly worthy of another visit. I guess it did surprise me that this little town offered much more than dozens of craft beer breweries with the hills, the hiking, landscapes, and food trucks. For Hali, Asheville surprised her in its smaller in scale than Portland yet it felt a bit like home. And no, it didn’t feel the least bit hillbilly. Just a casual conversation with Floyd, enjoying a beer at his favorite watering hole…
…Nope, the surprise of Asheville did not disappoint.