Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Asheville Bed and Breakfast Loves a Ride 0n theBlue Ridge Parkway

Here in Asheville NC, just a few minutes from our Asheville bed and breakfast, the Blue Ridge Parkway can provide great 'touristing' for a long or a very short break. Today, we took a short drive over to picnic by the Folk Art Center and then to visit the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor center.

As an Asheville B&B owner,in my 19th season here, it's still a treat to go to the Folk Art Center. Right on the Parkway, it's open all year starting at 9am every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. The building itself is quite interesting, a blend of modern glass and multiple levels with walkways rather than stairs. It's surrounded by trees so it also fits the Parkway environment very well.

Artist exhibition space showcases members of the Southern Highlands Craft Guild, the largest juried guild of crafters in the southeast and based here in Asheville. Currently new members of the Guild are on display. Thread, metal, clay and wood are all materials that are put to amazing use by the artists...producing sculpture, pots, fabrics, quilts, multimedia constructions and some furniture. Ingenious and whimsical are both words that you will think of when you describe many of the pieces.

The Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center is just a mile or so from the Folk Art Center. It's a wonderful, rather new building combining steel and glass with barn-style roof construction that makes use of beautiful wood. There you find the history of the Parkway...begun as a WPA project during the Depression, and surprisingly, the last portion was completed in the 1980s. And when you visit, don't miss the film about the Parkway and the cultural heritage in the nearly 500 miles of mountains it crosses. Well worth seeing!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Asheville Bed and Breakfast Enjoys a Side-Trip to NASCAR!

Yes, it's true. This Asheville bed and breakfast owner is one of the most unlikely prospects to enjoy a NASCAR event. After all, most of my favorite cultural-event-life involved the New York Philharmonic orchestra, New York City Ballet, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and the Metropolitan Opera. Although I have to say, I was also always a New York Rangers hockey fan and I grew up near an Air Force base...so loud noise ( by the planes) and collisions( by the hockey players) were also things I looked forward to.

So, not too far from Asheville (an hour and a half, lovely drive over the mountains), Bristol Tennessee is the location of the Bristol Speedway...a HUGE NASCAR venue. So why am I excited about going? Well, son-in-law is a fan, he knows a lot about cars in general, and about NASCAR specifically, so I have an 'expert' to explain everything and he'll be very excited about the whole thing. With all that, I figured if I was ever going to go to a NASCAR event, this would be the way to go.

Off we go to Bristol. I had asked him in advance, how many people the stadium seats. His answer: "Oh, I think about 160,000." Now, he's a really smart guy, but I was really skeptical...160,000? That's huge. Yankee Stadium and the Meadowlands together would not get you to 160,000...So, I googled it. Sure enough: 160,000 is the seating capacity. In fact, Bristol Speedway is the largest outdoor arena in the U.S.!. Wow, that's a lot of people....including many who bring their small children (with ear protection), because NASCAR has done a ton of work for years to ensure that this is a family-friendly event. (Who knew?)

When you arrive, everything seems huge: The distance you have to walk after you parked your car in what used to be cow pastures...the length of the jitney bus ride to get you to the stadium... the stadium itself, located on the top of a hill so it looks like a huge spaceship has just landed from Mars (Think: "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"!)...the number of enormous trailers, painted with portraits of the drivers and teams, where you can buy anything imaginable with your favorite driver's picture on it...RaceTV show being broadcast from an outdoor, mobile studio, so you can wave at the cameras and see your favorite drivers being interviewed, live...Seems like a great big carnival, only there's no ferris wheel!

Oh yes, then comes the race! But even before that , there's a fly-over of some military jets....super loud. And the race drivers are all introduced...each one driven around the half-mile oval track in big black pick up trucks with the driver standing inside. Forty-three cars came out to start the race after speeches by local politicians and race sponsors. Each of the 43 cars has about 850 horse power. Let's see: that's 43 times 850 = 36,550 horse power! Until you experience it, you have NO idea how loud that is! (especially since Bristol is an oval track with stadium seating around all of it. It's like sitting in a bowl...the sound stays IN.)

Vroom, vroom...I'm sitting in the stands with a bottle of water in my hand. My hand is perfectly still...but the water is jumping wildly around in the bottle. Wow! That's the sound waves from all that horsepower hitting the water ( and you) while the race is going on! It's a very exhilarating experience! (My theory: You're getting so much massage from the sound waves, your adrenal glands are thinking you're running, too!)

Round and round they go. You can see the whole track if you're just high enough up in the stands, so you never lose sight of your favorite cars or drivers. Two-hundred, fifty times in this race, around they go. So bumps and a few spin-outs. But because the track is short, only about 128mph is about the top speed on the straightaways, even the crashes and scrapes can be fixed in a jiffy and the car gets back on the track. Pretty cool. It goes by much faster than you think because there's always something to look at...including HUGE TV screen on a column in the center of the track...and son-in-law has a 'race radio' with a splitter and ear buds for each of us, so you can also hear the professional commentary if you want.

An entirely surprising (to me) and amazing and generally fun way to spend an evening...and not too far from Asheville and our Asheville bed and breakfast!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Asheville Bed and Breakfast Suggests That You "Beware of the Ides of March"!

What else could we be referring to except Asheville's Montford Park Players performances of William Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar". Located outdoors in the Monford Historic District, just blocks from our Asheville bed and breakfast, at the "Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre" these performances are great family entertainment.

Since 1972, the Montford Park Players have been bringing Shakespeare's plays to residents and visitors to Asheville. And another fine feature of these outdoor productions is that they are free! ( Naturally donations are happily accepted, but you need not feel compelled to donate...after all, "the play's the thing..."!)

So come this weekend or next...productions are Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings at 7:30pm. Bring a picnic if you like, and a blanket or folding chair to sit on and you'll be "good to go"(not a Shakespearean expression!). "Julius Caesar" runs these next two summer weekends through September 4th. It may not actually be the month of March right now, but we know that we must all, "Beware of the Ides of March"! Hope to see you there!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Asheville Bed and Breakfast ServesUp Lovely and Organic Breakfast!

Today I spent part of the morning at one of the more than one dozen tail-gate markets that are near our Asheville bed and breakfast. Participating farmers, bakers and candy-makers set up under small tents with a central aisle for people (and their pets) to walk. Lots of friendly conversation was going on; sellers, buyers and just folks enjoying the time together.

It was a warm summer morning and lots of local families and visitors were wandering up and down the tented facilities. We saw fresh cut flowers. Plant growers had herbs for sale while others had shrubs and some unusual varieties of iris. Meats and cheeses from the farmers that produce them were on display. Many varieties of tomatoes, including heirloom varieties tempted us. Information and photos about the produce was posted by some sellers, so the experience was also educational.

The guests at our Asheville bed and breakfast will find that tomorrow's breakfast, served elegantly on crystal and china as we do everyday, is also enhanced by some of the fruit that came from the local orchard. They will see fresh-cut flowers in the Dining Room...varieties that are not growing in our English gardens here at the Inn, but add a bright splash of color to the house.
They will have some country ham that comes from a local farm that raises hogs and beef, sheep and poultry sustainably.

Add to all that our regular ingredients that always include local organic dairy products, organic eggs and other organic fruits and you'll get the flavor of what breakfast is all about at our Asheville bed and breakfast. It's about healthy, organic and very elegant. It's about friendly and relaxed and it's about you!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Asheville Bed and Breakfast Loves Late Summer at the NC Arboretum

Surrounded as Asheville and our Asheville bed and breakfast is by mountains and forest,what would make the North Carolina Arboretum stand out? Why would more greenery be important? Why would you want to spend time visiting the Arboretum if you live in Asheville or if you're visiting this area?

Frederick Law Olmsted, renowned landscape architect of the late-19th century and designer of the drive and the gardens for George Vanderbilt at Biltmore Estate, dreamt of establishing an arboretum on the Biltmore property here in North Carolina. However, he died in 1898 before that dream became a reality.

But that dream was not forgotten and was taken up in the 1980s with a feasibility study for a mountain arboretum. By 1986 a 426-acre site was selected adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway at Asheville and the work began in earnest. The property's 'mission statement' includes acting as a education and cultivation resource to this area, the state and the nation. Teaching teachers and enthusiasts, cultivating demonstration gardens, acting as a focal point for conservation...all these things can be found at the Arboretum.

And not to forget the everyday Arboretum visitor who will be happy to find a place to walk and breathe and smile. So I am happy to suggest that you put on a pair of comfortable shoes and add to your visit to Asheville a visit to the Arboretum!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Asheville Bed and Breakfast Notes Three More "Shindig on the Green" This Season!

That's right, at Pack Square in Downtown Asheville, less than a mile from this Asheville bed and breakfast, Shindig on the Green has three more dates still to go this season. This coming Saturday, August 20th, then again August 27th and then on September 3rd.

And you can count on Shindig on the Green, the music fest that boasts the longest run of any folk festival in the whole country...some46 seasons...to bring music, clogging, hand clapping, smiles, story-telling and cheers. Whether it's old-timey bluegrass or ballads, the music will engage you. And there are more crinolines and twirls than you've seen on a dance floor in a long time!

So mark your calendars, this is fun. And you've got three more chances to enjoy it! So come on down!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Asheville Bed and Breakfast Looks Forward To Asheville Food and Wine Festival and Open Studio Day at River Arts

Yes, yet again Asheville is absolutely packed with fun stuff to do and see this weekend. Starting at the Grove Arcade, Downtown and less than a mile from our Asheville bed and breakfast, the Asheville Food and Wine Festival gets underway. Designed to showcase our area's chefs, farmers and food producers, the great samplings are paired with the increasing number of great regional wines.

August 12th (Friday) from 7:30-9:30pm, just the day before the Saturday "Grand Tasting", you can drop by to sample the "sweet" side of things: that includes champagne, dessert wines, specialty cocktails and locally sourced desserts. A few tickets remain, so you still have an opportunity to enjoy this event. Go to: www.wncmagazine.com/wineandfood/sweet.

And for Saturday, this is one of the "second Saturday of the month" dates when the River Arts District artists and art organizations host studio and gallery openings, classes and workshops. Always a fascinating area to explore. Check out more at www. riverartsdistrict.com

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Asheville Bed and Breakfast Suggests Visits To Asheville's Tailgate Markets

Asheville's reputation as a "foodies" heaven is well deserved. Near our Asheville bed and breakfast, in and around Downtown Asheville, are owner-operated restaurants in great number. The emphasis on fresh local food, in the restaurants and on our own tables at home, is something that has taken hold here for years. And taligate or farmers markets are great sources for your home table, or even for a snack if you're on vacation here in Asheville.

And keeping its reputation of jumping in with enthusiasm, Asheville has more than a dozen tailgate/farmers markets at this time of year. Some are seasonal, open starting in March or April, while others have permanent locations and operate all year.

The newest market location is very near our Asheville bed and breakfast, right here at the edge of the Montford Historic District. Just behind the Asheville Chamber of Commerce and the Visitor Center, the Montford Farmers Market is open on Wednesdays from 2-6pm. A treasure-trove of yummy things to eat, ingredients for your supper and flowers for your table, these markets are just fun to visit. You'll smell lovely things, see bright colors and taste unique and very fresh food. Healthy and fresh is also great fun! Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Asheville Bed and Breakfast Hopes You'll Make It To Friday With Fireworks At The Asheville Ballpark

Yes, here in Asheville we have the good luck to have many entertaining events. And not far from our Asheville bed and breakfast is historic McCormick Field....the home of our minor league ball club the Asheville Tourists. And this friday, August 5th is the final date that includes one of my favorite things after the game....FIREWORKS!

What could be more quintessentially representative of good ol' fashionedAmerican summer event than baseball, especially when they include fireworks right after the game?! And a good time will be had by all family members. The park is small enough to provide great views. Every seat is a good seat. And at an affordable price, too. Hot dogs, burgers and all the food that you might remember from when you were a kid, too.

So, if you have Asheville on your destination list for this weekend, be sure to arrive early enough to get over to see the Asheville Tourists for a really fun time followed by more fun...the fireworks! Hope to see you there!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Asheville Bed and Breakfast Gets Ready For The 39th Vill age Art& Craft Fair

Asheville and our Asheville bed and breakfast can always tell when August has arrived: The Village Art&Craft Fair takes over the grounds around the Cathedral of All Souls at Biltmore Village. And this is the weekend... August 6 and 7 is it!

This year promises to carry on the 39 year old tradition with 118 artists, including 43 artists from North Carolina. You can expect a wondrous array of jewelry, ceramics, wood, metal and fiber arts as well as painting and prints. So wandering through the tents and booths, then lunching or snacking on some homemade goodies prepared at the church-sponsored booths will make for a fun afternoon.

The Village Art&Crafts Fair will be ready from 10-7pm this Saturday and noon-6pm this Sunday, August 6th and 7th. And, another great tradition of the Fair are the t-shirt and poster that are based on original art each year.. This year's design is the work of artist Daryl Slaton. You won't want to miss the design! See you there!