What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (Folk Art Center & The Grove Park Inn)

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After enjoying a sumptuous breakfast at Oakland Cottage, we were off to explore Asheville. Our first stop was the Allanstand Craft Shop at the Folk Art Center (Milepost 382 Blue Ridge Parkway).

Folk Art Center - Blue Ridge Parkway (courtesy HCPress.com)

Folk Art Center – Blue Ridge Parkway
(courtesy HCPress.com)

It was raining (as usual) when we arrived, so I didn’t get to take photos of the outside. Once, inside, photos were forbidden, so I won’t be able to share with you. I do understand why no photos are allowed as there could be some who would profit at the expense of the artisans who display and sell their goods here. The photo below is from their website (http://www.southernhighlandguild.org/pages/guild-shops/allanstand-craft-shop.php).

Folk Art Center/Allanstand Craft Shop (Courtesy Southern Highland Guild website)

Folk Art Center/Allanstand Craft Shop
(Courtesy Southern Highland Guild website)

I was particularly excited by the stained glass art there. Unfortunately, it was priced appropriately for the work and that was beyond my pocketbook. As a dabbler in the medium, I was thrilled to see such innovation, and it gave me renewed interest in seeing what I could do with the ideas I got from the work in the shop.

 

Other crafts included beautiful pottery, unique glasswork, jewelry, needle arts, woodworking/carving, and painting among many others. So many talented individuals make up the Guild. The volunteers who man the shop are so nice and welcoming. I really recommend a visit to the Folk Art Center if you are on the Parkway, or to any of the other locations (see the website for locations and hours). We’ve been in four of the shops and each one is unique and carries art from the 200+ guild members.

Grove Park Inn Asheville, NC

Grove Park Inn
Asheville, NC

From the Folk Art Center, we were off to explore The Grove Park Inn. This is a destination I’d been wanting to experience for a long time. As I mentioned in earlier posts, I’ve been in the Asheville area many, many times over the years; however, never had I been to The Grove Park Inn. Our friends, Eric and Gloria, confirmed that this was a destination that must be experienced.

 

I was always fascinated by the story of the Grove Park Inn. There seems to be so many tie-ins with my own, personal history. No, I’m certainly not related to Edwin Grove or his son-in-law, Fred Seely, but their lives were lived in and around many of the same locations as mine.

 

Grove was born, and began his pharmaceutical fortune in Tennessee until doctors told him to seek the fresh air of Asheville. He also was a real estate developer in Atlanta (my home for over 20 years). He purchased the land on which the Grove Park sits around the same time as George Vanderbilt was building his famous mansion.

 

Fred Seely was a pharmaceutical pioneer whom Grove met in Detroit (my current home area). Seely married Grove’s daughter, and the two men planned and built the Inn which opened in 1913. Today, it is part of the Omni hotel system, but it maintains its timeless elegance and incomparable position overlooking Asheville.

Enjoying the Rockers Grove Park Inn

Enjoying the Rockers
Grove Park Inn

One of the nice touches is the presence of the many rocking chairs in front of the Inn. It’s a nice place to wait for your car – or to just sit and wait for the rest of your party to arrive.  

Giant Brass & Art Glass Lamps Outside Grove Park Inn

Giant Brass & Art Glass Lamps
Outside Grove Park Inn

While sitting and rocking, one can enjoy the massive brass and art-glass lamps, the pretty flowers, and the cute bear & butterfly statue.

Adorable Bear & Butterfly Statue

Adorable Bear & Butterfly Statue

I enjoyed making “rock pictures.” I think the one below looks like a bear. Do you see it?

Do You See a Bear?

Do You See a Bear?

The Arts and Crafts movement is beautifully on display in the Grove Park. Everywhere we looked, there were masterpieces of stone, glass, wooden furniture, and space. The fireplaces on either end of the lobby are massive! I believe they are every bit as big as the one in the Biltmore. A six-foot-plus tall man can stand in the opening and still be dwarfed. The stacked rocks are magnificent. I could imagine how cozy it must be to sit in a comfy chair in front of one of these fireplaces when winter is raging outside.

One of the MASSIVE Fireplaces in the Lobby Grove Park Inn

One of the MASSIVE Fireplaces in the Lobby
Grove Park Inn

All of the fixtures and furnishings are kept completely true to the period in which the structure was built. As beautiful as the interior is, it doesn’t detract, even slightly, from the amazing view. 

Two of the Beautiful Arts & Crafts Style Lamps Lobby - Grove Park Inn

Two of the Beautiful Arts & Crafts Style Lamps
Lobby – Grove Park Inn

We were there on a gray, rainy day, and even that couldn’t spoil the enjoyment of the Inn.

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View from Sunset Terrace Grove Park Inn

View from Sunset Terrace
Grove Park Inn

We had lunch on the Sunset Terrace. We had their “famous” Lobster Cobb Salad. Honestly, it was a very nice salad, but the lobster was limited and the price was outrageous. Of course, the view, the service and the ambience are what you are paying for, so the experience was worth the price – once.

"Famous" Lobster Cobb Salad Grove Park Inn

“Famous” Lobster Cobb Salad
Grove Park Inn

We also had dessert. (Oh, come on! We’re on vacation!) I ordered the chocolate cake with the cherry in-between the layers. It came with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. I’m sure that this is normally very, very good, but mine was pretty dry. I took most of it back to the B&B. On the other hand, Jim had the butterscotch pudding (in a Mason jar – isn’t that novel) with caramel topping. He finished every last spoonful.

Chocolate & Cherry Cake Grove Park Inn

Chocolate & Cherry Cake
Grove Park Inn

Butterscotch Pudding with Caramel Grove Park Inn

Butterscotch Pudding with Caramel
Grove Park Inn

There are all kinds of terrific shops in the Grove Park. There are also conservatories, a grotto pool, and so many other sites that we didn’t even get a chance to see. We’ve decided that, some day, we will have to book a stay at the Grove Park so that we can experience it all.

SO Much More to See Grove Park Inn

SO Much More to See
Grove Park Inn

Up Next: What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (Waynesville: A Journey “Home”)

 

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What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (The Oakland Cottage B&B)

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Oakland Cottage Asheville, NC

Oakland Cottage
Asheville, NC

The Oakland Cottage in Asheville, North Carolina is where we stayed for our first three nights of our vacation. It is managed and run by Jim and Mary. We were greeted warmly – like old friends. I knew immediately that we were going to enjoy our stay. The Oakland Cottage was built in the same timeframe as Biltmore House. It is said that one of the architects from Biltmore designed Oakland Cottage. I really appreciated all the craftsman-style architectural details and the beautiful antique appointments.

Lobby and Hall Toward Rooms

Lobby and Hall Toward Rooms

The building was used as a tuberculosis sanitarium for African Americans during the 1940s. Although there have been some changes to layout (our room was probably partially a porch in earlier years), the amazing floors and woodwork are all original. Today, Oakland Cottage is a lovely, accommodating B&B that I would gladly visit again and again.

 

Our Room was the Garden Room (Room 5). It’s a spacious room with a huge, king-sized bed. There is also a daybed/trundle. The bathroom sports a jetted tub with a great shower.

Garden Room (#5) Oakland Cottage

Garden Room (#5)
Oakland Cottage

Dressing Area Room #5 – Oakland Cottage

Through the sliding door is a small balcony with a small table and two chairs that overlooks the garden.

View of Garden From Room #5 - Oakland Cottage

View of Garden
From Room #5 – Oakland Cottage

Pretty Visitor to The Garden
Oakland Cottage

As I mentioned in an earlier post (and which will probably be a recurring theme), it rained much of the time while we vacationed. I have to say that the rain actually was welcomed in our room as we could open the sliding door a crack and listen to the rain fall through the night. So very soothing and restful. Another huge bonus was being awakened by the singing of a Carolina Wren (how very appropriate, I thought). I have to say, too, that the bed was amazing. It was so comfortable and the pillows…well, they were the best ever. I must remember to ask where those can be purchased.

 

Open the Slider & Listen to the Rain/Birds

Open the Slider & Listen to the Rain/Birds

Prior to breakfast, we all gathered in the appropriately-named “Gathering Room” for coffee or tea which was served from a beautiful antique table. This was also where we met several of the other guests who were visiting at the same time. Every one of us seemed to be thoroughly enjoying ourselves, and I didn’t hear a single complaint.

The Gathering Room Oakland Cottage

The Gathering Room
Oakland Cottage

Coffee Before Breakfast Oakland Cottage

Coffee Before Breakfast
Oakland Cottage

Coffee/Tea Station Oakland Cottage

Having our dear friends, Gloria and Eric, with us was wonderful. We had so much to catch up on. We continued our conversation over an excellent breakfast served buffet style in the comfortable dining room. I must say that the food was very, very good and exactly what we needed to get our day of discovering Asheville started.

 

Breakfast Buffet Table

Breakfast Buffet Table

 

Breakfasting Area

Breakfasting Area

The front porch is another favorite spot. What a comfortable place it is to unwind after a day of exploring, or just sit, read and relax. 

Relaxing on the Front Porch Oakland Cottage

Relaxing on the Front Porch
Oakland Cottage

If you have an opportunity to visit Asheville, North Carolina, I highly recommend that you plan to stay at the Oakland Cottage. It’s convenient, unusually well-priced, and so comfortable, you may not want to leave. I know that we will be back.

 

Up Next: The Folk Art Center & The Grove Park Inn

 

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What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (The Drive to Asheville, North Carolina – Day 1)

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Our vacation started very early on Saturday morning, August 17. Before anyone worries, our pups were home with their very favorite baby-sitter (and my bestest friend), Chris. They were spoiled totally rotten. More about that in upcoming posts.

 

Even though it was rainy (actually throughout almost the entire vacation), our drive went very well. I’m blessed to have a husband who can drive long distances without complaining. We made only a few stops on the way down (the usual – gas, a Coke, grab a bite, etc.) I have to give props to XM radio. There’s something very comforting about driving 500 miles with the same radio station playing. It sure makes the trip go quicker.

 

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Heading into MY Mountains!

Rainy Weather - but Still Mountains

Rainy Weather – but Still Mountains

Gray, but Beautiful

Gray, but Beautiful

Here are the first views we got of “my” mountains (the Smokies) heading east on I-40.

 

My heart really jumped up to see that sight. I guess it will always be in those mountains.

 

When we lived in Atlanta, we made several trips to the Asheville area and had visited Biltmore House at least four times. Funny thing, though, we’d never spent any time at all in Asheville. After seeing several travel shows featuring Asheville, we were anxious to see what we’d missed all those years.

 

A special treat awaited us in Asheville. Our dear friends, Eric and Gloria, from Sharps Chapel, Tennessee (where we own some property) planned to meet us and spend a couple of days with us. We were thrilled that they were able to join us for several reasons, but mostly because we hadn’t seen them in several years and we so enjoy their company. Eric grew up in North Carolina and had spent quite a bit of time with his grandmother who lived in Asheville. Eric and Gloria have, through the years, spent time in Asheville and know it quite well. They became our “unofficial” tour guides.

 

Jim with Eric & Gloria

Jim with Eric & Gloria

Did I mention that it was rainy during our trip? Luckily, the rain held off long enough for us to grab dinner at Peck’s Tavern. Peck’s is probably a terrific place to go to meet friends for drinks and it undoubtedly rocks when a big game is on the many televisions. We were all very hungry so we opted for an outside table (with BIG umbrella) rather than the anticipated long wait for a table inside. One hint here…Go to Peck’s for beer, cocktails and fun, but try someplace else for dinner. While it wasn’t awful, there are so many other restaurants in the Asheville area…

 

The bluegrass gathering that had been planned for the neighboring venue was cancelled due to the weather. That was one of the reasons we had decided that Peck’s would be a good choice. We were sorry to lose out on the music, but it did give us several free hours in downtown Asheville.

 

Asheville reminds me very much of European cities I’ve visited. Even in inclement weather, everyone is walking. It’s a really tough place to drive (narrow streets, odd layout, etc.), but there are several parking structures around the center of town. If you’re going to Asheville, park and do what the locals do. Get out and walk. It’s a very easy-walking town. There are lots of shops and sights to see and many options to stop for a beer, a drink, or a meal.

 

Another thing that was clearly evident is that Asheville is a very, VERY, dog-friendly town. Many of the local restaurants (including Peck’s Tavern) have outdoor seating in which your canine family members are welcome. There are even many stores which will allow you to bring your well-behaved buddy inside with you. Gotta love that!

 

After walking around for a while, we decided that dessert was definitely in order. We saw Posana Café, and were charmed by the European look and feel. We stepped inside and decided to have our dessert at their pretty bar. In some places we’ve been in the past, bar staff haven’t been too happy to have patrons who don’t mainly order cocktails. This was absolutely not the case at Posana Café. Our bartender was really terrific. She was uber-welcoming and put in our orders without batting an eye. What desserts those were!! Eric opted for the crème brulee, Jim went for the peach “pie,” and both Gloria and I chose the Chocolate Pot de Crème. Oh, my! Those chocolate desserts were amazing! I decided I really needed a bourbon with my chocolate. (After all, what goes better with chocolate? Can’t think of a thing.)

At Posana Cafe

At Posana Cafe

 

We walked around a little more until the rain started back. That sent us scurrying to our car and back to the B&B. It had been a long day, but a really good one. After checking in to see how the dogs were doing, we fell asleep to the sound of rain. Ahhhhh! I was “home” in North Carolina again, and it felt wonderful!

 

Up Next: Oakland Cottage B&B

 

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What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (Prologue)

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

I know! I haven’t blogged in too long. Hope I didn’t lose to many subscribers. I seem to either go full speed ahead or not at all when it comes to blogging. I’m going to try (mind you, not promising anything) to post more regularly. If it works out the way I hope, there will be at least one post a week. If I were smart (again, not saying…), I’d write bunches of blogs at a time. Then I could get ahead and have some ready for when I either get tied up with work or have the occasional brain cramp.

Jim and I actually took a summer vacation again this year (GASP!!!)

As this was a “landmark” birthday for me this year, I wanted to vacation someplace that is special to me. It was really a no-brainer deciding that I wanted to spend our week mostly in North Carolina.

As a bit of background, I spent most of my summers in North Carolina when I was growing up. My aunt and uncle lived in Elkin, North Carolina for the early years. I actually remember a few tidbits from my second birthday. The party was held in Elkin. I know, it’s hard to believe I could have memories that go that far back, but everything about that birthday was unusual. My mother and I had actually flown to North Carolina for that summer. These days, that wouldn’t be at all unusual. In the early 1950s? Quite a different story.

My aunt grew up in Waynesville, North Carolina. I had listened to her talk about her home town for so many years, I felt like I knew it, too. Years later, my parents were offered the opportunity to purchase land on Eagle’s Nest Mountain in Waynesville. A neighbor was involved in a partnership to development a portion of the mountain and offered my parents the chance to get in on the ground-floor at the pre-development prices. They jumped at the chance. I’ll never forget driving up Eagle’s Nest for the first time to choose our lots. I immediately fell in love with the mountain and knew I’d come “home.”

Waynesville has, ever since, been a magical place for me. Even after our home on Eagle’s Nest burned to the ground in late 1980, Waynesville has held a very special place in my heart. Memories of spending happy times with family (immediate and extended) are part of the reason for this; however, there is just something about the town and the people who live there that makes me feel warm and welcome.

Our vacation would be partially in Waynesville, partially in Asheville, and end up in Georgetown, Kentucky at Old Friends Equine – A Retirement Home for Thoroughbred Racehorses.

Up Next: The Drive to Asheville

 

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