Ashville, N.C. – Cute as the proverbial Button

What makes travel fun for me is the element of surprise – will this hotel/guesthouse/resort live up to expectations, will I find a yummy restaurant (or two), will the museum be worth visiting, will there be fun stores to shop at, is the location going to be beautiful, will it rain?

So many variables – so many chances for things to wrong – or to go right.

Good news – Lake Lure and Ashville, N.C. exceeded even my high expectations. After a rough start – check out my ‘why, oh why’ blog on travel – I finally arrived in the rolling hills and startlingly jagged stone cliffs of Western North Carolina. And how about this for a ‘I didn’t know that’ – The Last of the Mohicans and The Hunger Games were filmed right here!

But I wasn’t here to see movie sets – I was here for a ‘sister’s’ retreat. Our idea – spend time getting to know each other – without the distractions of husbands, kids, jobs. My middle sister picked me up at the Ashville Airport (tiny – truly tiny. You know it’s small when it cost $5 to park for over 2 hours), and headed out to our home for the weekend, and RCI resort called Wyndham Resort at Fairfield Mountains.

On the map – the resort is just 30 miles from Ashville – but the GPS said our ETA was an hour and a half. We soon found out why as we wound our way passed glorious scenery on a 2 lane winding road that changed elevation often enough to have us clearing our ears and allowed for a max speed of 20 mph. We drove past Chimney Rock State Park – with its gloriously huge waterfall cascading down from a rock face hundreds of feet above us. This Park is the setting for the movie – “Last of the Mohicans” – and to honor that – they were showing the film on Saturday night. For free. Got to love the price point.

Eventually we arrived at our destination – good job iphone and Telenav to discover that you needed a code for the lock box. Yikes. Good thing the guest arriving right behind us had that code – or we would have definitely been stranded. RCI – you have to give resorts the email of incoming guests. And resorts – if you don’t have the email for a guest – make an effort to get it! The good news – when we reported the ‘almost’ problem the next morning, the extremely pleasant receptionist apologized profusely – and reported the problem to her team. Nice handling of that – Wyndham people.

But all turned out OK (It wouldn’t be an adventure if nothing went wrong). We got our key, found a map explaining where our unit could be found in this huge resort, and made our way to our palace for the weekend. It was a palace at the mid-of-the road level – but the king sized bed was super comfy, and the view of the mountains from our window was awe-inspiring. My sister who loves to walk found lots of places to get exercise, and for me – hey, the coffee was great.

Dinner that night was at Larkins on the Lake – We loved it – but if you want to know why – you’ll have to check out my detailed review.

We’d decided that despite all the really neat stuff to do around Lake Lure and the Resort – including kayaking, a beach, a swimming pool, bike paths, hiking paths, etc, what we really wanted to do was to check out the Biltmore Estate – the home of George, Edith, and Cornelia Vanderbilt. (Again – want more details – that’s in another blog!)

GPS to the rescue again as we navigate our way back to Ashville by a different, and much less windy route past Bat Cave (didn’t spot Batman though).

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On Saturday – we opt to return to the Biltmore – that place is huge, and we felt we needed to see more stuff! But that afternoon – we finally manage to make it into Ashville. What a completely cute town. The shops were adorable, they had a wonderful arts and crafts market with lots of beautiful things to touch (I love the feel of wood), and my favorite – the Mast General Store.

If you are in Western North Carolina – and I’m not exactly sure why you would go there unless you were visiting the Biltmore Estate – you must go to this store. I loved it! They had everything. It was hard to decide what I just had to buy – and thus I wound up with a cast iron Bacon press in the form of a pig.

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Trust me – going thru security leaving Ashville was a hoot with that in my luggage. After they looked at it – everyone wanted to know if I even knew what to do with it. Hey – it’s my husband’s Father’s Day Present – he loves to press the Bacon!

Bottom line – Ashville has tons of stuff to do and see – lots of neat restaurants, including the Posana, the general store, cute art shops, and a young vibe that totally took us by surprise.

Go and have fun. But don’t forget the reason for your visit – in our case – the Biltmore and getting some much-needed Sister time.

Missions accomplished I’d say

Signing off – The soup lady.

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