By Amanda Cleary Eastep
Read about our adventure in Charleston, South Carolina, as part of this scouting expedition.
I like to think there is a little bit of a “scout” in me, even though I never made it past Brownies and never earned my camping badge. (My best friend had ALL the badges…the little bitch.)
Our party of 6 had been planning a journey to Asheville, NC, then on to Charleston, SC, for months. Not a vacation, mind you, but a scouting expedition to discover a potential new place to one day settle.
Asheville, North Carolina (aka Funkyville)
It may have been my over active imagination, but I started to breathe easier the moment I saw the mountains. No strip malls, no life-threatening intersections (just hairpin turns with cliff-like drop offs), no Starbucks.
We took a drive on part of the Blue Ridge Parkway, a drive you take for the view, not to get to point B.
The road could use a few more wooden guardrails but has an ample number of areas for pulling over to take in the views and even to take an impromptu hike.
Even though we had missed the fall colors, end of November boasts its own hues of blues, grays, and golds.
As we drove, I kept imagining sitting at one of those lookouts, blanket spread on the ground, notebook on my lap as I work on my novel.
On our way from South Carolina back to Asheville for Thanksgiving, we took a different route and drove around a small portion of Lake Lure.
Obviously, I’m not the only one in the family with a bit of “scout” in her…
Shopping in Asheville
Of course, you don’t go to Asheville without visiting the River Arts District (where we didn’t spend nearly enough time) to see artists in their studios…
And the downtown shopping area, where the shops are full of locally created pottery, jewelry, clothing, food, and art…
In fact, there is art and music just about everywhere you look…
Because one of the best parts of traveling is the FOOD…
This list could go on and on, but we hardly went wrong with any restaurant in Asheville. Except for the time I mistakenly thought Greenman Brewery had food and was a much closer walk from downtown than 11 bazillion blocks on a freezing cold night with my poor mom firing icy death threats with her eyes at the back of my head.
The pretzels held her over until the cab arrived and zoomed us to a place I won’t mention, because the food wasn’t stellar and apparently the first time they ever had a mouse run under a patron’s table was that night…and the patron was my screaming mother. We couldn’t blame the little critter for seeking shelter from the cold and ended up laughing about it all night.
Places TO eat…
Tupelo Honey Cafe–Get the “popcorn,” deep fried okra bites (no, really)
Different, fresh, and affordable. My husband, who lived in India for 10 years, is picky about his Indian food and loved Chai Pani. All 6 of us had our fill for about $40.
One of our favorite places to escape the unseasonably cold weather (and my father to escape shopping) was Double D’s. An old double-decker bus that serves a YUMMY cayenne coffee and desserts, is “driven” by a driver who is apparently never tempted by the sweets, and an adorable little gal who announces your order over the speaker.
We weren’t home for Thanksgiving, but Pack’s Tavern was the next best thing…all those little grandma’s back in the kitchen making juicy turkey and butternut squash soup. Most of us ordered the Thanksgiving buffet, which was $25/person. May sound pricey, but it wasn’t compared to some of the other restaurants serving that day. They also had a limited regular menu. My husband ordered the best fish and chips we have ever eaten (sorry, London!).
Hoping to get in a little more shopping on Black Friday before we headed home, we hung out at the City Bakery and enjoyed homemade pastries and key lime pie for breakfast until the shops opened around 11am.
Gotta love their nonchalant attitude toward the normal insanity that is the day after Thanksgiving. Refreshing. The signs in this pic speak for themselves.
On our way home, we were saying goodbye to the mountains, dreaming through real estate books, and planning the next trip.
Thanks for hitting the road with us…