Success! Scouting expedition to the Carolinas reveals there IS a North and South

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.)

North Carolina travel


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.

Blue Ridge Parkway

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.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Even though we had missed the fall colors, end of November boasts its own hues of blues, grays, and golds.

North Carolina travel

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.

Lake Lure North Carolina

Obviously, I’m not the only one in the family with a bit of “scout” in her…

Blue Ridge Parkway

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…

Arts District North Carolina

River Arts District Asheville

And the downtown shopping area, where the shops are full of locally created pottery, jewelry, clothing, food, and art…

Downtown Asheville

Downtown Asheville

In fact, there is art and music just about everywhere you look…

Downtown Asheville

Downtown Asheville

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)

Tupelo Honey Cafe

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.

Chai Pani Asheville

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.


Double D's Asheville

Asheville Double D's

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!).

Pack's Tavern Asheville

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.

Double D's Asheville

View from the top of the bus

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…




  1. […] about our adventure, too, in Asheville, North Carolina, as part of this scouting […]

  2. I’m sold on Asheville! (Perhaps it was all that mouthwatering food? My life needs more popcorn okra and cayenne coffee.) Any place with that much wonderful art & food & music is a darn good find. Way better than Brownies badges, I say. 😉 P.S. Can my laptop & I join your writing blanket on that lookout? Beautiful!

    1. You definitely should check it out. Just really cool place. We are planning to go back in the summer unless I can get it together and plan a trip to Scotland. Next time we’ll give the River Arts District a day, and we didn’t get to hike, so I would love to spend a couple of days in different areas.

  3. […] I shot this from the top of a double decker bus coffeehouse called Double D’s in Asheville, NC. […]

  4. Carl Colby · · Reply

    It was the first time… me and your mother ever shopped on Black Friday…i couldn’t believe the stores opened at 10 am!
    We loved Asheville….make sure there’s a room for us to spend the winter months out of Chicago area…if you move…
    The best part was all being together and discovering Lake Lure, driving thru the Blue Ridge Parkway…
    It was a great Thanksgiving….

    1. The best part always is being together!

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