We got back this afternoon around 3, the dogs are home, and all's well in the world. Now I'm settled in on the couch, catching up on TV shows on the DVR. (Gardening by the Yard, an episode all about how to contain bamboo, yay! We have some out-of-control bamboo that came in from our neighbor's yard, so I really need to know this.)
Okay, so yesterday we drove from Asheville up to Blowing Rock. We knew the Blue Ridge Parkway was closed around Mount Mitchell, so we drove most of the way up route 19, which was a very pretty drive through moutain towns. The spot we had planned to get on the parkway turned out to be six miles before another closure, but there was a sign directing us to the Mineral Museum, right at the on-ramp, for detour information. There was a nice lady there who gave us a very good map and very good directions. She also showed us some photos of the damage. Whole chunks of the road are just gone. Apparently it's going to be closed for some time, because the mountain collapsed in places. They have to test for geological stability before they can rebuild.
I'm glad we were able to drive on the parkway, because it's just beautiful. There wasn't much of any fall color in Asheville, but I guess that little bit further north and higher altitude made the difference. By the time we got up around Grandfather Mountain the colors were wonderful. The one thing we didn't understand was the people who tailgated us. We weren't going that slow. Besides, who the heck goes on a scenic drive when they're in a hurry? But no worries, there was always an overlook where we could lose a type-A ass tailgater.
Blowing Rock, which we'd never been in before, turns out to be one of those aggressively quaint little towns. Like Black Mountain NC, or New Hope PA. The impression from the main drive is that the town contains nothing but gift shops, restaurants, hotels and realtors. We're not too into the cute gifte shoppes, so we only stopped into a toy store, and a hipster shop which was a lot like Cameron's inside. It was lucky we went in there, because they sold lounge CDs, both new and used. I scored a couple of lounge/electronic comps, a Dinah Washington CD called "Dinah Jams," and a new CD by Daniele Luppi! I'm really excited about the last one. I have a couple of tracks by Luppi on the two Ultradolce comps, but I've never seen a solo album before. With this addition to my collection, I'm thinking about signing up for a mystery show on Italian lounge music.
We also had lunch at a little cafe called Trout something. I had an open-faced reuben, which was excellent, and Georg had a trout sandwich which he said was also very good. They offered a choice of chips, fries, salad or pierogies with your sandwich. I'd never seen pierogies on a menu before except in a Polish restaurant. I hadn't had them in years, but I used to make them all the time. I think the brand was called Mrs. T's. I'd boil them, then saute some onions, toss the pierogies with the onions to crisp them up a bit, and serve them with sour cream. Mmm, good times.
The drive back to Asheville was as scenic as the drive up, but more rolling pastoral hills rather than sweeping mountain grandeur. We would have enjoyed the drive immensely, except for a major unintended detour along the way. Somehow we lost route 70 in the middle of downtown Marion. We found another road that took us right to 40, but the onramp was mysteriously closed there. A guy gave us directions to connect with 40 later on, but the directions went way the heck out and were hard for us to follow. We ended up going about 45 minutes out of our way, and finally connecting up with 40 where we would have if we hadn't lost route 70 in the first place. Well, I felt bad for Georg having to do all that driving, but other than that there was no harm done.
As I wrote before, we had dinner at the New French Bar while we made use of their net access. Alas, I have to say my dinner was not very good. They were out of the thing I wanted, so I chose something else semi-randomly and didn't enjoy it that much. The only good thing I can say is that it was very filling. Which added to my tiredness, which led to my passing out on the couch around 9 pm last night. We ended up opening up the couch and sleeping there, instead of upstairs. It was nice and cozy in front of the fire.
This morning we cleaned up the cliff house and went in to Asheville for a nice breakfast at Early Girl. I had strawberry and sunflower seed pancakes. Weird sounding combination, but it sure was good! They also had fresh squeezed apple juice, some of the best apple juice I've ever had. It was just like the juice you can get at the state fair, right off the apple press.
We also stopped by Blue Moon Bakery, which I have to say was a big disappointment. The place reminds me of the original Ninth Street Bakery where I used to work, and we always go there everytime we're in Asheville. It turns out they're closing at 4 every day now, so we didn't make it there until our last day. They didn't have any of the wonderful desserts they used to carry, none of the dessert pastries or cookies or fruit tarts, and the breakfast pastry selection was pretty sparse too. I guess they had sold everything in the morning rush. We were going to get yummy-sounding pumpkin croissants, but the woman in front of us snapped up the last two. That bitch! Worst of all, we were actually ahead of her, but I let her go first because I didn't want to waste the counter guy's time until we knew everything we wanted. Oh well, that was a bummer but not the end of the world. I didn't even know pumpkin croissants existed until five minutes before they were snatched out from under me, so to speak. Besides, after we got home Georg bought me a pumpkin chocolate chip cookie from Whole Foods, so I got my fill of pumpkiny goodness.
I hope Blue Moon Bakery isn't in financial trouble. The reduced hours and reduced product line are bad signs. Anyway, we had one last stop before heading out of town: Make Me Fabric, the vintage fabric store where I bought that amazing polka dot fabric last year. Unfortunately, their prices have gone up a lot. They had several groovy mod fabrics that I would love to have, but at $18-20 a yard I just couldn't justify it. I think the price increase backfired, in my case at least. At $10-12 a yard (the prices last year) I would have easily spentover a hundred dollars. But as it was I got out of there with a couple of small sale remnants and a few buttons for under $20. Well, the owner Lisa told me last year that people would pay a lot more for her fabrics on Ebay, so I guess she decided that there was no reason to charge lower prices in the store.
We left Asheville at 11:30 and got back here around 3. It was such a wonderful vacation. Just what we needed. I wish we had spent a little more time just relaxing and enjoying the cliff house. But I do think we did a good job of not running ourselves ragging trying to do too much. The Campfire Lodgings people were great. This is our second time staying there, and I've been really happy both times.