October 22 - 25, 2019:   Asheville, North Carolina

As we continued to head South toward Asheville, North Carolina our plan was to get on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Afton, Virginia and then drive it all the way to Asheville, North Carolina stopping for the night some place. 

As we started out driving we kept catching rain clouds and even encountered fog right where we were going to enter the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Since it was raining and we knew we would be climbing in elevation, we opted to stay on the Interstate. 

If you do not know this already, my Mother's name is Charlotte, so...anytime we drive near or through towns with her name...I have to take a picture (see Charlottesville below).  It is amazing how many towns there are in the East that have Charlotte in them! 

Notice the Fall colors are beginning to turn in this section of Virginia.

Blue Sky!!!  And we crossed into North Carolina.  And...a sign for Charlotte, North Carolina!

We made it that day to Elkin, North Carolina and stopped for the night in Walmart.  We are so thankful they let you park/camp overnight. 

When Craig retired, he took two months and rode his motorcycle on a solo trip from Boise, Idaho to Key West, Florida.  One of the roads he took was the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The parkway begins in Afton, Virginia and goes for 469 miles to Cherokee, North Carolina.   Originally, I had wanted to drive the entire Parkway, however with the weather yesterday we missed about 1/2 of it (Craig had already ridden the Northern section on his motorcycle in 2011) so we got on the parkway at Deep Gap and drove it to Asheville, North Carolina. 

 

Holy cow, I did not realize the twist, turns, and curves on the parkway.  It was a gorgeous drive, but took longer than anticipated because of those fun twists.  This would have been awesome on a motorcycle, the truck and trailer did not do justice to the parkway.  Still gorgeous.

Notice the bridges on the parkway, they are very cool.  The terrain is farming, pastures, forested, and incredible vistas of the surrounding mountains.  The Fall colors were just starting to appear in some areas and in others were in full bloom due to the higher elevations.

It is awesome because they have a ton of large overlooks so you can stop and take in the scenery.

Along the parkway there are so many cool things to stop and see, tour, visit, hike, listen to music, etc.  Part of the parkway has something called the Lin Cove Viaduct that you drive over.  We stopped at the Visitor Center to get more information on this.  The Lin Cove Viaduct is a 1,243 feet long, concrete segmented bridge which snakes around Grandfather Mountain to protect the fragile habitat.

 

Wow, what an amazing engineering suspended roadway.  If felt like we were driving in the sky.

Below are a few more pictures from the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Notice the name of the tunnel...Craggy  : )

We did not have a reservation to stay at a place in Asheville and thought we would wing it at a first come first serve campground.  Bad idea.  It was full, so we went to our back up and...it was full.  So after a little scrambling we ended up at a KOA on the East side of town.  It was okay and at $50 a night was one of the least expensive in the area.  Ouch!  Good thing we only stayed two nights and were never in camp.   This spot was close to a busy road and...train tracks...doh...

 

That is one thing we have discovered is that we are always out exploring, so we rarely spend anytime in camp.  We sleep, shower, and eat about 1/2 of our meals.  So even though I do not like RV parks and being close to other campers with no privacy, since we are not there most of the time, it really does not matter.

We did not really have any major plans for Asheville, except...the Asheville Pinball Museum.  They have funky hours so as soon as we got set up in camp, we headed downtown to the Pinball Museum.  The hours that day were 2:00pm - 9:00pm and by the time we got there is was about 6:00pm. 

The cool thing about the Museum is that they have history and information on the pinball machines and...if you pay $15.00 you get unlimited play on the pinball and any other video games.  So this is like a huge video arcade with the games we played as a kid.  They had over 75+ pinball machines and other games like Astriods, Space Invaders, Pac-man, Galaga, etc.  Craig spent a lot of time as a kid playing pinball/video games and I did not.  So we had a great time and closed the place down!  We both wish we had arrived sooner and had more time ; )  Story of our life on this trip!

The oldest machine in the Museum was from 1937 and you could not play this one.  The oldest pinball you could play was 1975. 

The neat thing was to play a pinball machine from 1975 and then go play one from 1993 and feel the differences between the pull, flippers, buzzers, and other contraptions inside of the game.  It is amazing how much they have advanced over the years.  It was pretty cool and I think I enjoyed analyzing the differences between the games more than the actual playing part.  My goal for the evening was to play every pinball machine in the room and...I did it!  Except for the ones that were being repaired. 

Craig's favorite machine growing up was the Kiss machine and of course....I had to play the Elton John machine!

One day we went to downtown Asheville and walked around the town.  We stopped by the Visitor Center and picked up a self guided walking map for the Urban Trail and Architecture Trail.  These two trails intermixed throughout the city and highlighted Art Nouveau, Beaux-Art, and Deco style buildings along with unique pieces of art scattered about.  Below are a few pics of what we saw: 

The Grove building reminded me of the 8th Street Marketplace in Boise.  Not really the style of architecture, but the concept.  The 1st floor is retail and they have turned the 2nd and 3rd floors into condos.  What a great concept!

This is The Basilica of Saint Lawrence.  It was completed in 1909 and the dome is 82' x 58' and is he largest free standing elliptical dome in North America.  The entire building is made of tiles and other masonry products.  it is a true piece of art!

The white building below was my favorite, the S & W Cafeteria.  Completed in 1928 by Douglas Ellington, Art Deco.  These are now condos and only...listed at $799,000 for 1,038 sq feet  : ) 

 

Right next to it was my second favorite building, the old Wachovia Bank and Trust Company.  Rumor has it that during construction, a resident kept coming daily to watch the progress of the build, so the architecture put the residents face in the stone work along the bottom of the building ; )

Of course, with all of our walking around, we needed to stop for lunch, dessert, and refreshments a few times.  Our favorites were Double D's Coffee, this was a cool double decker bus that was soooo retro! 

And...the chocolate lounge.  I had a double chocolate brownie while Craig had a cup of warm melted chocolate!  Oh Man...was his awesome!  It was warm, thick chocolate that you sipped or used a spoon with!

We even found lobster rolls, however...I did not partake!  We had already eaten lunch, coffee, and two desserts and I was stuffed! 

Asheville, North Carolina is a really cool artist, historic town.  There is so much you could do here for days.  We did not make it to the Biltmore Estate, so...I guess we need to come back : )

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