Road Trip: Charlotte and Asheville
I drove into Charlotte late in the afternoon and roamed aimlessly around downtown, then the suburbs, when my car kindly reminded me that I had about 5 miles of gas left. My energy was a bit low as well. After filling up the tank I hit up a Barnes and Noble to create a plan for the following day. The U.S. National Whitewater Center was close by and I figured my beer-abused, sleep-deprived body could use some exercise.
Some of the houses in Charlotte are really impressive, at certain angles they kind of take your breath away. The next morning I snapped a few pics but could not capture the feeling, so I gave up and headed to the Whitewater center, where I worked my butt off rafting, zip-lining, and balancing on the ropes courses. I wonder if there’s a word for that—the frustration of not being able to capture something in a picture? Perhaps Germans have a word. Germans have a word for everything, my favorite being “Backpfeifengesicht” which means a face that needs to be punched/slapped. Ever met someone with a face you really want to punch for no reason? Nope, not me. Never. 🙂
I was excited to visit Asheville, because my friend in Savannah said I’d love it, and every person to whom I mentioned Asheville, had great things to say. To make a long story short, I was supposed to stay there two nights, and I ended up staying for five. Asheville is a kind of Bohemian paradise. It has more breweries per capita than any other U.S. city. There is a shortage of jobs, so the people who live there are often severely over-qualified for the work they do, which makes for interesting conversation. On any given day, you’ll find some really great music being played on the streets. The restaurants and shops are engaging in their design and products. The antique stores are pretty massive, and I didn’t think it could happen, but I found a doll that was too creepy even for me.
The city seems to have a little bit of everything you could want, and the options are well executed. I met some really incredible people in Asheville… motorcycle aficionados, nature enthusiasts, college students taking an epic road trip, musicians in town for a handpan gathering, even an Aussie who refused to go any place where he’d have to wear shoes.
Asheville is surrounded by mountains so there are many options for hiking, outdoor sports, nature studies… On my way out of Asheville, I decided to stop at the Hot Springs Resort, where I soaked in an outdoor tub filled with natural spring water while observing the encompassing landscape. A few spiders here and there, but worth facing my fears. I’m not too keen on spiders.
The entire time I was in Asheville, I felt comfortable and inspired. I didn’t have much of an urge to do anything touristy. I just enjoyed the regular rhythms of the city and its people. Everyone I encountered had their own peculiar story about Asheville, a woman in a fairy outfit, a man dressed as a nun while sipping beer out of a car window, a lady who actively protests circumcision (Oh, yes. She incorporates signs and other visuals)… One afternoon, I stepped outside to find a gathering of models and photographers. I was informed it was a Fash Mob. It’s like a flash mob but for industry professionals, so models and photographers meet each other on the street and take spontaneous pics. Asheville is odd in all the right ways. I saw something that read, “If you are too weird for Asheville, you are too weird.” That’s a pretty fair assessment.
U.S. National Whitewater Center: