7-30-11 Saturday (Electronic Bitch)

We met Ryan and Dennis at their hotel today and then went to Tupelo Honey CafĂ© for lunch.  Jim and I had been here earlier in the week but thought the boys might enjoy something non-chainish.  I think we all enjoyed our meals and Mega-Mosas.  Mmmmmmm.

2011-07-30 001Above: Ryan was very busy with his phone.

2011-07-30 005Above: Ryan continued to be busy with his phone despite his food presence.

2011-07-30 004Above: Dennis shows off a flower in his hair.

Dennis went back to the hotel for a nap, Jim went to the RV for a nap, while Ryan and I went to the Dillard’s Clearance center.  Yes, I’m well aware I’ve been there 3 times AND that I don’t like to clothes shop.  Oh, the sacrifices I make…  Ryan was thrilled with the low pricing and naturally bought 10 shirts.  Good stuff.

Sometimes a GPS can be down right evil.  We often refer to ours as the “Bitch in the Box”.  Ryan and I plugged in Walmart and set off through a twisty, windy part of town.  We ended up in a residential part of town with no signs of commercial life including a Walmart.  We selected another one and off we went.  Sometimes these things are so wrong I want to throw them out the window.  It gets frustrating.  We did eventually make it there.

Time went by so fast today!  It was evening.  We picked up the boys at their hotel and went into downtown Asheville to catch the last of the festival.  It ends at 10pm, and by going in the evening, we could have dinner, take in the sights, and enjoy the slightly cooler weather.

We spent a while finding a parking spot, then additional time finding a restaurant.  We settled on Ed Boudreaux’s Bayou Bar-B-Que.  Another great meal.  We had an awesome table in front of the window so we were able to do some people watching.

2011-07-30 009Above: Yes, I look constipated and Dennis looks stoned.

It was approximately 11pm and time to head back.  Tomorrow Dennis and Ryan depart for Atlanta while Jim and I return to Charlotte.

7-29-11 Friday (Hunting)

We didn’t plan it this way but while here, Asheville has it’s Bele Chere Festival

What is Bele Chere?
Bele Chere is a street festival with a wide variety of arts, music, food, beverages,
events, and children’s activities.

How long has Bele Chere been around?
Bele Chere started in 1979 and was located on a whopping three blocks of downtown Asheville. It was the brainstorm of a handful of downtown Asheville merchants and business people with the vision of revitalizing our downtown business district, which was largely abandoned as retail businesses & residents moved to the outskirts. Now, downtown Asheville is home to restaurants, galleries, retail businesses, theatres, art exhibits, and a growing number of residents who call downtown "home."

How many people attend Bele Chere?
Our most recent estimate is about 300,000 to 350,000 people over the three days of the festival.

It’s huge!  The bad thing?  It’s frickin’ hot.  Hot, hot, hot.  Holy crap, it’s hot. 

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Right in the heart of it, we went to Mayfel’s for lunch.  We’ve eaten here previously.  They specialize in New Orleans foods.  Tasty.  After lunch we headed back to the RV park but first a small detour to the Dillard’s Clearance center again.  It’s Jim’s birthday today so he gets to pick out any shirt under $3.  OK, that’s half true.  It is his birthday though. 

Onward to the campground for a refreshing dip in the pool.  By now, friends Ryan and Dennis have arrived to Asheville, went white water rafting and are planning to meet us for dinner (Groupon) at Neo Cantina in Biltmore Village.

2011-07-29 013Above: Jim and his birthday dessert.

We’ll see more of Ryan and Dennis tomorrow.  Next for Jim and I is a walking ghost tour.  A Groupon purchase for Ghost Hunters of Asheville.  It was hot.  Very hot.  Even though the sun went down… it was hot.  Very.  The tour?  Well, interesting but not really sure.  Jim and I were left with mixed emotions.  Here’s some photos I snapped:

2011-07-29 017Above: She carried a crystal.

2011-07-29 014Above: Spooky door knocker.

2011-07-29 015Above: Jim airing out his pits.  It’s hot ya know.  Oh, and that’s a new shirt.

2011-07-29 016Above: The tour guide.


And now, for a ghost photo:






Isn’t he cute? 

We met up with Asheville local, April and her boyfriend Anthony.  We went to a hippie bar!  It’s called Vanuatu Kava Bar.  I did partake in some Kava and did get a small buzz.

An excerpt from a new article about the bar:

“Of course, already on the menu is fresh-squeezed kava-kava juice, made from the milled root of Piper methysticum, or the “intoxicating pepper.” The elixir has been used as both a relaxing social beverage and ceremonial libation by tribes throughout the South Pacific for centuries, and is said to have relaxing, euphoric qualities. 

The kava at Vanuatu Kava Bar comes from Vanuatu — thought to have the strongest varieties in the world. The nation’s laws mandate organic growing of all kava as well as a minimum-per-kilo rate that is paid to growers, to ensure fair-trade. Pictures of those who harvest and clean the kava for VKB adorn the walls, involved in various stages of the process, scribbled with “best wishes” and words in Bislama.

Vanuatu Kava Bar strives to be a true nakamal, the Vanuatu word for a place to drink kava, which translates as “place of peace.” Thus, there is no alcohol served, but with the selection of drinks and herbs, there is really no need for it. The space also functions as a gallery for handcrafted tikis and cypress furniture that is available for purchase.

Here’s the Wiki article about Kava.  Here’s 2 photos:

2011-07-29 018Above: Jim and April.

2011-07-29 019Above: April and Garret.

She doesn’t like photos, hence the sunglasses.

7-28-11 Thursday (Damn You Groupon)

Warning!  I bitch a lot during this post…

We took a drive (about an hour) to Grandfather Mountain.  It was 15 frickin’ dollars each to get in to the park.  I’m not sure who owns the park, be it state, county, or what ever but I thought the admission price was steep.  So we pay our $30 and are given a free audio tour CD.  Number one, I hate the word “free” when I pay for something.  Number two, thanks for the great CD I can’t play.

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What, no FM station to tune to?  No MP3 to download with my smartphone?  Hell, at least it wasn’t an 8 track tape.

Our first stop inside the park was the restrooms followed by lunch.  The restaurant was an order from counter and then sit down with your tray type of place.  Kind of like fast food.  That also resembled the type of food available.  The seat we took had 4 hummingbird feeders in sight.  Many hummingbirds buzzed to and from these feeders constantly.  It was awesome.

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Next, a few shots with a statue:

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We stepped into a theater for a few minutes but the movie seemed lame and boring.  We walked (quickly) through the mini museum.  We browsed the useless trinkets in the gift shop.  We saw an animal habitat sign.  The first we saw was “bear habitat”.  I wasn’t expecting a mini zoo of sorts but that what it was.  Perhaps I would have known that if my CD had fit into my antiquated tape player.  Here’s a ton of photos:

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2011-07-28 013Above: The otter was yawning.

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The last photo, just for fun.  I liked the “Animal Habitats”.  It was an unexpected.

Next we drove higher up to the mountain where we walked across the “Mile High Swinging Bridge”. 

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After our day of nature, we returned to Asheville to freshen up for the evening’s plans.  First a swim in the pool.  Ahhhhhh.

Next, a drive to Cherokee, NC to see “Unto These Hills” which is an outdoor play about the Cherokee Nation, how we took their land, and the Trail of Tears.  The strange thing about this is we ran out of time to see this the other day.  Later that same day, a frickin’ Groupon came out for half price.  Luckily, we have our laptops and printer to utilize the purchase on this trip.

OK, so dinner first before the show.  We decide to hit the Harrah’s Casino buffet (Fresh Market Square Buffet).  First of all, I barely saw many people smoking yet I could hardly breathe as we walked 52.62 miles to the buffet through the casino.  Sure, some of that is cause I’m fat and out of shape and the other part of it has to do with poor ventilation I guess.  Unfortunately, my comparison of the place will be to that of Vegas and even furthermore in unfortunateness is that there truly is NO comparison. 

The buffet was $18 a person.  I know it’s expensive in Vegas too however this place didn’t even have prime rib.  What a rip.  Why do we pay these dumb prices?  We decided to head across the casino to Paula Deen’s Kitchen.  We were greeted with “do you have reservations?  No?  Well we have seats available for 8:30 (it was 7 now).”  We passed.  We had that show at 8pm to see.

Back at the buffet… there were a few people ahead of us in line.  One cashier and it seemed as though each person in front of us had a complex transaction to make.  Perhaps it was questions about if the Cherokee Nation made the paper the receipts were printed on or perhaps if Harrah’s was an Indian word or not?  Whatever the reasons, it took forever.  After we paid we had to stand in another spot to allow the hostess to seat us.  This woman, Amelia, looked like Chaz Bono.  So we’re seated.  Now the feasting at the troughs can begin.  Lame.  The best food was fresh carved turkey.  The other meat choice at the carving station was kielbasa.  Really?  That’s the best they can do?  The pudding at the dessert station came from a can.  I can tell.  I’ve had it many a times from a can (when I was much younger and actually liked it).  Awful.  A major improvement they could hope to make is to burn it down and let Golden Corral take it.  That’s saying a lot, isn’t it?    Oh and the sanitation score was 90 which is terrible and yet we ate there.  I think after walking around we had given up.  I could go on and on about each food station and their abundance of lameness but I have to save some gripes/bitching/ranting for my review of the show.

Unto These Hills.  Ugh.  This sucked.

  1. The costumes seemed off.  Way off.  Early 1800’s and the Indian women dressed like they were guest starring on Little House on the Prairie?  The website had better Native American dress.
  2. There was a LOT of over-acting going on.
  3. The lack of Indian actors, whites, made it odd.
  4. The lack of Indian accents made it strange.
  5. I think it was twice that someone broke out into song.  It’s not a musical.  It was strange.
  6. Most of the Indian men seemed flabby.  I had a hard time seeing famine and sickness.  I guess my imagination wasn’t in full swing.
  7. The one and only bathroom sink barely had water.  It trickled out.  My guess is there were a lot of people walking around with bacteria laden hands.
  8. The seats were too tall, most people’s feet were dangling.  Ushers came around and provided some people with step stools.  Really.
  9. The parking lot was up a VERY steep grade.  I cannot believe they didn’t terrace the lot.  The walk up/down sucked.
  10. There was not one single wigwam, papoose or tee-pee.  Sometimes Indians stood outside their cabin.  A cabin?  Was this Cherokee way?
  11. It was difficult to tell the British or Americans from the Indians.  Sad.
  12. I read, “The drama was updated in 2006 with a new script and new costumes” several times.  People who had seen the other version had much better things to say.

 2011-07-28 049Above: My lower back hurt… a lot.  See people’s feet up on the stools?

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2011-07-28 048Above: The guy in the orange shirt and blue “hat” was a “Cherokee”.  What’s with the costumes?

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Jim’s birthday is tomorrow.  Long time friends are coming to Asheville.  Vacation is almost over…