"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield"
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833

"live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"
- Henry David Thoreau, 1845

"Some guys, they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin' in the streets."
- Bruce Springsteen, 1977

"...to the heart, there's no time for you to waste.
You won't find your precious answers now
by staying in one place."
- Frank Turner, 2009

"The best things in life aren't things.
They're living and breathing."
- Michael Franti , 2011

"I owned every second that this world could give,
I saw so many places, the things that I did"
- Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, 2014

All written content and photos by Rob Fulfer unless otherwise indicated.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

It's Key West...with Mountains

Year 3 of our yearly jaunt to beautful Asheville, North Carolina, for their annual Bele Chere Festival is now in the books and it was another great trip. This was the 30th anniversary for this wonderful (basically free) festival held in downtown Asheville every last weekend of July. And we do mean "downtown. " They block off dozens of their main streets for this event and stick music stages at the end of several of them (photo above) along with crafts, food vendors, etc. tucked in every nook and cranny. The real beauty of this festival is that it embraces dozens of unique downtown stores and restaurants and most of them stay open for the festival and don't gouge their prices during it either...in fact some of them run really great bargains (Ashlee bought a couple of really nice tops in a small retail store)...and the biggest bargain of all is....BEER. There is an amazing array of beer for sale (domestics, imports, hand-crafted local microbrews) and they can be consumed while walking down the streets enjoying the festival, or sitting on a restaurant patio watching the crowds go by. The prices never exceeded $4 that we could find and the bargain of the night came late when we followed a suggestion to check out the "Weingarten Store" who were selling huge pints of English ale for $2. (photo below - Ashlee's cell phone has been placed beside one of these monster beers for scale). We listened to some great sets of music by "13 Stories" and "Cowboy Mouth" who have an incredible amount of energy onstage. We ate dinner during the festival at a downtown vegetarian spot called "The Laughing Seed." Rob's skepticism quickly passed (besides the fact that they had a locally-brewed IPA on tap for $3.50 a glass) when the delicious food arrived and filled us up quickly. Despite the amount of beer flowing and the big crowds, the festival always feels very safe for all ages. There isn't a ton of security at least visible either, but the reasoning is probably more about attitude. In our opinion, Asheville is "Key West with Mountains." There is a laid-back feeling in this little city hidden in the mountains very similar to Key West, another of our favorite places to visit, which is kind of "hidden" way down at the end of Florida. Folks in Asheville and Key West just seem to "get it," They know how to enjoy themselves and life without bothering their neighbor. They share a love for life that just seems to come without much effort at all. We woke up Sunday morning just in time to have brunch at the very popular West End Cafe in W. Asheville near the university. This local institution is great and their homemade pimento cheese pannini's are to die for. After another great meal in Asheville we headed a few miles north to Whisper Mountain to take a look the Southern Living Idea House on display there. The house was stunning and the fact that it and the new development it was built in are every eco-friendly and "green" made it all the more amazing. We cruised on eastward (make that WESTward - thanks Craig, edited 7/28) after that through the mountains and wound up in Cookeville, TN, right about dinner time. Wanting to continue our streak of great eats we found "Crawdaddies" near the square which had been recommended by our friend, Woody, and Woody was right on the money. What a great little restaurant and the food was superb. Authentic jambalaya and garlic shrimp were the choices and the were both exceptional. Great weekend, great food, great beer, great time.


Anonymous said...

You're all about the drinking - what about the $1 watermelon and fruit popsicles?


Craig said...

Don't you mean you cruised on WESTWARD? I guess geography isn't your strong suit. LOL. Funny thing though... I had a Newcastle Brown last week too, but my selection was pretty limited for getting something dark.

Rob and Ashlee said...

anal map-makers...thanks for the direction correction, c-man...and thanks for reading