"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.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Jack's Mannequin & A French Broad

Saturday, July 9, 2011

We usually try to make it to Asheville, North Carolina, at least once a year.  It's one of our favorite cities/areas to visit.  The last few years has always been during the Bele Chere Festival, the last weekend of July.  We already had a room booked for the festival this year.   However, an opportunity presented itself a couple weeks earlier when a band we have been wanting to see for a long time, Jack's Mannequin, scheduled a Saturday night show at The Orange Peel, a well-known and respected live music venue that we had also been wanting to check out for a long time.  So, away we went for the weekend.

We arrived Saturday afternoon and did a little microbrewery crawling in downtown Asheville.  This medium-sized city is lousy with them: seven by our count with Craggie Brewing being one of the newest.  Their beer was very good.  See more about the beer in my beer blog.

During our brewery crawl before the concert we  stumbled on yet another amazing restaurant in downtown Asheville.  Storm was bustling, but we were able to grab a couple seats at the bar.  Ashlee had a couple of wonderful cocktails including a really good mojito.  I stuck with beer and was happy to see they carried the local Green Man Ales (another local microbrewery) on tap.  We had an appetizer of house-made pimento cheese that was delicious.

Here's a look from the bar at the brewing tanks at Wedge Brewing, Asheville's newest microbrewery, down in the River Arts District and the last stop on our Saturday afternoon microbrewery crawl.
The Orange Peel is a great venue, albeit a little warm when we arrived for the show.  They did have a "big-ass ceiling fan" (as Jack's Mannequin, front man, Andrew McMahon, referred to it as) going, but it wasn't near enough.  I guess usually they are not having to deal with a lot of heat and humidity up amongst the mountains here, but this summer's been a scorcher.  The place has great acoustics and a nice elevated stage with good site lines.  A good beer selection was not a surprise in this town either.  This is definitely a place to come to again when the performer and timing are right.

We arrived in time to hear the last couple of songs in the set by the third opener, Steel Train,  including a good cover of Tom Petty's "American Girl."  Bands always love covering Uncle Tom, don't they?.  Headliner, Jack's Mannequin, took the stage around 9:45 and proceeded to dazzle us for the next couple hours.  Lead singer (and basically the main drive behind the band), Andrew McMahon, is a gifted singer and piano player.  He's also quite an inspiration since he was diagnosed with leukemia a few years back as the band was just starting to get some real national notice.  He battled back to full remission and you sure couldn't tell he had been through any such thing with all the energy he emitted on stage.

Sign behind the bar at The Orange Peel.  Just thought it was funny.

Sunday, July 10,  2011

Another advantage to not coming to Asheville for the popular Bele Chere Festival is that you can wake up Sunday morning and actually have a reasonable change to get into the Tupelo Honey Cafe, an enormously loved restaurant in downtown Asheville.  We still had to wait about an hour and felt lucky to get in since we have never been able to on a Sunday during Bele Chere.  The food was amazing and well worth the wait.  We went brunch-style with Ashlee ordering from the breakfast menu that is available all day.  She made a great choice of sweet potato pancakes.  I picked the catfish taco off the sandwich menu which was huge and superb tasting.
After brunch we headed northwest for about 40 miles to the small town of Hot Springs, North Carolina.  We had 2 PM reservations with Huck Finn Rafting Adventures for a 5-mile trek down the French Broad River.  We had a great time.  The weather was perfect and although the river water was as brown as chocolate milk with sediment after recent rains, it was pleasant in temperature and running well over some fun Class I, II and II rapids.  Our guide, Justin, was great and we only had to share our raft with one other couple, Rick and Liz from Charleston, SC.   During a break on the bank we saw a bald eagle soar overhead.  There was no mistaking what it was with that brilliant white head.  We found this great outfitter through Groupon.com and hope to come back sometime and do their longer 9-mile trek which includes a couple Class IV rapids farther downstream.

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