Friday, October 23, 2009

In the Mountains and Clouds

World's-most-patient-husband and I were in the mood last week for a quick getaway and decided to take a driving vacation. I, though, was a little anxious about losing a week of spinning time. I'd just added all that new spinning fiber to my stocks at the Fall Fiber Festival and there was another much-anticipated fiber festival coming up very soon. World's-most-patient-husband, unprompted, bless his heart, said "why don't you bring along the spinning wheel?" I took him up on that one like a shot.

So we packed up and drove south through Virginia and right on out the bottom. Then we turned west and headed for the North Carolina mountains. The weather was cold and rainy; often the mountains looked something like this. But that's beautiful too, in its own way, and we were happy to be wandering. We played it by ear, deciding each day where to go the next.

We spent one night in Boone, the home of Appalachian State University, which turned out to be full of small, unexpected pleasures. It has antique shops and a crafts gallery and an honest-to-goodness old-time drugstore counter where you can sit and have a meal. It has a shoe store that also serves as a yarn shop, a combination I've certainly never seen before. It has a hundred-year-old general store full of knitted goods and hiking clothes. Having come on the trip well supplied with handknits but without anything for such wet and cold weather, I was grateful to find myself a warm waterproof jacket there.

It has an excellent cafe for breakfast and lunch called Melanie's, a little funky and full of character, with bright colors and interesting art and fifties dinette tables. Everything, but everything, there is home-made, down to the granola and the yogurt on the fresh fruit cup.

Then it was onward. The foliage was just beginning to change, and the views were occasionally breathtaking. We took a small and very scenic road that wound its way circuitously among the mountains, past Blowing Rock, a beautifully situated town with lots of shops and restaurants.

We made our way on to Asheville, a place I've always wanted to visit, but had somehow never made it to before. It turned out to be a bigger city than I pictured, a little bohemian and artsy in personality, and rich, it seems, in brewpubs. We spent an afternoon at Biltmore, the enormous mansion built by the Vanderbilts at the turn of the century. It is quite something. It's just a bit reminiscent of Versailles (though bigger!) Almost as impressive as the house are the grounds, designed by Olmstead, who is also responsible for New York's Central Park.

We wandering around afterwards in an area nearby known as Biltmore Village, where all the shops and restaurants are built in a quaint German style -- even the couple of fast-food chain outlets are in character. There we chanced upon this inviting sight: the aptly named Yarn Paradise. And what would a trip be without a little yarn-shop tourism?

But, perhaps luckily for me, it was already closed for the day. After all, I'd packed the essentials with me on the trip: four knitting projects and three batches of spinning fiber. I didn't want to chance running out.

The shop did look awfully appealing when I peered in through the leaded panes of the front door, with gorgeous sample projects, beautiful yarn displays, and what looked like a warm, welcoming atmosphere.

Back in downtown Asheville, we had a top-notch dinner at a stylish spot called Posana. Oddly, it seems to be more of a coffee-shop with light food during the week and only serves dinner on a couple of nights. I get the feeling it may be a brilliant new place just on its way up. In any case, I can't stop thinking about the trout with sun-dried tomatoes and capers I had there, and the walnut cake with orange-and-tea-flavored cream. It was a happy find for us.

After a couple of nights, we turned and started working our way back toward home, searching for barbecue along the way. I realize that, ironically, I was leaving Asheville just days before people gathered there for the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair, but sometimes a near miss is what comes of impulse traveling. I will just have to put it on my list for some future visit.

Oh yes, Rastro the spinning wheel did get a work-out in several hotel rooms. With the wheel, and a duffel bag of accessories, and a giant tote bag of fiber, and a separate large knitting bag, I was quite a cumbersome traveler. But it was a lot of fun to sit and spin here and there along the way.

If I'd brought a stool and the weather had been better, I might have set it up who-knows-where. Scenic overlooks off the highway?

Maybe next trip. :)


Anonymous said...

That sounds so wonderful- a dream vacation in the fall. Happy sigh.

Robin said...

I have been traveling to the Boone / Blowing Rock area since I was five years old. Used to camp there and later went to college near there. LOVE IT! You will have to go back for SAFF one year. Very nice show. Yarn Paradise is a great shop and the Biltmore!!!!! We went several years ago on the candlelight Christmas tour and it was just beautiful!