I had planned one post on Asheville, but now I’m on the 3rd! I think this will be the last…we’ll see how long it gets….
We found Carrier Park to be a wonderful place for biking and walking next to the river:
We satisfied our appetites with delicious sandwiches from Firehouse Subs—yum! Then on to the Jonas Gerard Studio in the River Arts District:
The River Arts District is a collection of art studios where the artists actually work, and visitors can watch as they stroll the galleries. I wish we could have seen Jonas Gerard at work—by the look of his paintings, he must be quite animated and interesting to watch. We enjoyed his gallery, though, especially the signs near the **very expensive** art that said “please touch”. His art is full of texture and it was satisfying to be able to reach out and experience it with more than one sense.
One more store I would be happy to return to is the Screen Door Store—very eclectic décor items, many of which are made from old parts—recycled? upcycled? or just ARE old parts, for sale. We had fun with the hats:
Next, it was off to a tour of the Moog Factory:
This is where Moog analog synthesizers and other instruments (Mooger Fooger, theremin, Moog guitar) either are (or were…some have been intentionally discontinued) made by hand. These instruments are widely recognized and used throughout the music industry, and their store has all of their currently made products available for “sampling”.
Spunky Monkey could have stayed there all day; we all enjoyed it. The theremin was what really stood out to me. I hadn’t heard of one before, but we learned it’s the only instrument you can play without touching. Leon Theremin was a Russian scientist living in America until he was taken back to the Soviet Union and put in a concentration camp for 50 years. He had developed this instrument, apparently as somewhat of an accident, while working on a burglar alarm that used the same technology. Here is a video of him playing this unusual instrument:
Two metal antennae are used to control the sound—the one on the right changes the pitch, the other, the volume. The tour guide explained that while most of us haven’t heard of the theremin, we have heard its eerie music—if we’ve heard the theme song from Star Trek, any suspenseful movie music, even Shostakovich used it. Robert Moog became interested in Leon and his Theremin while in high school and started building kits, which led to his eventual development of the analog synthesizers he created his company around.
The Blue Ridge Parkway runs right through Asheville and we were blessed to visit it several times.
Those are some pretty high elevations! (tongue in cheek, since our house sits at 7400 ft…but these valleys are much lower, too, so these really are bonafide mountains!)
The kids worked hard to complete another Junior Ranger program, and the Ranger invited Sweet Pea to help him fold the flag after it was taken down for the evening.
Another highlight for us was the day we got to take a sweet dog named Teddy on a hike with the Outward Hound program through Brother Wolf. This no-kill shelter has hike days several times a week, when volunteers can come choose a dog that has been “okayed” for walks and take them on a group hike with a leader. In our group, there were 5 dogs, I believe. Teddy would probably have made it home with us if we were in the market for a pet. He was super-sweet and a trooper on the hike—his legs were the shortest of everyone’s!
One of Spunky Monkey’s pics from our hike. He likes taking pictures of trees with the sun shining through.
After the hike with the dogs, it was on to the French Broad Chocolate Factory for a tour.
The tour was more of a lecture on the history of chocolate—quite a long and convoluted one. I wish I had taken notes!! This is the cacao pod that is grafted onto root stock—and the silly little things REFUSE to grow in North America!
The pods are opened up and processed by hand, then roasted.
This is a very small independent chocolate factory (husband and wife and a handful of employees) , so they’ve been creative with some of their machinery (see the jigsaw?). This one separates the roasted beans from the “chaff”—a winnowing machine for cocoa beans.
Mmmmm…finally something more recognizable:
Afterward, we visited their chocolate lounge in downtown Asheville—now, that’s MY kind of lounge!
Yum!! (We also went to Mast General Store again, because it was right down the block!!)
We said goodbye to Mama Gertie’s and headed to nearby Rutledge Lake (by the time we decided to stay an extra week in the area, Mama Gertie’s didn’t have a spot for us, so we moved on).
Before we left, a few more games of pinball, which the kids had never played before, and I happen to LOVE.
A couple more walks around the campground…
I pray they’ll always be buddies…
And time to move on….