Mt Pisgah, say hi to Smokey the Bear

Mt Pisgah is in the Smokey Mountains. I am pleased to say while we stayed here we did not meet up with Smokey the Bear, although the rubbish bins at the campsite certainly showed the marking of where the bears like to eat out. The neighbour (who has lived there for 2 years) told us to make sure we had a flash light if we went out of the rig at night, as he often came across bears at night. Thankfully the worst we saw was an Opossum, who was happily cleaning up the dish under our BBQ one night (what an ugly creature, certainly makes our possums seem decidedly cute) and the ants…. so large and a few interesting spiders, but nothing too scary.

At the back of our site was a gorgeous stream, which was a delight to hear in the mornings when you woke up…. but to get to it you had to walk through a barked area…. just the best place for snakes to hide. Soo, I only had a fleeting peek at it and my jandles for the time being were replaced with shoes while walking around outside. But in all other ways this little campsite (although basic) tucked in the valley under Mt Pisgah was beautiful, cool and tranquil.

Asheville was only 20 to 30 minutes rive down the road. The Civil War history seemed to take a side step here, as we toured the city. The 250 room Biltmore House (completed in 1895 and still owned by the Vanderbilt Family), is the largest “home” in the USA and reminded me of the Chateaus of France.

Asheville prides itself as being a little weird and it certainly lived up to it. I loved the feel of the city, just a little off beat with everywhere else we have been. The colourful people, the music and the art made this city come to life. We found a Indian Street Food restaurant which we both fell in love with and the numerous bars, breweries, restaurants and music venues all add to the happy feeling. There is an Art District down by the river, which, unfortunately had all the streets dug up as thy are upgrading the area. Once this has been done it too will be an amazing place to visit. I am discovering the Americans love their murals on the walls of buildings, every place we have been have them and Asheville was no exception.

The centre of Asheville was busy, there were always lots of people eating, drinking, listening to music, watching the street performers and of course the homeless. So different to many of the other city’s we have visited where the centres were empty of people. Sadly we have seen more homeless here in Asheville than anywhere else (that’s including New York) with the majority drugged out, yet they didn’t detract from the feel of the place.

Down the road from the Camp site in the opposite direction from Asheville and further into the Smokey Mountains was Waynesville. Of course we had to go visit. A quaint small town where the last shot of the Civil War was shot.

Waynesville was on the way to Cherokee. Cherokee is a town on the reservation of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation. I wanted to visit here as it seemed that in all the areas we have visited so far, there is no history of the Native Indians. It has all been about the Civil War. We visited the Oconaluftee Indian Village, which is a 18th century Cherokee Indian village with working demonstrations. It was interesting, it was well done and i did enjoy it, but I came away feeling a little flat as it really didnt tell me anything I didn’t know. I am not sure what I was hoping for, perhaps more of a feel for the people and who they were.

Our drive home was back along the Blue Ridge Parkway again. This amazing road tretches 469 miles (745 kilometers) from Afton in the Shenandoah Mountains (the start of which we had already been on) to Cherokee in the Great Smokey Mountains. I find it a little ironic that both the start and finish of this scenic road have “a” Wayne close by. Wanyesboro (VA) at the start and Waynesville (NC) at the finish.

The mountains along the Parkway are a distinctive dusky blue. This is because the trees in this area give off a chemical (isoprene) that makes the atmosphere seem to have a beautiful blue haze.

Not far from Asheville is a town called Hendersonville. The city has beautifully painted bears in the downtown. So after a visit to their County Historic Museum, an incredibly quirky museum. Enjoyable for its weirdness I think more than the displays, we strolled around downtown. The town is one of the prettiest we have been to so far and has a particularly easy laid back feel to the place. We did a quick detour to the Mineral and Lapidary Museum so TOH could relive his rock collecting childhood. Again a little quirky but fascinating all the same even for a non-rock collector. I loved the bears on display and they were very reminiscent of the Owls we had over the summer a year ago. I was interested to see that they were built on little trolleys so that they could be wheeled in at night.

We headed home after our visit to Hendersonville, both a little happy that we were about to move again. This gypsy blood seems to be taking hold and I am excited to get back on the road and head to Charlotte NC.

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