Well by now some of you may be seeing the blog’s business cards roaming around. I’m getting them into circulation slowly but surely. If you see one pass it on to a friend. Of course if you really like it you can hang onto it. This is how they look.
When I posted my last blog it was a busy time and I completely forgot to mention the Twelfth Day of Christmas. The Twelve Days of Christmas start after Christmas—its a church calendar thing from hundreds of years ago—and end on January the 6th. This is Epiphany, a.k.a. Three Kings Day. Its a big deal in Eastern Europe and Latin America, where the kids all get presents that day. Actually merchants in Miami can count on certain Latin communities for a much needed boost during the post-Christmas slump.
I began celebrating Three King’s Day several years ago for many reasons. First, I enjoy the multi-cultural aspect. Second, its not near as commercialized as Christmas and I can enjoy it more. It has a lot less stress involved with it. For me its a time for the family to gather around, relax and exchange presents. Third, it allows me the chance to take advantage of after Christmas mark downs. 🙂 Yes, I’m being lighthearted here, but its really not a joke. By giving presents on both December 25th and January 6th I can increase the quality of my gift giving. On Christmas I give the family the cheaper gifts. Then on the Twelfth Day of Christmas I can give the more expensive ones.
Okay, so speaking of the past two weeks, the weather has gotten better but it has been quite… interesting. This is the part of the blog where I explain why I’ve been incommunicado for a bit. Between the snow, various bits of business and family, I have been busy. Last Monday, the tenth, snow began falling about 2am and by 5 we had six inches. So this blog has been a bit long getting out. However, if you live in Asheville and like to travel you may be getting a bit restless. Well, try to stay home. Just yesterday I learned of a good friend who has a wreck. They and another driver got onto ice and slid into each other. Please, do not travel for pleasure in this weather. Wait till March.
However, for those of us who just have to go somewhere, I have a solution. Or at least a quick fix. At least for those who live in Asheville. Asheville is full of amazing things to do and see. For convenience I’m going to divide the city into five districts: North, East, South, West and Downtown. Also I will try to be brief as I cover the areas.
For purposes of this article I am defining North Asheville as north of I-240, east of the river, west of the Tunnel and South of Beaver Lake. So lets start with Beaver Lake. This is a great man made lake at the northern tip of Asheville. It has walking trails, ducks and a bird sanctuary at its southern tip. Directly south of the lake is the North Asheville Branch Library, which you must stop and see. It is one of the most striking of hte branch libraries since it was deisgned iwth a Colorado ski resort theme going on. Check out the exposed beams and stonework. Even if you don’t have a library card(whihc you should if you live or work in Buncombe County) you can take advantage of the free magazine exchange and book sale. The books are inexpensive, the funds go to the Friends of the Library and you never know what you might find.
Merrimon Avenue is an eclectic blend of shops and restaurants. One I have been to is the Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company. For those teetotalers out there, I am one of your number. I assure you this is mostly a theater, with a little pizza joint thrown in. They feature second run feature films for $3. Its a family friendly environment and my sources assure me the food is a relative bargain. Great place to catch a movie you either missed or want to see again.
If you continue down Merrimon Avenue you’ll come to W.T. Weaver Boulevard on your right. If you follow it you’ll come to the NC Botanical Gardens on your right. Although it will have more blooms in a few months, this is a great place to take a stroll or let the kids burn off some energy. Its also the site of the Civil War Battle of Asheville. However, I don’t know if dogs(or metal detectors) are allowed.
Just before you get to the Gardens is the entrance to the University of North Carolina in Asheville. The S.Tucker Cooke Gallery(in Owen Hall) features art exhibits, often done by students as class projects. The Highsmith Univesity Union is a must see for its architecture. This place is amazing and reminds me of a futuristic space station. Finally if you are so inclined the Ramsey Library is a Federal Depository Library. This means you have access to all sorts of Federal documents stored there. Of course, parking is always an issue on campus and remember you are a guest so behave accordingly.
East of Merrimon Avenue is Kimberly Avenue and Charlotte Street, two older residential districts of Asheville. A drive down either of these streets will give you a look at some of the area’s stateliest homes, many around a hundred years old. Just remember you are a guest and do not live there, so don’t creep anybody out.
Off Charlotte Street you’ll find Macon Street, which leads up to the Grove Park Inn. This historical gem is definitely worth a stop. I can’t believe I missed the Gingerbread Houses this year, but that’s what happens when the holidays are this busy. The Inn’s architecture is amazing and I’ve heard they have very good food in the restaurant. Their web site lists various musical entertainment in the Great Hall which promises to be very enjoyable. The Grovewood Gallery and an Antique Car Museum are adjacent to the Inn.
Well that’s North Asheville, on to East Asheville. For purposes of this article I am defining East Asheville as the area east of Town Mountain, west of Oteen–inclusive– and north of I-40. The Folk Art Center is probably the most significant free attraction in this part of town. Its located on the Parkway, so weather is definitely an issue here. The Parkway Visitor’s Center is located just south of the Folk Art Center. While I haven’t been to the Visitor’s Center, but I never tire of visiting the Folk Art Center. Everyone should visit it, not only becaouse the admission is free, but also because of the impressive and intriguing colelction.
The Billy Graham Conference Center at The Cove is directly of I-40 in Oteen. Tours of the conference center are available at no cost and I thought it was extremely interesting. When my family and I visited we first toured the Chapel, a lovely example of rustic architecture. The third floor contained an impressive display about the Reverend Billy Graham’s ministry. We proceeded to the Training Center, where we viewed an even more impressive collection of items relating to his life. Please refer to the BGEA Conference Center’s website for details about tour availbablity.
Most people in Asheville know where the Municipal Golf Course on Swannanoa River Road. Just east of this is the WNC Nature Center. This is not a free attraction but may be worth your while. Consult their website to see if its what you like and what the ticket prices are.If you stay on Highway 70– also known as Tunnel Road East– you can find the Southern Highland Craft Guild‘s shop at 930 Tunnel Road. Even if you don’t buy anything it looks like a fascinating place to visit. (This is on my list of places to visit.) I’m certain they would be willing for you to stop in and look as long as you behave. I’m guessing if you break you buy. Just west of the shop is the East Asheville Branch Library behind the Fire Department. if you are so inclined they offer an inceedible children’s department and one of the best magazine exchanges in the system.
Well, this blog has been longer than I planned so next time I will cover South and West Asheville. I may have to include Downtown in a whole other post. I do want to stress the usefulness of the Asheville Buncombe Library System. The resources for travelers are vast bot h literary, audiovisual and beyond. Also while you wait for the temperatures to rise they a wonderful set of resources, both entertaining and educational. One is the Children’s Storytime offered at each of the branch libraries. (as far as I know) Consult the ABLS website for more information. As as I have alluded to many branches have a free magazine exchange and a inexpensive used book sale. The most impressive book sale is in the recently renovated Pack Library downtown on Haywood Street. (Tune in later for details about that branch.) The most impressive magazine exchanges—as far as I know—are at the East Asheville, Black Mountain branches and the Weaverville branches.
I really want to take this opportunity to encourage ABLS to loosen their magazine exchange policy. These magazines are a great gift to the population of Buncombe County. I have seen a trend toward a restriction of what my be left at the exchanges. This makes the exchanges look neater but it severely limits the offering to the public. A compromise somewhere between the two extremes would be welcome. What better way for people to recycle magazines than to pass them on? And in these economic times I’m sure many people would welcome them.
Also I would welcome the ABLS branches making at least some of their newspapers available to the public. These newspapers are currently recycled but woudl be wreclomed by many patrons. While the Citizen Tiems is readikly available others, especially the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, are not. The West Asheville Branch used to leave their newspapers accessible downstairs in the library. As a high school student I found theise papers to be stimualting to my own intellectual development. Not only do I consider the Times to be the best paper around, but many of my tastes and interests have been formed by that early acquaintance.
Well, I’m going to step off my soapbox now and wish you all a safe weekend. Be careful out there. Ice is everywhere. Stay safe.