We arrived in Asheville at the beginning of March, a couple weeks before the county and state stay-at-home policies went into effect for our area. We had the chance to check out the wonderful weirdness that is the Asheville area before shops and restaurants closed or adapted to take-out/delivery-only options. We very much hope that the independent businesses that give this area such distinctiveness can re-open in the future.
Like other towns we’ve visited before (Savannah and Charleston come to mind), tourism plays a huge part in Asheville’s local economy. But rather than lean on history or eye-catching architecture, the town has built its culture on innovation and ingenuity. The town grew out of a combination of mills and hospitals, attracting the rich and famous to build homes and invest in the area. The legacy of those investments is a stately and picturesque mountain city filled with quirky boutiques, funky record shops, independent book stores, gourmet yet accessible cuisine, and more craft breweries than you can shake a hop vine at.
We had an especially unique opportunity to learn about Asheville’s culture because we got to meet up with a peer of mine from high school. Chris is a rep for Hi-Wire Brewing (shameless plug for their national shipping options) and has been in the area for several years. We learned about how this area blends its almost-west coast vibe with Appalachian spirit — it’s a unique combination of independence and neighborliness where locals can pursue their shoot-for-the-moon ambitions while participating in a community that looks out for its own.
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Within half an hour’s drive of Asheville are a couple of quaint towns: Waynesville to the west and Hendersonville to the south. Each have charming main streets with their own quirky characters. Waynesville’s city center is rooted around the old train line which was laid low by the water, at the “frog level” which gives the area its nickname. Hendersonville feels bigger and more built up than I expected for a town of 13k residents. People filled downtown which was full of independent shops and restaurants.
The drive between Waynesville and Hendersonville took us through Pisgah National Forest — we even crossed the Blue Ridge Parkway at one point. Our route was just to get us between the two towns without doubling back through Asheville, but it was beautiful even on a gray day. We even had a fun viewpoint discovery: Looking Glass Falls.
Stay home, stay occupied
Now that our only outings are for groceries and other essentials, we have a lot more time at home. Like all our friends and family, we’re finding new ways to pass the time. One great find: Mark got a Cricut Maker and has branded the RV with a new vinyl sticker. Michaels crafts stores had some great deals on at-home crafting supplies, and they now offer curb-side pickup at some locations, so win-win. We also play games, watch our favorite feel-good shows and movies, and take walks around our RV park to de-stress.
Rexy has kept her cool this week and not given us anything additional to worry about. We’ll move her at the weekend to grab some more propane (we normally fill up on the road every couple of weeks) and then re-park in our spot.
Cat tax: Lilly scouted a new nap spot half-on a CO2 canister under the steering wheel. Because why not.
We’re staying put for a while. As the Covid-19 situation evolves, we’ve talked a lot about what this means for our travels. Our priorities: stay healthy, stay stocked, respect stay-at-home and social distancing policies that have gone into effect across most of the country. To that end, we’ve extended our site reservation here in Asheville through early May.
If you have any questions about our travels or RV life, leave us a message in the comments.