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Alpharetta to Asheville

Not a ton to report from the first leg of the journey.

Got an early start this morning (for me), leaving Alpharetta around 8am.

The stretch to Greenville got pretty monotonous. Shift right to pass, shift back left, shift right again… joy…. There’s not much of visual interest once you pass the lakes as the Georgia border.

But in Greenville, the path AAA had plotted out leads to a bit more scenic roads, mostly not interstates. Mountains started blossoming around me, but soon it was pretty much the same sort of road. And making good time, I decided I should take a side trip. I saw a sign that said “Bat Cave” – cool, I’ve never visited caves before, I thought. I figured that it was some sort of national park. About halfway there, the thought crossed my mind, what if it’s a place named Bat Cave?

Well, guess what… it is… But it was on a scenic byway, so it was worth it. However, I’m glad to see Georgia isn’t the only place where scenic byway means, “winding road of death with no place to pull over and linger on a view.” I saw the most beautiful mountain valley totally filled with yellow flowers of some description. It positively glowed, but there was nowhere to pull over and document the moment on “film.” Alas… I’ve come to realize that by and large, I’m a flat lander. I definitely don’t enjoy driving on roads that whip back and forth the way they do up here, or even just a tad north of Atlanta for that matter.

At any rate, before I sound like it’s a bad trip, it’s not. Asheville is beautiful. The downtown is practically overflowing with awesome old architecture, obviously influenced by the Vanderbilts. I’ve yet to see the estate itself, that’s on tomorrow’s agenda.

I got to the hotel around 2pm and got settled in. It’s probably about 15 minutes from downtown, near Biltmore Mall (if that’s the only mall here, it’s not saying much, I’m assuming there’s more elsewhere). Afterwards, I drove down the Blue Ridge Parkway for awhile. Not quite as curving as the stretch to Bat Cave at least! Scenic overlooks frequently and mountain tunnels which lead to an interesting discovery.

The tunnels have signs asking you to turn on your headlights… so, I attempt to… hmmm… nothing… weird… but the lights do flip on automatically as always (which is the only way I normally turn them on). The problem is, it takes half a tunnel for them to flip on…. After two tunnels like this, I pop open the fuse box at the first scenic overlook, and I find the one that’s supposed to be for the headlights… empty… I don’t mean blown, I mean, empty… So, I popped a spare into it… problem solved, but what, I’ve had this car since 2001 and never been able to operate the headlights manually if I wanted to? Strange! It’s not like I ever tried…

So, after meandering down the parkway for awhile, stopping periodically, I headed back into Asheville and went back to downtown, this time having time to park and wander since everything else was squared away. Tons of photos, but too exhausted to do much with them tonight. I had thought I might go see a movie at the theater around the corner, but I know I’d just go to sleep.

Oh, downtown I had a fun vagrant experience. I seem to be required to have one of those per trip. I was taking a picture when he walked up… curse me, I made eye contact… I keep saying I’ll work on that… So, he saw his chance and was trying to sell me something electronic… I wasn’t paying attention, except for his story automatically had holes in it. First he had found it, then he had bought it but needed to sell it for food… yeah… “I’m sorry, no thanks…” Again with the preamble, this time with the addition of a hungry wife… “I’m sorry…” And his reply, “I KNOW YOU ARE!” And off he stomped… I did not just get called sorry by a panhandler did I?? Okkkkkkkkayyyy….

But don’t let this color your perception of Asheville. Lovely place. The architecture I’ve covered. There were also street performers all over the place. Live music echoed through the streets. There are art galleries and stores all over. I may try to take some of that in tomorrow.

So, off to bed now… try to get a good nights sleep but I want to get to Biltmore estate early so that I can take in as much as possible.

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