This past week was spring break: one whole, glorious week with no classes and time to travel. My spring break was broken neatly in two parts. Saturday through Tuesday I took a road trip with my friend Talior to Asheville, North Carolina. Our trip to Asheville was the first time I’d ever been on a road trip without any of my family. I was so excited to go exploring all on our own. Saturday we hit the road late in the morning and stopped at Beacon Drive-In near Spartanburg for lunch. It had been featured on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives, so my expectations were pretty high. No longer a drive in, there was a long counter where your order was shouted back to the kitchen and appeared at the end. I had a delightfully greasy cheeseburger and shared some of Talior’s “a plenty”. The plates at Beacon are served “a plenty” piled high with fries and greasy, yummy onion rings. We got back on the road and headed to Asheville. That night the Asheville Community Theater was showing [title of show], so we decided to spend an evening at the theater. I knew generally that the show centered around the true story of the creators writing a show about them writing a show for the New York Musical Theater Festival, but I was blown away by how much fun it was. Earnest, funny, and inspiring, a very talented cast delivered on everything I wanted in a show.
We spent most of Sunday exploring the Biltmore Estate. That was the highlight of the trip for me. I loved seeing all of the amazing artwork and architecture of the mansion, as well as hearing the fascinating stories of the family that lived there. They were offering an off-season special, and giving out audio guides free with admission. Usually I skip the audio guide, but this time I was so glad I did not. It offered an in-depth look at each room that would have been missing had we just walked through. My favorite room was the two-story library, with Mr. Vanderbilt’s personal collection of over 100,000 books. The indoor pool was also fascinating. We did not spend much time on the grounds since all of the plants were still brown and dead from the harsh winter. I hope some day I can come back when the flowers are blooming and the trees are green. Tip: Tickets can be a bit pricy, but are cheaper if you buy them online at least a week in advance.
That afternoon we spent some time wandering around and shopping downtown before grabbing an early dinner at Tupelo Honey Café. Another Food Network recommendation, the food was outstanding. I had a “breakfast pie” with “southern popcorn” (otherwise know as a quiche with fried okra) and Talior had Brian’s famous shrimp and grits. I enjoyed my dinner very much, but Talior was in raptures about hers. As a native South Carolinian, I don’t take it lightly that she declared it the best shrimp and grits she had ever had. For dessert I treated myself to what I thought would be a slice of blueberry cream cheese pie, but was actually a whole personal pie enough for two people.Tip: The Shoo Mercy version is so much more expensive because it comes with twice as many shrimp, but for a small fee you can get the extra fixings without the extra shrimp.
Monday was spent mostly up in the mountains. In the morning we took a lovely, relaxing trail ride at Sandy Bottom Trail Rides. It was nice to get away from civilization and just enjoy the rolling hillsides and beautiful mountaintops of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Back downtown we had lunch at the old Woolworths buil
ding, which had been converted into an art gallery, but the lunch counter was still there. They had lots of classic yummy sandwiches and ice cream. We then drove almost an hour up another mountain to Cherokee, North Carolina to visit the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. I knew woefully little about the Cherokee Nation, and enjoyed learning about their legends, development, and history. For me, it was worth the driv
e, plus the views were beautiful. Later, we stopped in for a late dinner back in Asheville at Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack. Famous for their XX hot wings, we both stuck with pretty mild flavors. The next morning we drove back to Columbia.
Asheville was a fun place to visit, and I hope to go back someday. Next time, I plan to go when the flowers are in bloom to re-visit the Biltmore grounds, as well as tour the North Carolina Arboretum. I would also like to see St. Lawrence’s Basilica, which I heard is lovely on the inside, and go the Asheville Art Museum.
Next week I’ll post about the rest of my spring break adventures: visiting Charlotte with my mother.