Grab your Group and Enjoy the View

Grabbing a group and going places does come with challenges.  Like, when traveling… Where does one stash everyone in the group?  Sometimes a block of hotel rooms will do (Hershey Park), but my lodging of choice is a large home with ample bedrooms and bathrooms, a well stocked kitchen, and a breathtaking view.  As a result of this final point, I have dragged many groups up a lot of hills to stay with me in my rooms with a view.

IMG_5818I am not sure when a proper panorama became of such paramount importance to me.  Perhaps because a scenic view offers a greater glimpse into the area you are visiting?  A home is a home (and I love homes), but a home with a view offers an unparalleled glimpse into the location.  The more expansive the view, the wider the glimpse.  To my mind, this translates to a greater value for your travel dollar.  Someday I will catalog the best of these hilltop, cliff, ocean, lake or vineyard view home stays.  For now I will focus on our house close to the top of Cold Mountain in North Carolina.

img_0340-2-e1502647633284.pngAs a hobby, when I have a location looming in my future, I will casually begin my quest for the perfect home.  Knowing I had to be in Asheville to pick up my daughter from camp in August, I opened my laptop in February for a peek at VRBO, Homeway and Airbnb to check out the available inventory.  For whatever reason, Truly Breathless was one of the first homes to appear after I entered my travel parameters.

It was love at first sight.  That view overlooking the valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains beyond!  The cozy home and outdoor seating areas!  Hikes from the house!  Dog friendly!  Wild eyed, I briefly checked the numerous other listings to test my gut reaction to this wildly attractive, to me, home.  Nothing else passed muster.  Never mind that the home was as a tad out of the way (30 minutes from Asheville and 15 minutes to the closest milk pick up) and required the rental of a 4 wheel drive car lest you not make it up the exceedingly steep gravel driveway.  By golly I was going to be in the area and this is where me and my group (that had yet to be assembled) would stay.  It was the quickest rental I’ve ever secured.

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As it turns out my instincts about the home were correct.  The drive was tricky, but well worth the twists and turns to be delivered to this place with it’s signature view.  The house is designed to maximize one’s enjoyment of the landscape.  We knew immediately we’d be spending most of our time on it’s gracious and welcoming deck.  I was reminded a bit of our house in the Serengeti, with it’s multiple irresistible sitting areas, and I made a mental note to kick up the inviting level in our sitting areas at home.

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IMG_5733The group that I gathered were dubious from afar. (Seriously a 4 wheel drive car? Yes, seriously.) But each person loved it upon arrival.  A quick look at the bookshelves that housed many of my favorite reads and a spice rack that screamed “stay home and cook” cemented my belief that I could be friends with these owners!  A dear friend who joined whipped up some pretty amazing meals in our kitchen, that we savored while parked in the bright blue adirondack chairs on the porch.

As is the case when staying at a home instead of a hotel, the backdrop provided much more opportunity for re-connecting with the group that had gathered.  We sat and we talked and we sat and we talked.  Hummingbirds flitted by and birds chirped in the background as if they were part of the conversation.  My kids and I may not see these friends again for a while as the busy-ness of fall will inevitably distract us, but our friendships are that much stronger for the experience of being in this home together if only for 48 hours.

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To further affirm my belief that I could easily be friends with the owners of this home, I am sharing with you (with their blessings) their very well written and very well researched guide to the area.  Usually these things can be a bit of snooze, but their guide is funny, insightful, and chalk full of fun places to visit.  Will share some of what we did in another post!  Today, we are going to the River Arts District on our way to the airport after a mandatory fun family hike.

Guide from the Owners of Truly Breathless (Abridged Version):

Farmer’s Markets
• Waynesville – Saturday Mornings only. Look for your signs on the left before you hit main street
• Asheville – West Carolina’s Farmers Market – Huge with a wholesale selection of produce, meat, cheese, honey and flowers. Near the intersection of 240 and 40.
• Danny Barrett’s Ten Acre Farm – Sparse offering the produce stand as Danny literally takes your order and pulls it out of the ground. Many high end restaurants use Danny’s produce. 
Freshest produce you will every have. Green, tomatoes, strawberries, beans, flowers etc.

Wine
• The Classic Wine Seller. 20 Church Street, Waynesville, NC 28786.  Yes, a massive and awesome collection of wine and spirits, but live music too?! And they also have a restaurant.  Can’t say I’ve been, but I hear it’s nice. I love the owner and his staff is friendly and so helpful.

Asheville has MANY awesome places, and nearly everything is dog friendly! Here are a few favorites:
• The Biltmore Estate – I know you’re going to give me a hard time because this is so “done”, but if you haven’t done it, you have to. We love going there – heck we’re members – and there are tons of cool things to do. Don’t just think “tour an old house” think: Segway tour, horseback riding, fly fishing lessons, Range Rover off-road course, skeet shooting, bring your bike and ride by the river… I mean seriously, it’s the bomb diggity.
• Jack The Dipper Ice Cream – 76 Waynesville Plaza, Waynesville, NC 28786 – You gotta when you gotta. This isn’t far away and you’d never find it on trip advisor! They roll their own cones and the hot fudge is the kind that gets hard and a bit chewy when cold, delish!
• Asheville Outdoor Center – 521 Amboy Rd, Asheville, NC 28806; (828) 232-1970 – All things cool and amazing are here. You can rent rafts, canoes and Kayaks to go through the Biltmore Estate via the French Broad River! Its too cool, reasonably priced and the people who run the place are super nice. It’s in/on a park just outside of downtown Asheville. We love this place!
• River Arts District (RAD) – Have you ever wanted to see an artist’s works and watch them create while chatting with you. Hundreds of studios and talented artists in painting, sculpture, glass, ceramics, fabric, jewelry, etc. More than a full days adventure. Check out the White Duck Taco for lunch. Best meal you will have all day!
• Bar-B-Que – Just 2 words ….. “12 Bones”. Only open for lunch during the week and not open during the weekend. And yes, it’s that good. The line forms quickly so get there early for the best ribs you have ever had.

For more suggestions check out http://mountainx.com – This is the ultimate guide to going’s on in Asheville. They have the “Best of” (http://bestofwnc.com/) that discusses the best of everything.

A few favorite Breakfast Spots…

Bethel:
• Breaking Bread Cafe – 6147 Pigeon Rd, Canton, NC 28716 – Right next to the gas station, and I know what you’re thinking! It does look a tad too “local” but it’s clean and the prices are great. If you’re in a hurry and don’t care about calories, their Texas toast breakfast sammy (Mary Ellen taught me to have mine with egg, bacon, mayo and onion… yummy) is killer. They keep weird hours so I’d call (they SAY 8-6, but sometimes it’s closed…(828) 648-3838)

Waynesville:
• City Cafe – on 18 N Main St, Waynesville, NC 28786 – Oh Lord, their cinnamon buns will kill any attempt to diet. They are awesome, but they sell out early so get your fitness on after breakfast! They have wonderful breakfasts and they are truly creative with some unique options (try the avocado, egg and tomato breakfast sandwich) right down to bagels and cream cheese… They also sell amazing baked breads, that they will throw in the slicer for you, so be sure to grab a loaf to bring home! Open daily, 7-5 pm.

Asheville:
• Tupelo Honey Café (35 minutes away) – Address: 12 College St, Asheville, NC 28801 – 
Words cannot fully describe their biscuits and the sweet potato pancake is delish. It is in the heart of it all in downtown Asheville, but mind your watch because the line starts 20 minutes after they open. Truly worth the drive. Opens at 8am and closes at 10pm.

• Sunny Point Café (35 ish minutes) – Address: 626 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC 28806 – 
Trip advisor’s 4.5 stars are earned! This place is truly amazing (and if you have a pup, bring it… they love dogs!) Total farm to table and while I haven’t done it personally, I hear they offer lunch and dinner too… but that’s not why I go. Very popular and again, totally worth the wait. They opens at 8 and close at 2:30 on Sunday and Monday. The rest of the week open t’ill 9

• Early Girl Eatery – 8 Wall St, Asheville, NC 28801 – I know it looks like I just googled “best places to eat breakfast in Asheville” but honestly, I didn’t. Early Girl is really fun. King Daddy’s chicken and waffles and the black bean hummus… Seriously, a toss-up from Tupelo to Early Girl (it’s around the corner) but it opens a bit earlier (7:30!). Again, over using the farm to table story, but it really is – heck they all are! I’d say a bit “healthier” than Tupelo, but not that much… They make homemade breads and serve little muffins while you wait for your breakfast.

Restaurants for Dinner …

• Frogs Leap Public House – 44 Church St, Waynesville, NC 28786-5709 – 
A long-standing Krider family “go to” and favorite place to eat dinner. We started going there because they serve produce from the Ten Acre Garden (GO DANNY!) but keep coming back because the food is amazing and its nearby. So what I said about clean jeans doesn’t really apply here, wear something with a little more oomph, its considered fan-cee for these parts but you’ll be glad you did.

• The Sweet Onion – 39 Miller St., Waynesville, NC 28786
 – So this too is in Waynesville (I am biased) but also super. It is a little less “healthy and fancy” than the Frogs Leap (maybe) and the atmosphere isn’t as “date night” as Frog’s Leap. You’ll like it, it’s a nice option and we’re picky I promise.

• Tipping Point Tavern. Ask Mr. Krider where he wants to go to dinner and he’ll say 9 times outta 10 “Tipping Point.” Why? Well I assure you it isn’t because the food is so awesome, it’s fine. It’s all about the craft beer.

• Nick & Nate’s – 111 North Main Street, Waynesville, NC 28786 – Families with kids pay attention… Pizza, salad bar and nearby. Inexpensive, alright food in the heart of charming Waynesville. SO that’s not a bad trade off if you need a kid friendly/grown up happy joint (they DO serve beer, but cruddy box wine).

Vegetarian
• Laughing Seed” is the best hands down. Wall Street, Asheville

Pubs 
Waynesville – “Tipping Point” – great “pub grub”
Asheville – Too many to mention but I’ll try…
◦ Jack in the Woods – Live Music
◦ Wicked Weed – Brewery and Restaurant
◦ Thirsty Monk – great selection of local beer
◦ LAB – Lexington Ave Brewery
◦ Tressa’s – Great Live Music
◦ Asheville Pizza and Brewing Co.
◦ Pappas and Beer (not a brewery, but great bang for your buck on Mexican and beer!

Beer 
Asheville is quickly becoming a Beer Mecca for the US. Over 20+ micro breweries and a few major one offer a really diverse selection. Here are some helpful links
http://www.exploreasheville.com/foodtopia/beer- scene/
http://www.romanticasheville.com/beer.htm
http://ashevillealetrail.com/
http://ashevillebrewscruise.com/   (Great chauffered tour of Asheville’s best micros)

Other Local Highlights:
◦ Cattaloochee Dude Ranch – In Maggy Valley for chuck ranch family dinners. Try and catch the “Wolf Man” who brings his wolves and gives an educational talk after dinner.
◦ Drum Circle – Downtown on Friday evenings. Just open your car window to find it.
◦ Cattaloochee Ski Resort – 40 mins away
◦ Navitat Zip Lining – Best in the country – 60 mins away.
◦ Waynesville Recreation Center – Pool. 550 Vance Street, Waynesville, NC, 28786; 828- 456-2030
◦ Lake Junaluska Aquatic Center. 91 North Lakeshore Drive Lake Junaluska, NC 28745 Pools, canoes and Kayaks to rent.
◦ Pisgah Inn – 408 Blue Ridge Parkway, Blue Ridge Pkwy., Waynesville, NC 28786 – If you must eat a meal in the middle of the day, I highly recommend making a fun drive out of it. The views on the Blue Ridge parkway will make you cry and the food is okay… but you will like the view so much you won’t notice. It’s a fun idea to eat there and then hike a trail up off the parkway, or even hike then end there. Either way, spring, summer or fall it’s a complete treat to be on top of the world. Don’t miss your chance.

About GrabYourGroupandGO

I believe that experiences are far more important to collect than things. Add your friends and family to these experiences? Bliss!

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