Asheville,NC Day 10 Elk Mtn.Rd. and Asheville

August 17, 2023 We woke up at 8:30 to find a flock of geese visiting our campsite. They ate their way past us and into the next campsite.

We had breakfast and prepared to leave for the 18-mile drive on Elk Mountain Scenic Drive. From the campground, we caught the Blue Ridge Parkway going northeast about 5 miles down the road.

Entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Parkway was pretty deserted today. There weren’t many cars around.

The road was through the forests and carved out of the hillsides.

We stopped at an overlook to check out the view.

The skies were mostly sunny with a pleasant temperature of 70 degrees, so visibility was good for many miles.

We took the Parkway for 7 miles to Oak Creek Rd. for a short distance. The road was a steady climb up into the Elk Mountains to Bull Gap (3107 ft.) — Crest of the Great Craggy Mountains.

We found Elk Mountain Scenic Highway in no time and followed its twists and turns. The speed limit was 35 mph, but we could barely do 15 mph.

The road is a designated bike trail out of Asheville. Why you would ride your bike on this road is beyond me, but we passed 4 different bikers that seemed to be enjoying themselves. We reached the summit and got a glimpse across the valley.

On the road at the summit, we discovered all this writing on the road. We couldn’t make out much of it and we couldn’t stop to look closer at it, but it looked like people kept adding to it.

What surprised us the most were all the million dollar homes carved into the mountainside, most with fantastic views.

There was an area designated with signs called Elk Mountain Estates where they were selling lots.

Around every turn and down every long driveway was a gorgeous home with those fantastic views.

We passed multiple construction crews building new homes on sheer cliffs. Getting that heavy equipment up those roads must have been a treat. We wound our way down the mountains and saw this fire hydrant and stop sign which told us we must be approaching the north side of Asheville.

We got back into Asheville and headed for downtown to the Pack Square area and where we had parked before. The road was closed to the park across from the parking lot where they were setting up for a gathering called United For Youth–a Job Fair today. Our goal was to check out more of the downtown area and have lunch at Farm Burger.

We parked in the same parking lot we were in before and walked up to Pack Square.

There were fewer people around this morning. The fountain in the Square was operating today.

This beautiful glass globe stood outside the Asheville Art Museum.

We walked down Patton Ave. where we had looked for items on our scavenger hunt of the Urban Trail the other day. Last time the homeless people were occupying the park bench so I couldn’t see it, but today it was empty so I found “Stepping Out” (top hat, cane, and gloves) which recalls the theaters and Grand Opera House that once flourished along Patton Ave.

The S & W Building with the beautiful architecture, was built in 1929 as a cafeteria with a tin ceiling. It is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is called the S & W Market, “Asheville’s first food hall to serve delicious fast-casual food in an elevated atmosphere”. We would use the term “Food Court” today, but what a surprise inside it was!

We walked across the street to Pritchard Park, which is home to the Friday Night Drum Circle. We walked around the outer edge of small park and discovered these granite chess/checker board tables located there.

There was also an “amphitheater” with stone benches inside the park. This cool sculpture, entitled Deco Gecko, stood on one corner of the park.

The old Kress building (1928) is now Kress Emporium which showcases the work over 80 regional artists and crafts people. Inside there were all sorts of interesting and unusual items for sale.

The outside of the building is designed with terra cotta ornamentation.

North Carolina’s tallest skyscraper is the Jackson Building built in 1924. It is 13 stories tall with lots of glass and terra cotta. In the early days, the beam of a searchlight on the roof could be seen for 30 miles.

We stopped at Farm Burgers for lunch about 12:00. We made plans to stop here after we smelled the burgers on the grill from the sidewalk the last time we were in town, so we had to check it out.

I had the Build Your Own Burger and Bob had the Farm Burger. The burgers were delicious!

They were all out of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, so the girl said this was the one that had a similar taste…..and Bob agreed!

After lunch, we walked down Biltmore Ave. to visit the Mast General Store. It was on my list of places to see. They have been selling everything from food, kitchen items, and apparel on the main floor to all kinds of outdoor gear in their lower level since 1883.

It had a huge selection of candy! It was like taking a step back in time in a cool, old general store.

We saw this in the canned jellies section. Someone had a sense of humor.

Farther down the street from the Mast General Store were some very old buildings including the Fine Arts Theater, playing of all things, the movie “Barbie”!

This area of town was part of the Hotel District where the Eagle Hotel (1814) and Swannanoa Hotel (1878) were built across the street from one another making Biltmore Ave. the social center of town. Many of the old buildings remain.

As we waited at the crosswalk, this street musician began to perform.

We got a closer look at the historic Buncombe County Courthouse built in 1924-28. It is a 17-story, steel frame skyscraper and was the tallest government building in the state.

Right next to it is the City Building. We had seen this building from a distance, but I wanted to see it up close. The highlight of this building is the rectangular, stepped roof covered with red tiles that splits into layers using green and gold feather motifs.

We found another item from the Urban Trail called “On the Move” which honors the evolution of transportation in Asheville. The disc spins and makes sounds of changing transportation across the last century. You can see the Art Deco pictures stamped on the disc.

From there, we hit the road and went back to the campground at 2:00. It was a gorgeous afternoon to sit outside. We only have 2 days left here, so we have to make the most of it these wonderful, cool temperatures.

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