We spent a long weekend in Asheville visiting some friends of ours from Korea (they're now living in Japan). It was an interesting mix of his college friends, her college friends...and then us. The 'mutual' friends.
Bill and Sarah did the lodging legwork for this one (it was, after all, THEIR trip) and booked a great cabin on the outskirts of the town (I can't bring myself to call it a city...). We brought along a list of good ideas from our previous visit here - along with the only guidebook we were able to find in a conventional book store: The Underground Asheville Guidebook.
Asheville is somwhat of a study in contradictions. Known for its old (conservative) wealth, its liberal arts scene, and its fantastic outdoor activities, one can easily wander down the street and observe a fascinating ideological journey from stuffily conservative, to Redneck and proud(!), to freakily radical (far enough outside the limits of typical society to qualify as something further afield than mere "ultraliberal").
And on top of all that? Some great restuarants - such as Rio Burrito, Salsa's, and Zambra (just to highlight a few). Oh yeah...there are also a couple of kick-ass Irish pubs. We dragged 'em all out for a couple of great hikes in Pisgah National Forest (near Brevard, NC) - first up Looking Glass Rock and then up John Rock Loop. Neither hike is particularly exhausting - but both offer a bit of a challenge. In both cases, the view(s) make the effort worthwhile. Interestingly, the two peaks are visible from each other (so we have great pictures of John Rock from Looking Glass...and great pictures of Looking Glass from John Rock). Even better...I got the world's largest banana split at an ice cream stand just outside of Pisgah in Brevard. Perfect end to a hike? I think so.
Here's the group:
...and some shots from Looking Glass Rock:
...some shots from downtown Asheville:
...then there's the final hike up John Rock Trail: