WHERE THE HECK IS MR. GOLDEN SUN?
|Soco Falls: A unique double waterfall|
near Cherokee, NC.
I remember my children listening to the Raffi song which implores "Mr. Golden Sun" to "please shine down on me." Since entering North Carolina "Mr. Golden Sun" has done nothing but cry! It has rained every day for 2 weeks straight. Although we had a couple of days with some breaks in the weather, the rain put a major damper (pun intended) on my hiking and mountain biking. So here we now sit in eastern Tennessee awaiting the arrival of tropical storm "Alberto." Normally, I would have run west, but this year our eastern obligations made an escape from the rain impossible.
|The general store in Saluda, NC.|
|Downtown Asheville, NC.|
To be sure, we made the most of the inclement weather and still had a great time. We made a point to take advantage of "indoor sports." Since we were in the Asheville area, which boasts 62 breweries, you can probably guess our favorite "indoor sport." 7 down; 55 more to go!
|Nancy enjoying a frosty at the|
Wicked Weed Brewery in Asheville, NC.
The best thing about Asheville is that it is the home of Paul Ferensak, Jr., our nephew. Paul has lived here for several years, so he was a great resource. We were able to get together with him twice. Once, for a long brunch and a visit to his home. Then a second time when he visited us at our rig.
|Nez (Paul's friend), Paul and Moose out|
for brunch at ISIS Music Hall in Asheville.
Nez is one of the make-up artists for many
of the lead actors in the Walking Dead TV show.
|Paul's house in the foothills|
of Pisgah National Forest.
And then there was a fantastic surprise waiting for us in Asheville as our nephew Lukas showed up in town with his friend Samantha. Lukas just finished his Junior year at UNC and was taking a short break before starting a summer internship. We were so happy to be able to get together with him for a few hours one afternoon. We had a blast.
|Nancy, Samantha and Lukas|
at Hillman Beer; another Asheville brewery.
So what else does Asheville offer? Asheville is one of the coolest towns in the country. It is a progressive town with a beautiful, vibrant downtown, and tons of music. In fact, outside of Nashville, TN and Austin, TX this town had the best music opportunities of any other area yet. The big tourist draw is The Biltmore Estate which is a massive mansion with unique architectural features and wonderful gardens. Since the weather was so miserable and the ticket price to visit the estate was so excessive, we opted out until our next visit. But that didn't mean that we went without a visit to an opulent mansion as our journey took us to The Omni Grove Park Inn. This is a beautiful, huge building constructed out of field stones and boulders. Visitors are allowed to wander around the Inn and gardens for free. We took advantage of the place and even had lunch on the massive back porch overlooking Asheville and Pisgah National Forest.
|The interior of the Omni Grove Park Inn is full of the|
same field stones as the exterior.
|The view from the Inn toward Asheville.|
|The Omni Grove Park Inn.|
Also, since we were in the area we visited The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We tried to do some scenic touring of the park but the weather did not cooperate. One day I tried to force a mountain bike ride, but my journey along the banks of a creek in flood quickly forced the end of my ride as I found myself trying to peddle through knee deep water.
|An artist at Oconaluftee Indian Village in|
|Museum of the Cherokee Indian|
|Oconaluftee Indian Village|
Our next great adventure brought us to the Knoxville, Tennessee area. Knoxville is another small city with a pleasant downtown and a great vibe due to its close proximity to the University of Tennessee.
|A sculpture near one of Knoxville's|
Greenway bike trails.
Our primary reason for the visit to Knoxville was to tour the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. The museum was beautiful and a wonderful tribute to women's basketball. Of course, as one would expect, there was a heavy emphasis on the University of Tennessee and the University of Connecticut. Since we were originally from Connecticut and I have been a fan of women's basketball dating back to the 1970's when The Wide World of Sports televised the national championship games, the museum turned out to be of great interest.
|Some of uniforms worn by women basketball players.|
|The All-American Red Heads limo.|
The Red Heads were a women's professional basketball formed
in 1936. All the players died their hair red.
They played with men's rules and were a huge success.
The organization continued playing basketball until 1986.
Since the rain kept falling on our heads with no end in sight, we opted for an early departure from Knoxville to head to Connecticut for a short family visit. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate for the next phase of our travels into Michigan and Wisconsin.
|Black Mountain, NC|
|Lunch at a garden shop in Black Mountain, NC.|