Thursday, October 29, 2015

Autumn Colors along the Blue Ridge: Asheville and The Biltmore

Autumn Leaves
Despite the incessant and annoying rain, the colors of Autumn were brilliant earlier this week.  

Asheville, NC is a tourist mecca this time of the year. Why? You may ask. Pure and simple...vibrant, pulsating shades and hues of red, yellow and orange: Autumn colors!

Asheville in Autumn
It is hard to imagine that this brightest flash of color is the highlight of the annual sleep cycle of the deciduous trees and brush of the region. All of this plays against a background of deep green coniferous pines and other evergreens.

Color and Color
At 2,134ft (650m) Asheville is at the lower mid-point in elevation of the Blue Ridge Mountain range.  Mt. Mitchell, at 6,684ft (3037m) is its high point.  Earlier this week, the higher ranges of the Blue Ridge range had definitely past their peak...say from 3,500ft on up...but the mid-range 1,800 to 3,000ft were at their peak and readily showing off, even through the rain (did I mention it was raining when we were there?!?) tried to "dampen" our enthusiasm for the sights!

Given the rain, and the short period of time we were staying in the area, we (my wife Dianne and I) decided to make the best of it and spend one day doing a Grey Line Trolly "Hop-on Hop-off" tour around Asheville to get ourselves familiar with the potential sights of the area (other than the colors!) This proved to be a great way to get a good feeling of the area and allowed us to select what it was we really wanted to see.

The Tour pointed to the three most interesting stops...although our tour guide would probably argue with my take!

First and foremost is the Biltmore Estate with it's grand house, gardens, winery and Antler Hill Village complex. More on each of these as we continue our journey in the next blog.

Second is the Omni Grove Park Inn with it's spectacular foyers, huge vaulted ceilings and incredible views across the valleys it towers over.

The third was for the artist in all of us... the River Arts District. Here any form of artistic endeavor can be found - paint, pottery, jewelry, sculptor, furniture maker, photographer, glassblower or whatever. And to think that this area, at one point was under 16 feet of water!

The Lobster Trap
Even though we enjoyed only a couple of days in the region, we did get to sample some of the local cuisine and particularly enjoyed The Lobster Trap.  Being from New England, I did not expect to find a Portland, Maine derived restaurant in the midst of the Blue Ridge Mountains (read their story on the home page).  We enjoyed mussels, fresh shucked oysters from three different area and a lobster roll that came "very" close to any we have had in Portland, Maine!

In the next post, we'll talk about getting out of the rain and seeing what the Biltmore Estate is all about. And, believe me it is not to be missed.

Still Great Colors
I would just like to emphasize that the color "season" is not over.  There are still many grand sites and colors to observe.  I would give it another week or two before the colors have faded into oblivion...but until then, Asheville, the Blue Ridge mountains and all the surrounding areas will remain a colorful wonder to behold.

1 comment:

  1. The colors abound on New Englands south east coast at this time also.....I can relate to your picturesque descriptions.