People around the world journeyed from one seasonal residence to another for centuries. They followed food sources, like the Indians tracking the buffalo. People trekked to climates amenable to planting crops, moving back and forth across the same lands twice a year. Romans spent summers along the lakes and mountains of northern Italy, far from the filth and diseases pervading the city during the hottest months of the year.
Today a mass movement floods American highways and air routes every winter. Retirees from the Northeastern states across the midwest to the Pacific coastal enclaves of Alaska, Washington and Oregon pack their bags and travel south. Seniors from our neighbor to the north, Canada, also head south in winter. Travelers settle throughout the southwest, Mexico and the Caribbean, South American countries, and Florida.
Hub and I are following the tide, driving south to savor warm weather for a few weeks. Visiting family and friends in Florida for a few days, we will then venture further south. I would call our trip a vacation but since neither of us work I guess it is not technically a vacation. I am not sure what to call it.
Our first stop, besides one night in a motel is Asheville NC, location of the largest privately owned home in the U.S., Biltmore, a Gilded Age residence built by a member of one of the wealthiest families in America during pre-income tax days, the Vanderbilts.
Asheville lies in the mountains of western North Carolina. The city has undergone a Renaissance of sorts over the past twenty years, morphing from a sleepy, rather poor country town to a city known for its food, beer, art, hipsters, funky ambiance, year-round recreational activities, and tourists.
On the road to Asheville
An Airbnb apartment is home for our four-day stay. We have a kitchen, a room with a TV larger than ours at home, upholstered chairs and a couch (actually a futon) for relaxing, a bedroom and bathroom. Definitely better than a hotel room for hanging out. Our days of being on the go from early morning to well past dark are long gone. We are leisurely travelers. Directly across the street the Greenlife grocery stocks organic merchandise. Recently purchased by Whole Foods, the store retained its original name. We scoped out the place and purchased a few groceries. More expensive than a conventional supermarket, but a lot less than eating every meal out.
Downtown Asheville retains its late 19th century Victorian and early 20th century Art Deco architecture. Since the city was economically depressed for decades following the Depression, buildings were not torn down to make way for larger structures. We spent an afternoon on a Comedy Tour, riding a reconditioned school bus around town hearing about the city's history and the colorful characters who lived in or passed through Asheville, such as Thomas Wolf. Asheville is the real town depicted in the author's book Look Homeward, Angel. Another celebrity gracing the environs was Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of F. Scott. She spent time on and off for years in a local sanitarium, and was unlucky enough to be staying at the place when a fire broke out. Locked in her room and strapped down awaiting electroshock therapy, she died in the blaze. The year 1948, and Zelda was 47.
If never in Asheville, put the city on your bucket list. It has made top must-see lists in various magazines. Lonely Planet named Asheville the Best in the U.S. Destination in 2017. Check here for additional endorsements.
NPR calls Asheville the"Napa Valley of Beer," and the city
Boasts over 40 breweries and pubs.
North Carolina made headlines over the passage of transgender bathroom laws.
Asheville is a liberal enclave in the midst of a conservative rural area.
Artists took over old warehouses and transformed an area along the river
Into the River Arts District with studios, galleries, stores, and cafes.