Continuing our “Adventures with Syl and Bill,” it was two weeks before Bill’s birthday, and that meant the onus was on me to plan his celebratory gala. In two weeks! What was I thinking?
In a panic I called my granddaughter Kayla for advice. At her early age, she is a world traveler and knows the ropes. I knew she was an advocate of Airbnb so I secretly sought her help as to just where to go. I knew this would be a driving trip; I didn’t want to spend forever getting to our destination, but I wanted a new and exciting experience for us, as usual. I registered with Airbnb and started my search.
And the winner was (drum roll, please) Asheville, North Carolina! Bill and I had been to Asheville before, primarily to visit the glorious Biltmore Estate (a surprise birthday trip for me!), but we hadn’t really explored its environs. So back to Airbnb, where there must have been more than 100 offerings for lodging, from one-room locations to entire homes. After much head scratching, did I hit the jackpot or what! I located a four-room apartment five miles from downtown Asheville, on the ground floor of a beautiful home surrounded by exquisite gardens. It was our own home away from home.
After settling in, we went to Asheville for a quick tour, then back “home” with a grocery bag of goodies, only to discover a huge bowl of fresh fruit, homemade bread and a birthday cupcake! Word had gotten around!
After scanning tons of brochures and maps, we planned our Asheville experience. And what an experience it was! Our four-day birthday extravaganza included a visit to a glassworks where artisan glass was created. And sold. Our fascination with a certain genre of Americana was satisfied many times over at a country general store, and our continuing quest for original art resulted in a two-day tour of Riverside Artists Colony, where studios are open to the public. It was shopping bag heaven!
Intentionally, I had left time open for Bill’s input on this adventure. After all it was his birthday. And what a stroke of genius that was, if I do say so myself. Bill informed me that we were near the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway, an experience he had never had. So off we went, into some of the most exquisite vistas in our country! It was like a dream.
With ideal weather patting us on the shoulders, we created our own adventures that included a Folk Art Center, breath-taking overlooks of the majestic Blue Ridge mountains and the exhilaration of a different picture-postcard “photo” with every turn of the winding roads.
Our lodgings were right in tune with the experience. We found Little Switzerland, a Blue Ridge resort and spa with cozy rustic cabins and a chalet-style restaurant, nestled amongst the beauty of the surrounding mountains.
Continuing our adventure on wheels, we covered Blowing Rock, a charming storybook village with an array of boutiques, restaurants and antique shops, and Seagrove, a destination point for us because it is America’s largest community of working potters. Talk about jackpots! Bring on more shopping bags for more than 70 pottery studios within a 20-mile radius. Potters are drawn to this area for the natural clay deposits abundant in the area. I must say that one could just feel the beauty of creativity as if it were a tangible object. We were fascinated.
We continued our drive through the clouds back to Virginia and home with new visions of our magnificent country in our minds. It’s one thing to see pictures and quite another to behold. To see the real thing. To be there. This is the essence of the travel experience. To stand on a mountaintop, hold your arms out to the sweeping beauty of it all, and to embrace a moment of speechless bliss.
And in my case, relief. Now it’s Bill’s turn.