Asheville, and etc., NC

Having taken a detour out of North Carolina to ride the Virginia Creeper Trail again, we drove back into the state headed for Asheville.  Two events were taking place in the region, starting with the 4- day Southern Highlands Guild Craft Fair, which is held twice a year at the U.S. Cellular Center in downtown.  High-quality work by 200 artisans fill the center, with creations, ranging from jewelry and ceramics, to metal works and wood carvings.  Local entertainment is also provided, and we caught a show by the fun and lively band, Hot Duck Soup, playing "novelty" jazz music from the 20's 30's and 40's on an unusual collection of instruments, including a washtub bass and a slide whistle.

Another draw to the area was the Lake Eden Art Festival (LEAF).  Held outside the small community of Black Mountain near Asheville, twice a year, this 3-day festival provides a wide diversity of music, handicrafts, poetry, healing arts and gourmet and international food options.  Unfortunately, our lack of planning shut us out on this event.  With only 5500 tickets available, the event was sold out before it even started.  LEAF's mission is to "connect cultures and enrich lives through arts".  This is definitely an event that we will be looking out for in the future.

Jonas Gerard at work
Having visited Asheville a couple times in the past, we were anxious to explore it further.  Heading into the River Arts District, we wandered through numerous galleries in transformed warehouses, and had the pleasure of watching painter Jonas Gerard at work in his studio.  Alan literally bought the man's shoes off his feet.  After commenting that he liked the paint-splattered clogs, the artist turned and offered them for sale.  So while we can't afford one of his original artworks, we do have his shoes, which, in a way, is another type of original.
Drum Circle

Downtown Asheville is home to a number of galleries and top-quality restaurants.  On our evening stroll, mimes and musicians played for tips.  In Pritchard Park, the Asheville Drum Circle was gathered for the weekly Friday night event.  For no charge, anyone wanting to join the group, can sit in and play their percussion instrument.
Young male elk
Meandering slowly south, we stopped in Waynesville for the Apple Harvest Festival, and then on to Maggie Valley.  Located 15 miles ( or a 40-minute drive) outside town, the Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park is home to elks which were placed here in an experimental program in 2001 to replenish herds which were wiped out by hunters.  Visiting on a weekend afternoon, traffic was backed up once we got close to the elk, so we parked and walked in.  Park service officers monitored the traffic, the elk and the visitors.  The elk were in the rutting season, making the males particularly aggressive.  Bull elks bugle their desire for females and to warn away other males.  Park visitors were set up with lawn chairs, blankets and picnics to watch the antics on the open fields.

Alan along Moccasin Creek
Departing N.C. the following day, we drove toward Moccasin Creek State Park in North Georgia.  Intent on some relaxing and fishing, Alan hit the trout limit of 8 both days he fished, and supplied a tasty dinner for us and our daughter, Nicole and son-in-law, Robert, as we arrived in Roswell the next day.

Now, we're back in Florida and will be making a few more stops before heading home.

Hot Duck Soup

At U. S. Cellular Center

Male elk bugling for attention

In Jonas' studio

Mime in Asheville

At Cataloochee Valley

Simple Folk Band at Waynesville Apple Festival

Lake Burton

Lake Burton

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