Sunday, July 7, 2019

Asheville, Gatlinburg and Berea

We escaped the heat of the coast and headed to the mountains. After an overnight in Columbia, SC we arrived in cooler Asheville, NC. After a couple days there we went to the Escapees RV park in Tennessee where we gave Opus a good cleaning and also visited Gatlinburg. Next we spent a week in Berea, KY for the Hoard - Santek wedding, an earlier post.
We have been to Asheville a couple times and love the many local breweries that have made the city famous. Since our last visit, Sierra Nevada Brewing has built a huge brewery and gastropub. Sierra Nevada was the first "microbrew" I ever tasted on a trip to California in the early 90's, so this was not to be missed.
I say "microbrew" because, while it is still privately owned, it is now the 10th largest in the country. Here is the list of brews they had on tap the day we were there. 
The place is all shiny and new. We missed the tour as we did not get there until the early evening, as the food was our main goal. It did not disappoint.
All the bottling machines were shut down for the day, but you can see they are built to produce a lot of beer.
This was something interesting we came upon as we walked the streets of Asheville. William Porter, O. Henry, was born in Greensboro, NC. This plaque on the sidewalk has the props from my favorite O. Henry story, The Gift of the Magi. Read it to learn the significance of each item.
We heard on the news that the new Skybridge in Gatlinburg had opened, so we did a day trip to the mountains. These are before and after pictures of the chairlift that was destroyed by the 2016 fire and the new facility at the top. The flag was rescued from the fire.
The traffic to Gatlinburg was terrible, but nothing compared to the line to get to the top of the mountain.
Rebuilding after the fire included a new attraction, a 700 foot swinging bridge. It is the longest pedestrian bridge in North America.
In the middle there is a glass floor 150 feet above the ground. Neat, but nothing like the Grand Canyon Skywalk in Arizona. 
The view of the town and the Smoky Mountains from the top is great.
If you keep moving you do not even realize the bridge is swinging a bit. Stop and you can feel it, a bit unnerving.
The top is still a work in progress. Workers were replacing temporary wooden rails with iron rails the day we were there.
There are a couple of attractions here that take you to the top of the mountain. From the lines we saw, adding the bridge seems to have made the Skybridge the must see attraction.
As always, when in the Smoky Mountains you need to keep an eye out for bears. 
We made it. While it was neat, the massive crowds and traffic are not the kind of experience we like. From Pigeon Forge to Gatlinburg it is like one huge amusement park.
After the wedding we had time to explore Berea. For its size, it has a large number of artisans and craftsmen. We checked out several of the shops. Most were selling locally made items. 
The painted hands are found all over town.
If you are looking for genuine, handmade items, Berea should be on your must see places list.

We had a great time in all three places and enjoyed somewhat cooler weather than we had along the coast. We are now in Ohio and will be back in WashPA in the middle of the month.

1 comment:

Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Nice post. We mostly stay out of the Tetons and Yellowstone, until fall, due to the crowds and I am sure the Smokies are worse.