WE KEPT ON TRUCKIN...
Saturday morning and time for some more exploring! We all piled into the car and headed to the top of Bearwallow Mountain. Once off the main road, the long one lane road twisted and turned its way up the mountain face ~ each switch back sharper than the next. The paved road came to an end and the rest of the way was rock. As the elevation increased so did the steep drops – I was glad to be sitting on the other side of the car, never one for heights! But Margaret has taken me on worse –~I’ll save that story for another time ~ suffice it to say I thought I was going to die!!! She thought it was rather funny. Not really much to see on the way up, but oh my when we got to the top we were so rewarded, the clearing yielded a nearly 360 degree panorama of the spectacular NC &SC mountains. It was incredibly beautiful. The only problem that I could see was that we were going to have to make our way back down that mountain ~ yikes. We did make our way down but from the other side to Hendersonville, not quite as scary. Thank God!
Hendersonville, a quaint historic town, is the county seat of Henderson County and about 20 miles south of Asheville. Revitalized in the 1990’s, the Main Street shops are filled with boutiques, antiques and eateries. The town is host to the North Carolina Apple Festival held in early September that culminates in the Apple Parade that regularly draws over 50,000 spectators.
As we made our way out of town, we passed apple farm after apple farm. We stopped in Justus Orchards on Garren Rd., a family owned farm, growing apples for over 100 years. You can pick your own or pop into the farm store and choose from the vast array of freshly picked choices. Aside for the many, many varieties of apple to choose from, the store is filled with home-made pies, jams, fresh apple cider donuts, apple fritters, caramel apples & ice-cream ~ a great place to satisfy that sweet tooth. But don’t forget to bring some home for another day. It was a busy place to be – lots of apple & pumpkin pickers, pony rides for kids, folks riding the Cow Train through the orchards. The store was packed with customers tasting and buying! We picked a variety of apples & some cider and enjoyed them sitting on a bench, watching the activities!
The scenery continued to delight as we made our way back to Asheville. It was a gorgeous day to meander back avoiding the highway. We stopped into Biltmore Village and popped into the beautiful Cathedral of All Soul’s, commissioned by George Vanderbilt & designed by Richard Morris Hunt, the architect for the Biltmore Estate. The town was designed as a small English village with the church at its center. The church’s spectacular arches, beautiful stained glass and pipe organ are a must see. We did a little more strolling through the village shop before heading home and getting ready for…you guessed it…dinner!!!
We made our way back to to Biltmore Village to The Grand Bohemian Hotel. Built in 2009~ by design ~ it looks as if it has always been there. We seemed to step back in time as we entered through an imposing grand arch leading to a covered, cobbled court yard. We were warmly greeted and ushered to the hotel lobby and then toward the The Red Stag Grill. The hotel is styled after a rustic hunting lodge, lots of stone, heavy carved woods, ornate carved furniture, rich leathers & opulent fabrics. In the heart of the lobby a gigantic, welcoming 4 sided fire place with a roaring fire invited you to sit and enjoy a cocktail before dinner. Stag heads, bronze bears and stuffed wild animals decorated the walls along with tapestries and ornately framed painting. Huge antler chandeliers hung in each room and tall, leather banquettes divided the large room and
high back upholstered dining chairs helped make the grand space fell somehow intimate.
The food did not disappoint and the service was superb. On the menu that evening was local Hickory Nut Gap Pork, Mountain River Elk, Sunburst Mountain Trout cooked in a variety of delicious preparations and complimented with local, fresh produce. They also offered Rib-eyes from Apple Brandy Beef & NY strips from Brasstown Beef, both from NC ranches. Everything we ordered was beautifully presented, perfectly prepared and just delicious. Seasonal cobblers and cakes & platters of local cheeses rounded out the dessert menu. It was a lovely & very special dinner to celebrate our last evening with our dear friends in their delightful town.