Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Magical Mystery tour takes to the road in a Toyota Sienna van

The weather since I have arrived in Asheville has been variable to say the very least.  This morning as we set out on our magical tour in our natty Sienna van, the weather was gorgeous. The air was crisp but not too chill and the sunlight made everything it touched glow and shimmer. 
Charlene and I rode tail gun from the back seat.

We headed straight to the Southern Highland Craft Show where Dawn had some friends participating in the show.  I was interested in seeing if the show was different or similar to the Best of the Northwest show in which I have participated back home.  One major difference was that there is more glass and photography in the NW and more wood, pottery and weaving here in the SE.  The booths were also pretty tight up on the concourse, but very nicely set up.
I bought a few Christmas gifts and met some very nice people.  One vendor, Russ's Rural Rockers, had the most incredible hand carved rocking "horses".
The detail in his work was gorgeous as was the finishing.  The layering of the woods and his use of burls was also beautiful.

After the craft show we went for lunch at Salsa's .  What a wonderful menu.  I wish this restaurant was in my home town so that I could taste my way through it.  I had a Mocaljete, which came in a hot lava cauldron with three legs.  In this video, my meal is happily sizzling away in the pot.  It had chicken with a curry-coconut sauce alongside mushrooms that had a carmelized-chipotle flavor.  There were vegetables underneath and a little side plate containing rice, beans, salsa and a freshly made guacamole.  Yum.

Afterwards we went to the University of North Carolina Botanical Gardens where we walked around for hours enjoying the serenity of the forest within the bustling city.  The creek that ran through it made just enough noise that it blocked out the traffic on the edge of the park.

Some "groovy" rock formations.
This isIthe bark of a tree called The Devil's walking stick.  One can just imagine why.
Afterward a couple of hours of plant therapy we head back to the house for dinner and an evening of working on uploading photos and laughter.  The highlight of the evening was having Ken Thomas show me how to use the various tools in iPhoto to improve my photos which I really appreciated.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Going walkabout in Asheville

Yesterday was a busy day as we began our workshop experience.  After covering the structure of the workshop, we convoyed off to The Screen Door in downtown Asheville first thing.  This place was phenomenal.  I had a hard time actually getting inside as there was so much cool stuff outside.

Inside the world exploded.  

This is detail from one of three velveteen pumpkins crafted with real stems just inside the door.

And this is a photo of "retired" yarn or thread spools from some of the old closed mills that used to populate the area.  All of this work is now done overseas.

As I've noticed in the past, some of the items are odd if not down right disturbing in some instances.

We had a wonderful late lunch at a restaurant named Tupelo Honey Cafe.   The menu was really loaded with wonderful sounding options and they even had gluten free items.  Here are Chris and Andrew waiting at the restaurant.  We had an hour wait, this place is that popular...and we got there at 1 o'clock.

While we waited I took pictures in the little triangular park, tucked in between three intersecting streets as the buses, trolleys and ambulances whizzed by.

During lunch it seems like the temperature had dropped even further and with the wind chill factored in, it was bordering on uncomfortably cold.  We walked through town and dropped into a wonderful little bookstore called Malaprops and also a little cafe, The Chocolate Lounge, where we drank coffee, hot cocoa or wine depending on our individual whim.  They also had some very nice looking chocolates from which I abstained - although I’m not sure why I did.  They looked and sounded really tasty as I listened to the exclamations all around the table.  

We also visited the Chevron Trading Post & Bead Co. where I spent my time trying to get the fish to pose nicely in front of the interesting corals in the salt water aquarium.

Before leaving the downtown area, we stopped into a lovely little store called the Funky Mutt with the express purpose to meet this cute little kitty in the window.   Her name was Fancy and our timing couldn't have been better.  Susan, the owner, provides a foster home in the store to pets like Fancy until they are adopted.  This photo was taken just moments before Fancy left the Funky Mutt for her "forever home" with her new owner.  What a neat concept.  (It kind of looks like she's watching the fish...)

Back at the house, Andrew’s sister Cynthia and her husband Greg came by and brought us dinner which was a very tasty vegetarian chili.  One of Kate’s old friends Ken Thomas, a photographer, also dropped in.  It was another evening of convivial conversation and laughter and a late bedtime for most of us as it took a while to wind down afterwards.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Unakite Mountains

I flew to Knoxville yesterday arriving about 3:30 on a sunny, warm and slightly humid afternoon.  I picked up my rental car - a Nissan Versa.  What a disappointment.  No electric locks or windows.   The car has one lock on the driver door so you have to reach over to unlock the passenger side and then contort yourself around to unlock the doors in the back seat.  Drives like a tank and the engine is sluggish going up an incline.  I kept wanting to shift into a lower gear, but alas, it was an automatic.

The drive ahead of me was about 2 - 2.5 hours which I didn't mind.  I like to drive "cross-country", watching how the landscape changes and noticing the regional differences.  Once I got onto I-40 (two lanes) through Knoxville and for a ways beyond, the driving was a bit difficult.  A lot of people drive at least 15 miles over the speed limit, a smaller portion drive the speed limit and then there are the trucks cruising along at whatever speed.  Great fun; keeps you on your toes.

After turning south on I-40 where it divides from I-81 you enter the Cherokee National Forest.  This part of the drive was beautiful as the road winds through the mountains.  As a storm front moved up from the south, the sky lowered and the light became flat.  The autumn foliage on the mountainsides had a pointillistic style in the same colors as Unakite.  It was gorgeous, but I had to keep my eyes on the windy road with all the trucks.  I arrived at the house about 6:45 and was greeted by a group of women gathered around the island in the kitchen, drinking wine, eating chicken and pulled pork and chocolate while we caught up and introduced ourselves.

Big day tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What's in a name?

Last spring I signed up for another blogging/photo workshop.  This time in Asheville, NC.   I thought it would be a wonderful place to go in October with the changing leaves.

Then a month and a half ago, I found out that I was going to Las Vegas for a conference for work the week after my trip to Asheville.  In fact, I will fly home this coming Sunday, be picked up by my husband, go home and swap out the contents of my suitcase and then he'll drive me back to the airport for a mid afternoon flight.

So, I thought I'd call American airlines to see how much it would cost to change my ticket.  Here's how it went...

    Thank you for calling American Airlines....bla, bla, bla.  Several selections later, we get down to business.

  "the Voice" asks me 'What is the name of the airport from which you will be departing?'  
     I say 'Knoxville'.

 "the Voice" asks me 'What is the name of the airport at your final destination?'  
     I say 'Seattle'.

 "the Voice" asks me 'What is the date of your travel?'  
     I say 'October 23rd'.

  "the Voice" asks me 'What is the passenger's last name?'  
     I say 'Kay'.

 "the Voice" says 'I'm sorry, I didn't catch that. What is the passenger's last name?'  
     I say 'KAY'.

 "the Voice" says 'I'm sorry, I still didn't undertand.  Please repeat the passenger's last name?'
     I say 'Kaaaayyyyyy'.  

 "the Voice" says 'I'm sorry, let me transfer you to the first available agent.
    I think to myself that it's about time.

I couldn't believe that the voice recognition software could pick up individual city names and dates but couldn't figure out a simple last name like mine.  Since I married into the name, I've been amazed how a name so simple can stump so many people.  I get varied reactions from people when they ask me for my last name.
         No, your last name...
         What does the 'k' stand for?
         Does that have an 'e' on the end of it?

What IS in a name?  Obviously, not enough...

And to finish the other thread in this: to change the ticket was going to cost about $500.
Ouch.  There is the reason for my rapid turn around next Sunday.