On Wednesday, Dana and I hopped in the car and headed south. Our ultimate destination was Hilton Head, SC, but rather than driving the full 13 hours in one day, we decided to check out Asheville, NC for a few days as a stopping point. We left Indiana at 9am and drove for about 3 hours before stopping for a sandwich and picnicking at the New River Gorge Bridge. We stopped for gas once, and for a leg-stretcher on the TN/NC border heading over the mountains. We landed in Asheville at about 6pm and checked into our hotel on the south side of town (near NC-25 and I-40).
Asheville is a pretty cool hippie-college-tourist town off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Definitely has a good beer scene! After a long day's drive, we decided to grab dinner and a couple of beers at The Mellow Mushroom. This was our first time at one of these, and the pizza is really good. The beer selection was also very nice, particularly with their focus on local microbrews. I enjoyed both a Pisgash Brewing Endless Summer Ale and their Pale Ale.
On Thursday, we decided to just look around town and get familiar with the layout. We took shopping stops at several places, including the Asheville Wine Market, the Green Sage Coffeehouse, and the Woolworth Walk, where Dana found her graduation gift from me - a really cool painting by Sarah Faulkner. Sarah happened to show up and signed the work for Dana, so she was really jazzed about that. Now we gotta figure out where to hang it. Thursday in town continued with a beer buying trip at Bruisin' Ales - a phenomenal beer store with a great selection of Belgian beers. I grabbed a bunch of stuff to take to the beach (Hilton Head is not known for its beer selection) and ended up with a free tulip glass. After more shopping, we stopped for a pint at The Bier Garden, where I enjoyed a Foothills Seeing Double IPA.
Our hotel offered a deal on Biltmore, where you get two consecutive days of entry for the price of one. So on late Thursday afternoon, we went over and hiked around the gardens and down to the bass pond and back - glad we did that, because trying to do that and a house tour in one day is a lot!
On Friday morning, then, we headed back to Biltmore and spent the morning touring the house ... holy crap is that thing amazing! We've toured some pretty big places in Europe and this gives them a run for the money. After about two hours, we were pretty hungry, so we did lunch on the estate at the Arbor Grille, after which we sampled some of the wine they produce there. Meh.
On Friday evening, after a light picnic down by the French Broad river, we headed over to the French Broad Brewery, a little hole-in-the-wall brew 'pub'. They're only open from 4-8 or so, where you can get pints or growlers (and samples) in the brewery while listening to live music. On this evening, we enjoyed a few beers while listening to Brushfire Stankgrass. Good band - bought one of their CDs.