Can you believe it? From Cinci we traveled southward to Maggie Valley, North Carolina to visit my HS friends. I’m writing while sitting on their deck at a cabin overlooking the Smokey Mountains. The vista is breathtaking. Thank you Brother for the invitation. The clouds slowly roll across the mountain peaks like an eerie alien invasion (or Hunger Games attack). When the sun breaks through, the brightness is intense. At night, the stars are brilliant.
With our host’s direction, Janet and I were able to hike up and down the mountain ranges in the Smoky Mt. National park and behind their home. In the climb behind our hosts home, the cows were staring at you on the pasture trails. This was funny, ie.: “Eat more Chikin”. It was good to work the legs, raise the heart rate, and keep breaking in the new boots before the actual trip. We both felt confident after many months with our pals and of course the trainers at the Livonia Rec Center in pre-trip training. I special thanks to PT’s Deb, Wendy, Brad, Don, Holly, and also Harry (from way in the beginning)
But you can feel isolated; we are so far up the mountain. I’m very cautious of the steep winding road up or down the mountain. I need our friends tricked out jeep to get around here. They should visit here; as our friends with their Harleys. This place is loaded with friendly bikers and RVs, and winding country roads. The local towns are also very cool. Many of us are familiar with Asheville (and Biltmore Estate), but Waynesville and Henderson are also quaint, kind of like Northville, MI.--with small shops and many breweries. The folks are nice. Someone suggested I read several books authored by Patrick Conroy in order to understand “U.S. southern culture”. I’m pretty sure I did not insult anyone. I don’t think we talked politics or anything. I think they were just trying to help me get more insight. Hope so! When you’re drinking-- you need insight. Remember, barstool talkers are always telling some truth it’s just that their solutions are wacked.
Most impressive, at least to me, was the “River Arts District” of Asheville. Carved out of an old industrial area by the French Broad River and railroad tracks, many brick buildings extending to several adjoining streets have been gentrified, painted only like an artist could or would, creating artist work spaces and galleries. Walk right in! I spoke to several artists about their processes and subjects. Two actually started at the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, near my hometown. One guy specialized in portraits and was painting a professional golfer. I found he was a personal friend with Russell Keeter, a famous artist in Detroit circles ( UM Professor too). Our family has an oil painting of his and pencil sketches. Other artists painted or carved or heat-treated all types of images and forms. This is a location for fine art of all types. No trinkets here. You remember I spoke about enlightened mind and soul. This is another place of inspiration. This place has artists that soar and take you with them. It was great.