Asheville or Bust

Week 21 Arrowhead Asheville 013_crop

People frequently ask us why we decided to move to Asheville, NC.  To avoid repeating the same explanation over and over, we prepared the following top ten reasons why we are moving to Asheville:

10. Greener grass.  We are not particularly fond of large lawns but we especially dislike what passes for grass in Gainesville, FL.  Called St. Augustine, it is similar to what is known as crab grass in the north—large stiff blades that you would not want to walk barefoot on, much less sit on and have a picnic.

Grass Collage

On the left, Gainesville grass—does it look comfortable?  It’s not. On the right, the soft grass found in cooler climates, like Asheville.  We look forward to watching our future grandchildren play in it.

9. Closer to family.  Most of our relatives are in the Northeast including our two daughters in Richmond. We will be able to drive to visit most relatives which will eliminate the need to fly, something Ed especially wants to avoid because, with retirement, he is quickly losing his frequent flyer status. As a frequent flyer, flying is almost tolerable but, if you are a nobody, it is often a nightmare.

8. Good omens.  When Ed mentioned to his mother that we were considering moving to Asheville she told him that his Great Grandfather, Edwin Bjorkman, had lived in Asheville.  Ed had never heard of Edwin, primarily because he divorced Ed’s Great Grandmother in the late 1800’s.  Edwin was a writer, a friend of Upton Sinclair, and is buried in Asheville’s historic Riverside Cemetery along with authors Thomas Wolfe and O. Henry.  Ed always wanted to write more after retirement so he can now follow in Edwin’s footsteps.  (Edwin also had five wives but Ed plans to avoid those footsteps).

7. Creative retirement. UNC-Asheville is the home of the North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement (recently renamed the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute because the Osher Foundation donated a lot of money).  As the new name implies, the center promotes lifelong learning as well as community service. We look forward to participating in both.

6. Not too big, not too small, just right.  Asheville is large enough to have the benefits of a city including the arts, restaurants, and shopping without most of the negatives of a large city—primarily too much traffic.  When we go back to the Washington, DC area or northern New Jersey, we always find driving to be extremely nerve-wracking.  We couldn’t live in or near a big city again, just because of the traffic.

5. Brewtopia!  Asheville has more microbreweries per capita than any city in the U.S. There are currently 16 microbreweries with about 50 local beers available on any given day. National brewers Sierra Nevada and New Belgium (Fat Tire) are also going to open their first east coast breweries in the Asheville area.

4. Music, arts, and crafts. Asheville has always been known as an artistic community in the mountains, home to writers, musicians, artists, and craftsmen. With over 250 artists’ studios and 15 major music festivals, there is always somewhere to go to enjoy the arts.

3. Four seasons. Two years ago we took a fall trip to northern Georgia in our Airstream.  The leaves were changing and beautiful—we both agreed that we missed  real autumns. We didn’t miss winter so much but you can’t get a real fall without winter.   Besides, the average total snowfall in Asheville (prior to global warming) is 14 inches.  When you’re retired, you can wait for that to melt before you drive anywhere.

2. The great outdoors.  Asheville is surrounded by the Pisgah National Forest that also backs up to our neighborhood; the Blue Ridge Parkway runs through town and will be about ten minutes from our house; Great Smoky Mountains National Park is about one hour away; Mount Mitchell, the highest mountain east of Colorado is just outside of Asheville; and the French Broad River runs through it.  We enjoyed the springs and rivers of North Central Florida but it’s time for some real topography.

1. Weather for enjoying the outdoors. We’re not sure if Ed’s Scandinavian genes finally kicked in but at the end of another long, hot and humid summer in Gainesville, he finally decided we needed to move to a cooler place.  It’s one thing to work in an air-conditioned office but if you’re hiking or biking in 90+ degree weather, it’s not much fun.  Of course, Ed is an engineer so he had to analyze the data—the results are shown on the following graph:

Weather Comparison_2

The graph shows monthly average daily high temperatures for the two places we have
lived for most of our marriage—Gainesville and Herndon in northern Virginia—and our future home Asheville.   As you can see, the summers in Asheville will be significantly cooler than both Gainesville and Herndon.  Of course, the winters will be a lot colder than Gainesville but they will be warmer than Herndon.  Bottom line—we’ll trade the cooler summers for the colder winters (we can always hook up the Airstream and head back to Florida in the winter).

This week we visited our friends and former neighbors from Gainesville, Dave and Carla, in Charlotte, NC.  Like us, they had a house built but, unlike us, their house was built in a reasonable amount of time.  We had a great day visiting with them in Charlotte, eating lunch downtown, and touring their new house.

We also went to Asheville to meet with our builder and to discuss the proposed clearing of the lot for our new house.  When we woke up the morning of our meeting it was 27 degrees, causing Patty to ask: “Tell me again why we are moving to Asheville?”  So the purpose of our top ten list above is also to reassure Patty that we made the right decision.

Week 21 Arrowhead Asheville 011_Crop

Our future street in Biltmore Lake–our house will be on the left.

The builder gave us a firm commitment that they will start construction “soon”.  It looks like our 9-month Airstream adventure might end up being closer to a year.

We were still camping in Arrowhead Campground near Albemarle, NC this week.  Before the throngs of hunters came in for the weekend, we did some more hiking.

Week 21 Arrowhead 006

After our first hike we decided we needed to take a trash bag with us on future hikes—here’s Ed with our last haul.  Once again, as Bambi’s mother said: “Man is in the forest”–and he’s a slob.

On our previous hike we actually found a toilet seat.  We’re not sure why anyone would hike with a toilet seat—maybe Boy Scouts that got carried away with their motto: “Be Prepared”.

We have witnessed the end of fall while we have been here but we leave you with the following photos of some of the last fall colors.

Leaves collage

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