Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Noth Carolina Has Something For Everyone

A Crafter's Heaven
One of the things this part of the country is known for is the plethora of crafts.  The people are some of most prolific crafters we have ever seen.  There are quilters, potters, painters, black smiths, photographers and carvers, to name a few.

Shortly after our arrival I went to a blacksmithing demonstration at the University of North Carolina, Asheville campus.  Two local blacksmiths were discussing and demonstrating their art.

I got there early so I had a chance to visit with them at the forge before the rest of the spectators arrived.  The work that they are doing is beautiful.  Again, I wish I had gotten pictures. 

Only Zack Noble has a website.  I hijacked a couple pictures:

After their demo and discussion they allowed some of us to try our hands at smithing.  It looks easier than it proved to be to heat a round rod, shape it into a square, then taper it to a point.  I wish I had gotten some pics but I don't know how I could have pounded and held the camera at the same time!

One thing I did learn:  the biggest secret is how you place your tongue as you concentrate.  Left side of the mouth nets completely different results from those gained by holding it in the right side.

We visited the Folk Art Center a couple times.  It is home to the Southern Highland Craft Guild and houses a variety of items produced by local artisans.

The main floor is a store featuring every type of craft you can imagine.  I especially like the caricature carvings by Tom Wolfe.  I got off easy this time because they gallery does not allow picture taking!

The second floor has a great selection of beautiful quilts done by local quilters.  Again they did not allow pictures but suffice it to say they were impressive. 

A few weeks later we literally stumbled upon a woodcarving contest when we stopped to use the restrooms at the Folk Art Center.  Some of the exhibits were amazingly lifelike:

Some were whimsical:

And some were just incredible:

I have been working on my carving.  My woodcarving is not too good but man can I carve my fingers!

Hike 'Till Your Toes Fall Off!
One of the foremost activities in this area is hiking.  There are hundreds of trails covering many more hundreds of miles of territory.  Besides our hike on part of the Appalachian Trail I mentioned in another post, we did a few others too.

One is called the "Laurel Creek Trail".  It runs fairly close to Robin's parents' home.  We had a bit of controversy in family discussions because Robin's aunt, Margaret, said it is actually the Laurel River rather than Laurel Creek.  A debate ensued.  I looked at local maps and had to grudgingly admit that Margaret was correct.  Rats! (Actually, I had a lot of fun bantering with Margaret - she has a great sense of humor - Please DO NOT TELL HER!)

Here are some pics of that hike:

We had a surprise as we walked along - we looked up and saw an old train passenger car and caboose.  There was no connecting railway.  They were just out here in the woods.  There were "No Trespassing" signs so we did not venture any closer.  Had anyone been home you can be sure I would have knocked and gotten more information!!

We repeated the hike a few weeks later when Jessica came to visit.  It looked a lot different after the leaves had fallen.

We did another hike that started at the Folk Arts Center mentioned before.  It was a lot different from the faily level Laurel River hike.  This one seemed to go straight up.  It was grueling.

It is part of the Mountains to the Sea Trail.

Now THAT'S a Cottage!
The weekend before we left we had dinner at the Grove Park Inn followed by a tour of the Christmas Biltmore House.  This was thanks to Robin's aunt, Margaret, and her friends, Norris and Carol.

The Biltmore House is amazing.  It's a cozy 175,000 square foot 250+ room cottage!  Sheesh!
Here are some pics that I lifted from their website:

A truly beautiful place.  To think this was built in the 1890's.  That was before power tools!  Wow!

The first part of December arrived.  We wrapped up our extended visit with Robin's parents and North Carolina.  We headed south for some warmer weather and more opportunity for Chasin' Our Dreams.