Ahhh, the sight of a roaring fire in one of the two huge fireplaces greets us as we enter the lobby of the historic Grove Park Inn. Built in 1913 by Edwin Grove, a pharmaceutical magnate from Tennessee, who got the concept for the Inn after a visit to the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park.
We wandered through the lobby to the wonderful outdoor dining areas, overlooking the mountains and down past waterfalls to the Spa area. It’s gorgeous, but it seems that you can never quite get away from the city as we begin to hear sirens seemingly all around us. Gosh, we wonder, what tragedy has befallen the city as we wander aimlessly around.
We head into the Spa which is underground, much like a grotto. It is spectacular and I would love to go back someday. We emerge from our wanderings in one of the side wings of the hotel and while we’re standing there admiring the roof line, to our amazement we notice a person standing on the roof. Wait, that’s not just a person, but a fireman and he’s standing by the chimney that had our big roaring fire!
We head back into the lobby where we’re greeted with a lot of activity, the strobe lights of the fire alarm and the heavy acrid smell of smoke hanging in the air. Concerned hotel personnel continually came up to us to ask us if we we’re OK and reassure us that the hotel will not be evacuated. Apparently that eager fire stoker had made the fire too big and melted the wiring and fan way up inside the chimney. I wonder if he still has a job. It was a pretty fire. Pretty soon the smell of smoke and the strobe lights wore us down and we left, but it was a great experience.
After exploring downtown Asheville we decided to go to Mount Mitchell State Park, which is the highest point east of the Mississippi. To access it we drove on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and as we began climbing we began seeing waves of fog sweeping down off the mountain over the road. We thought perhaps it would clear closer to the top, but alas we were socked in. We could hear a few fellow hikers but couldn’t see them until the last moment, what a weird feeling.
Upon our descent the fog was even thicker than going up and it was only after going about half way down that we could begin to see again.
Of course, it was beautiful and sunny back at our campground, just the mountains that were shrouded in clouds.
Yesterday we decided to drive around and explore so more. We visited West Asheville for coffee and muffins in the morning and then historic Hendersonville, a quaint town with lots of shops and restaurants. After lunch there we headed out to the Dupont State Forest for a scenic hike. There are lots of great hikes in the forest and five waterfalls that you can hike to, but we only ended up going to two of them. That leaves us others to explore for a future trip!
We’re now off to visit with Leonard’s family in Tennessee for a couple of days before continuing the journey.