The Nice Folks in Asheville

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On my first hike up here Sunday, I met several folks along the way. Upon entering the trail, I met two women who regularly hiked up there for exercise, and they directed me to a recommended trail. I had planned on hiking a trail that they didn’t recommend because it wasn’t really maintained. So, I took their suggestion and hiked on. I was to hike with them at a later point in the day for a bit. Their names were Carol and Ann. I giggled to myself because I have an Aunt Carol Ann. As a combo, we were related.

I was a little nervous about hiking alone. Although I get out and do this stuff, I’m not naive about taking off in the wilderness by myself. It is possible that I could run into bears and rattlesnakes, but in my experience, the worse terror is spraining an ankle, falling and breaking a limb or getting lost. I don’t fancy sitting on a trail for three days until someone finds me. Lord knows what my hair would look by then. I thought about it and worried about it a lot before I got up here. What I found – and what I find in most places – is there are plenty of nice people out and about, and they are very friendly and helpful. I’m sure hardened criminals do hike on occasion, but it’s probably easier to find victims in crowded areas. And they are creatures of opportunity.

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I was sitting on top of a mountaintop boulder taking it all in when a couple approached. They looked to be my age or maybe a little older, and we chatted about the wild blueberries and how nice it was up there. Suezee and Gordon are Asheville residents and were trying to find a cooler hike in the upper elevations. Our paths crossed by sheer luck. They hiked on, and a little later I ran into the woman by herself. She was recovering from knee surgery, and the terrain got a little much for her, so she was hiking back to where I met them while her partner was running the trail.

I found out Suezee had a dog with a Sanskrit name, Babou. Ashok has a Sanskrit name, too. We laughed about the weird coincidence of that and chatted about her surgery, local hikes and Asheville. When we parted, I told them to look up my blog Midlife Moments. I didn’t really expect to hear from them, but I thought it was funny that their names, too, are my family names. I have a sister named Susan, and my Dad’s name is Gordon. I’ve never had that happen before, and I don’t know if I’ve ever met another man named Gordon.

Much to my surprise, the next morning I got a comment from Suezee that they enjoyed seeing me and would love to have me as a house guest if I wanted a respite from camping. A little adventurous perhaps – for all of us. We are strangers after all. My sister wasn’t so sure about the idea, and I wasn’t either, but I finally decided that they seemed like nice folks, and I’d take a chance.

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So, last night I showed up at their beautiful home on Town Mountain Road. We sat on their beautiful porch watching the hummingbirds sip at their feeder. The view of the mountains was breathtaking, and I was green with envy of their mountaintop home. A family of bears lives up there among them, and they have frequent interactions. If I’m lucky maybe I’ll see one this morning.

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Hawaiian Opah

We went downtown and dined at the Table Restaurant. I had the Hawaiian Opah that was prepared in a deliciously creative way, and then we shared a chocolate lava cake dessert with housemade whipped cream. It was perfect, and our waitress was amazing. Apparently Asheville is a culinary artist’s enclave, and you can’t throw a rock without hitting a great restaurant. I met a New Orleans native at Starbucks yesterday, and she mentioned the amazing food in Asheville.

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Gordon suggested we walk around, and we came upon a bluegrass band that simply amazing. I couldn’t believe how much physical work they were putting into their music. We looked at architecture and discussed the history of Asheville. It wasn’t always hip, but it has been for a long time. I have to say that I need to come back to check out the ‘city’ sometime. It does look dog friendly, but in order to fully experience it, I think I need to be dogless.

I’ll be headed back out for a day of hiking after getting my hair cut this morning at Asheville’s DevaCut Salon. My new friends recommended I try the Rattlesnake Lodge Hike. Tomorrow I pack up and head north to the Boone/Blowing Rock Area. It should be even a little cooler there, and I hope to meet up with a girlfriend and her Mom that I haven’t seen in 25 years. It would be fabulous to see them again. We’ll see what the future holds. At any rate, I’m learning that I don’t have to plan a lot. The ‘plan’ unfolds even better than I could have anticipated without my assistance.

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