Saturday, November 30, 2013

Downtown Asheville: The Good, the Bad, the Nostalgic

Maddie and Kara at the shops behind the Grove Park Inn. Maddie got a necklace.
For as long as I can remember--and I've known Roanoke since 1971--the Star City has wanted to be Asheville. There's a good reason: Asheville is a truly cool city.
My angel Maddie ...

Fact is, however, is that Roanoke doesn't need to be Asheville in order to be a truly outstanding place to live and the sooner we all get that, the sooner Ranoke will be free to be all that it is without the inferiority complex.

I enjoy going back to Asheville, as I've done over the Thanksgiving holiday, mostly to reminisce and this time to introduce my son and his family to my hometown. Much of what I "introduced" them to was not there when I was.

When I left Asheville for Roanoke (taking a job at the paper here) in 1971, it was not a good place to live. Badly managed, polluted, dense traffic, unhappy people, a downtown that was falling apart and little to recommend it. New leadership changed all that and now it's like Aspen in many respects.

... became my butterfly Maddie.
Fun to go back, but I'm not sure I'd be happy living in the 'Ville. It is entirely too congested and trying to get an evening meal out is an exercise in frustration.

Some of the shop owners--especially at the botiques--are jerks. We experienced a level of arrogant dismissal at the Scottish shop on Wall Street yesterday that I wouldn't wish on anybody. Still, the Grove Arcade (where I signed up for the draft in 1964), Grove Park Inn and all the wondrous nooks and crannies downtown remain a true lure for a short period.

Here's some of what we saw over the past few days.

Love the "hand-made" shops behind the Grove Park Inn.
I sooo wanted this for my office, but it cost as much as my house.
Oz found a train. Evan found Oz.
Window view at the Grove Park Inn.
Houses in the Teen Gingerbread House competition were astonishing.
More gingerbread.
And one more, sans color. Look at the roof tiles.
Grove Park lobby has huge fireplaces.
View from the Grove Park Inn porch during lunch. The outside is heated.
Grove Arcade is a former government building now a center for shopping.
Ev and Oz strolling.
Evan and Oz (the one sleeping).
Asheville at its best ...
... is reminiscent of Paris.
You can even get a good street hotdog.
Or find the place where my career began (and it hasn't changed a bit).

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