Well my final day at the Workaway finally came. I decided to stick around for breakfast for some final conversation before heading back to Asheville. As quickly as my time there had come it was over. It was definitely a great way to really kick off my trip though. It allowed me to ease into being far from home without completely taking away the travel element or plunging me into complete isolation.
Around 10am I took off back towards Asheville. Luckily the weather was cooperative this time, so I was able to explore on foot. I parked up on a street in front of a lovely tea shop called Dobra Tea. From there I just walked around with no particular destination in mind. There were so many unique shops, restaurants, and cafés. I tend to feel somewhat unsafe in a lot of cities, but Asheville felt incredibly safe and clean, so I had no issues walking around alone. However, I was still sticking to more populated places during daylight hours, so no dark alleyways or parking decks for me. I spent a couple of hours weaving my way in and out of book stores, record shops, boutiques, and other eclectic storefronts. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to visit the Asheville Art Museum as it’s currently moving locations, but I would definitely like to get back to see it one day. The arts are alive and well in Asheville, without a doubt, and that was also very evident in their street art. Many alleys and brick walls donned beautiful murals and scenes. Nothing prepared me for the art in the River Arts District, though.
After exploring the downtown area for a while I made my way to the River Arts District. Both sides of Depot Street were lined with old warehouse buildings that had been converted into art studios, galleries, restaurants, bars, skate parks, and venues. The outsides of the building were absolutely COVERED in art. I’ve never seen graffiti or street art quite like it. Everywhere you look your eyes were met with stunning, vibrant images. As I started to wonder inside the shops I was greeted with many different types of art and mediums from paint and clay, to wood and old bike inner tubes. Many of the shops and galleries I entered either had artists at work or were teaching classes. So it was pretty neat to walk into one shop and see an artist working on an incredibly intricate painting and then walk one door down and see a glass blowing workshop being taught. The River Arts District is a definite must when visiting Asheville.
Once I finished walking the streets and galleries of the River Arts District I was getting pretty hungry. Now, I know I’m supposed to be on a budget and everything, but part of traveling is having food that you can’t have anywhere else. So considering I’m a huge fan of Mediterranean food, I decided I would find some local and have that for dinner. I ended up settling on the Gypsy Queen Market, and I must say that was a fantastic decision. I had the kibbe wrap, and I think that was one of the best Mediterranean dishes I’ve ever had. It was a pita wrap with tomato, cucumber mint slaw, onion, hummus, ground lamb, and some other incredible Lebanese ingredients that made for an incredible meal. 10/10 would recommend.
After a fantastic dinner I headed to Boone, NC to spend the night. Boone is an adorable little big college town. There was a fantastic downtown area called King Street where I spent most of my night. Parking was free in the evenings, and I managed to luck up with a parking spot right on the main street, but that was only after a (nearly) catastrophic parking situation. Okay, so catastrophic may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it didn’t feel that way at the time. I had pulled into a parking lot only to see that it was for college students only, and I probably could have gotten away with it, but I didn’t want to risk it (again, I’m terrified of having a traffic violation). So once I got into this parking lot, I realized it was quite tight and there was nowhere to turn around, so I was going to pull into a parking space so that I could turn around that way. Bad decision. The two cars in which I tried to pull in between were closer together than I had realized, so I accidentally pulled really close to one of the cars, like way close, like MAYBE my mirror was two or three inches from this car. Luckily it was a compact car, so my mirror was above theirs. However, there were wooden beams on either side of the parking space marking them off, and I was pulled up on one…I just knew I was going to hit that car or just not be able to get out. However, after adjusting my car maybe 10 (okay, probably closer to, like, 30) times I was able to finagle my way out of the parking space with a hair of space to spare. Definitely the closest I’ve ever come to hitting something, and I was not a fan. However, I was quite proud of my maneuvering ability. Hopefully I’ll never have to put it to the test quite like that again, though.
Once I managed to find a nice spacious place to park my car, I went on the hunt for a coffee shop to do some writing in. I had been told about Espresso News by Adam from the Workaway, so I wondered the streets trying to find it, and it was definitely a hidden gem. It was hidden behind a climbing shop on the backside of King Street on Howard Street. I only walked the block like three times, because according to Google it was right there. Once I finally managed to find it, I spent a couple of hours enjoying their nice music selection and working on my game plan for the next day.
I hadn’t found a campground for that night because I was going to try my hand at a Walmart parking lot. I’ll admit, I didn’t call in advance to see if it was okay, but when I arrived there were several RVs there already, so I figured it was fine. I did all of my setup as discreetly as possible and crawled in the back for the night. I managed to sleep rather well with no issues, so thus the love of Walmart parking lots began.