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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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March 06, 2018

Posting from Asheville, NC - 2018

This will be the last part of the Asheville trip and the first part will follow below this and all together it's way too much for anyone but me to read.  Weird but why make two separate posts when there's not many pictures?  Wednesday was again quite cold with 19 mph winds so I sure didn't walk around town as much as I did last year.  But I wanted to at least go in the vicinity of Bouchon restaurant and figure out where I would park that would be as close as possible.  There are two multi-level parking garages relatively near so I parked in the fewer-floors one and it was probably between 2 and 3 blocks to the restaurant.  Walking down to it I came to an outdoor parking lot that was about a block and a half from the restaurant and no uphill climb so decided that's where I would park.  I stopped in at a store on that corner - Cornerstone Minerals and they had so many beautiful and amazing things - all from the innards of earth.  The girl who was there had majored in geology and was able to tell me about everything I asked about so it was very interesting.  I bought myself a little birthday present there. :)  I asked her where would be a close, good place for a small afternoon treat and she told me her favorite was right down the street.  Got there and everything they had was gluten-free which so far I've avoided trying any of that.  If I've lived 75 years eating treats made with wheat flour why stop now, right?  So I went around the corner to a little market and got a cup of tea and an incredible chocolate chunk cookie that had been sprinkled with a little bit of flaked salt on top.  It was pretty big so I took some back to my room for my "after dinner" sweet.  Oh, and I almost forgot - went back to the garage except I went to the taller one - started walking up the stairs for about 3 levels and then decided to see if it was easier just walking up the levels (which it was, but still...) and finally got to the very top (outside) level and there was one car there and it wasn't mine.  And I'm talking Level 7 or 8!  Miraculously, just as I was thinking of throwing myself over the side, here came a young couple to the one car and I told them I was in the wrong garage and could they possible give a crazy old lady a ride down.  So they did and on the way down, we came to a level where we looked across and there was my car sitting on the roof.  Phew, of course, but also good grief, what next?

Which brings me to my visit to Bouchon.  As far as friendliness, ambiance, etc., it exceeded my expectations.  As far as food, it made me decide that I really should (and will) quit ordering mussels.  I've had them a number of times now and just have to confess, I don't like eating them.  The "sauce" is always very good but you can't pay for mussels and leave them in the bottom of the bowl after you've sopped up all the sauce with bread!  I seriously considered the beef bourgignon cause I bet theirs would be stellar but I also thought it would be way too much - I seem to always be eating but I get full pretty fast.  So I had a half bowl of mussels and a salad that was roasted beets with fresh apple cut into "sticks", candied walnuts, feta cheese and a Dijon vinaigrette.  Actually I had that same salad last year in a little sampler tray of 3 of their salads.

So that's the food - not as stellar as last time but again, if I didn't enjoy Bouchon's mussels any more than any others I've had, it's time to quit mussels.  As for the rest, it was like being welcomed with open arms.  Everyone there is so welcoming and smiley.  And all the patrons are so obviously happy to be there and mostly regulars, I think.  It was so much fuller this time (last year was a dark and rainy night) that I had to wait for a bit even for a seat at the bar.  I kept an eye on the barmaid trying to decide if she was the one who was so nice last year.  I was pretty sure she was.  So when I got my seat at the bar and she came to check on me I asked her if she would have been the barmaid last year and yes, she was and she had been thinking I looked familiar.  So I told her about last year and she began to remember bits and pieces too.  She is perfect for the job she has!  Her name I discovered this time is Wendy and I'll just say Wendy is wonderful.  She again let me order just half a flute of the delicious champagne she had served me last year, let me taste the first red wine I picked out and when I decided I would try the other one I had wondered about gave me a taste of that too.  She pointed out that I could order just half a bowl of mussels and for that matter could order a smaller salad.  She's just a delight - she's been there four years now and is obviously a pro, but you feel like she's a friend.

Now, the ambiance.  While I was waiting I overheard a bit of conversation between 4 guys who were right at the end of the bar where I was waiting.  And me, being me, I had to ask a question about what I had heard because it was about a person getting because of prejudice and I wondered how they could be talking about Bouchon so I asked them.  The one man said, "oh no, it was a place in Kentucky"  And when I said "ah, that makes more sense - I'm from West Virginia so I can relate" he high-fived me cause he was from Kentucky and we chatted a bit more and then I sat back down in my "wait" chair.  So, as I'm working through my mussels and enjoying my delicious glass of red, there is suddenly a hand rapping on the bar beside my arm and it's the Kentucky man saying "don't pay for the wine - it's on us".  I demurred politely but no, no, "it's taken care of".  So gee.  And one last little bit - the couple sitting next to me at the bar had ordered mussels and when I was considering them I asked her some question about them and she answered and that was that.  But when theirs came and as they settled in, I thought I heard him singing real low "happy birthday".  They got a dessert which came with a candle in it so, of course, then I had to ask - was it one of their birthdays?  It was hers but she doesn't really like dessert so he always eats it.  I asked her when hers was and it was that day just like mine.  We talked a bit more, then they left, I finished up, gave Wendy a hug, and went back to the rest of my chocolate chip cookie and a nice hot cup of tea.  I had been there for about 2-1/2 hours!

My last conclusion (on the order of not ordering mussels anymore) is that if I ever go to Asheville again, it will have to be in later spring or fall.  It's not very inviting to walk around town when it's so cold and blustery.  And I woke up Thursday morning and got all my stuff together to take out to the car only to find it with about an inch of very wet snow covering it!  Didn't get a picture of that cause it was too cold but here's a picture from the car on the road - the sky was either like this or beautiful white puffy clouds with blue sky and sunshine, or it was snowing - heavy or flurries.  An interesting 465 miles. :)

Now, here's Part I of this backwards post...

Once again, I'm in Asheville, NC for my birthday! That dinner last year at Bouchon restaurant was so delicious and pleasant that I just decided I'd do it again this year. I'll be here tonight (Tuesday 3/6), tomorrow and tomorrow night and then drive up to Chris in Virginia on Thursday. I don't really have too much to post tonight. The trip down from Huntington sure took longer than I expected it to but was basically uneventful. My hotel is quite nice and I got a nice "deal" on it. And tonight I had a delicious pizza (which I couldn't finish sadly) at The Mellow Mushroom which I took several exterior photos of last year when I was here. I was going to provide a link to that post but it seems I can only get as far as a link to my blog. So if you want to see them, type in Asheville 2017, Part 2 and it should come up. They're down the page a bit.

 I took a couple of pictures of the outside tonight but none of the inside - it was heavily decorated but I didn't see anything that would have photographed all that well.

I took this last one because seeing it in the "real" it looked pretty fantastic - the photo of course doesn't really do it justice but I posted it anyway cause I liked it and I know January likes "good" trees.  I didn't notice the red VW when I was taking the pic but I like it in the picture.

So that's it for tonight.  I may go out to Black Mountain tomorrow and find out what that's all about - I think it's a big craft center.  And it would be interesting to Google and see if there is a dollhouse and/or a good needlework show here.  Can't remember if I did that last year or not...

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