While in Spartanburg we finalized plans to visit the Asheville area and see my brother and new sister-in-law in nearby Black Mountain. Asheville is much more of a tourist destination than Spartanburg, and so we had some difficulty securing reservations, particularly since we were timing our arrival for the weekend to best accommodate Jason and Emily’s work schedules.
In a previous year we stayed at Lake Powhatan Recreation Area and Campground located on national forest land, but they were full up and further away from Black Mountain than ideal. We were lucky to secure two days at the small but popular Mama Gertie’s Hideaway Campground in Swannanoa, which placed us perfectly between Asheville and Black Mountain.
Mama Gerties is a tightly run ship on a multi-level property in low mountains, and requires a bit of a climb up narrow roads to access it. Our site, however, was spacious, level, and well equipped, even for being one of the mid-level priced options available. Pricing is relative; we paid $54 a night and that’s with the 10% military discount! Does that sound steep? It does to us as well, but that is simply what the Asheville area market demands. Consider that their mountain top sites with private decks and panoramic views go for $100 a night, and while we were there they were full up!
While there we did a bit of minor exploration in the town of Black Mountain with Jason and Emmie, which is very nice; filled with quaint shops, restaurants, and a brewery or two without being overly touristy like Asheville proper. We had a solid meal at The Trail Head Restaurant and Bar: the burger was excellent (and I was prepared for disappointment now that my expectations have been raised so high by Cribbs back in Spartanburg) though the staff could have been a lot more cognizant of our social distancing request.
We were only able to stay at Mama Gertie’s for two days since they were full up, at least for a rig our our size, the next few days. So we packed up and drove down to Jason and Emmie’s place, which has two large driveways. Jason had previously sent me video of both approaches, and it was clear that one was way too steep, but the other looked good to go. We easily fit in the drive, with plenty of extra width and length.
The only excitement came from the various cables and lines running from the nearby pole to the house: while the power and data lines were high enough such that we cleared them by a foot, the (defunct) phone line was significantly lower, and had we been a couple of inches taller we might have torn it loose. As it was we had to use a broom to make sure it cleared our front air conditioning unit.
Speaking of which: while at Mama Gertie’s we noticed that the front A/C was not working (it made noise but produced no cold air) and emitted a difficult to describe aroma. My research suggested it might just be the capacitor that assists the main compressor motor in starting, but we would have to take it to the shop to know for sure. Ah well, one more thing.
Dad and Marcia rolled in that same day for their two day stay at Mama G’s, probably securing a day we could not because their rig is smaller and fit in some of the more affordable sites. Jason and Emmie picked up take out dinner from a vegan restaurant and we met up at Dad and Marcia’s site for dinner and wine in a lovely outdoor setting until significant rain forced us all inside.
On our last day in the area I made arrangements to drop the RV off at a nearby repair shop, with Rose and I planning to drive to Wilmington in the tracker to visit mom and stepdad Tim while it was getting work done. This meant that the morning of our departure had a bit of drama; some expected, some not. First there was the lifting of the phone line via broom stick to clear our A/C and an antenna as we backed out of the driveway. It was also obvious that there was no way I could back out of the drive and make the more than 90 degree cut to point us nose forward; instead we would be forced to back down the steep and narrow road until we got to the next cross street where I could execute a three point turn.
Wrong again, Jack. Despite a couple of attempts at said cross street, our wheel base was too short and we ended up bottoming out the receiver hitch in the back onto the road. This meant we would need to back down all the way to the main cross street, a good quarter of a mile. Fortunately Rose and I have been in this situation before, and she’s good at giving me hand signals that I can easily interpret via our rear mounted camera, and so in short order we were beside the main road and hooking up Loki for our journey to the repair shop and then onward to Wilmington.
Next up: you guessed it, Wilmington.