Yes, there was a bit of drama surrounding this season’s opening at Lake Powhatan in the wake of recently hired senior management’s implementation of fresh and exciting new policies, which resulted in a nearly immediate employee exodus. As local management struggled to keep everything running with the remaining crew while urgently seeking camp host replacements, we calmly adapted; the limited impact of the changes on our specific responsibilities and compensation affording us a sanguine attitude. In short, the money was the same, and they mostly left us alone to run things as we saw fit up in the glamping area.
Three tents from the glamping loop.
And so we observed with casual interest the at times chaotic adjustment at the front gate and other camping loops, with a couple of new couples hired on as hosts or new on site managers, while we lived out a routine largely similar to our previous three month gig here. We did our work, stayed ahead of the glamping tent turnover, and settled into a pattern that saw us doing most of our prep work in the late morning, then taking off for a couple of hours for errands and enjoyment of the local area, before returning in time for our afternoon and evening check ins.
Inside one of the tents.
One of the reasons we were excited to get back to Asheville was to meet the newest member of the family, my brother Jason and Emmie’s newborn, Olivia Jane Chalupa Batman, which we were able to do just a few weeks after her birth. She is a beautiful study in contrasts: gave her mother hell during a 40 hour labor, but seems to be an incredibly well behaved infant, sleeping even more than our cat.
During our first couple of weeks in the area we of course visited our favorite pizza place in all the land, Pizza Mind, for the roasted beet and cauliflower pizza with balsamic. In April we were able to return to a few other Asheville faves while discovering a couple of new places. In the former category, we made several appearances at our go-to brewery, Archetype (conveniently located next door to Pizza Mind) especially once we learned of their Tuesday $4 pour specials. Also high on our list: Asheville Sushi & Hibachi, an unassuming storefront place half way to Hendersonville, that surprised us last season with their freshness, service, and cute presentation, all at a very competitive price.
Angrily, uncooperatively, posing with the headband Rosemarie made for her.
All three of these places figure high on our list of free wifi locations, which are critical to our digital happiness while working in the nearly off the grid Lake Powhatan. If we returned to a restaurant or brewery in Asheville, chances are it was not simply for the food and drink on offer, but for the fast guest internet access as well.
A nice bridge during one of our geocache outings.
As for new places, we enjoyed half a dozen or so this month. We can’t always splurge on Pizza Mind, so we were happy to stumble across Galactic Pizza so close to the campground. They offer surprisingly low priced New Yorkish style pizza. After having had one or two just so-so local BBQ experiences, we followed the recommendation of fellow camp hosts and drove out to Brevard for lunch at Hawg Wild. We enjoyed a very moist but not over done brisket sandwich. I would have liked to explore both the menu and the town a bit more.
One of the things I liked about this place was how it teased out yet another regional BBQ battle. In this case, North Carolina style BBQ has an Eastern variant, characterized by use of the entire hog and a minimalist, vinegar based sauce, and a Western version, using mainly pork shoulder and with a sweeter, tomato based sauce. Hawg Wild offers both types.
While I am mostly satisfied with the typical fast food burger joints, I do enjoy truly fresh made burgers at something slightly more upscale, i.e., a diner or fast casual mom & pop type place. We quite liked Juicy Lucy’s, which features their namesake burger, with the cheese embedded within layers of the patty before cooking, which I am learning only now as I research (google) things for this post is a well established style of burger that appears to have made a comeback in the last decade.
We also finally managed to get to Oyster House Brewing Company, yet another West Asheville restaurant that had been on our radar since last summer. It seemed like the timing was always wrong for us; they were closed when we were in the area, open when we weren’t hungry, outdoor seating was full during peak COVID, or something. After such near misses we were glad to hit them this April, enjoying an assortment of three different raw oyster variants, and something from their interesting in house beer menu.
Its 2021 and we aren’t on the Apalachicola Coast, so the days of 50 cent oysters are long gone for us, but it was nice to splurge a bit on an old favorite.
Our most significant experience of the month, however, must be our initial COVID vaccination. It was a welcome surprise to find North Carolina well ahead of Florida in making it so readily available. We made an appointment through Ingles Grocery as soon as our state designated age/employment category came open, and had the first of our Pfizer doses shortly there after. Quite a relief.
We also expanded our farmers market options beyond the weekly West Asheville Tailgate Market and the permanent barn-style Western North Carolina Farmers Market, venturing to the River Arts District Wednesday afternoon event a few times. While the vendors there are not drastically different than those at the West Asheville market, River Arts has the advantage of several on site dining and drinking establishments. Wedge Brewing has one of their two locations there. As we keep on the lookout for a future, possibly seasonal home, at least one thriving local farmers market is a priority.
Outdoors at Wedge.
Next up: another monthly report and then our final weeks in Asheville before beginning our westward run.