Of course, I am totally joking. There is nothing cold or hard about Asheville, North Carolina. It is a hippie oasis in the mountains founded by the hemp-based versions of Lewis and Clark, and propagated by butterflies and inner children. I got to go to this magnificent wonderland for the 3rd annual Laugh Your Asheville Off Comedy Festival the weekend before last and I was suffering from separation anxiety (or something) up until now, hence the delay on this travelogue.
And what a time was had! The crowds were mahvelous, dahling, and the comics and people were some of the nicest I've come into contact with, no jokes. There was even a post-show storytelling open mic one of the nights I was there where people rehashed road giggles and other career cataclysms.
I have put together some pictures to show you, gentle reader, some of the things I saw and experiences I had, mostly food-related, let's be honest. So let's circle around back to the beginning and tell this story in a linear fashion, which is the opposite of how my mind works. So we'll see how it flows, or doesn't.
A motley crew of jokester Boyfie, as well as superb comic talents Andy Haynes (NYC is his home) and Grant Lyon (based out of San Fran, y'all) all headed down there on a Friday morning bright and early. I somehow didn't expect to run into any traffic on the close to eight hour drive. Ha! Also, may I add, ha!
We hit traffic before we were even out of Virginia, which is always a much bigger state than I remember it as being. The skies were in tandem with our moods when that happened. Especially because my show was at 7 p.m. and we were already behind schedule.
As you can see, people got out of their cars to see what was going on.
Some people even went up onto the embankments on the side of the highway to explore, pee, and/or eat questionable berries.
I chose to spend my time productively so I drew faces on my knees.
Both knees! My book remained unread as of this point. I actually didn't read it at all the entire weekend. Make of that what you will. I felt rude not participating in the group rage.
The best part of being stuck in traffic, and I think our entire carpool group can attest to this, is the incident that occurred. A car in the lane next to us (it was a two-lane highway), for unknown reasons, pulled onto the side lane to perhaps wait out the traffic and make a gratefulness list. Her car ended up blocking other cars that were trying to cut ahead to the nearest exit from zipping down the emergency lane.
But, in fact, this is America and ain't no one gonna get away with that kind of tomfoolery! One car in particular pulled behind hers and started honking in a purely aggressive way. After this failed to provide any kind of a useful outcome, an angry harpie-shrew (and this is actually a magnanimous term for what she was) of a woman gets out of her car and starts yelling, shrieking, and gesturing at the woman in the car who wouldn't move.
She uttered such choice phrases as "Why are you blocking this lane?! Are you a state trooper?! Well, are you?!" and "My baby needs to use a bathroom. She is sick and she needs to throw up [Side Note: she probably got sick from eating some of those berries]. MOVE OUT OF THE WAY. Are you a state trooper?!" Apparently, the only people who deserved respect in this woman's life were state troopers. As a final piece de resistance, she flashed this other poor woman (maybe she had a tattoo of a state trooper on her chest? I wasn't lucky enough to find out.) who had no reaction other than to start crying and moving her car, which I suppose is actually the mother and a half of all reactions. Then someone told the aggressive screamer to calm down from another car and, completely staying in character, Medusa screeched, "Excuse me? Are you a state trooper?!"
Shortly after that, the traffic started moving for the first time, but the driver in the car in front of us had fallen asleep like an ironic Goldilocks in the Three Bears' house because the timing was "just right." We had to honk a couple times to rouse him and then he did that number where you wake up completely disoriented so his only option was to amp the gas and speed ahead as if he was being tailed by nightmare-born bandit goblins. About a minute later, traffic stopped moving again. Oh, the suspense! Several hours later, we rolled up in front of the Festival theater in Asheville about fifteen minutes after the show I was on had started.
Here is the green room for the artists. There was a mountain of cookies as well as a keg and other earthly delights. I was too nervous to think about cookies right away, but I stored a mental link to them away in my favorites.
The show ended up being a great time, and people were so nice both during and after the show. I was a bit too out of it to really process that it had happened and was over, but I was glad I had made it there in time with only minor mental travel trauma.
Here is the tabletop of the restaurant where Boyfie and I ate a late dinner that night. This is a Hindu God! I was as surprised to see him there as he was to see me, and I felt somewhat presumptuous eating food off of his face, but we reached a spiritual and cosmic understanding. When in Rome?
The next morning, we went into downtown Asheville to explore. We parked the car under this scenic overpass. Art and creativity were in visual and auditory abundance all over the place, and their examples delighted my senses, including my sixth one.
We ate brunch at this swoonworthy restaurant called Rosetta's Kitchen. Look at this adorable basin for filling water! I would have gone there just for the water. We tried several dishes including Tempalo Wings, a vegan version of Buffalo wings. Gobble gobble!
There was also a back area to the restaurant that was open-air and gave a nice view onto the street. Pretty lamps! I am neither a food nor ambiance reviewer. I was there and it was delightful. The only stars I will mention were the ones in my eyes.
Next we took a stroll to do some window shopping. We stopped at a used bookstore, and I came across this gem below, The Water Babies: A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby.
Sometimes a water baby can still be a land baby. (Just an excuse to show you guys the my favorite recent Internet photo find.)
Here is another example of visual fun. A book tree! I would definitely plant some of these in my back yard if I could. Speaking of gardens, I wandered by a garden shop with a beautiful little yard of its own.
Here is the view onto the street. It was all too much for me in the high, heartwarming levels of small-town cute.
Here was another place we stopped by, which was having a monthly open-air folk art market outside, but then the space inside was the location of regular open mics. Judging by the chair set up, they were a regularly occurring event with an audience! How revolutionary!
Here was the metaphysical ceiling lamp at Izzy's Coffee Den, a delightful beanery.
There was also a bear and a disco ball (as seen below) at the Mellow Mushroom where we had a delicious pizza dinner. One of our pizzas was called "Magical Mystery Tour" and it had pesto, button mushrooms, Portabello mushrooms, spinach, feta cheese, and jalapeños. It was yumazing.
There were lots of street musicians playing all over downtown Asheville. There was a banjo band setting up right outside the pizza place when we were leaving.
Here is a creepy Indian marionette doll at a rest stop that I saw on the drive back. It served as a warning to me, but I'm still not sure what the warning was for exactly. It put me on edge though. I hope you are not similarly affected, but it might be inevitable. Who would stop at a rest stop and decide this to be a must-buy item? More likely an impulse purchase if you're feeling like starring in a real-life horror flick, I suppose.
In conclusion, Asheville, North Carolina is a wonderful and magical place. It's not a matter of if you go, it's a matter of when. The food is delicious and nutritious; the people are welcoming and warm; and the arts scene is off the charts. Rum tum tiddly tooba!