We drove on I 26 to Erwin and took 19 E to Mars Hill NC along the Cane River. The color was good in the trees especially the reds. They were nice along the river.
Mars Hill was really hopping with a huge craft show and a big football game at the College. Mars Hill is mostly the college - nice small town and a very nice campus. We drove around and around but never did find a place to park so Jane got out and walked to the BBQ tent at a Baptist Church and got a "take-out" plate of BBQ, Beans, Slaw, and cornbread. It was a huge amount of food - very good in fact! We drove down the road a ways towards Marshall and stopped to eat.
At Marshall we picked up NC 315 and followed the French Broad River to Asheville. The French Broad is indeed that - broad - and the colors again along the river were beautiful. There were no high mountains as we were following the river. Lots of curvy road tho. We came into Asheville and through town quite differently than the normal way along the interstate.
We drove through town and found our way to the new Outlet Mall. Jane thought she wanted to visit several stores. First up was the Dillard Outlet. Now Jane is not a patient shopper and it was Saturday in late October in a shopping outlet open only a few months! The Dillard store was huge - rack after rack of various type clothing - men's shirts, men's pants, women's slacks, children's this and that and on and on....after about 30 minutes of looking and picking out one shirt....that was enough. Another 20 minutes in line to pay - the shirt was a great bargain $28 original price for a mock turtle neck knit shirt - was marked down to $8.50 and my price to pay was $4.50! I guess it was worth nearly an hour of time. That was the end of shopping - Ben had had a nap in the van!
We found our hotel which was nearby and had a little rest. Then we headed out for dinner. We selected P. F. Chang's and found it easily in a new development on I 26 towards Hendersonville. Biltmore Park was a new area with a "down-town" area with shops, restaurants, a huge Y, a college, various offices, apartments, a medical complex, etc. The shops included an Orvis and an REI. Have to come back here for shopping!
For dinner we selected the Chang's dinner for 2. Our dinner included Hot Sour Soup and Crab Wontons - both very good.
You selected two entrees and we chose Honey Crisp Shrimp and Ginger Chicken and Broccoli. When they came the waitress told us they had chosen to give us an additional complimentary entree - Sesame Chicken. They were all good with our favorite the Ginger Chicken and Broccoli. Needless to say we had enough leftovers for our dinner tomorrow night!
After a good night's sleep we were up and ready for breakfast - Jane had chosen Another Broken Egg for our restaurant and it was located again in Biltmore Park. Sorry no photos - forgot but we enjoyed an unusual breakfast of Corn Beef Hash, City Grits, and Biscuits. By ordering two side dishes and splitting them it was "just right" - not too much or too little. And the coffee was great! The shops in this area open at noon on Sunday so we found our way to the Farmer's Market and bought apples, sweet potatoes, and some butternut squash.
For the drive home Ben selected US 25 and 70 to Weaverville, Hot Springs, Newport, and Morristown. We did drive on I 26 to Weaverville where we got on US 25 and 70. We had been to Hot Springs once before but not on this road. Again the colors were pretty especially in the Hot Springs area but with no sunshine; the colors were not as brilliant. We saw the Iron Horse Station Inn where Robin and Sarah had spent a couple days hiking last summer. Neat little town but we did not stop.
While we did climb some and passed by an Appalachian Trail Crossing the mountains were not as high as crossing the mountains on I 26. Coming down the TN side we crossed Douglas Lake which had a very low water level. Drove through Newport and White Pine before coming to an exit on I 81 and back to roads we are very used to driving on!
Home again to our own bit of color! Cheese, Crackers, and Apples for lunch and then our leftover Chinese feast for supper!