Asheville’s Gentry & cold showers

The mixed legacy of a Southern “hippie town”

~50 degrees of Smoky Mountain refreshment

Couchsurfing is a strange community and website.

They are decidedly for-profit. The business model seems at odds with the spirit of “couchsurfing”.

A Stay with John, the photographer/coffee roaster

On arrival: Roasted pork, garden tomatoes and herbs, and a mandatory UNC water cup for me
From green coffee bean to roaster
Oh the scent of lightly burning coffee — glorious.
A single mail chute runs the height of the building — dropped for pickup in the basement.
The Drive By Truckers were a featured shot — and a premonition for the concert to come.
Both Vaden Landers and Poorboy Krill were met as we walked downtown.

John took me in for a couple nights — my longest single stop since the roadtrip began.

The first few minutes of my talk with John on Asheville, street musicians, his views on finding his Home, and America

All-American Truckers and their politics

As the long set picked up speed, the passion and political views of the lead singer began to flow.

A prominent “Black Lives Matter” was displayed by the piano man.

We were desperate to regain escape from our polarization.

Asheville had always been on my mind as a balancing force for this trip.

Buskers and craft markets galore
DISCLAIMER (Language Warning): Chess players at the park can get pretty rude. The woman on the bricks has the right reaction.

The Largest Estate in North America” — the 8000 acre Biltmore — sits on the edge of town.

A Confederate Legacy

An undeniable reminder stands tall and protected

A tall phallus loomed over the buskers and the tourist shops of downtown Asheville.

Ever meet someone named Zebulon?

Here, on this well-maintained and prominent monument, he is listed as a Senator — as if the conflict never mattered.

“So that the future may learn from the past” — supported by the Biltmore Company and Asheville Jewish Friends
Notice the bent upper edge of Robert E. Lee’s placard.

Robert E. Lee had his own tribute stone and plate. The edge had been pried up by a crowbar one night — an attempt at vigilante-style removal.

History is set by the historian — one made of selected echoes to be carried by the people.

Storytelling is an art form, a great human tool for understanding ourselves and the world.

Bear with me as I chase the rare beast of creative logic in my tales.

Faded Traces of Asheville Green Book Stops

From the National Register of Historic Places for Asheville, NC

Why were YMCA’s not used, while YWCA’s were?

YMCA’s are listed consistently as safe sites throughout the south.

Why was the YMI built when a YMCA stood proudly only a few blocks away? Why did the Vanderbilts fund it?

I saw the plaque I was looking for, and an open door.

The YMI stood tall and proud.

FreeMason action and the YMI — now as a the YMI Cultural Center, with mostly all women inside.
The wooden rafters and chandeliers — built and maintained by Julia and Jesse Ray, Asheville locals, sponsors, and Jesse a former beneficiaries of the YMI
Tonia Plummer — Civil Rights leader, African American historian, and fan of the Buick’s Wildcat V8. The construction buzzed and ground on just opposite the YMI.

Buskers, the Homeless, the Police

Fresh, tight licks of folk and bluegrass on every corner

“Why did he come to Asheville?” the other sergeant quipped as they laughed, the bite victim’s arm still wearing a band-aid.

Traveling buskers and overall’d locals

The Cold Jump into Skinny Dip Falls

“Nobody skinny-dips there anymore though — too many families during the day now.”

To jump or not to jump?
Skinny traveler jump action shots, courtesy of JG photography.

I couldn’t help myself. The water felt incredible.

Walt the Busker stopped by

Deeper and further back still, a memory humbled and had me reflecting on my sister’s classmates and friends who taught me compassion when I was young — the differently-abled people of the Barber Center.

My sister “Pie” — who loved and laughed, experienced the world with other “Pie People” at the Barber Center.

The memory made me ache some to see my hometown again. It was a signal to be moving north.

With a wave and a hug, I said goodbye to John, Walt, and Asheville. On to West Virginia I drove with folk music playing in my head.

Honest history & proposals from a conflicted futurist.