I sauntered home from Haywood Rd and made a turkey sandwich inside Vincent's belly. I love having the ability to prepare my own food on the go—it's a delight that I haven't been able to enjoy in so long!
Once I ate my "brunch", I packed up my things and headed eastward toward downtown Asheville. My first stop was the Moogseum, a museum chronicling the life and work of Robert Moog.
As I approached the door, a transient woman was stumbling down the sidewalk screaming at the sky. Cursing in every direction, she violently struck down the A board outside the museum. I shrugged it off and went inside.
The clerk appeared, greeted me, and explained she needed to go take care of the A board that had fallen at the hands of the screaming woman. I waited for her at the counter and she came back, explaining how that sort of thing happens all the time. I reassured her that I was used to dealing with that sort of thing as well. We meandered on and on in a lovely conversation about our travels, Asheville, culture, and the like.
To me, the most profound part of travel is meeting new people and sharing meaningful conversation together. I've noticed that southerners are especially open to conversing with strangers and don't have the guardedness that tends to pervade northwesterners. In just a couple days being in Asheville I've had the pleasure of finding myself in several fantastic conversations.
Once I perused the Moogseum and played a theramin (they unfortunately didn't permit photography inside), I wandered to a nearby coffee shop called Rowan:
The interior of Rowan reminded me instantly of Barista, a small chain of cafes in Portland, Oregon. The crown moulding, retro fixtures, and fine woodworking gave me an instant feeling of nostalgia for my time in the northwest. And, unsurprisingly, they served coffee roasted by Heart Roasters in Portland.
After sitting and doing a bit of writing, I decided to try to find Malaprop's Books, a small bookstore cafe I'd read was worth seeing. I headed to Vincent and entered "malaprop" into his GPS, driving away from my parking spot. But then I realized it was walking distance from where I was, and there was hardly any chance of finding another parking spot.
Downtown Asheville, while breathtakingly beautiful and charming, is incredibly stressful, both on foot and by car. It feels like a place that was once modest, but then became gentrified as people discovered it as a mountain refuge. It has to me the same feeling of retrofitted gentrification as Portland. And with that, it seems, comes bands of roving tourists feverishly driving cars with out-of-state plates... myself included.
I retreated back to West Asheville for the afternoon—a place that feels more local, less contrived, less touristy, calmer, more real.