How to incorporate my personal thoughts on all the places I traveled into a blog that is technically about books….
I was thinking about this little dilemma over the past week or two. Should I just write things for myself, keep them locked up on my computer? Should I make up some excuse to incorporate the articles into my blog (“Well, technically, these are all thoughts I had while visiting bookstores. So really this is still all about books themselves…”)? Should I start a whole other blog just to service these articles that are stuck in my head? I was trying to decide when I remembered that this is my blog. My blog. So, technically this doesn’t jive with the bookishness of the rest of the blog, but heck I’m gonna include these thoughts on here anyways. If you want to read something related more to travel than to books, then stick right here. Otherwise, just ignore me and continue on with your day.
Asheville is a small city or a large town that sits right on the edge of the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina. I’ve lived in NC most of my life and I’m sure that I’ve been in or around Asheville before, but I never actually spent time downtown. That was my loss. Asheville is a great little city. The downtown area is small, but there are plenty of things to do in those streets, whether it’s visiting Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe, like I did, or going to one of the coffee shops or restaurants within easy walking distance. Because Asheville is actually sitting in the mountains, it’s streets curve wildly up and down. It’s a small feature but, as I reaffirmed in San Francisco, this little detail is incredibly endearing to me. It gives the town a sense of character; makes it seem like it’s not another carbon copy grid system trying to be as big and bad of a city as it can manage.
Additionally, Asheville felt fun and comfortable. Since I finished my road trip, some people have been a little skeptical about the impressions I have of different cities, especially when they differ from popular opinion (brace yourself, Austin). I admit that I didn’t spend a lot of time in any of these cities—12,000 miles in two months doesn’t happen by dilly-dallying—but I really stand by my opinions. It doesn’t take long for you to develop a feel for how things work in a new place. Just look around you, see how people interact with each other, see what people do, see how you’re treated by strangers and you’ll get a pretty good grasp about the general aspects of how things work. None of my opinions are meant to be the final word on any place, and I am fully aware that if I lived in any of these cities I would eventually find a niche that catered to the lifestyle I enjoy, and everything would be fine. But, this is about the overarching feel of a city. It’s about the amount of effort you’d need to put forth to be comfortable in everyday life or what you’d have to shrug off everyday to continue living how you want.
So, back to the point, Asheville passed this gauge with flying colors. The city has an artsy, alternative vibe, but it felt completely welcoming to all comers. There is a college in the area (UNC-Asheville) that keeps a younger crowd in the area, but there are still a good mix of professionals going about their everyday duties. (Funnily, this is not the vibe you get from the flagship UNC school in Chapel Hill that I attended. When you step foot in Chapel Hill you know you’re in a town that lives and dies with its college crowd). People were friendly and I say groups of all creeds, colors, and ethnicities interacting with each other happily. I’m not sure if I’d want to live in Asheville simply because it is a smaller city that doesn’t have any nearby companions and its suburban areas felt a little bland and lifeless when compared to the fun-loving downtown. Still, I need to make friends with people who live in Asheville, cause it was great to visit for a couple days and I’m intrigued enough to want some more.