Asheville was having its annual Bele Chere Festival. The city created it 35 years ago to attract people downtown. Interesting, this was the last one. The city council decided it has enough people.
For a couple of hours we sweltered in the summer sun with more than enough people. We passed street artists, musicians, and people representing every cult from the last 50 years. We saw Rastafarians, rockers, and that very rare breed, young hippies. As the beer flowed Bible thumpers shouted why we will be burning in hell. For some reason, very fat women were sitting topless on the sidewalks, their fleshy fronts nearly touching the ground.
The streets were so cluttered with five hundred artists' booths we could barely enjoy the parks, restaurants and art galleries that we came to see. We were happy to leave Bele Chere. We'll see the better side of this beautiful city another day.
An hour later we arrived at our campsite in Cataloochee Valley. We love the place. The long, narrow, winding, rocky road that takes you there keeps most folks out.
For three days we saw deer, elk, and bears.
The rippling flow of Cataloochee Creek put us to sleep at night.
200 years ago, the white folks forced the Native Americans to leave. Interestingly, 80 years ago the U.S. government made the 1200 white folks depart (when they made it a national park). There are a dozen old, maintained buildings. The houses, churches, and one-room schools remind us of the sad, forced migration of the Anglos who re-settled fifteen miles east. The long-erased history of the First People? The ones sent on a thousand-mile death march to Oklahoma? You have to imagine that.
Bad Place for Butterflies
In "Catahootch" you also see thousands of iridescent butterflies feeding in the road. They love the moist, mineral-laden dirt. As you might expect, most of them are dead, victims of cars like ours.
It is time to go higher now. We'll be driving through clouds on the Blue Ridge Parkway.