I have tried many times to explain why I packed up everything, left my home, job, friends and everything I had know for almost two decades and simply drove out of Dallas to an unknown future. Some might say I was insane, but the truth is that five years ago I saw the writing on the wall and realized that soon I would have an empty nest, and the opportunity to intentionally set my compass on a new adventure. I created my “must haves” on a Destination Essentials worksheet and began traveling the country to find the place that checked most of those boxes. Somewhere between the Great Smoky Mountains and Black Mountains, my heart found it’s home. So call me crazy, but I fell in love and set an intentional course for Asheville. Here are my top 5 reasons that I love Asheville, in no particular order- as with most things in life and love – on any given day one might be at the top and then fall to the bottom the next day.
1. Less Traffic
I took this picture on my way out of Dallas, TX four months ago. I was stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on LBJ freeway at 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon for no apparent reason. I wish I could say that this was the exception, but unfortunately it was all too common an occurrence in my city life. Too much time was spent in my car, with the AC blasting while I sat in 5 lanes of traffic going nowhere. Not at all peaceful or serene. Sure, there is still an occasional traffic jam here due to an accident… or this week because tons of people were travelling through the area to get into the path of the eclipse, but normally it is smooth sailing and the scenery is majestic.
My last home had basically two (maybe even one) seasons – the HOT summer and the COLD winter. Maybe there’s a week of spring and a week of fall, but mostly it is oppressively HOT and humid. I left Dallas in April and spring had already sprung and the temperatures were steadily in the 80s and climbing fast. I had the glorious experience of two springs this year, because when I arrived in Asheville winter was just making its exit. Now it’s well into the summer months and it hasn’t hit 90 degrees yet. Every night it dips back into the 60s and cools off. I love being able to fling open my windows to let the fresh night into my home. Plus then I can see my neighbors…
3. Sounds of Nature (and Silence)
Each morning, since my windows are wide open, I am greeted with the sweet sound of doves cooing and birds singing. I’ve watched 2 sets of baby swallows hatch, stretch their wings and take their first flight from the window where I sit and write this blog. As I walk around my neighborhood, it can at times be eerily quiet, especially for a city girl. I’ve come to recognize that I can actually hear my thoughts and organize my ideas quite quickly on one of my frequent walks. I am surrounded by all of these lovely sounds (or no sounds) without ever getting in my car.
4. Outdoor Activities
If I do feel like venturing out of my home and out of my neighborhood… in any direction, I can drive less than an hour and have at my fingertips a plethora of outdoor activities. On any given day it could be forest hiking, stream fishing, river kayaking or picnicking on a mountain top. It took me about a month to get used to simply walking up the hills, then I progressed to hiking in the mountains – it takes a little training but it’s well worth the effort. When I don’t feel like exerting that much effort, it’s always a great option to take a ride on the motorcycle along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The views always take my breath away.
5. Casual Living
This is a laid back, no fuss, come as you are kinda town. What exactly do I mean by that? My makeup is actually gathering dust from lack of use. I’ve used my blow dryer 4 times in 4 months – three of those times might have been during my first week here before I found a good stylist that could give me an air dry haircut. When my husband wears a short-sleeved button up shirt, people ask why he’s so dressed up. For most occasions, even going to church, it is appropriate to wear jeans and a t-shirt.
If you are thinking that perhaps I am the only laid back person or have taken things to the extreme, then let me just illustrate with an example. After one particularly long hike, where 6 miles turned into 10 miles, I wandering into a restaurant starving and definitely not looking or smelling good . I distinctly remember having mud covering my pant legs from the knees down. The server did N-O-T even seem to notice. I tried to offer some lame excuse as to why I would be in this condition – she just waved me off, saying “You’re fine, no worries.”
I’m not trying to say that everyone in Asheville looks homeless – far from it. There is a definite casual style and Boho chic vibe. Simply stated, I never feel judged by my appearance and that feels fantastic.
I think I could make this a top 10 reasons I love life in Asheville, because I forgot to mention the food, art, music, spirituality and super-friendly people. Well, that will have to wait for another blog. For now, won’t you share with me in a comment what you love about where you live? If you can’t think of anything, then maybe it’s time to start making your very own “must haves” Destination Essentials worksheet.