Asheville Adventures – Float, Fly and Forage
We knew Asheville, North Carolina was famous for their craft beer, farm-to-table food scene and the cool outdoors vibe; but we didn’t expect this small town to be filled with so many unique adventures.
Asheville is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains where the French Broad River and Swannanoa River meet. It’s a college town, it’s the largest city in western NC and it’s been nationally recognized by a countless number of magazines as an awesome place to live (seriously, look it up, from AARP to Rolling Stone it seems everyone wants to visit or live here, Asheville’s like the “it” place right now).
We began our Asheville adventures with NOC doing a nice half-day paddle down the French Broad River, the third oldest river in the world. We were actually in town a little before the rafting season really kicked off, but the guides were nice enough to accommodate us even though it was cold and rainy. The half-day trip only hits a few class II and class III rapids so it’s the perfect rafting trip for beginners, or for those who don’t want to get too wet! If we would have come later in the summer we could have challenged ourselves more with the full-day whitewater trip which includes 3 more miles of paddling plus the class IV drop called “Franks Bell’s Rapid”. Cost: About $50 per person plus a tip.
Our Next Asheville Adventure took us high into the sky, way above the canopy of treetops. We joined Navitat and our two guides Jeff and Elena for the “Moody Cove Adventure” zipline tour. We chose this particular outfitter for two reasons: 1) they have a passion for the forest including a huge sustainability program, which we like. 2) This tour has been ranked one of the best in the US by multiple national publications. We were not disappointed on either point: Jeff taught us way more than we ever wanted to know about trees, from their sexual fragrances to their chemical warfare techniques, its obvious he loves his job. Elena gifted us zipline names me: Flying Monkey Nikki: Ladybug. With killer views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, 10 different zips, 2 rope bridges that soar above the forest floor and 2 rappels make this adventure one helluva way to kill an afternoon. Cost: About $100 per person plus a tip.
When I first met Alan “the Mushroom Man” from No Taste Like Home, I thought to myself “where’s the crazy guy I saw in the YouTube rap video?” We met up with Alan at his house before driving up the mountains and into the forest in a small SUV as he debriefed us in a calm, soft spoken voice. When I first turned the camera on, Alan blushed and said “I hate those things…they make me so nervous”. I figured this was going to be a total waste of time…but was I ever wrong. Once in his element Alan took over all conversations, almost never shutting up (in a good way, he had our undivided attention). He knows so much about these woods and the foods on the ground but at the same time he’s not boastful claiming that he’s always learning and growing as a forager. I could have easily made a one hour documentary about our forage with Alan. There was so much excitement, learning , experimenting; I wish I was a better wordsmith to share with you how truly amazing this adventure is. If you have the opportunity to visit Asheville then this tour, no, this life experience is worth every penny times 10! On another note if you didn’t make it to the end of our video above make sure you catch the “short version” of the rap that originally peeked our interest in meeting Alan; and if you pay particularly close attention at the beginning (and the end) you can see just how timid yet full of energy Alan is. Cost: Starting around $60 per person.
At first spotting a morel mushroom seems equivalent to finding a needle in a haystack…in some sense it is very rare to stumble upon these little guys, but once you get the knack it’s wild just how many you can find!
Since 2001 drummers, and percussionist, have been congregating every Friday around 6pm at Prichard Park for an impromptu drum circle. Black, White, Rasta, Pajamas, Suits, Tourists it doesn’t matter who you are or what you wear, you’re invited to dance, drum or just watch this event unfold before your eyes. Literally hundreds of people fill this small downtown park to connect through the mesmerizing beats. We came upon the event in full swing and we couldn’t believe our ears, our eyes or our hearts. The music and diversity just makes you want to hug everyone in a brotherly embrace. Before we knew it two hours had flown by and we were late for our dinner reservations! ooops. The Prichard Park Drum Circle is not to be missed if you’re in Asheville on a Friday evening (hours are not set in stone but tend to be from 6pm-10pm during the warmer months). Cost: Free for everyone.
We parked the RV just a few miles outside of Downtown Asheville at Wilson’s Riverfront RV Park. The campground is nothing fancy but it is on the river and they have shaded spots, concrete pads, free WiFi and full hook-ups. The greenway runs right through the campground so one afternoon while taking Singa for a walk, our newfound foraging skills kicked in and we hit the jackpot! Yep, that’s about $50 worth of shrooms we found just a few hundred yards away from our RV. For us this little RV park was the perfect base camp for our Asheville adventures. Cost: $30/night or $190/week.