A Mid-Spring Morning’s Dream

asheville hot air balloon basket I was nervous, and that couldn’t be denied. The thought of standing in a wicker basket while a man I’ve never met before shoots fire into a flammable object doesn’t tend to be on my repertoire of relaxation exercises. I’m also not terribly good at being out of control, which is pretty laughable at 4,000 feet above sea level. asheville hot air fire I was going to do it though, if for no other reason, than to check it off my bucket list. The small community of Candler, NC has always embraced the hot air balloons. If one landed in your yard, it was an honor. The colorful aircraft have been decorating the morning skies on weather-friendly days for twenty-some-odd years. As a child I would run outside to get a glimpse, and I knew I’d have to experience it one day, just to see what the ado was about. It went to the bucket list. That’s exactly what I thought it would be too, just a flight, like being in an outdoor plane…something to say I made it through and put a check beside. I went through the motions, signed the waivers, and talked to the pilots (who were more than experts, and extremely helpful by the way), before heading out to the launch site in a Candler resident’s front yard. At this point, I was anxious, and all business. hot air balloon avl As I climbed into the basket that sported smiley faces for footholds, I felt my heartbeat quicken. I told myself to breathe, this was just for the bucket list. It would be something I would make it through…and, maybe those first thirtish seconds were. Those were the seconds before I entered the dreamland. They were the seconds when the mind races the same way it does just before rapid eye movement sets in on a Tuesday midnight. All the things in the world there are to think about get thought about. All of the things to get nervous about, were gotten nervous about. I could see the ground getting further away, and could feel the intense heat from the primitive force that began removing the basket and its cargo from the Earth. I don’t remember noting the noise though…to me, all was silent as the balloon invaded the morning mist…when everything changed.   It wasn’t a breath-taking moment. Those can sometimes be described in a realistic way. I’ve seen “amazing” before. This was something different. To fully grasp it, it must be done, but I’ll do my very best. Think back…there’s that one fairytale unlike the others…that magical one that even in adulthood still makes us feel warm and fuzzy and think maybe mermaids do live in the ocean after all. For me, it’s Peter Pan. I’m convinced I may find Neverland yet, and almost did Saturday morning in that balloon. AskAsheville Hot Air Balloon First of all, the air was perfect. I could have been comfortable in a tank top or a sweater either one, and the blinding sunrise was somehow easily to fixate upon. It was such a curious setting, and nothing like flying in a plane. It was gentle, while daring; peaceful, while exhilarating. My senses seemed different, and I secretly wondered if this balloon was the new way to Narnia. The tops of the mountains I’d grown up in, with my summertime swimming holes visible from the air, somehow seemed more regal. They were reigning over this place, and presenting their freshly grown leaves with the cockiness of the poppies from Wizard of Oz. Maybe it was the time of day, the time of year, or the altitude, but the colors I saw aren’t available below 500 feet. hot air balloon mountains sky At one point I saw everyone looking to the left, and oohing and ahhing…one of the only things I remember actively hearing. It was a shadow of our vessel in a cloud, encircled by a rainbow halo, a phenomenon the pilot says happens almost every morning. With this on one side, and a half-misted Blue Ridge dawn on the other, I realized this wasn’t something to mark off on a bucket list, but to feel more alive about forever. Forget the fears. Though our pilot, Danny Smith, told me they had a perfect safety record pre-flight, I’d still been frightened until I became part of it all. Somehow I realized the magic in it, and realized the experience gives far more than it could take. I was in another place, floating up and down to the dew-dropped tree tops and back to the clouds. I wasn’t on a ride, but a journey…a journey that has to be felt, smelled, seen, heard, and tasted. hot air balloons asheville When I got home, I crawled back under the covers to nap after my daybreak voyage. I drifted off to sleep quickly, and don’t think I dreamed. The dream already occurred, and felt somehow far away from me when I awoke, as if the balloon existed in a realm almost like Earth, but not quite. The flight was truly that remarkable, and I longed for it. It was so supernatural that I wondered for a minute if it had happened at all. Then for some reason, a quote from a Shakespeare play I read more than a decade ago came to mind, “…you have but slumbered here/while these visions did appear.”

Visit http://www.ashevillehotairballoons.com, snuggle into your basket, and get ready to dream your little dream! Or give Phyllis a call at 828-667-9943! This is a must-have on your summer bucket list!

A Visit to Artisan Cafe and Lounge in Candler-Town USA

artisan cafe candler asheville

One of our favorite locally owned places to eat in the Enka-Candler area, just minutes from west Asheville, is Artisan Cafe, and it has been that way for years. Just recently a new owner took over the place and is making some great improvements. We stopped by for a quick bite today and ended up having an experience worth writing about.

artisan catering candler nc

We walked in and saw that they had a new layout, a giant lounge area on the left, and the ordering counter and kitchen in the space to the right. I immediately noticed a couch and a couple seats in the back where I wanted to sit. We ordered, took a few photos, met the happy staff and got settled in. One of the girls was a recent graduate of the AB Tech Culinary program.

artisan avl

This place is cozy! The owner is looking to get some local Musicians and bands to begin performing around early June, and they have empty walls screaming for local Artists in the area to feature their work. You can contact Artisan Cafe for more info about either of these opportunities.

Artisan Deli Breakfast Burrito

Oh, and I had the Classic Breakfast Burrito, a fave of mine for years, and it was so good! The others had a few breakfast sandwiches on bagels. We look forward to spending a lot more time at this place in good ole Candler-Town USA!

Building Community in Candler-Town USA!

candler town usa enka Candler-Town USA is one of the key up and coming communities on the outskirts of Asheville. I was roaming around the other evening, stopped to get a drink and work on my mobile, and I ended up bumping into several friends. We talked, joked, laughed and had a good ole time. Now I have to be honest, when I first found out about this area, there was little to do and talk about. There was no Hooker’s Gap like our friends in Leicester had, so it was usually lights out at 9. But now, a lot of things are changing and growing. The Enka Candler area right off of I-40 is five minutes from the famed Haywood Road in West Asheville, and less than 15 minutes to the center of downtown. Pretty sweet location, if you are not looking to lodge boutique style for hundreds a night.


When you get off the highway at Enka Candler, you will see several gas stations, fast food spots, a Dairy Queen, Dunkin Donuts, and it has several great budget hotels including Sleep Inn. When it comes to food, you can find some delicious local eateries in the area. You have the Rejavanation Cafe which features amazing breakfast, lunch and baked goods. Another great spot is Artisan Deli on Sand Hill Rd. And then there is Frank’s Roman Pizza and the Asheville Sandwich Company right near Applachian Motors on Sardis Rd. A new brewery is on the way too! Oh, and El Chapala is the place to go for authentic Mexican food. If you head up to the Biltmore Square Mall area, there is also Stone Ridge Tavern and Apollo Flame Bistro. Then there is a Fatz Cafe, Applebee’s, J&S Cafeteria, and IHop right on Smoky Park Highway as well.


We have a bunch of team members and friends in Candler-Town USA, and have been meeting, having a good time and making plans for the area. Building community! Maybe you live in Enka Candler and would like to get together and involved?! Get in touch with us and lets talk.