Welcome to Fabulous Weaver-Vegas

Letters from Asheville and Beyond: A Fictional Journey into Western North Carolina by Ellen J. Perry.

Weaverville North Carolina

Part Four: “Welcome to Fabulous Weaver-Vegas” dedicated to Abigail Hickman, Wanda Wilson, and Connie Wilson.

Dear Nicky,

You know how I like to be spontaneous. Well, me and Shelby ventured out of Asheville on the spur of the moment today and found Weaverville, the best little town in the mountains. It’s about ten minutes north of Asheville and known to the locals as – get this – Weaver-Vegas! Ha. After our Tai Chi adventure yesterday we went to supper with Kathleen and Trent who introduced us to their friend Christina. She grew up in Weaverville and still lives there, said if we came out to the big city she’d show us around. So we fired up the van and went.

I pulled in by this big clock, got parked, and we met up with Christina at the Well-Bred Bakery and Café right in the heart of Main Street. Well-Bred used to be the town drugstore but now it’s packed with people ordering stuff like quiche, pasta salad, French toast casserole, all kinds of cakes, and the best toffee I ever ate. It’s buttery and not so hard it’ll break your teeth. Shelby ate an éclair that was as big as my head. I gobbled up a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup – perfect on a cold day. But it wasn’t so cold that Christina couldn’t take us around to see the sights. As we were getting ready to go, the Well-Bred manager gave us a big hug and said, Come back ladies, right after he pointed out the Yoga studio in the next building. Next thing I knew, your old grandma was taking a yoga class and doing the Downward Dog! Well, I don’t think I did it completely right, but I got my bottom up a little higher than Shelby did. After class Christina wrote down my favorite poses so I could try and do them later on back at the hotel: Table Top, Cat and Cow, Pigeon, Warrior, and Low Lunge. Shelby liked the Mountain and Corpse poses the best, since she said she could stand up straight and lay down flat with the best of them.

Back to our tour. You remember the Vance monument in Asheville, the one that Augusta Wind on the LaZoom bus made the joke about? Mr. Vance himself was born in Weaverville, and Christina said you can go down Reems Creek Road to visit old Zebulon’s home place. She remembered seeing it on a field trip when she was a little girl, and they still do Civil War reenactments down there all around the cabins. You’d probably like to see this pretty valley since you’re interested in history. What I’d really like to show you is the Weaverville Drug Company with its ice cream parlor. The people in there were so friendly to us out-of-towners, and the parlor was like old times. I looked at some souvenirs but Shelby had already got me a “We’re All Well-Bred in Weaverville” shirt over at the café, so I figured that was enough for today.

After visiting the Dry Ridge Historical Museum in the library and taking a quick rest at Twisted Laurel (Christina wanted a mimosa, which is champagne and orange juice if you didn’t know), we wandered on over to Church Street to say hey to her friends Joe and Paulette. They have the cutest house near where people walk or ride their bikes on the sidewalks, and we settled right in. “Let’s play Pictionary,” their daughter Dana said, and things got interesting when we formed teams. Joe said, “I’ll bet everybody a dollar that Paulette and I will win.” Shelby got that determined look she has and told him, “You’re on.” I wish she hadn’t of done that, but too late – it was Weaver-Vegas, after all, so we played and gambled well into the afternoon. Dana and her step-sister Audrey won the most games (six dollars each, big money!) and then somebody got up the idea to order supper from Blue Mountain Pizza, which we took down to Lake Louise Park for a picnic. It was so sweet to see the kids swinging and playing, and I even went down the slide once to show Shelby I could do it without hurting myself. I bounced right up, probably thanks to all this Tai Chi and yoga I’ve been doing!

On the lake’s walking trail Christina ran into her friends Eva and Jenny who live in the condos nearby. They were a lot of fun and told us some more about the area and where they like to go. “Every now and then I’ll take my ‘I’m a Local’ mug and head over to IHOP,” Eva said, and Jenny (who’s an artist) told us about the Art in Autumn event that happens every September. The vendors set up their booths right along Main Street. I’d like to come back for the Art Safari, too, which is where people ride around to the houses of local artists and see their work. Wouldn’t it be something if I got back into quilting and showed off a few of my quilts to people? Jenny talked about a bunch of quilts and such on display over at the Folk Art Center back in Asheville. She also said how good the fresh fruits and vegetables were at the Weaverville Tailgate Market just up the hill at the community center.

Nicky, what if I was to sell my house in Columbus County, buy one of them bottom-level condos where Eva and Jenny live, and move to the mountains? Would you and your mama come visit me pretty regular? I just keep thinking about all the things I want to do later in the year when it warms up and how since your granddaddy passed on, bless him, I’ve got nothing but freedom and time. If he was alive he’d probably agree to go zip-lining with me at Navitat Canopy Adventures in Barnardsville. Shelby refuses to leave solid ground, she said, but I might could get Eva to zip-line since she’s about my age and every bit as sassy. Matter of fact, I’ll bet on it, Weaver-Vegas style. I’ll bet she’d go with me to Navitat and that me, her, and Eva would be the best of friends and the wildest group of lady-adventurers this town has laid eyes on, before or since Zeb Vance’s time.

Love you, Nannie

Letters from Asheville & Beyond: “One World, One Breath”

Best of Asheville WNC

Letters from Asheville and Beyond, A Fictional Journey Into Western North Carolina.

Part Three: “One World, One Breath” dedicated to Lisa and Bob Johnson.

Dear Nicky,

Well, you can tell your buddies back home that your grandma Myrtice tasted her first Painkiller drink at the Yacht Club in Asheville last night, and it sure enough did the job. Me and Shelby felt no pain while we were walking around downtown and were glad for the shuttle that carried us back to the hotel. My head didn’t hit the pillow until 11:30! We’re having a big time overall, laughing and seeing the sights. Every time that LaZoom bus comes around we wave like crazy, and the people wave back. Today was extra special because it started off with a big pancake and ended up with us watching some fancy martial arts moves.

Shelby’s been reading the “Best of WNC” brochure put out by the Mountain Xpress paper like it’s the Bible. She told me the brochure said Tupelo Honey was a good place to go for biscuits, so we started out real early this morning trying to beat the crowd. My head hurt some from our late night, but the cure for that is Tupelo’s giant sweet potato pancake with pecans and peach butter. Lord, I couldn’t eat it all, much less my biscuit! Shelby had to help me. We sat at a great table by the window right near this nice couple we talked to, Kathleen and Trent. Shelby embarrassed me when she leaned over to Kathleen, pointed at her food and said, “Now what is that you have there?” They were friendly though and Kathleen told us about the Southern Breakfast Bowl, and how she had substituted something called “soysage” for bacon. “Why would you do that?” Shelby asked, embarrassing me again. Turns out Kathleen’s a vegetarian, doesn’t eat meat, so that soysage is like meat for them, she said. I tried a bite of it and it tasted pretty good. It wasn’t like the barbecue we had the other day at 12 Bones Smokehouse (where Obama went to eat a few times!) but if somebody was to put a blindfold on me and say, “Hey Myrtice, eat some of this sausage,” and it was really soysage, I’d figure it was meat and chow down.

Anyway, we got to talking. Trent told us about how him and Kathleen were getting ready to meet their Tai Chi teacher Lawrence down by Pack Square and the courthouse. Shelby started rifling through our “Best of” book to find some info about what Tai Chi was, but Trent said, “Come on with us,” so we paid up and went. It felt good to walk off our breakfast, even though we moved at a slow pace so Kathleen could point out some landmarks and other good vegetarian places like the Laughing Seed Café. She told me I needed to try their hummus, which I always thought was pronounced HYOO-mus but I guess not, and then Kathleen said the Tofu Herb Scramble Plate at Green Sage Café was the best thing ever. Have you ever had tofu, Nicky? Do you think it would be good scrambled up like eggs with a spice called turmeric? I want to try everything so we decided to come back to Green Sage and probably go to Plant, too, which is another fun spot for non-meat-eaters over on Merrimon Avenue.

When we made it down to Pack Square we saw a number of folks from martial arts schools in the area. Some had Chinese-looking outfits on and some wore shirts that said “One World…One Breath.” Trent explained that World Tai Chi and Qigong Day was coming up at the end of April, and a couple of the students were practicing with what looked like bamboo poles that Lawrence told us were staffs. Several had fans of all colors that they were snapping open, and the noise from them was a little bit of a shock till you got used to it. One of the men in a bright blue costume came up and told us we could join in and a lady nearby gave us some fans to try out. I couldn’t figure how to make my fan pop open like they did but got a big kick out of waving it around. Shelby took some pictures of me fanning which I’ll show you when we get home. I look silly but happy!

We learned that Tai Chi is good for lots of things like staying flexible. Kathleen showed me some moves and said my wrist might get better and not feel so stiff if I kept doing Tai Chi. Also, Shelby was glad to know it helps with balance so people aren’t liable to fall as easy. She said, “Myrtice needs that. She’s all the time doing wild stuff like going down slides and riding tire swings.” Trent laughed and showed us a form called Chinese Water Boxing. It felt like dancing when we moved around and played and breathed and got our hearts going.

Nicky, I know you’d love to hear some of the animal names for moves in a Qigong exercise we got to do, like “Nestlings Receive Food.” But what I liked best about the whole thing was that business about one world, one breath. When me and Shelby were off to the side fanning and water boxing and watching the experts, I felt real good, like we belonged to something. Like we were all in this together, didn’t matter age or color or where we come from or whether we like barbecue or tofu better. I’m so glad we went on this trip to the mountains and hope you can come with me next time. Love from your Nannie.

P.S. Remember when me and you and your mama watched American Idol on TV last year? That nice young man who won it, Caleb Johnson, is from Asheville and guess what: Trent was one of his teachers!! They had a big parade for him here and everything. Maybe I can get an autographed picture of Caleb for your mama to put up in her office at work, haha.

-Writings by Ellen J. Perry

Letters From Asheville & Beyond: “Get on the Bus”

Letters from Asheville and Beyond: A Fictional Journey into Western North Carolina by Ellen J. Perry.

Part Two: “Get on the Bus” dedicated to Heather Vaughn.

Lazoom Asheville Tours

Dear sweet grandson Nicky,

I’m glad to tell you, me and Shelby made it from coast to mountains in the van but not without incident. We had everything all planned out: go down 26 to Columbia, eat some Maurice’s barbecue, catch 20 to Florence, then 95 to 74. Leastways, that’s what Joanne at Triple A and the map said, but somehow we got twisted around near Lumberton and ended up at a truck stop that had a McDonald’s tacked on to it. Right before I went to order our Filet-o-Fish sandwiches, Shelby asked a man by the hot dog machine for directions. He looked at us funny and said, “Why would y’all want to go to Asheville? That’s where all them hippies and gays and liberals and stuff is.” We didn’t take too kindly to that and stormed off, but the McDonald’s people weren’t much better help. The young girl that took my fish sandwich order said, “Well, head toward the flea market and take a left at Miss Jackson’s house, then you’ll see Tommy Higby out there painting the church and you can ask him the best way cause I don’t know.”

The Lord must have been with us, though, because we got back on the interstate and headed in the right direction without having to bother Miss Jackson or Tommy either one. We felt so tired and aggravated after driving all that way but now we’re settled in at the Hampton on Tunnel Road, which is a good place to stay since they have that shuttle that takes people into town. The man at the front desk gave us a bunch of brochures and said that the LaZoom tour would be a great way to get introduced to Asheville. Boy was he right. Me and Shelby had the biggest time on that purple bus! (Don’t tell the preacher we did this because it was pretty wild.) We chose the City Comedy Tour and our guide went by the name of Augusta Wind. She had this fluffy blond wig on and hiked up her leg a bunch of times, even grabbed a passenger’s head and wrestled it onto her bosom. That old man turned red as a fire hydrant. Shelby laughed like crazy at that! My favorite part of the show was this fellow that ran around in a nun outfit, Sister Bad Habit. There’s even a local beer named after her which I hope to try while we’re here, though for sure don’t tell the preacher that.

The LaZoom bus took us all over downtown. We learned some about the history of the city and how people here made sure their home-place stayed good and local. You know how lots of towns in the South all look the same now with their strip malls and Long John Silverses and Wal-Marts? Not Asheville. Oh, Shelby says tell you about poor Zelda Fitzgerald who died in a fire in the Montford area. Did you study her and her husband F. Scott in school? He wrote The Great Gatsbsy and some other stuff. We sat in front of a lady named Heather who’s an English teacher in town (it was her 40th birthday!) and she told us this great thing that Daisy, one of the characters in Gatsby, said: “What’ll we do with ourselves this afternoon? And the day after that? And the next thirty years?”

I don’t know about the next thirty years, but on the bus we saw a bunch of places we want to come back to in the next few days at least: Malaprop’s book store, the Grove Arcade, French Broad Chocolates, Tupelo Honey restaurant, art galleries, shops. Later on in the week we might head over to the Biltmore House and the Grove Park Inn just to strut around and act like we own the place. But for now we’re happy over here at the Hampton, thinking about our day and feeling young again, like there’s nothing we can’t do in the world. Hell, tonight after supper at Frank’s Pizza we might even ride the shuttle over to the Yacht Club and suck down a Painkiller. Or two.

Happy trails,


Asheville has a “Beer Man”

asheville beer man

When it comes to Asheville, we do not really care about Superman, Spiderman, or Aqua Man. Hell, half the folks don’t even believe in Trojan Man. BUT… the Asheville Beer Man is a Superhero that has come to the rescue of so many craft beer lovers in Western North Carolina. Now, he cannot “leap tall buildings in a single bound;” but witness this guy guzzle a growler and watch him hula hoop! Around this neck of the woods, we do not have the influx of Supervillains that larger cities such as NYC, Los Angeles and Tokyo experience. Yes, Asheville has plenty of Jokers; but you are left laughing your ass off most of the time. It would be kinda cool to have The Hulk stop back by AVL every once in awhile, but the local preservation society claims he does too much damage. Plus, the last time Hulk crashed the drum circle; it cost the City over a million dollars to repair Pritchard Park. Those funds could have been used to feed MY CHILDREN!!

lazoom tours asheville

We thought about starting the “Asheville Guardian Angels” but since crime was at an all time low; the meetings at the brewery got a little tipsy, things that cannot be told happened, and Asheville Beer Man was born of a male virgin. He now roams the streets of Asheville, drinking beer, riding the LaZoom tour bus, and saving the lives of people that have a thirst for everlasting brew. We love you Asheville Beer Man!

LaZoom Joy Ride featuring The Krektones & Last Minute Christmas Bash at ZaPow

Friday, December 23rd, 2011, 7:00 PM – 11:30 ish PM

Asheville, NC – Some of the hippest independent businesses in Asheville are teaming up to celebrate Christmas Eve-Eve in style. ZaPow!, LaZoom Tours and The Hop Ice Cream are proud to announce The Last Minute Christmas Bash and Joyride: Friday, December 23rd, 2011 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM.

The Last Minute Christmas Bash – Free No ticket required
The Last Minute Christmas Bash will be an all-ages party featuring FREE beer from Asheville’s French Broad Brewery, FREE wine, FREE Hop Ice Cream and DJ Laura (you might have heard her grooves at The Southern) will be spinning her dance floor vinyl.  You can get your groove on, Get on the Bus and do your last-minute shopping.  The party will be a great opportunity to pick up some unique, affordable, last minute gifts from ZaPow!, the only illustration, pop art and comic art gallery in the Southeast.

Joy Ride featuring The Krektones  – just $10…(great holiday gift for the sweetie!)
Leaving from ZaPow at 8:00, 9:00 & 10:00PM, climb aboard the LaZoom Bus and The Krektones will rock you around town with their styling surf swagger.  Rides are approximately 30 mins.  Dress warm!  If the weather is moderate, we’ll leave the windows open and serenade the town…A Rock-out Christmas Caroling!…(bringing soul warming beer or wine on board is permitted for carolers over 21)

Joyrides at 8:00, 9:00 and 10:00pm…rides will sell out, buy your tickets today! Purchase your tickets online here, at the LaZoom ticket booth (Thurs. through Sat. 10am to 3pm), or at  ZaPow Gallery.  For Hours and gallery info visit www.ZaPow.net or call (828) 575-2024.

ZaPow is located at 21 Battery Park Avenue in the heart of downtown Asheville next to Three Dog Bakery and across from Chai Pani and Kilwins. Parking is available in the Wall Street Parking Deck a half block away with the first hour of parking being free.

Special thanks to our partners French Broad Brewery and The Hop Ice Cream.

About ZaPow:
ZaPow is the only illustration and popular culture art gallery in the Southeast. They specialize in nerdy, geeky, cute and fun art including comic book style illustrations, cute characters, zombies, graphic novels and geeky toys. ZaPow also offers promotional, video production and critiquing services to artists,
authors and other professionals as well as artist workspace. Their 3,000 square foot location at 21 Battery Park in downtown Asheville, North Carolina is strategically located between the Grove Arcade, the Wall
Street Parking Deck and the rest of downtown.