Asheville – Something’s Horsey Around Here

Equestrian Art Horses by Jennings Ingram

Asheville has a thing for horses. When I first moved here, I was traveling down Reems Creek in Weaverville, and it was as if someone had literally stolen the pavement. I am talking about driving down a dirt and gravel road. And no sidewalks either. Can you believe that??? I surely couldn’t. At the time I was driving a dropped Chevy Beretta with a body kit on it that made it look like custom sports car. Being my first time here from New York City, I felt as if I had entered a Little House on the Prairie reality show for a moment. I was lost. “I need a horse” was one of the first things I thought, to at least stop these gravel rocks from nicking my car every few feet that I drove. On top of that, folks were waving at me from every vehicle that passed. I thought “there’s something fishy around here”, but I was wrong. It was then I acclimated myself, and my horse-sense kicked in.

Honestly, I am not too fond of horses. I did not grow up around them, never rode them, and when I finally decided to jump on one bareback in Upstate NY, the horse took off like a bat out of hell, racing under low hanging tree branches to knock me off. I held on for dear life. Finally, the horse reared back and I jumped off as it did, saving myself. Whew! Today, I would say that I am horse friendly, but like a distant relative, or from the stands if I may. I have friends whose lives revolve around horses. Everything they do and have revolves around them. “Horse Life” is kind of tattooed on their chest. And don’t be surprised if you hear them say “that’s horseshit” instead of the traditional bullshit phrase we have become so accustomed to.

Tryon International Equestrian Center

Now with the new Tryon International Equestrian Center opening, horses that had previously settled down in other areas of the World, are now saddling up, putting on their blinders, and heading straight for the mountains of Asheville & WNC. I am not claiming a horse exodus to the area, but I will say that if you are watching the market, you need to open your eyes because there’s something horsey going on around here.

Tryon Equestrian Center Logo

We even have Equine & Equestrian Art: Asheville Artist Jennings Ingram recently finished up a painting that portrays the Tryon International Equestrian Center. Check out the amazing detail on this oil painting! (Note: this photo/image is a cropped version of the full painting)

Horse-centric real estate is also becoming a hot commodity. The Pat & Donna Team from Keller Williams in Asheville had recently launched this video featuring drone footage of a beautiful estate, a home, a barn, acreage, views all around, and horses of course. The perfect setting just 20 minutes to downtown Asheville.

Would you rather be swimming with the fishes? Or riding your horse around the gorgeous mountains of Western NC? You already know the answer. We will see you soon.

Spending Time With Friends In The Mountains

craggy gardens sunset

Remember the days when “getting away” was all we did. Nature, water, hiking, enjoying the great outdoors. We had lots of time on our hands, and spent it carefree; in moments that would never be revisited. We made friends, we lost friends, we had our ups and downs. We lived, we played, we lost, we won, we survived; standing here today as a witness to a universe that balances all of our lives.

In the photo above are some of our family and friends enjoying a beautiful sunset at Craggy Gardens, near Asheville. We do not have forever, but we do have right now. Take a moment today to make a friend, build a relationship, or maybe renew a friend that has faded away over the years. Maybe you need to get away for a little, for some rest and relaxation in the mountains? You deserve it. And bring some friends. Someone once said that… we are all we have. This is true.

Autumn Falls Across The Mountains

Asheville Autumn Fall 2014 Leaf Season

Here in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Fall means one thing: Leaf Season. The mountains around Asheville are awash in color right now, with the season already in full swing. There are still many weeks left for prime leaf-watching this year, so take this opportunity to get out and look at the Autumn display for yourself! Get out there! It can be tricky to plan a trip to catch the peak Fall color in any given location. Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway, or a similar scenic byway, is a better option and provides a great opportunity to view a lot of different species at different elevations. This gives you a much better chance of enjoying a greater range of fall color.

asheville autumn blue ridge parkway

Finding the color. For the latest fall color report on the Blue Ridge Parkway, call the Parkway Information Line at (828) 298-0398 and press option 3. The Asheville area has its own color report that can be viewed here:

Another great Asheville resource is the AVL Color Hunter on Twitter. Follow them @FallColorHunter to get up-to-the-minute info on when and where to find fall color in the Asheville area.

Visit my blog LOCUS: A journey in search of PLACE at for a full list of resources for the entire region, more detailed information on how to plan your trip, and a wealth of stunning fall photography taken this year. Don’t forget to follow me while you’re there for more Fall color and other great travel posts.

Come see Autumn fall across the mountains!

Asheville Autumn Red Leaf Season

Blog by Kerri Nicole Casey & Photography by Brian Scott Casey.

Franklin School of Innovation Wins Education Grant

franklin school of innovation

So many wonderful things are happening behind the scenes with education in Western North Carolina. Charter schools are opening up all around town, joining many already successful establishments. These buildings and rooms are filled with great folks and families, education and creativity, and a chance to improve schooling on a whole new level. Check out this great news from the Franklin School of Innovation:

Congressman Mark Meadows will visit the Franklin School of Innovation at their temporary location at 104 Peachtree Road, South Asheville on Thursday, October 9, 2014, at 1pm to announce the grant.

Thursday, October 9, 2014Asheville’s new Expeditionary Learning Middle & High School is one of 16 national winners of a Charter School Education Grant.  Franklin was awarded $194,000 from the U.S. Department of Education and is the only recipient in the state of North Carolina.  The school was chosen for its efforts in a number of areas, including the promotion of student diversity, professional learning activities, and community support.

Michelle Vruwink, Franklin’s primary founder and Executive Director was the lead author on the grant.  “I’m thrilled at the news of financial support for our vision,” Vruwink said. “For a start up school in the current school budget climate, this grant gives us resources that we couldn’t otherwise afford. This allows us to focus on developing the Expeditionary Learning model, supporting teacher’s professional growth, and improving instruction in our classrooms.”

Congressman Mark Meadows’ office called the school with the news and sent a letter of congratulations, applauding Franklin’s efforts to seek a student body diversified by socioeconomic status, ethnicity and learning differences. Meadows is scheduled to visit the school on Thursday.

“The competition is fierce, “ noted Joel Medley, Director of the NC Office of Charter Schools, “It speaks a great deal to Franklin’s effort, commitment, and strategy to have received the Charter School Program funds.”  

Board Chair, Danielle Moser says the ongoing support of the Glass Foundation contributed to the school winning the large federal grant. The Foundation purchased 13+ acres in Enka which is under construction as the school’s permanent site.

Media:  If you would like to attend Congressman Meadow’s visit to Franklin on Thursday, Contact: Danielle Moser   828-329-4623 or email

Cherokee Storytelling Bonfire: A Meaningful Way to Spend Labor Day Weekend

cherokee nc mountains
Asheville. Land of the Sky. A city that seems to rise up from the mountains and touch the clouds. Why not take this Labor Day weekend to get out of the city and learn more about the true history of these mountains we call our home? The place that Asheville inhabits was once a part of the Cherokee Nation. For over 10,000 years the Cherokee people traveled through here, hunting and securing food for their families. At first glance Asheville might seem to have come a far way from its Cherokee roots.  Look closer.
cherokee nc bonfire sonny
Beyond the skyline lies the same blue mountains layered against the same arching sky. The character of this place remains, its soul untouched and alive all around us. Just an hour’s ride from Asheville is the Qualla Boundary, all that remains of the once vast Cherokee Nation. Yet all is not lost. The people are still there, still preserving the heritage of their ancient culture. They still live in the mountains, fish in the rivers, tell their stories around the fire. Some of you may have been there. You may have driven through and seen all of the t-shirt shops and the guy who stands at the side of the road wearing a feather headdress which is decidedly not Cherokee. Coming from Asheville, a place that prides itself on authenticity, you may have decided that Cherokee is too commercialized for you. Sold out. Touristy. Look closer. This Labor Day weekend is the perfect opportunity for you to dispel these misconceptions. Come check out the Cherokee Bonfire at Oconaluftee Islands Park near downtown Cherokee, and let the Cherokee tell you their story for themselves.
cherokee bonfire john john
This is the last weekend of the year, so try to make it out while there’s still time.  The bonfire begins at 7:30 pm, and will be held this ThursdayFridaySaturday, and Sunday. Listen as the speakers impart knowledge their people have gained from living in these mountains for millennia. You might even learn something about yourself.  Then settle in around the fire for an evening of storytelling in the great oral tradition. For more information on the bonfire and other things to do while you’re there, head over to my blog, LOCUS: A journey in search of PLACE at If you can’t make it this weekend, please go to Cherokee Bonfire on Facebook and Like the page. This helps ensure that the sponsors keep this amazing tradition alive for another year.
Blog Post by Kerri Nicole Casey. Photos by Brian Casey.