After a few days of travel, we finally made it down to our first destination: Raleigh, North Carolina!
Raleigh is quite the pleasant area to visit, We stayed in some beautiful campgrounds and got to explore the city and surrounding suburbs for a couple weeks.
To read about our trip down check out RV Diaries Pt 1: Drive Down to Raleigh
Harvest Host Stays on the Way to Asheville
We took it slow getting there and only drove about fifty to a hundred miles a day in the mornings before work. So it took us a few days to get to Asheville. We did stay at some pretty cool Harvest Hosts along the way though.
Our first stop was the Circle W Alpaca Farm. Anita and her husband were such tremendously kind and knowledgeable hosts. We learned so much about Alpacas and we saw the love and passion they put into taking care of them. It was such a great experience.
Our second Harvest Host stay was at the Henry River Mill Village. It was a historic self contained mill village where the villagers would go to work in the mill, pay their rent to the mill owners and buy everything they need from the general store in town that the mill also owned. This historic village also happened to be where District 12 scenes were filmed in the first Hunger Games movie. We parked right next to the general store, a.k.a. Peeta’s bakery, for the night.
Our Campground Stays Surrounding Asheville
It turns out, it’s not too easy to find an affordable campground with signal in the surrounding Asheville area. We ended up staying in the Lake Powhatan Campground in the Pisgah National Forest. It was the most affordable at $28 a night, but we had to drive out into town every day to get signal during the week to work. The campground had zero signal so the hotspot wouldn’t work and it was in a heavily forested area so Starlink was out as well.
Our next campground was about a half hour east of Asheville and more expensive. Besides the affordability problem, there’s a lot of weekend campers out there that book up all the weekends, so it’s harder for long term campers like us to find campgrounds on the weekend. We thankfully managed to snag this one. The campground was called Catawba Falls Campground. Our campsite was backed up right next to a beautiful creek. So when we weren’t exploring Asheville, we got to relax to the lovely sounds of water flowing.
Over the weekend, we got to drive in and explore Asheville. Our first stop was the North Tailgate Farmer’s Market up by the university. It had everything you would ever want from a farmer’s market. They had plants, fresh organic produce, grass fed local meat, baked goods, food trucks, and live music. I would spend all day there if I could. We ended up buying a few baked goodies and some Lion’s Mane mushrooms.
Next, we walked around downtown and started looking for all the indie bookstores. Downtown was super fun to walk around and explore. There is no shortage of cool stores to window shop. We ended up going into Malaprop’s and Downtown Books & News. Malaprop’s was wonderful with their general vibe, shelf talkers, staff picks and a very cool cozy fantasy display. Downtown Books had a different vibe with it selling mostly used. They had a huge zine section that I got sucked into.
After meandering through downtown, we stumbled upon the perfect place for lunch. With it’s award winning Indian Street Food, Chai Pani sounded like exactly our kind of vibe. We were not disappointed! As we got placed to eat outside, we watched as the line continued to grow.
We sipped on our Lime Ricky and Lavender Lemonade as we waited for our appetizer and meals to come out. For starters, we did Chicken Pakoras which we devoured. They were fried and delicious with two super yummy dipping sauces. For the main dish, Claudio got a Sloppy Jai and I got Vada Pav. Both were served as two mini-sliders that we of course shared. The Sloppy Jai was a lamb hash seasoned with aromatic spices and the Vada Pav was spicy potato dumplings covered in two different chutneys. If you want some astounding flavor and happen to be in Asheville, go to Chai Pani!
Exploring Black Mountain
On the way back to our campground, we stopped in Black Mountain. It’s this picturesque little mountain town with a main street of stores and food and ice cream. We of course stopped in the bookstore there, Sassafras on Sutton. It was two levels with toys on the top and books with a little cafe on the bottom.
Thing next store we wandered into was an outdoors clothing store where we drooled over all the ridiculously expensive outdoor/hiking clothes. We picked up some ice-cream for Claudio and then made our way home to our RV. Did I mention we rented a car for the weekend? A little easier to travel around in.
Final Day... Exploring Little Switzerland
Our final point of interest to explore in the greater Asheville area was Little Switzerland up in the mountains (another reason we needed a rental car, no RV on twisty mountain roads!). It was a beautiful scenic drive to get up into the mountains.
Our first stop in town was Books and Beans. There is definitely no shortage of indie bookstores in this part of North Carolina. Books and Beans was a charming, almost maze like used and new bookstore. We explored every nook and cranny and then got a couple pastries to enjoy at a little table outside the store.
After our pasty break, we drove over to the Switzerland Inn and wandered around the few boutiques and stores in the area. I found a little free library too. We got some ice cream and fudge and relaxed with a gorgeous mountain view.
We took the stunning Blue Ridge Parkway back down to get to our campground at the end of the day.
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