Day 35: bringing out the artist in me.

i was heading east again, to the cute little town of black mountain. all ready to walk the downtown streets and find this new cafe called the artisan. as i approached the town, i typed the address into my navigation system and was slightly confused when it showed me a route that led through downtown and then south a little bit. i had no idea that i’d be outside of black mountain. and i didn’t understand how (or why) a new little cafe existed off of one of the windy country roads. but, i listen to my navigator’s voice and headed south…. but, i got lost. or i did’t get lost, actually. what happened was that i ended up circling back around on some back road which spit me out in the middle of downtown black mountain again.

i should’ve taken a left at the fork in the road. not a right. so, back on the same route, i made the correct turn off to the left, drove a few more miles, and suddenly saw a little community built on the side of a cleared and well-manicured mountain. ah haaaaa…. now i understood. this is where this little cafe was.

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the village of cheshire is a small mountain community of homes and commercial businesses which are designed to blend in with nature, offering a way of living that connects people to each other and to the natural world around them. there are homes, stores, cafes, trails, streams, and grassy areas. to me, it looks like a little bit of heaven for retired people. a chance to live in the mountains… comfortably and conveniently. it’s quite upscale. beautiful, i’ll admit it, but pricey and exclusive. check out some of the homes…

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just below the homes, right off the highway that leads you to cheshire village, are the businesses and restaurants. it looked as if some of the places we’re still available. i did love the whole arts & crafts style of everything. very woodsy. very natural. i walked around the area for a while, even exploring one of the trails that led off into a field before heading up a mountain. it was all very nice, but a little more planned than i prefer when i’m in the woods.

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DSC_0668then, i decided it was time to go in and check out the coffee & wine bar. i walked in and noticed the cozy, sort of lodge-y feel of the place. i’m pretty sure the fireplace on one wall made that lodge-y feel even more heightened. but, before i got my coffee, i walked over to the little artisan market connected to the cafe space. in there i found tons of bottles of wine, beer, and artisan breads. mmm…. it looked amazing. i so wanted to leave with an armful of bottles of seasonal wines that were on sale. but, i controlled myself and contained my cravings. i was not here for wine, but for coffee, i kept telling myself. wine and beer will be another blog project. hehe.

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i walked back into the cafe and approached the bar, looking at the coffee menu on the wall, but so very tempted to partake of the wine bar instead. nope. i had too far to drive. and, again, this is a coffee project. so, a small macchiato it was for me instead. and when i say small, i mean, it was small. like espresso cup small. and over two dollars. more than i almost always pay for a regular-sized (16oz) latte. gulp. i swallowed hard and paid. yeah. this place was exclusive. and yeah. it was only retirees in the cafe with me. no matter. time to enjoy my (tiny) coffee in the sunshine.

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as i sat and sipped, i suddenly felt the extreme warmth of the sun beating on my left arm through the window. and looked down at the table and saw the white cup, bathed in sunlight, agains the blackness of the table and knew that this would be a crazy awesome shot. so, i snapped it. satisfied with my shot, done with my macchiato, and inspired by the gorgeous weather, i decided to leave this upscale area and find my way into the woods – so i could be alone. i hopped in my car, said goodbye to the artisan, and drove away from black mountain.

i got up on the blue ridge parkway and just drove. the other day my brother showed me a little dirt road that led back into asheville through the woods, so i decided to take that road, thinking that the leaves on the trees would be amazing. i climbed higher and higher on the parkway, passed glorious sights overlooking the mountains, and then made my way into the trees onto this dirt road. it must have taken me forever to get down the mountain because i stopped the car every 20 feet to take pictures. i was in my element. i had a to go cup of coffee by my side and just snapped away. and i was all alone. it was total bliss.

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while i may not have had my most amazing fika visit ever, i am so glad that i found the little artisan wine & coffee bar. if anything, it inspired me to spend some of my day doing some other things i love… making art in my own way by photographing the world around me. that little cup of macchiato really did bring out the artist in me.

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namaste. /liz

the artisan .  2 east market street . black mountain, nc. www.artisangourmetmarket.com

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day 31: when your day goes “boom”.

everyone’s talking about dynamite coffee roasters. like really. quite of a few people have mentioned it as their favorite place. so, i decided that’s where i needed to go. and i was looking forward to all of the hype. the only problem, to tell you the truth, was that i was feeling excited and blah all at the same time. i think my mood matched the weather…

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 but, i got on the highway anyway and headed east, back to black mountain, the cozy, nature-loving town about 20 minutes from asheville. (you can read more about my previous black mountain fika here). i talked myself into thinking that once i got to my destination and settled in with a steaming cup o’joe, i’d feel all snuggly and comfy and get rid of this funky, gray attitude.

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 as you can see, dynamite coffee roasters is a little house just off of the highway, just outside downtown black mountain. i thought that the outdoor seating was pretty cool, a big deck with views of the surrounding mountains. too bad the weather was not ideal for sitting outside. still, i was looking forward to being cozy. on the other side of the house is a “front” porch, complete with tables and chairs. nice touch.

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and how cute and fun is this sign out front?! DSC_0384

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i walked through the open door and up to the counter, just inside the entrance. the whole cafe was one room, with seating along the back and to the right. the counter/coffee bar area was to the left. i said hello to the barista, and ordered a regular coffee. then, i looked around the room, trying to decide where to go. DSC_0399

there was a lady sitting, writing at one of the two-three tables available. there were two men and a little girl sitting in the sofa/comfy area, and two women sitting at the bar by the window. i decided to have a seat at one of the free tables, thinking i would pull out my computer and write. but, then i opted for my journal. but, all i did was place it on the table. i did some people watching, some thinking about writing, and some staring into space. i felt really tired. it just came over me when i sat down. and i also felt really alone. i have no idea why, just one of those days, i suppose.

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well, for whatever reason, my coffee was not healing my blues. so, after the world’s shortest fika, which consisted of going back and forth between staring out the window and staring into space, i decided to pack it up and head home. i was certain that it was not the coffeehouse that caused this reaction, because it was cute and filled with all good things coffee-inspired. and it is clearly a very popular place, but my mood did not allow me to enjoy my moments, though i tried. i really tried.

oh, i gotta go back. perhaps it’d be even better if i took someone with me. i mean, the coffee was yummy and fresh. and the whole place smelled amazing. i think today, that i just needed a companion.

but, you know, my fika friends, that’s how it goes. and i’m not someone who is going to pretend that everything is beautiful and lovely every second of every day. we all have those blah days. and it is precisely those blahs, sufferings, difficult times and moments that give us the perspective of beauty and hope. it’s true what they say: we appreciate the light all the more because of the darkness. there are days when we are just not feeling it – at all. i just happened to have my blah, dark day today today. ironically, in a coffeehouse that was called “dynamite”, i was feeling anything but dynamite.

DSC_0396namaste. /liz

dynamite roasting company . 3198 U.S. Hwy. 70, West. Black Mountain, NC. 28711 . www.dynamiteroasting.com

Day 26: one cool cafe & nature-lovin’ small town.

i had a little time today, so i turned on some good ole bluegrass and made the 15 minute-ish drive to black mountain. asheville really almost runs into black mountain, thanks to swannanoa and east asheville, so there is really no excuse for you to not make the drive as well. you won’t regret it you can either take the highway (I-40) or the old business highway 70. i decided to take I-40 out there, and hwy. 70 through, swannanoa, back. the day was just way too pretty to just park and go inside some coffeeshop. i needed a mini-roadtrip.

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black mountain is a cute, little mountain town that is a hub for tourists (tons of retirees) and mountainy, granola, tree-hugging young people. if there are other people here, i did not see them today. to be fair, other people may be working. but, it was a totally different vibe than in asheville, where you see all kinds of people all of the time. sometimes i wonder if people work in asheville… of course, i’m certain people could (or do!) wonder that about me. anyway. black mountain is adorable, picturesque, and a great place to wander around. a perfect place for nature lovers.

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i parked my car (hopefully in a legal spot) after driving through the 3-4 downtown streets and almost busted my door open trying to get out because i was  bubbling over with excitement. it was so beautiful. have i said that it was beautiful?  it’s not so much the town, although it is a cozy place, but the weather today, which made the town seem even more amazing than usual. still, there’s a railroad track with some buildings around it, running right through the town, which makes it even more intriguing and awesome. i love me an old train station harkening to days gone by. i can just imagine what it was like back in the day… at the train station. people saying hello and goodbye. horses tied up. a general store open where people gathered for buy the necessities and to just chat with each other… a simpler time.

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yeah. black mountain makes me think of a simpler time. it’s cool and funky, but not quite like asheville. it’s small and it’s got all that you really need. yeah, i think of black mountain as asheville’s little cousin. and a place i needed to get to know better. so i can appreciate it in it’s own right.

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i still had no idea where i was going to fika, so i walked the streets looking for any of the three coffeehouses i had on my list. but i didn’t have my list with me, so i didn’t know what any of them were called. no biggie. you know i like to just go with the flow. and you know what? pretty soon, my problem was solved. i found the dripolator.

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 after taking tons of photos outside and answering questions about what i was doing ( i get that every day now. it’s crazy), i opened the awesome door at the awesome entrance and walked in. the first thing that caught my eye was the set of 3 sofas gathered around a coffee table. yes! then, i saw poles covered with posters and fliers and such – a typical asheville kinda thing. local business are always well supported in this area. i was feeling good about this place. it felt cozy. homey.

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then, i noticed the tables, filled with people doing their own thing. and the coffee bar, and the chalk boards, and all the funky-ness. yep. this’ll do. oh, i just have to tell you… they had a special today. a coffee drink called “the heisenberg” – iced coffee with a shot of espresso in a crystal blue jar. breaking bad, anyone? how much fun is that?!

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there were retired couples, older men on their computers or with their heads buried in books, and young twenty-somthings who were most likely college students at surrounding college & universities. it truly was split like that. i was most definitely the only woman alone, and the only one somewhere between the age of 30 and 50. it was crazy. but it was a cool balance between people working and reading, and people gathering to spend time together. i love it when a place is balanced like that. but, the decor completely lent itself to both activities.

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i started off on one of the sofas, naturally. but, soon, i was overrun by 4-5 college guys – now, do not picture frat boys or jocks. these boys were nature lovers. as was every single person in there, no matter what age. everyone had on chacos, jeans, skirts, t-shirts, hiking shoes, flannel shirts. there were no hipsters here.  no suits. no froo froo, frilly chicks. and i must admit, it felt damn nice. but, i wanted to get some work done, so i left the boys to their conversations about what happened last night for a recently abandoned table where i could type better.

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i got settled in, and realized that i could have stayed there for quite a while. and, had i stayed longer, i would have most definitely partaken in some of the fresh, delicious goodies and breads they had. i am assuming it was delicious because it sure did look delicious, and i overhead a few people talking about how delicious it was. the coffee sure was yummy. and, of course, the food & coffee were organic. and the coffee was ground and brewed right there, always making for a better cup. oh no, am i becoming a coffee snob now?

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it’s funny, though. i am getting a sense of what i like best in a coffeehouse/coffee den/ cafe. we’ll see how it ends up when i finish my 40 days – not too much time left, you know?!  luckily, i still have 2 more places to visit in black mountain, so i’ll get a chance to let that place sink into me a little more. so, far, it’s been totally worth the short little drive. especially since it is a chance to leave the busy city and step into a town that is clearly a filled with not only nature lovers, but some stunning nature as well.

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namaste. /liz

the dripolator coffeehouse. 221 w. state street . black mountain, nc 28711