get in your car and drive down interstate 40 for about 25 minutes to the little mountain town of waynesville, and there you will find a coffeehouse that claims to be a solution to all your problems, to solve all your ailments, & cure your every need. ok. they don’t actually claim that, but their name does… panacea is one of my favorite coffeehouses in the world. in fact, it just might actually be my favorite. the word, panacea, means a cure-all for every ailment, a remedy, a solution to all problems. for me, panacea coffeehouse has been just that place. i have spent countless hours there in my life, discussing life and theology, meeting friends, catching up, reading, working on my computer, and just being. it is a cafe that has been part of my life for quite a number of years, and it is a place to which i have returned anytime i have been in the area.
before living in sweden, when i was living in haywood county, where waynesville & panacea are located, i visited as often as possible. it was my go-to cafe. and a place that i called home. i snuggled myself down into the sofa or chairs, sipped on a big ole cup of mocha, and usually stayed for hours. i’ve been known to close down the place time and time again. anyone who has visited me has also enjoyed a visit to panacea. i truly take everyone there. come & visit me now, and we’ll make the drive from asheville to go there. i promise. i love it that much. anyway, at this point in life, i am certain that i am biased and that nostalgia plays a big role in my love for this coffeehouse – so many memories. and i still find reasons to visit… because every now and then, i just need to slow down and be. and i have found no other place, in all of the places i have visited in the whole world, that is quite like panacea.
there is this one, little special area in downtown waynesville known as frog level. i don’t know the story behind that name, but my guess is that it was one of the most level areas in waynesville, seeing as the town in the heart of the mountains. it was a flat area, with a creek running through it, so i can only assume that at one point there were tons of frogs there as well. there could still be tons of frogs there, for all i know. still hanging out by the creek.
now, frog level was once a booming little area, the hub of the industrial part of waynesville, with a few factories and a train depot. the factories are still there, still in business, but the other businesses closed down and the warehouses were abandoned. frog level is not the heart of the downtown waynesville, since main street is about 2 blocks uphill from it. so, for a long time, nothing much happened there.
however, panacea saw it’s chance to create a unique coffeehouse in one of the abandoned warehouses, and frog level began to buzz again. it’s still not the busiest place in waynesville, but it has grown. businesses have returned, and it is recognized as a national historic area, with locals and tourists making their way down from the cute main street to have a coffee or a beer or to do some antique/second-hand shopping in the “new” warehouse district. mind you, this is still a small town, so you don’t get overloaded or ever feel rushed. but, that’s its charm. panacea is big and open and smells delicious when you walk in. they do their own roasting there, so it can be warm on really warm days. but, it’s dark and cozy, so it never gets really hot. the atmosphere is just amazing i think.
i had not planned to go to waynesville, much less panacea, when i found myself there, so i didn’t have my mug. and i didn’t have too much time either, so i ordered my coffee to go. now usually i sit down in my favorite spot, if it is available. and if it’s not, i have a little temper tantrum inside myself. my favorite spot is this old, ratty, soft, almost ugly, very orange sofa. or sofas. they are not attractive, but they are sooooo comfy. i’ve had some of the best talks of my life with very important people in my life on that sofa. and it’s by the window, so there’s great people watching. bonus.
there are also tables, chairs, and relaxing chairs available as well. not my fave places to sit, but they’ll do. the atmosphere is still completely cozy. it’s pretty near perfect in my opinion. brick walls, industrial pipes. dim lights. second-hand furniture. perrrrrfect. but, if you want to be a little nature-y (my made -up word), then you can go out back and enjoy the creek from the deck. that’s right. they have a backyard, with tables, chairs, picnic tables, trees, and a fairly large creek.
i went out back today. the weather was perfect. blue skies. green grass & leaves, with a few yellow leaves beginning to turn & fall to the ground. there was even a black cat on the deck, ready to snuggle with my legs, and giving me the coziest fall/halloween feeling. i sipped my coffee and chatted with my parents who were with me (they live in waynesville). everything was so relaxing. and i felt as if i didn’t have a care in the world… that’s the magic of panacea.
after about 30 minutes i knew i needed to get on with my day. this visit to panacea was not near enough time for me to soak it all in. as i said before, a good trip to panacea is about 3 hours. minimum. yes, a trip to panacea should be well-planned in order to enjoy the entire experience. ultimately i would spend time outside & inside (on my favorite orange sofas, of course). but, today, i had to leave. quite soon after arriving. so, cup in hand, i headed out of the coffeehouse, across the street, and toward the old train tracks near my car. i hopped in, sad, like always, that my time at panacea had ended… for now. but, the beauty of it now is that i only live about 25 minutes away. so, i can technically go back whenever i want.
oh yeah. i guarantee you that i will need the panacea cure again… and probably real soon.