Featured

Labor Day in ASHEVILLE

waterfalls, breweries and food

If you’ve lived in North Carolina for any amount of time, you know that people are always going to the mountains or to the beach. Well, one of my good friends and I decided to go against the status quo for Labor Day week and instead of going to the beach, we went to the mountains.

While our trip was planned only a few weeks in advance, we still managed to snag an awesome place on Airbnb. We stayed in Mills River, which is just a short drive to Asheville. Our place was on a small farm with a horse and wildlife. In the mornings I sipped my coffee on the patio, listening to the sounds of the water fountain, chirping birds and wind blowing through the trees.

While in Asheville, our main focus was to see some waterfalls, try some beer and have some awesome food! Boy, did we have success!

Saturday morning we went and explored downtown Asheville. We went to a craft show they were having that morning first. Then we had breakfast at Chestnut. I had an Eggs Benedict with fried green tomatoes instead of Canadian bacon and biscuits instead of an English muffin. It was divine! We also split a pitcher of mimosas because it was cheaper than to get out own.

After breakfast, we continued exploring downtown Asheville. We stopped in a bunch of their stores. We took a coffee break at Double D’s Coffee and Desserts. It’s a double-decker red bus that’s transformed into a coffee shop. It’s adorable, probably super touristy, but had an awesome atmosphere and amazing coffee!

We continued exploring downtown Asheville, before I got the bright idea to walk to the historic district of Montford. This ended up being a farther walk than we both anticipated on a hot Labor Day Saturday. We ended walking to the Riverside Cemetery. We saw a few cute historic houses, but we also realized we were getting farther and farther away from downtown Asheville. At this point we were getting hungry and also had less time to eat before our brewery tour.

We ubered back to our car so we could change shoes in preparation of our upcoming brewery tour. We saw that City Bakery was right across from our pickup spot for the brewery tour. We stopped there and got sandwiches and another round of coffee.

Lavender Latte

We finished our food and hopped onto the van for our brewery tour. Asheville is well known for their breweries. I believe our tour guide said they have the second highest amount of breweries in a city. They have some very well known breweries, like New Belgium and Wicked Weed. Our tour took us to Up Country, Wedge Brewing Country, Urban Orchard and Green Man Brewery. I 10 out of 10 recommend doing a brewery tour! At Up Country we learned about how beer is made. At all of the places we sampled 4 different beers or ciders. My friend Shannon is more of a cider drinker so this tour was perfect for us. Our tour guide was fun, knowledgeable and friendly. After the tour, we hung out more in downtown Asheville and had another cider at Urban Orchard. We also took some touristy pictures throughout the night. Wedge brewery is in the Arts District of Asheville, so there was definitely some awesome backgrounds for pictures there. We also saw a bunch of street performers in the evening. There were musicians as well as a mime Statue of Liberty.

Wedge
Urban Orchard
Green Man

On Sunday we explored DuPont State Forest. Our Uber driver had recommended this forest since it was a little bit less well-known than the Pisgah National Forest. We decided to do the hike to Bridal Veil Falls. DuPont is known for the hike that covers Hooker Falls, High Falls and Triple Falls. This hike covers 5 waterfalls in about 4.5 miles. The Bridal Veil hike is about 2 miles to get to Bridal Veils and another 2 miles back so it is a less popular hike at DuPont. It was awesome for us though! It felt more reserved of a hike. Once we got to Bridal Veil Falls, we took a break and hung out at the bottom of the falls for a while. We had lunch and admired the view. We also saw 2 copperhead rattlesnakes. They didn’t come near us, but I was still alarmed.

Then we hiked along side the side of the waterfall to up towards the cascading part of the falls. This was by far one of my favorite parts of the hike!

On our way back, we detoured to see High Falls. It was beautiful, but more crowded than Bridal Veil Falls.

DuPont State Forest is close to downtown Brevard. After our hiking, we stopped to have a meal in downtown Brevard. We ate at Rocky’s Grill and Soda Shop. I don’t typically eat dairy, but I had to get an ice cream sundae at a soda shop! Then we walked around downtown Brevard.

We realized that we were close to an entrance for the Blue Ridge Parkway! I had never driven on the parkway before so we took it on our way back towards Asheville. It truly was a spectacular sight!

Monday was our last day in Asheville. We met up with some of my friends’ friends who just so happened to be in Asheville. We stopped at another brewery for lunch. Afterwards we walked around downtown Asheville some more. We did a quick stop at Wicked Weed Brewery before our final event.

For our final Asheville event we went on a Lazoom Asheville bus tour. This is a comedy bus tour of downtown Asheville. It was hilarious! Plus they take you on a tour of Montford, the place we tried to see earlier in the weekend. We were recommended to go there and I’d recommend the tour as well!

After the tour, we were on our way out. But we couldn’t make it out without one final stop at City Bakery! We grabbed a final latte, almond milk lavender latte for me, and sandwiches to go.

See you again Asheville!!

Featured

Los Angeles Post One

Hey look ma, I made it

(or something like that)

Los Angeles: April 2019

This was by far one of my favorite trips ever! In April, I traveled to Los Angeles for a week during my teacher Spring Break.

While there, I saw Venice Beach, Marina del Rey, Hollywood, Santa Monica Pier, Beverly Hills, The Getty, downtown LA to name a few. I also drove up through Malibu, along the coast and through the mountains. One of my best friends lives in Ventura. We saw Ventura as well as Santa Barbara. It sounds like I did a lot, which is true! Yet I still slept in, relaxed and didn’t feel like I was running around all the time.

People say LA is super expensive yet I managed to travel there and not spend a fortune. One of the things I realized when there is that a lot of the touristy things to do are free. Venice Beach? Free. The Getty? Free. Hollywood sign hike? Free!

If you don’t spend money on silly souvenirs, that saves a ton of money! Also I would travel by those Lime scooters to save time and money. They are way cheaper than Uber or Lyft. Still going on Uber or Lyft is cheaper than renting a car, especially with dealing with LA traffic.

Yes, I did do a lot of the touristy things. But also, I have never seen the Hollywood walk of fame or anything like that. Truly there is nothing quite like seeing all these places I’ve always heard about!

One of my favorite things was seeing Hollyhock House and Barnsdall Art Park. This is where scenes in Big Little Lies were filmed. I am an avid BLL fan so seeing the places in real life was thrilling. This was actually within walking distance from my AirBnb. The views of the Hills, Hollywood sign, the city of LA were breathtaking from a short walk up a hill.

I did do some minor hiking. I didn’t do Runyon or anything too strenuous, but maybe next time!

Stay tuned for much more to come! The food in LA is truly spectacular! I was that person who took way too many pictures the whole time, including of my food and drinks. Get ready for pictures of tacos, donuts, drinks, and In-N-Out!!

Metro Detroit Food

Lebanese, Detroit Coney dogs, Ray’s ice cream

From the second I land in Romulus*, my food brain is only thinking one thing: Lebanese. Shawarma, hummus, grape leaves, tabouli, falafel to name a few.**

*Detroit’s airpot, about 30 minutes from Detroit

**I did in fact eat all of those in my last trip to Michigan.

Detroit has one of the largest Middle Eastern populations in the US. Detroit is very diverse with many different ethnic populations, but I have yet to eat Lebanese or any Middle Eastern food that compares to the Detroit area. (I have yet to go to the Middle East so obviously that would come first).

The best places are pretty much any where in Dearborn. If you’re in more of the suburbs, La Saj in Troy is amazing. We went there and ate so much. I got salad and beef shawarma. My family split garlic sauce, hummus, pita, vegetarian grape leaves, and falafel. Another day we ordered take out and I had chicken shawarma sandwich, tabouli, hummus and pita.

The consistency of hummus you get there is so smooth. I have ate hummus and pita as an entire meal while living in Michigan. I wish I could describe it better, but it is just life-changing the first time you’ve had fresh, authentic hummus if you’ve only ever been eating the stuff from the plastic container at the grocery store.

I mean, is there any pretty way to take pictures of Coney dogs and Coney fries? The Detroit Coney dog contains beanless chili, yellow mustard and diced white onions, according to The Encyclopedia of Detroit. I got a Coney bacon dog as pictured with the cheese, but also had to get a Coney dog. We went to Lipuma’s in downtown Rochester. Lafayette and American Coney Island’s are in downtown Detroit and some of the best in the area. Also there’s tons of Coney Island’s around the metro Detroit area, like National Coney Island and Leo’s Coney Island. You can get a Coney dog and Coney fries there, but I usually get a Hani and Coney fries.

It only seems fair to end with a dessert. Ray’s ice cream has been around for years. My dad and I swung by there for a little dessert before dinner one evening. I had to get a hot fudge sundae with Mackinaw Island Fudge ice cream and Sanders hot fudge, two Michigan classics. It’s located in Royal Oak. Be prepared to wait a while. It’s popular for a reason! So many flavors and perfect on a hot summer day!

There’s so much more to metro Detroit cuisine. The city of Detroit has so much to offer. Not just cars. I didn’t even get into Mexican food in southwest, Vietnamese food in Madison Heights, trendy places in downtown, and Polish food to name a few. I hope this opens your heart, mind and stomach to Detroit and the metro area.

Side note: Sorry my pictures aren’t amazing. To be honest, I just wanted to eat everything and wasn’t thinking about capturing a great moment. Go eat some yourself and you’ll see what I mean.

A little about me

I live in Raleigh, North Carolina currently. I moved a year ago from Michigan. I was raised in the suburbs of Detroit and went to college in Rochester Hills, MI. I taught there for a few years before moving down south to teach Middle School Math. This has been one of my dreams for a few years!!

I have always loved traveling!! I did some traveling before moving, but this past year I have traveled more than I could have ever imagined. My best friend Stephanie became engaged shortly after I moved (literally weeks after). She lives in Michigan as well as a big part of my family. I wanted to go see them and her as much as my teacher budget would let me.

Stay tuned for posts about my travels, adventures and future travel plans!

Jesse Speelman Photography http://www.jessespeelman.com
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