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Away from it all. June 25, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in pets, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Our friend Ben and I have just returned from a trip to North Carolina to visit family in Greensboro, then spend a couple of days by ourselves in Asheville, one of our favorite places. And whenever we go to Asheville, we stay in our all-time favorite guest lodging, The Log Cabin Motor Court.

The Log Cabin Motor Court is a cluster of 19 adorable ca. 1929 log cabins tucked into a wooded mountainside on the Weaverville Highway. It’s a scenic, peaceful, private retreat back in time, but a 5-minute drive down the highway (also known as Merrimon Street) puts you in the heart of downtown Asheville.

The cabins are perfectly maintained, and have cable TV, wireless internet access, a/c, and heat. Our favorite cabin has a fireplace, gas flame heat, and kitchen. The furnishings are rustic, with lovely locally handmade quilts on the beds. Each cabin has a porch with chairs and a table for outdoor relaxing under the trees, and some have outdoor grills. OFB and I love sitting on the tiny porch with books and glasses of wine, looking through the feathery hackberry, white pine, and hemlock branches and watching the stars come out. Each porch is bedecked with a string of tiny white lights, adding a festive air, and many cabins have charming red shutters on the windows. For those who want to prolong their stay, there’s a laundry building, too.

A bundle of seasoned wood is provided for each fireplace (you can buy more if, like me and OFB, you just can’t resist watching the flames and breathing that fabulous woodsmoke smell morning and evening). As if all this weren’t enough, it’s pet-friendly, too! (Check out photos of the cabins and get more details at www.cabinlodging.com.) Oh, and did I mention the wonderful Bavarian Restaurant & Biergarten, also in a period log building, at the entrance to The Log Cabin Motor Court (www/bavariandining.com/)?

Over the years, OFB and I have stayed at The Log Cabin Motor Court as late as Thanksgiving and as early as March. This was our first hot-weather visit, so we had to skip the fire this time, to our great regret, and rely on the a/c and overhead fan to fend off the 98-degree weather (it did, thank goodness). My favorite time to go is in October, when we can enjoy the fall leaf show in the Blue Ridge, it’s cool enough to have as many fires as we like, I can sit and knit or cook to my heart’s content in the little kitchen, and it’s perfect weather for walking in downtown Asheville to our favorite stores—Malaprop’s Bookstore, The Grove Arcade, yarn shops, craft shops, Tibetan shops, you name it. Not to mention a mind-boggling assortment of great restaurants. (We have our favorites, but this trip, decided to try all-new restaurants and added some new ones to our must-go list.) But we haven’t had a bad visit yet.

However, the point of this post isn’t to urge everyone to go to Asheville and stay at The Log Cabin Motor Court, however special both are to us. Instead, it’s to talk about a feeling I get every time I stay there.

Picture our favorite cabin: There’s the little front porch with its cheerful string of white lights and its round table with two rustic rocking chairs. You enter the cabin and find yourself in the main room, which immediately surrounds you with the distinct and wonderful fragrance of logs and fresh mountain air (as opposed to, say, creosote or air fresheners). Behind the door is a suitcase rack and a wooden shelf; under the shelf and above the rack is a bar with coathangers so you can hang your clothes. (Since we drive, we travel with extra coathangers, pillows, and a large cooler and several tote bags stocked with provisions.)

Continuing to look around, you see the stone fireplace and mantel, with stacked wood and matches waiting for you. Next to it is what looks like a cute cast-iron woodstove but is actually the gas heat stove, which will provide realistic flames that you can enjoy on cold nights after your wood fire has died down. An antique (but fully functional and electric) lamp and rustic chair complete the picture. Oops, did I say picture? Yes, there’s an oil painting of a flowery field hanging on the log wall over the mantel.

Overhead is a fan light, gently moving the air in the room and illuminating the big, antique four-poster bed with its beautiful quilt and quilted pillow sham. A rustic log-stemmed light casts reading light directly over the headboard. Heading down the opposite wall, another original painting adds brightness to the logs, followed by a rustic dresser with another primitive light fixture, a shelf for the television, and then, on the wall with the entry door, a window over a round table and two chairs, with another log-stemmed light fixture on the wall like a sconce. Braided and rag rugs add more color and comfort to the homey scene.

The kitchen opens off this main room, and it has everything: a gas range, fridge, microwave, sink, cabinets, drawers, and shelves. A large double window over the sink slides to let breezes waft in through the screen, providing a view of more cabins stretching beyond but with cheerful checked calico curtains to give some evening privacy. A central ceiling light and an additional light over the sink, a gas heating unit that provides comforting flames, and a fully stocked set of dishes, glasses, cups, silverware, pots, pans, utensils (even a corkscrew!), coffeemaker, coffee, salt, pepper, hot mitts, towels and dishrags, dish soap, dish drainer, cutting board, grater, and etc. etc. complete the picture.

Off the kitchen is the bathroom, with a privacy-glass window that hinges open for fresh air. Shelves and racks attached to the logs provide space for toiletries and plentiful towels, washrags, etc., as well as a basket of Cashmere Bouquet soaps (whoa, that takes me back!). A huge shower gives ample maneuvering room, and a rag rug—along with the log walls!—adds great rustic atmosphere.

Can you see our cabin now? OFB and I come in, toss our extra pillows on the bed, hang up our clothes, stash our laptops, set out our essential toiletries. We put our books (and in my case, if it’s cool or cold enough, knitting) within easy reach. We transfer our beverages and other essentials from our cooler and bags to the fridge and counter. Then we head up the road to the nearby Ingles market to stock up on fresh produce, breakfast staples, and other essentials so I can cook the meals we want to eat “at home.”

One of the most wonderful things about The Log Cabin Motor Court is its easy access to essentials. If we didn’t have a car, we could bike to the big, well-stocked Ingles grocery. Two veterinary clinics and a specialty cat clinic are evern closer. Flea markets, antique and local craft shops, wine and liquor stores, greenhouses and garden centers (including one very upscale garden artifact shop) are closer still. Gas stations, pharmacies, upholsterers, car repair shops, and specialty shops of all kinds line the Weaverville Highway on both sides of the Motor Court.

And the restaurants! Asheville itself is renowned for its fabulous restaurants, from classic Southern cuisine to Indian, Thai, Middle Eastern, vegetarian, Latin, and far, far beyond. And we’ve enjoyed all of it. But we discovered this trip that we didn’t really have to go farther than the Weaverville Highway five miles on either side of us to find great food. Besides the really great Bavarian restaurant at the entrance to The Log Cabin Motor Court, there’s Mexican, Greek, Italian, Thai, classic Southern, classic family-style, classic breakfast, local-organic, pizza, hoagie, and many another choice, again within biking (and sometimes hiking) distance. And these are all unique, family-owned restaurants, not chains. Yowie!

Anyway, there’s an actual point to this post, and it’s not just that Asheville is wonderful or The Log Cabin Motor Court is a fantastic place to get away from it all while still enjoying plenty of comforts and conveniences. Instead, it’s about what comes to my mind every time we stay there.

Our friend Ben and I live in a modest cottage home, Hawk’s Haven, in the precise middle of nowhere, PA. It’s not anybody’s idea of The Biltmore Estate, a McMansion, or even a typical suburban home. As a child visiting us with his mother once enthusiastically exclaimed, “Momma! Can we get a place like this? It’s just like an apartment, but it’s a house!”

From the mouths of babes. But within the walls of this modest cottage, two enthusiastic collectors have built a framework in which they could showcase their collections and make them accessible: books, music, movies, chess sets, marbles, stamps, coins, rocks and fossils, shells, plants, cookbooks, Zuni fetishes, pueblo pottery, textiles, vintage clothing and accessories, decorated eggs, Christmas ornaments, one-of-a-kind furniture, original art, evocative photographs, acoustic guitars. Not to mention the raw materials for making wonderful things: beads, yarn, spices, cookware, fabrics, gardening supplies, pet supplies, aquarium supplies. And on and on. (And on.)

In a limited space, if you want to live an attractive, free, uncluttered life, you have two choices: Opt for extremely limited possessions, or (like us) devise ways to keep most of your possessions out of sight and to create large, spacious areas showcasing just a few of your choice objects at a time.

But when I stay at The Log Cabin Motor Court, I wonder. Could OFB and I really live in a cabin the size of the one we love year-round and make it work? We’d need to add shelves to the cabin walls, and either replace the TV with a CD player or add a shelf with a CD player in the kitchen. We’d need to trade the microwave in the cabin for a toaster oven. We’d need to limit ourselves to one dog, one cat, and one cage of birds (either a parrot or two or three parakeets). We’d have to forget about our aquariums—unless we could get really creative about adding one to the bathroom—and choose just three or four houseplants to keep us company.

But you know, I think we could do it. At least, I like to think we could. Yes, it would be nice to convert that grassy lawn at the very back of the complex to a community garden for the residents. Yes, it would be nice to win the lottery and buy the whole place, designating specific cabins for specific functions, such as the cooking/dining cabin, the library, the TV and games cabin, etc. And yes, it would be great to give cabins to our friends and family to use whenever they wanted. But just that one cabin, with its main room, kitchen, and bathroom, would probably be enough for me, our friend Ben, and our pets in the end. And that’s enough to really make you think.

                  ‘Til next time,

                                Silence

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Comments»

1. Jen - June 28, 2010

If I move there, will you move in too and be my neighbor?? A few years ago we went to Asheville for a wedding in October. I sure wish we’d known about the Log Cabin Motor Court then. Sure beats a generic Marriott or Hampton Inn. I had to laugh about how you envisioned a vegetable garden – I’m always doing that too. It kills me how so many people are wasting their beautiful sunny plots growing lawns of all things!

Ha, of course we will! As for the garden, I saw the most heartening thing while we were down there: A church had converted its enormous lawn into a vegetable garden! The garden looked just fabulous, too. We of course assumed the congregants were growing veggies for a soup kitchen or to give to the less fortunate, but whatever the case, I wish all houses of worship would consider putting their lawns to such good use.


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