Monday, July 18, 2005

Monday, July 18th - Covering Asheville, North Carolina and Welch, West Virginia

Tommy and I left for our week off on Friday afternoon. Drove from Birmingham, up through Tennessee to Asheville, North Carolina where we had a weekend at the Grove Park Inn, one of those historic nineteenth century hotels that still survives as a reminder of past elegance. Lots of photos of Elbert Hubbard and references to the Roycrofters amongst the reproduction Stickley furniture and exposed Limestone surfaces. The building and grounds are lovely, but the service left a lot to be desired. They couldn't make us room keys so we had to hang out in the hall waiting for security, and couldn't really leave the room - so we had room service for dinner - overpriced and stale.

Saturday, off we went to Biltmore for the house tour, the winery and to people watch. The house is much the same - they've opened up some new rooms on the fourth floor - old servants quarters. We also took a behind the scenes tour that took in the Butler's pantry, the organ loft, the sub basements and some other places you generally can't get. Awfully fun. After that, off we went to a nice dinner on the terrace of the Grove Park and then on to the usual West Virginia jaunt on Sunday.

Saw 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' at the Mercer Mall outside of Bluefield yesterday afternoon - not a whole lot else to do around here, and then slept a lot before having to drive up to Welch. The spot price for coal is way up so Welch is showing signs of economic life for the first time in years. Some new retail and a movie theater downtown. The mineworkers are all fine. We spend more time with them tomorrow and then off we go to NYC starting tomorrow afternoon.