Saturday, November 15, 2014

Asheville, NC

I'm really intrigued by Asheville. On the map it looks like it's in a PERFECT place....far enough south to have a mild winter, not too far north of Greenville SC, not too far from a major interstate, and it's IN the Great Smoky Mountains (I believe I stated before that it was in the Blue Ridge mistake) As a cyclist that all sounds wonderful! But I really don't know much (yet) about this new town that has popped up on my radar. Rae, your brother lived there...I'll be anxious to hear what he thought of the winters....are there outdoor sports happening pretty much year-round? Sure....there are bound to be bad days....every place has that. But overall...through the winter, is it still a cyclist's paradise?

Here's some info I scooped up...first off, the average temperature and rainfall:

Yeah, I see it's just a teensy bit chilly for the average daytime highs in Jan/Feb/Mar/Nov/Dec. But the lows aren't too awfully bad...certainly April thru October look pretty decent. Here's some info from the beloved Wikipedia:

Asheville is a city in and the county seat of Buncombe County, North Carolina, United States.[5] It is the largest city in Western North Carolina, and the 11th largest city in North Carolina. The city's population was 83,393 according to the 2010 United States census.[6] It is the principal city in the four-county Asheville metropolitan area, with a population of 424,858 in 2010.[7] Asheville is home to the United States National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), the world's largest active archive of weather data.
Nationwide recognition
Asheville pops up on national rankings for a variety of things: "a New Age Mecca" (CBS News' Eye On America, 1996),[28] the "New Freak Capital of the U.S." (Rolling Stone, 2000), one of "The 50 Most Alive Places To Be" (Modern Maturity, 2000),[29] the "Happiest City for Women" (Self, 2002),[30] one of the "Best Places to Reinvent Your Life" (AARP Magazine, 2003),[31] one of the "Best Outside Towns" (Outside Magazine, 2006),[32] one of the "Top Seven Places to Live in the U.S." (Frommer's, 2007),[33] one of the “10 Most Beautiful Places in America" (Good Morning America, 2011),[34] one of the "25 Best Places for Business and Careers" (Forbes, 2012), and one of "20 Great Cities For Writers" (Flavorwire, 2013).[35] Asheville has been listed as one of the "Top 25 Small Cities for Art" in AmericanStyle magazine's annual list from 2000 to 2012[36] and has reigned the champion "Beer City USA" each year from 2009 to 2012.Dozens of micro breweries dot the downtown and major producers, including New Belgium Brewing Company (opening 2015) are in the process of building in or near the city.
In his 2008 book, The Geography of Bliss, author Eric Weiner cited Asheville as one of the happiest places in the United States.
Recent national accolades:[37] "Best city in America for locavores" The Daily Meal, 2014 "The hippie capital of the South" Huffington Post, 2014 "#1 most popular city for retirement out of 900+ U.S. cities", 2014 "#1 town to live and work in as a movie maker MovieMaker magazine, 2014 One of 6 top "Alternative Travel Destinations for 2014" Men's Journal and Business Insider, 2014 "One of 20 cities you should visit in your 20s" Huffington Post, 2014 "#1 of 12 Dreamy Towns for Vegan Living" VegNews, 2013 “One of 10 Tastiest Towns in the South” Southern Living, 2013 “Hippest City in the South” Fodor’s The Carolinas & Georgia, 2013 “One of America’s Best River Towns” Outside, 2012 “#1 Beer City USA” Imbibe Magazine online poll, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 “Most Romantic Place in USA and Canada” Readers Choice Poll, 2012 “Top 10 Great Sunny Places to Retire” AARP Magazine, 2012 “10 Fantastically Yoga-Friendly Destinations” Yoga Journal, 2011
Asheville and the surrounding mountains are also popular in the autumn when fall foliage peaks in October. The scenic Blue Ridge Parkway runs through the area and near the Biltmore Estate.


Asheville is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains at the confluence of the Swannanoa River and the French Broad River. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 45.3 square miles (117.2 km2), of which 44.9 square miles (116.4 km2) is land and 0.31 square miles (0.8 km2), or 0.66%, is water.[6]


The climate of Asheville is a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa), resembling the rest of the Piedmont region of the southeastern U.S., but with noticeably cooler temperatures due to the higher altitude; it is part of USDA Hardiness zone 7a.[38] The area's summers in particular, though warm, are not as hot as summers in cities farther east in the state, as the July daily average temperature is 73.8 °F (23.2 °C) and there is an average of only 9.4 days with 90 °F (32 °C)+ highs annually;[a] the last time a calendar year has passed without 90 °F readings is 2009. Moreover, warm nights where the low remains at or above 70 °F (21 °C) are much more uncommon than 90 °F temperatures. Winters are cool, with a January daily average of 37.1 °F (2.8 °C) and highs remaining at or below freezing on 5.5 days.[39]
Official record temperatures range from −16 °F (−27 °C) on January 21, 1985 to 100 °F (38 °C) on August 21, 1983;[40][41] the record cold daily maximum is 4 °F (−16 °C) on February 4, 1895, while, conversely, the record warm daily minimum is 77 °F (25 °C) on July 17, 1887.[39] Readings as low as 0 °F (−18 °C) or as high as 95 °F (35 °C) rarely occur, the last occurrences being January 7, 2014 and July 1, 2012, respectively.[39] The average window for freezing temperatures is October 17 to April 18, allowing a growing season of 181 days.[39]
Precipitation is relatively well spread, though the summer months are noticeably wetter, and totals 45.6 inches (1,160 mm) annually, but historically ranging from 22.79 in (579 mm) in 1925 to 75.22 in (1,911 mm) in 2013.[39][b] Snowfall is sporadic, averaging 9.9 inches (25.1 cm) per winter, but actual seasonal accumulation varies considerably from one winter to the next; accumulation has ranged from trace amounts in 2011–12 to 48.2 inches (122.4 cm) in 1968–69.[39] Freezing rain often occurs, accompanied by more significant disruption. MAYBE this isn't really THE place to be in the winter...but it would be AWESOME in the summers! (though I wasn't really looking for that....I need a place to ESCAPE most of the winter, where I can ride bikes nearly every day).  But you have to admit that up in the "Nationwide Recognition" part from Wikipedia, it sounds pretty nice! This paragraph pretty much sums it up if you ask me:

One of "The 50 Most Alive Places To Be" (Modern Maturity, 2000),[29] the "Happiest City for Women" (Self, 2002),[30] one of the "Best Places to Reinvent Your Life" (AARP Magazine, 2003),[31] one of the "Best Outside Towns" (Outside Magazine, 2006),[32] one of the "Top Seven Places to Live in the U.S." (Frommer's, 2007),[33] one of the “10 Most Beautiful Places in America" (Good Morning America, 2011)

And this is from the Asheville tourism webiste:

 What adventure seekers will find in the Asheville area: natural waterslides, rollercoaster-like mountain bike trails, and stunning vistas that will take your breath away faster than a Ferris wheel. Whether you're into extreme sports or soft adventure, the mountains surrounding Asheville offer endless adventures. Outside magazine consistently ranks Asheville among its top destinations for outdoor recreation and adventures.

Sadly, most of this applies during the warmer months...then it seems like a lot of the country, they suffer thru the cold months waiting for spring. Overall, I think I could suffer thru a cooler winter IF I was in a place that cycling was still good (and sadly, I don't think that will really apply to the Richmond area...too flat for my tastes).

Next week I think I'll look at Hot Springs, NC. It seems similar to Ashville but with a slightly warmer winter (and, it's got HOT SPRINGS! What better way to spend ANY winter than sitting in natural hot-springs!)


  1. Matt my brother says the winters were "quite mild although there are occasional storms" (quite mild of course is relative. What we think is quite mild here is a state where temps regularly hit highs of <20F may seem freezing to you!) He says that the cycling is great on forest service roads and on the Blue Ridge. Also that it was a great town for socializing with a lot of culture. But he moved away from there in 1990 --


  2. Hey Rae...I'll certainly be watching the Asheville temps throughout the winter. But considering that to "escape" winter, I'm mostly looking at someplace to be from roughly October thru March...and Asheville seems to be more of a "summer" place.

    In fact, here's the temp list of my "cities" for Monday:

    Austin: 51/31
    Greenville: 60/25 (BRRRR!)
    St George: 56/30
    Sedona: 58/29
    Scottsdale: 70/43
    Bend: 33/15 (ok, Bend is OUT!)
    Portland: 45/34
    Asheville: 47/17 (BRRRRR!)
    Hot Springs: 38/20 (ok, Hot springs isn't looking too good either)
    Columbia: 71/32 (Now THAT'S more like it!)

  3. Of course, keep in mind most of the country is smack in the middle of a CRAZY unseasonal deep-freeze.

  4. Right now it is 22F here, and my fav TV weather guy says we would typically be around 50. So, 47 is looking pretty good to me right now! 60 is even better -- just about perfect to me! Overnight temps don't concern me so much.

    I need to find a site that lists actual historic daily temps for the cities, not just averages because averages really don't show just how cold it really is....we get cold in January, typically cold enough to have bodies of water freeze over for 2 weeks or so (meaning highs around 20), but we also always have several days that are in the 50s to even 70 -- I would think that skews the January avg. temp.

    I've been thinking of taking a midwinter trip to the St. George area to do some hiking and riding. I have passed through there on my way to Brianhead to ski but never paid any attention. If this winter is going to be like last, I will so need to get away from it and tickets to Las Vegas are usually pretty cheap.


  5. I'd update all my chosen cities weather, but it's quite insane out there just now...Rae, you're not alone. I saw that up near Buffalo NY they are expecting up to FIVE FEET of lake effect snow! This is surely one crazy deep-freeze! And we'll be in it next week...Jeannie and I fly to Virginia for our annual Thanksgiving vacation at her brothers farm. Jeannie flies this Friday, and I follow on Sunday (she's visiting friends). We'll be at the farm on Monday. I have to say I'm not too crazy about flying INTO the cold...supposed to escape cold. And I'm SUCH a not-cold type of guy.

    And just so you have an idea as to what my bro-in-law John has screwed up by selling his condo in Hawaii (where we ALL were supposed to retire): here's the hi/low temps for Honolulu today: 82/74

    How bout THEM apples? Wish I was there NOW!

  6. Howdy, howdy! I've been trying to get here what seems like FOREVER but work has interfered! Anyhoo, thanks so much Rae about the possible reaction to the antibiotic/anesthetic. That appears to be what I was having - I actually felt sick for about 5 days afterward. Never broke out in hives like I did for the medications I became allergic to in my 40s, but I was thrilled to finally be done with the huge, yucky pills anyway! I felt better immediately although part was probably psychological. I had my dental implant check-up yesterday & everything seems to be healing ok, so now I just have to wait till May (MAY!) for the abutment & then finally the crown.

    And Rae - I am crediting YOU for Ohio State beating Mich State! They actually have a chance to get into the Playoff now! Even without Ebola's "assistance"! It's still probably only 50-50 & only if they continue to win out but at least there's a chance. IF Alabama loses to Auburn (I'm crossing my fingers but don't think War Eagle will be able to pull it off this year, drats!) then the Buckeyes will be right next in line if they continue to win their remaining games. Also, if Miss State loses to Ole Miss, OSU will swoop in. Couldn't have done it without you, Rae! :) :)

    And Rae, so sorry to hear that you felt awful after the flue shot. That's actually why I don't get them - it happened to me once & swore never again! Now that I'm older, I may try again as the flue is supposed to be even more dangerous when you're older.

    And I LOVED The Lion King! I've seen quite a lot of musicals, some on Broadway but mostly I've seen the traveling Broadway shows when they come to Washington. However, I saw Lion King in London & it is one of my absolute fave shows! And, I lucked out & had THE best seat in the house! I'm pretty particular about where I like to sit & the 'holy grail' for me is smack in the middle about 6-10 rows back from stage & that's exactly what I had for Lion King - STILL can't believe it. Heck, I pinched myself the whole damn show not believing the seat was really mine! ;) And Matt, you & Jeannie should DEFINTELY go to this show if it ever comes around your area. YOU would LOVE IT! The opening alone is GOOSEBUMP city! I've also seen/loved Phantom & Les Miserables (twice) & especially love the music in Les Miz & listen to the CD all the time, but Lion King is just magnificent, honestly, YOU would really love it. And your reaction to the swooping chandelier is priceless!

  7. Alrighty, as for our retirement destination chat - Matt, I think you would love either Austin or Greenville! You could try them both out. And I think you'd love Asheville too but NOT in the winter. BTW, it's the locale for BILTMORE - the huge mansion built by 1 of the Vanderbilt guys many decades ago. It's a tourist place now, but very nice not trashy at all. The house is HUMONGOUS - for over a century it was THE largest private residence in the country. The mansion is on just part of the thousands of acres that Vanderbilt (I think George but can't remember right now) acquired. Some movies have been filmed on the land in the past 10-25 years, for example, one of my all-time faves - Last of The Mohicans with Daniel Day-Lewis. LOVE that movie!

    I have a money question for both you (Matt) & Rae - well, two questions - 1st, how will your health insurance be covered till you turn 65/qualify for Medicare? That alone is but one reason I could not retire before 65 UNLESS I win millions in the lottery. (HEY, just last night, I got another check from MD Lottery! This time for $20! Whoo-hoo! Some day I might actually win back the amount I've paid in for even one year! Deam, susie, dream!) Anyway, will your pre-65 health insurance be covered by your current employer? That would be a GREAT deal! My other question is about Social Security - do you plan to declare for SS right after you retire or wait till your full retirement age OR till 70? You get SO much more money if you wait.

    Also, will either of you get an actual pension from your current employer? If so, you are part of a very dwindling group. I will have my 401K, ROTH, & any non-retirement investments & that's it. I've been saving & investing like a mad woman for the past 8 years trying to catch up on the years I did NOT save enough (or any), but an ill-timed crash like in 2008-2009, can really hurt you if it happens within a year or so of your retirement start & I've been very aggressive with my investment choices all my life & am now finally thinking I need to at least start being a bit conservative with a portion in the next 5 years or so.

    How about you guys?

    Alrighty, I have a bunch of work bills I have to pay online before I leave tonight & that will take over an hour, so need to wrap up. Just one final question - don't you think you should include BUFFALO on your dream retirement list?! OMG! That is MY definition of hell, right there! Those poor people!

    Have a great weekend!

  8. "Dirty Dancing" (NOT one of my favorite films) was filmed at the Biltmore estate too, and my brother was an extra in the movie! Since I know where to look for him, I can just glimpse him in 2 scenes.

    SusieB, I will not have a pension. Hospitals in general eliminated pension type retirement plans decades ago. What we have is called a cash benefit plan -- they contribute so much per year depending on the hours worked, years of service and age. It accumulates interest, then when I retire I get a lump sum. I also can participate in a 403b (a 401k for non-profits) and I manage the way that money is invested (from the choices they offer). I've been contributing to 403bs from my various employers since 1980. (Had a few years mid 90s though where my employer offered no benefits, then when I worked contingent (to avoid night shift) so also no benefits). Also have Roth and regular IRA -- have been considering converting the regular to Roth gradually so that I don't have to worry about taxes on it later. I've been into stock mutual funds but have tried to keep at least 30% in more conservative things the past 5 years, including more cash. I do expect the market to fall reasonably soon. The prices remind me a bit of 1989-- maybe have outpaced intrinsic value.

    We experienced the vagaries of the market when my dtr. was graduating high school--her college fund was in a stock fund, and had grown nicely, but just about the time we were ready to try to lock in those gains and switch to bonds, the market fell and we lost all the gains before she started college.

    No, I don't know about health insurance. I am sure I wouldn't qualify for any subsidy (if Obamacare is still in effect) and I couldn't continue my employer's (well, I could via the COBRA law but that would be $$$, still, it might be the most cost-effective option). Maybe I would just buy a catastrophic coverage policy until I would qualify for Medicare. That is what I did when I had no benefits; I budgeted for and paid out of pocket for lesser medical issues.

    I haven't decided about when to draw SS -- that will depend on how my investments are doing at the time I think, and how my health is. If I develop any problems, financial or health, I would be more inclined to draw earlier. I have read that in the long run either way comes out about the same (haven't done the math myself). I just can't see myself working to 65 in my current job -- I get SO exhausted!

    We had freezing rain this morning and everything -- everthing! was covered in a sheet of ice. Had to chip the car out, and kept slipping & sliding on the driveway while I worked at it. Driving to work was an adventure for sure. I passed so many accidents and spin-outs! And people were still pushing the limits of how fast they could go! Insanity!