Asheville KOA East, Swannanoa

Lakeside site with hookups. Sweeeeet

KOA for the win. That’s all I’m sayin’. No, I’ll say more. When we left Cades Cove, it was raining. It continued, and got worse, all through the drive through the park, until I got to a decision point about where I could either take highway 441, the road up and over the Smoky Mountains and through the park, or through Gatlinburg and ultimately the dreaded Highway 40. I made a last second call, based on how the sky looked up above, to ditch the mountain pass and tough it out on the highway. That turned out to be not much better in terms of weather, but at least I hadn’t hit the fast moving part when it really poured.

I took this Dory of the Day at Lake Powhatan, while trying not to look too dejected when they told me they did not have any hookup sites to offer.

By the time we got to the Asheville area, we could see some blue skies overhead, except a little zone just to our right, exactly the direction we needed to go for our reservations at Lake Powhatan. I mean, it was funny/not funny how specifically the rain clouds were centered over the lake. The cell service also very specifically cut out right as we dropped down into the campground. We were struggling to stay positive. We had no hookups for the next three days, and our campsite was under the dense shade of trees. We knew we wouldn’t make it in terms of battery capacity for another long stretch with no sun, so Richard pulled out the generator. We are terrible generator parents. Like, we never do any of the things you are supposed to do for generator well being. We use it maybe once a year, and then it just sits there. So, it’s not really a surprise it didn’t work, but it was a bad moment, because it did not. Richard was trying to just hold it together and I told him I would go back to service and see if the two KOAs in town had a site. One of them did, and I returned triumphant, with Richard fully on board with the change.

Campground comes complete with geese.

It was the best call EVER. They put us in a site between a river and a little lake. There were hookups, blindingly fast cell service, AND wifi, AND laundry. And if that wasn’t enough, there was also a Waffle House just down the road where you’d better believe we went for dinner. We were in town to meet up with friends, and when I let her know our status, she recommended all kinds of award winning restaurants. Nice of her not to judge us for our dining decisions.

Vista along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Now that we were happily situated, we spent the next two days hitting some Asheville highlights. One of those was for Richard to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway. This road stretches hundreds of miles across multiple states, so he was just looking for a taste of it. It is super easy to catch from Asheville and he spent the day heading uphill while I tackled making things dry again while blogging our last stop. Then, I drove up to meet him at the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center. From there, we took a short trail before returning down to town for dinner. There were all sorts of wildflowers blooming, most notably the wild Rhododendrons. They are just everywhere in this part of the country, blooming in shades of pink, purple, and white. I’ve never seen rhodies this huge before.

Exquisite dinner with the best company!

Leslie, my wonderful Altoistes co-admin arranged a dinner at the Rendezvous restaurant with another couple. I “knew” one of them from the facebook group, but had never met in person. We had the world’s best time, learning how to play Bocce Ball, drinking beer, and chatting. Dinner was superb. I had the Steak Au Poivre, smothered in a cognac cream sauce, while Richard had the Croque Monsieur. These paired with incredibly delicious french fries, and finished with a Pain Perdu a la Mode. OMG everything was incredible. We loved chatting with our new friends, one of whom recently retired from being a host at the Biltmore Estate. This came in super handy for the next day.

Don’t need no stinkin’ E-bike

Our last day in Asheville was mostly spent at the Biltmore Estate. Leslie was able to get us tickets for a tour in the afternoon and suggested we spend some time biking around the grounds together. I still love my new bike saddle and really enjoyed riding the trails with Richard. We then met Leslie for ice cream in the Antlers Village area. This is a little town all on its own, with restaurants, lodging, and a nice exhibit on the history of the family. The estate grounds cover miles and miles, so you have to allow a lot of time to get from one place to another. Eventually it was time to say goodbye and thank Leslie for being such a wonderful host.

Absolutely overwhelming place!

We got a tome of information for the house tour from our new pal, Michael. He gave us insider information about every room we were going to see, plus said to drop his name as much as possible. This I was more than happy to do. I met a couple of his former co-workers, who clearly love and miss him. We were primed with excellent questions to ask the hosts in specific rooms, and thus got information not included on the audio tour. For example, in the grand library, there is a massive ceiling painting that one assumes is a fresco. Michael told us to ask about that. It turns out this is actually a canvas painting by Giovanni Pellegrini, painted for the Pisani Palace in Venice, circa 1720. It was purchased first, and the entire library wing was designed specifically to house it.

“The Chariot of Aurora” by Giovanni Pellegrini

We also knew to ask about the Otis elevator. It is original, and perhaps the oldest electric model built. It still operates and in fact is still serviced by Otis!

Original Otis elvator

The audio tour is a blast. they give you handheld little wands with numbered buttons. When you enter a room, you simply enter its number and you get to hear the highlights. If you know Michael, you get to learn a whole lot more. You get to see the main floor, the second floor bedrooms and guest rooms, all meticulously preserved, as well as the basement where the servants resided near the kitchen and infrastructure operations. We were tired and happy by the time the tour was over.

Special thanks for Shirley for posing for a Dory of the Day. She misses you, Michael!

I can’t say enough about how much we enjoyed our stay in Asheville. It was super seeing Leslie and Barry, and it was a blast meeting Bill and Michael. We would love to come back, and honestly, I think we would just go ahead and stay in the same darn KOA. It was one of the nicest I’ve seen and it has all the comforts. This stay was just the ticket for a couple of water logged campers.

Total miles from Cades Cove: 142.7, 17.7 mpg, 4 hours 44 min. Site C7 electric and water hookups. Lakeside site. Excellent cell and super fast wifi. Laundry, store, boat launch. Great location on the east side of town.

2 thoughts on “Asheville KOA East, Swannanoa

  1. Alissa, This post brought back wonderful memories of the Asheville area. Becky went to college at Warren Wilson College located between Asheville and Black Mountain. She graduated there in 2017. Now she’s getting her PhD at UofCO, Boulder/Chemistry! It is a lovely region of the mid-Atlantic states. Wonderful music/restaurants/walking & hiking and the Blue Ridge Parkway is a spectacular drive. I’m jealous of you two biking it. So nice to hear of your adventures. Dee

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