Thursday, December 18, 2008

Winter Cabin Special at Ash Grove

This is our new ad for our winter cabin special:

Ash Grove
2009 Winter Cabin Special

$50 & MORE Gift Certificate(s) OR
Cash Discount up to $100


Get amazing savings at your favorite vacation spot! By staying with us in any cabin, for 2 or 3 nights in the months of Jan or Feb, 2009, you receive a $50 gift certificate that you can use on a future stay, or give as a gift to friends or relatives. If you stay 4 - 6 nights, you receive an additional $50 gift certificate. And, if you stay 7 nights or more, you get 3 gift certificates, for a grand total of $150 in savings! That's more than a night FREE in any of our cabins, but you can also use them for camping. OR take $30 off the price of a 2 or 3 night stay, $60 off 4-6 nights and $100 off a stay of 7 nights or more.Don't miss out on this amazing deal--call and book your cabin for a winter wonderland vacation at Ash Grove. Call Ash Grove at 828-885-7216 or visit our website www.ash-grove.com

Special applies to new reservations only.
Not valid with other specials or discounts.












The fine print for gift certificate use
:

Reservations required & subject to availability. Valid for cabins or camping.
Not valid on :Memorial & Labor Day weekends, or stays including the days of
July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years Eve.
Not redeemable for cash. No change given.
No expiration date, but if not used by 12/31/2010, certificate must be renewed

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Brevard, NC Christmas Parade

Brevard held its 2008 Christmas Parade on Sat, 7 Dec. Mark and I were 2 of the judges (thanks Kim, for being the 3rd). This was the best parade in Brevard that we have seen since we attended our first one in 2002--that year, there were fire trucks, Girl &Boy Scout troops and not much else. Some of this year's floats could easily hold their own in a big-city parade. We had 5 trophies to give out, but there were several additional deserving entries. A non-winner that we really liked was the Strykes Again Family Fun Center entry. It was a tinsel-covered old limousine, that the Strykes Again owners said should get the "Tackiest Float" award (unfortunately, that wasn't a category). After the parade, was Twilight Tour, where the downtown merchants hold open house, with refreshments, entertainment, etc. Over 1000 luminarias lit the sidewalks and our courthouse provided a backdrop for the festivities.

The Reluctant Santa (Collection, that is)


I started putting up our holiday decorations at Ash Grove today. My favorite decoration is our collection of tall, skinny Santas (we call them our Anorexic Santas). We didn't start out to have a collection, it just sort of happened. Mark has always liked the Green Man/Tree Spirit/Woodspirit type of carvings, and one year I found a holiday-themed one for a stocking stuffer. Then, somehow, the next year we both had one in our stockings. Now, we have 45 of them, or so (depending if you count the ones that are permanently attached together as 1 or multiple Santas, and technically, a couple of them aren't Santas, but let's not get nitpicky). Personally, I think that they multiply in secret during the Summer while they are in their storage box. We have slowed down in acquiring them--in the past few years they have been hard to find. There are plenty of tall, skinny snowmen to be found, but we don't have a snowman collection, nor do we want to start one. Maybe the Santas will come back into fashion, since the Idea Police think that fat Santas are not good role models for kids.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Small Town Holidays

Brevard is gearing up for the holidays. It is a charming small town with lots of activities. Come up and stay with us at Ash Grove, then rekindle your childhood memories or make new traditions with:

On Dec. 6th, the downtown streets of Brevard will be transformed into a magical world of holiday cheer during the Heart of Brevard's 21st Annual Twilight Tour.

The sidewalks will glow in the light of 1000 luminaries, and school children & the community choir & musicians will gather at the courthouse gazebo to fill the evening air with holiday song. You'll be able to roast your own marshmallows for making s' mores and decorate sugar cookies. For adults, the Merchant Open House offers a unique and wonderful holiday shopping opportunity. The retail stores will offer special discounts, refreshments and entertainment. And the Mistletoe Market is the perfect place to find a Transylvania Christmas tree, wreath or garland.

On 4-7 Dec, the Silvermont Mansion will house 35 extravagant decorated Christmas trees. Admission is $3, benefitting local charities.

Tour some of Brevard's most beautiful homes on 13 Dec at the annual Holiday Tour of Homes. Admission is $30, benefiting local charities.

Bluegrass Holiday at the Porter Center with Steep Canyon Rangers is on 19 Dec. 828-243-3496

Brevard Little Theatre presents "The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge" on 12-14 & 19-21 December. www.brevardlittletheatre.com

Holiday favorites by Vivaldi, Bach, Verdi, etc will be presented by the Carolina Concert Choir and Orchestra at the Porter Center on 20 Dec. www.carolinaconcertchoir.org

Throughout the holiday season, there are several choose-and-cut tree farms in the area where you can get a fresh tree. Also all during the holidays, the local arts center, arts guild, arts cooperative and our local potters and other craftsmen are hosting sales of great gift items.

More musical events are scheduled for the nearby cities of Hendersonville and Asheville, and other cultural events are happening during the week and on the weekends through Christmas in our area.




Monday, November 17, 2008

Slower Times

Now that October is gone, business is slowing down a bit at Ash Grove. That gives us a chance to get maintenance and repairs done that we can't do during the busy season. Of course, leaf removal is our number one priority right now. Probably 95% of the leaves have fallen from the trees, so we are getting them off the roads, walkways, roofs, grass and gardens. I wonder how many tons of leaves fall on our 14 acres.....
Every season is different and beautiful, so it is still a wonderful time to come to the mountains. With many of the tourists and seasonal residents gone, there are fewer people on the roads and the hiking & mountainbiking trails and at the waterfalls. And with the leaves gone, the views are even more far-ranging and you can see many wateralls that are hidden by vegetation in the summer.
The weather is generally mild (average daytime temperatures are in the 50s and 60s in Nov and Dec). There is a slight chance for a light dusting of snow this time of year--enough to be pretty, but not enough to cause problems on the roads. After winter really arrives, we can expect average daytime temps for Jan and Feb to be in the upper 40s to lower 50s. On average we get 2 to 3 snowfalls per year, of 2-6 inches each.---breathtakingly beautiful, but still easy to get around on the roads.
With choose-and-cut Christmas tree farms, Brevard's small town holiday celebrations, a charming downtown for shopping, mild weather and beautiful views, this is a great time to come and visit!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween and More Fall Color






We had the 2nd annual Ash Ghoul, the Haunted Campground on Saturday, 25 Oct. One of our nature trails became a haunted trail. We had cabin and campsite decorating contests and a costume contest. Hot cider, cookies, treats, marshmallows, ghost stories and more were dished up by our bonfire. We all had a great time.














There is still plenty of fall color in the area. We are almost at peak here at Ash Grove, and as you drive the 15 minutes to Caesar's Head State Park, just over the NC-SC state line, you can see that there is problably another week and a half or 2 weeks of Autumn glory. Come and see it!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Kiva--Loans That Change Lives

Kiva is a program in which you can loan as little as $25 to entrepreneurs in an underdeveloped country, to help them start or expand their small businesses. You can help them lift themselves, their families, even their entire villages out of poverty.
AmEx cardmembers voted for Kiva, and helped them get $300K, but more needs to be done.
Go to http://www.kiva.com/ and do your part to make our world a better place.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fall Hike to Mt Pisgah


On Tuesday, I hiked to the top of Mt. Pisgah (elev. 5170'), on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The trail is about 1.5 miles in each direction, with a climb of over 700'. The trail is very rocky, but in good repair. There is an observation deck at the tip. The colors at that elevation were still not at peak, so I would say that we will have another 3 to 4 weeks of great color in our area. Here are a couple of pix that I took, with more on our Flickr site

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Gasoline Situation--Updated 9 Oct

Update 10/9/08: All the stations still don't have gas all the time, but more than half do at any given time, and there don't seem to be any lines any more.
Local officials say that it may be another week before everything is back to normal, but there is no reason to stay away because of the gas situation.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Beginnings of Fall, Part 2


I took this photo on 28 Sep 08, from the front porch of our office. A few trees are getting some color. The official "Fall Color Guy" for the state of NC has predicted a very spectacular leaf season, due to the drought. There is a silver lining to every dark cloud. See the fall color report at http://www.visitnc.com/fallcolor/fallcolor_report.asp

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Beginnings of Fall

While the weather is still summer-like (daytime temps in the upper 70s), there is beginning to be a feeling of fall in the air. The katydids are singing a little softer at night, geese are beginning to fly overhead, the tree foliage is becoming a darker green and squirrels are frantically buttressing their nests and carrying acorns.
This is a perfect time to visit the mountains (actually, any time is the perfect time to visit the mountains). Most people have ended their summer vacations, so there is less traffic on the roads, the hiking trails hold more solitude, the waterfalls are uncrowded and the birds, celebrating the cooler weather, fill the air with song.

When the leaves change colors (usually beginning mid-October) the beauty of the mountainsides is unparallelled. There will be more people here then. It is often joked that there is no one left in the state of Florida during October--they are all here looking at leaves.



Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Mushrooms!

The rains from Faye brought the mushrooms to life, but there are still fewer than in years past. In 2006, we identified 63 different varieties on Ash Grove's 14 acres. One of those varieties was the Black Tumpet Mushroom, a choice edible (and they were delicious!). Unfortunately, we didn't find any of those this year, but there are still lots of incredible ones.




See more at our Flickr album


http://www.flickr.com/photos/ash_grove_brevard/

Monday, September 1, 2008

YouTube Videos

I took a couple of vids of Ash Grove's Stellar (secluded, carved from the forest, walk-to) campsites over the Labor Day weekend and posted them on our YouTube site.
Here is the link or click on the videos on the right side of this page:

http://www.youtube.com/AshGroveBrevard

Saturday, August 30, 2008

There's a First Time for Everything

One thing that we enjoy about owning Ash Grove is that there are always new experiences to be had. Most of the time this is a good thing. Today it was just appalling. On my way to the office I noticed that smoke was coming from the front yard of one of the cabins (I was on the walk behind the cabin) and I thought that they were grilling breakfast, even though all the cabins have full kitchens. Then I realized that it was a lot of smoke, so I investigated. They had moved the picnic table, gathered rocks from where we had placed them to direct rainwater away from the cabin, and built a bonfire!!!! We have a stone bonfire pit 50 yards from the cabin, and rules posted in the cabins about only having fires (other than charcoal in the grill) in that firepit. When I told them that this was totally unacceptable, they said that they didn't know that they couldn't build a fire there. I asked, "Would you build a bonfire in the middle of your front yard?" It is amazing the lack of respect and/or common sense that some people have.

Our bonfire pit

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Some Drought Relief

From the remnants of Tropical Storm Faye, we received more than 8 inches of rain in 2 1/2 days. The French Broad River, down in the valley near Brevard, was so low that the rains didn't even swell it over its banks. The flatter areas to our east had flooding, but the mountains fared pretty well, for the most part.
Even with this rain, drought conditions still exist, so we are still agressive about conserving water.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Well-Traveled Guests

Guests Maryanne and Burt arrived in
their homemade Gypsy wagon

Guests Lorraine and Phillip, who spent a couple of weeks here this summer, just sent us an email recounting their first week of their trip to Montevideo, Uruguay. Since it is not a big destination for English-speaking tourists, they are having some challenges, but are really enjoying it. It sounds like some place that I would like to visit.
We also recently heard from some other guests who have moved to Belgium for 2 years. I haven't really been to Belgium--only passed through a few times on the night train when I was going to university in Paris. We would head to Amsterdam on Friday night to party for the weekend, then take the Sunday night train back to Paris, arriving just in time for classes.
We have had guests at Ash Grove from all over the world--New Zealand, Australia, Sri Lanka, India, the Philippines, Japan, South Africa, Russia, Uzbekistan, Romania, Italy, Germany, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Columbia, Mexico, British Virgin Isles, Canada, and probably some others that I have forgotten. That is one (of the many) things that I enjoy about owning Ash Grove--we get to meet so many great people from everywhere, with different ideas, different cultures and different takes on the world.
For the most part, we have a great group of guests. Another cabin resort owner and I were recently exchanging stories about our bad guests. He had banned more people this year from returning to his property than we have banned in 5 1/2 years. I firmly believe that you get back what you put out, so we strive to make Ash Grove a welcoming place for all and put a lot of positive energy out to the universe.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Drought, Part 2

Well, my raindance must have worked yesterday (see previous post)--the rain shower lasted over 2 hours, and we had more during the middle of the night. The only bad thing was that since everything was bone dry, much of the mulch washed off the trails to the campsites. Mark is out re-applying it now.
It also looks as if we might get the remnants of Tropical Storm Faye later on this week. I hope that she doesn't slam the Carribean and Florida, but we could us a couple of days of soaking rain here.
Steven

http://www.ash-grove.com/

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Drought

More rocks than water in this stream
The drought in Western North Carolina continues, although we are getting a pretty good shower as I write this (per the radar, it probably won't last more than 15 or 20 minutes, though). The rivers are at historic lows, wells and springs are drying up, trees are stressed, crops are dying and we didn't have a good mushroom crop this year.
The larger waterfalls are still spectacular, although they are at a reduced flow. Some of the smaller ones are just a trickle. Normally, Transylvania County is the wettest county in NC (we are a temperate rain forest) and Asheville/Buncombe County, which is only about 20 miles from here is the driest--go figure. We are probably more than 20" below normal here at Ash Grove.
Our water supply comes from deep wells (1000' or more). We are conserving water by not pressure washing the cabin exteriors (although a couple of them could use it); not washing our vehicles; not watering any outdoor landscaping, etc. We are asking our guests to conserve by taking shorter showers (save 2 gal/minute); turning off faucet while shaving or brushing teeth (save 1+ gal/person); reusing their towels (save 60 gal/person per average stay). For some of our other energy saving policies check out our website http://ash-grove.com/policies.asp
I'm headed outside now to do my best raindance, and maybe this shower will stick around for a while longer! Steven

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hiking Graveyard Fields in Pisgah Forest


Hiking is great here in Transylvania County. Dupont State Forest has over 90 miles of trails and Pisgah Forest has over 400 miles. I (Steven) try to do at least 1 hike per week, but sometimes business or weather get in the way.

Last week's hike was off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Graveyard Fields. It was about an 8 mile hike, my upper limit at this point. I hiked down from the parking area to the Lower Waterfalls, where several people were swimming to cool off--it was 82 degrees that day. Due to the extreme drought, the falls weren't as spectacular as usual, but still beautiful none the less. Near the falls is a short connector that gets you to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. It was my first hike on that section of trail. The forest in the Graveyard Fields area is fairly sparse, due to an extremely intense forest fire in the 1920s that not only burned the forest, but burned all the nutrients from the soil. The forest is coming back, but very slowly. Due to the sparseness of the undergrowth, you could see much further through the forest than in most other areas, and the views of the near and distant peaks--all the way to Tennessee--were incredible (of course, I forgot to take my camera).

Another perk of the Graveyard Fields area, was that I had chosen to hike during prime blackberry season. There were literally millions of ripe, lucious blackberries, growing so thickly on the bushes, that they looked like clusters of grapes from a distance. I ate my fill of them. The blueberries were almost ripe--still kind of pink, but there by the million as well. A few of them were ripe and very sweet, so they made a nice counterpoint to the tartness of the blackberries.

I then hiked to the Upper Waterfalls, my first time there. If the drought wasn't so severe, the falls would have been breathtaking. Since there is no such thing as a not-beautiful waterfall, I still thought that it was worth the trip--especially when I took off my shoes and socks and let the cool waters rush over my tired feet. Then it was back to the parking lot and the drive home to Ash Grove.

http://www.ash-grove.com/

Friday, August 8, 2008

Getting Started

Greetings! We have finally decided to join the blogging world. We want to share what goes on at ASH GROVE Cabins and Camping, and the Brevard and Western North Carolina area.
We have been here 5 1/2 years now, and still find it a perfect place to work and live. We are in Transylvania County, which is known as "The Land of Waterfalls", with over 250 of them in the County. Dupont State Forest, Pisgah National Forest and Gorges State Park (under development/construction until 2009) take up almost 50% of the County land, so it will be tough to overdevelop the area, but I am sure someone will try. Ash Grove is located on 14 wooded, mountaintop (3000' elevation) acres, about 10-12 minutes south of downtown Brevard, near Cedar Mountain. We--Mark and Steven--are the owners, maids, maintenance men and general all-round flunkies. Ernie, our 9 year old 13 lb. mini-Daschund, is the official 4-legged doorbell for the office, greeter and guard dog, assisted by Max, our 7 month old Basset Hound/Cocker Spaniel mix. Cleo, our Calico Manx, lives in our apartment on the property, and keeps the moths under control.
Visit our website http://www.ash-grove.com
Just a brief introduction, written by Steven......