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......