The Labor Day Weekend supposedly marks the end of the summer season. For me it’s an odd holiday that always got lost in the shuffle of everything else that happens this time of year. When I was a teacher, it was an interruption, coming at a time too early in the school year to provide real respite from the rigors of academia. (Not that I really minded a day off.) Now as a retiree it seems that it gets lost even more in the shuffle of fall.
There are lots of activities and events around Labor Day, but also lots of crowds as folks want to take advantage of one more summer fling. Laura had gone to Florida to help with her mom, so I decided to explore some of those events, even though I loathe crowds.
Travelers Rest Art Crawl
Things got underway Friday evening. After her classes were done, I took Laura to the airport, then set out to explore. This was “First Friday”, which means art galleries all around Greenville would be opening. There were several art openings around town, including a big event at Taylors Mill. I chose to check out Travelers Rest’s Art Crawl.
With Tropical Storm Hermine looming to the south, the weather wasn’t conducive to outdoor activities. Even so, I was hoping the weather would pass, so I drove on up to TR. There were a few scattered booths set up along Main Street. With the threatening weather, they looked a bit…forlorn.
I found a place to park and headed out. It wasn’t raining, but there was a thick enough mist to soak my shirt within moments. I went back to the car and retrieved my hat and umbrella. I headed down to the first set of booths. There I found my former student, Jorie Browder, with her jewelry. She had some beautiful pieces on display for sale. We chatted for a bit, then I stepped to the next booth.
sTRum Instruments was set up next to Jorie’s booth. Nagesh builds original stringed instruments, including banjoleles, stick ukuleles, and stick dulcimers. All of these featured beautiful woodwork.
I glanced at the artwork in the next booth over, but it didn’t really catch my attention. I continued on up the street.
I had dinner at Whistle Stop since it was right there, then crossed the street to My Sister’s Store. This was on old house on a prominent corner, now converted to a novelties shop. I’d never stopped here before, and was curious to see what was inside.
There were a couple of booths out front, but these didn’t hold my interest. What I dound inside DID catch my attention. There were lots of old books. I spoke to the proprietor, and asked about old hymnals. He pointed me to a stack in one corner. I was sorely tempted, but resisted the urge to buy more.
There were several tables set up, but more importantly, a musician’s circle was just getting underway. This was very much like the ones at Pickens Flea Market or Perryville. There were mostly guitarists, and one guy that occasionally played banjo. The repertoire was old country and gospel. Had I known, I would have brought my banjo. The group gathers every Friday night, so there are lots of opportunities.
I wandered on up Main street, but nothing really caught my attention. There was a band playing, but not many other booths. I think the weather kept participation down.
I had planned to stop by Taylors Mill in addition to the TR Art Crawl, but decided to call it an early night. I had lots more planned for the next day.
Hendersonville Apple Festival
Tropical Storm Hermine had brought in a high pressure front behind it, with lower temps and humidity. Saturday morning was stunning. I got up early, and decided I’d check out the Hendersonville Apple Festival.
Since Laura was out of town, I swiped the Mini to take advantage of perfect convertible weather. Rather than drive straight up to Hendersonville, I took a scenic route. First I drove up Highway 14 from Greer to Landrum and Tryon, then I took the winding Highway 176 up the Saluda Grade. I mounted the GoPro above the windshield to get some shots and video.
The town of Saluda was hopping, as one might expect on a holiday weekend. I continued on through and up toward Hendersonville. As I approached the town traffic picked up, with a long line of cars waiting to turn from 176 onto Main street. Amazingly, I found parking pretty close to Main Street and walked on over.
I really don’t like Fall for Greenville. It’s gotten better over the years, but when it first started there were long lines at the booths that fed out into the street, blocking normal walking patterns. Everything got jammed up. Plus it’s the worst of what triggers my agoraphobia – huge crowds of people competing for limited resources (in this case, food concessions) in a disorganized fashion.
The Hendersonville Apple Festival struck me that exact same way. The crowds were horrific.
Part of the problem is the way Main Street in Hendersonville is laid out. Normally, the narrower winding street with angle parking works great. However, in this case, with the booths lining the street, the narrow corridor just restricted traffic flow. Walking traffic on the sidewalks wasn’t a problem. But then, you didn’t get to see anything in the booths because you were walking along the backside, somewhat removed from them. As it was, I still never got to visit any artist booths. I just wanted to keep moving to get out of that madhouse.
Some offenders were worse than others. Anything apple-related attracted a crowd. Here are a few shots where there was a break in the crowds and I could get an image:
Oddly enough, some of the worst offenders were large corporate tents. Various cell phone companies and others were giving away freebies, and that really attracted a crowd.
I did manage to snag a couple of other photos of non-corporate, non-apple booths.
The absolute worst, though, was right in front of the courthouse, where the main stage was set up. The street was still fairly narrow at this point, but everyone stopped to see what was going on. While I was there, all the different dance schools were on stage, so various parents and grandparents were milling around and taking photos and videos with phones. I just wanted to get to the other side.
On the other side of the courthouse things got better. The street is four-lane at this point, and the booths are pushed back to the edge of the road. There’s more room for walking. This is where they had the children’s amusement section set up, as well as most of the food vendors.
I decided I needed to have something apple-related. I love apple doughnuts, but didn’t want a dozen just for myself. Well, I did, but that wouldn’t help my physique. I opted for a deep-fried apple pie, which probably had just as many deleterious effects.
The political and religious groups were out in force. The local Republican party had a large tent on Main Street with a life-sized cut-out of Trump. People were posing with it. I resisted, because I probably would have done something naughty. I did pick up a Clinton-Kaine button at the Democrat tent, thendared to wear it in this Republican-heavy town. I had my GoPro setup up as a bodycam to record any interesting…interactions. There were none, which is just as well.
On the religious side the Jehovah’s Witnesses were on every corner with their literature. They seemed to be carpet-bombing the place, in multiple languages.
A church on Main had a cooler set up and were advertising free water and/or Gatorade. I really appreciated their kindness, and, as I was thirsty, accepted a bottle of water. As the woman at the booth handed it to me, she said, “Do you know the Living Water, Jesus Christ?” While I wanted to come back with one of my smartass answers, I just nodded and walked on, grateful for the water. The crowds really were starting to get to me, and I wasn’t in the best of moods.
I made may way back to the car. Getting out of Hendersonville was another issue. Somehow, I managed to avoid traffic by circling through Jackson Park on the east, then cutting through neighborhoods on the west side of town. I wanted to get to US 64.
I found the highway and headed west toward Brevard. It was still fairly early, and I wanted to to explore a bit more. I made the drive on to Brevard, then headed south on US 276. Traffic picked up, but wasn’t bad. When I reached the Caesar’s Head overlook, though, I found the rest of the crowds. Rangers were out directing traffic in the small parking lot. Fortunately, I found a spot. I parked and headed out. I had to snap one shot of folks hanging over the rail.
I wander on out and snapped some shots of the overlook, photos I know I’ve taken many times before.
I decided to walk down to Devil’s Kitchen and along the trail, circling back to the parking lot that way.
It was past lunch time. I’d thought about grabbing a bite in Brevard, but nothing caught my attention. The fried apple pie was holding me over. On the way down from Caesar’s Head I spotted The Mountain house Restaurant, in a historic stone building just down from the park. I decided to check it out.
I ordered a fairly simple Rueben, which turned out to be quite good. I had my meal on the screened porch, and took some other shots of the building. I loved the old stonework, reminiscent of some of the work done by the early CCC.
I put the GoPro back on top of the car and drove down the twisting Geer Highway in similar fashion to when I’d driven up this morning.
I made my way back home pretty much without any more detours. That evening we gathered at Chip’s house to wish him a happy 40th birthday, while consuming increasingly hot wings and copious amounts of beer and bourbon.
The plan had been to get up on Sunday and do some kayaking with my brother, Houston. After the previous night’s festivities we were, shall we say, not quite feeling up to snuff? Another plan of action was needed. We picked up my sister Glynda, and headed back toward North Carolina.
This time I had a specific route in mind. I kept coming across the name Howard Gap Road on both my maps and in my explorations. I wanted to find out more about it. We picked up the road in Fletcher and drove south, ending just east of Hendersonville. So far it was scenic, but not overly impressive. We did see some nice apple orchards.
It turns out that the more interesting bits are closer to the town of Saluda and the eponymous Howard’s Gap. I’d save that for another exploration.
I decided to do something different with the GoPro. Instead of pointing it outward, I mounted it on the windshield and pointed it back at us. I got some interesting photos.
I took all of the captures and turned them into a time-lapse.
Finally, back in Greenville we decided to head over to The Playwright for lunch. Houston thought some good Irish stew like we had in Ireland last summer would be perfect for his ailing stomach. Alas, it was not to be. The food at The Playwright has gone downhill. The Irish Stew was a bit of beef broth with a bit of beef, and what seemed to be a can of Veg-All mixed in. Glynda’s shepherd’s pie was not much better, consisting of mostly mashed potatoes with a bit of crust. None of it had any seasoning. This decline in quality, along with certain other cues, made me wonder how much longer this place is going to hang on.
At her than that, though, it was a great holiday weekend, despite the crowds and hangovers. Anytime I get to spend time with family and friends is a good time.