(yes, I’ve been horrible about completing our Asheville series. I’m not going to offer explanations or excuses. You might not believe me anyway.)
After our trip to the Biltmore, and wandering humans-only through downtown Asheville, we fell in love with how walkable and pet-friendly this city is. Storefronts have bowls of water or treats on hand to spoil four-legged shoppers. There’s a bookstore/wine bar that not only welcomes lupine literati, but has an entire menu dedicated to their sampling pleasure. This place is awesome.
We knew a lot of places would be shut down to celebrate Turkey Day, and that was fine with us. After an early season dusting overnight, we are happy to have a quiet day of eating and imbibing. But first, we need to earn our meal, and the dogs need to burn off a little energy.
Bundled and leashed, we braved the cold to test Asheville’s Urban Trail. Part walking tour, part art installation, the Urban Trail is a 1.7 mile stroll through 30 landmarks highlighting people places and events clutch to Asheville’s history. We were among the few out and about, and we relished the opportunity to take our time, get turned around (we were horrible at map navigation) (both of us), and enjoy the quiet of the city. Oh the smells! Oh the sights! Oh the strangers commenting on our awesome puppy attire!
a blog post by James
It’s a dark, cold, and slushy Sunday morning in February in the aftermath of a messy snowstorm. Kari, James, and friend Kristen are driving over an hour to an industrial neighborhood north of Baltimore, to meet a couple of other friends and spend the morning in a fitness boot camp. Some of us will be running, jumping, sweating (James, Kristen, and most everyone else), while a few others enjoy a light picnic brunch at Sweat Performance in Timonium, MD. It promises to be a tough, exhausting time (for those not eating brie and drinking prosecco, that is). So why go through it?
The boot camp is actually a fundraiser for the Show Your Soft Side campaign. You know the one, with billboards and ads featuring professional and elite athletes and more (Big Softies in SYSS-parlance) pictured with pets, proclaiming “Only a punk would hurt a cat or a dog”. Today they have combined efforts with Sweat Performance’s resident Big Softie Nick Ehrlich and Lululemon to host the boot camp to raise money for the campaign.
We found out about the boot camp fundraiser through friends of ours, Chris and Val. Chris and Val are, among other things, avid animal advocates. They volunteer at local shelters and have three rescue pups of their own. They found out about the fundraiser and asked if we might be interested. Of course we were.
Well, let’s be precise. We were all interested in raising money and awareness for a good cause, but not all were so interested in spending a cold, dreary Sunday morning working out. So Val and Kari worked with Sandra at SYSS, and came up with a compromise. Chris, James and Kristen will work out, and Kari and Val will bring drinks and snacks, as well as words of motivation for the boot campers. Everyone wins!
We arrived at the gym early, having allotted extra time to travel due to the nasty road conditions. The parking area seemed pretty empty, and we’re worried perhaps things were cancelled. Our fears turned out to be unfounded, fortunately, but we did find out that the foster dogs that were planning on coming were unable to make it due to the weather. We were just among the first of the boot campers to arrive. Everyone came in, registered and donated, and started stretching (or unpacking snacks!).
Chris and Val arrived soon after, and as Val and Kari prepped their brunch, and made fast friends with the women of SYSS, the remaining 40 or so boot campers arrived and started getting ready. Just after 10am, Nick and his colleague Doug got things underway. For the next hour we all ran, jumped and slam-balled through a high-energy workout, while Kari and Val cheered us all on (in between bites of brie and grapes).
Afterwards, we got to take pictures with the trainers, chat with the other campers and SYSS-ers, as well as shop merchandise a local Lululemon store brought in (half of the proceeds of sales going to the fundraising campaign).
All in all, it was more than worth it to make the trek on a nasty morning to spend an hour getting sweaty with strangers. We had a great time, met some cool folks, and helped raise more than $2000 for a great and local group of animal advocates.
For more information about the Show Your Soft Side Campaign visit their website at http://showyoursoftside.org/.
If you are in the Baltimore area and are looking for a gym or a trainer, you could do a lot worse than Sweat Performance. Check them out at http://www.sweatperformance.com/
…love* the one you’re with!
We were drawn to Asheville for a number of reasons: artsy community, excellent food, walkable, and dog-friendly.
Since we went the week leading up to Thanksgiving, James still had to check in with work. To keep our dogs out of his hair while on a conference call, we leashed up and headed out to the Biltmore Estate.
Holy cow is that place incredible. Under construction from 1889-1895, George Vanderbilt’s 3,000 acre estate boats of “four acres of floor space, including 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces.” So, your typical country cottage.
While dogs aren’t allowed inside the main house, they are permitted to roam the gardens, hike the trails, and get a coffee.
[Side note: If you want to walk the estate and then tour the mansion, the Biltmore does have first-come/first-serve kennels where dogs can curl up with fresh water and protection from the elements. We didn’t opt for that feature during our tour– first came the adventure with the dogs, then I dropped the furries back and snagged James for our human’s-only tour in the house.]
Two dogs, one Kari and a pocketful of treats left our little mountain respite for this expansive tourist draw in Asheville. We had a dusting of snow that morning, so MJ was wearing one of her (my) favorite hoodies to keep her warm. We got more comments about the dog-in-outfit during our walk!
We got to the estate as they opened for the day, so the trails were rather un-peopled and we could take our time with sniffs and changing directions. If I read the map correctly, we wandered over 5 miles of the estate, which wore everyone out and drained the pocket of treats.
James and I have started planning our out-of-town escapes around things we can do with the dogs; rather, places we can go with the dogs.
- must be an easy car ride (less that 8 hours without traffic)
- must have well-lit, green-area’d rest stops along the way
- must not be in a state with BSL about pit bull breed
- must have dog-friendly activities
- must not require kenneling
We’ve taken them to the Outer Banks. We take them on overnights to relatives’ houses. And now, they’ve been to Asheville.
Through homeaway.com, We rented a wonderful converted barn just a few miles outside of downtown Asheville, NC, for a Thanksgiving escape. Pet-friendly with wooded trails, lots of sniffs and radiant flooring.
We woke up our second morning to find a dusting of mountain snow!
We ate, we napped, we went on adventures (you’ll have to wait for those), and we broke out of our travel crate.
Oh, and there were bears. We saw them. Well, one. Our renters book was full of helpful information, like “Will a bear attack my dog?”
Asheville is a great, walkable town. And we have the pictures to prove it. Next time, on Serial.
January 15, 2015
Guest blog. No intro needed, but please share especially if you’re in the DC area.
Sometimes forever does not mean forever. That’s a hard lesson to learn in life in general and even harder, for me, when it relates to animal rescue.