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  • Writer's pictureJulia Fieldhammer


Updated: Sep 22, 2023

A little over a year ago, my sister, Sarah, moved to Asheville, North Carolina. (Since my sister’s and I have all lived our whole lives in Pittsburgh aside from my two sisters going to a different state for college, Sarah decided she wanted a new adventure.) So, last September, my dad, my mom, and I headed south to help Sarah move. But, since we were so busy helping her get settled, we didn’t have any time to explore Asheville. So, great news: we returned this past summer.

In June, my parents and I headed to Asheville. We were excited about a trip that was going to include attending a Wedding for my parents and hanging out with Sarah (and her roommates) for me.  

When we travel, deciding where to stay is very important. It can be hard to find a place that answers all our needs – wheelchair accessibility is always top of the list!  For this trip, my mom had found a VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) that was a good fit. It was spacious enough and on one level - so I could maneuver my wheelchair around inside and easily get in and out of the house.

We got there in the evening and were tired from the drive, but the next morning, we were ready to explore Asheville! When I visit a new place, I like to walk around, see the area, explore the different neighborhoods, and find where the locals hang out. My parents loved  walking through  the neighborhoods and  looking at the designs of the houses. 

Eventually, we came upon a trail called ‘The Greenway’. This path was completely handicapped accessible. At the beginning of the trail, there was a cool Bridge that went over a little creek. I wanted to get a video of me going over the Bridge for an Instagram reel. I asked my dad to take a video. My dad is a very good camera man but not very good with technology. It took him a couple times to get a good video, but that’s okay -I got some funny bloopers out of it!

The Greenway path was paved and flat, so I had no trouble driving my wheelchair. Going on walks is one of our favorite activities. The Greenway path had lots of trees and grass – possibly that’s why it’s called The Greenway- haha!

That evening, we went to get Tacos at a shop by the river called Duck Tacos. When we got there, the line to order was so long -it went into the parking lot. By the time we got to the front, I knew for sure that I wanted a Lamb Gyro taco and a Pulled Pork Taco. It was worth the wait, both were delicious! We sat in an outdoor area with picnic tables to eat. (Picnic tables are not wheelchair friendly, there’s no good way to pull a wheelchair up to them. I always feel far away, I guess I like to be close-up and with everyone.) Despite this struggle, I had a good time eating my Tacos and looking at the river.

The next day was Saturday, and my parents were going to the Wedding in the afternoon. In the morning, we all just sat around, ate, and talked. In the afternoon, it was time for Sarah and me to go on our own adventure. But first, we have a process we follow. She put my manual wheelchair in the back of her car. It takes a little more effort for me to ride in someone else’s car rather than our wheelchair van. I need two people to get me in – one person picks up my feet while another person helps my upper body to get in the car. It’s fun to sit in the front passenger seat for a change.

The first thing we did was to take a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This road goes through the Blue Ridge Mountains. We love taking drives around our neighborhood, but this was on a whole other level! The elevation is 6,053 feet. Sarah and I went all the way to the top of the mountains – the view was incredible! Just like on all our drives, I was the DJ. We both had a great time cruising in the mountains.

After our drive, we met Sarah’s roommate and her boyfriend at a French restaurant called La Guinguette. The restaurant is in an actual house, and we sat on the real porch. (I ordered a Crepe with chicken and tomatoes.) When we finished our meals, we decided to go to another place for after dinner drinks. There, we also sat outside.The vibe was very chill – which I like. It was a very fun night, and I loved hanging out with everyone.

Our second-to-the-last day began with my family going to Mass. The church was pretty, and everyone was very nice. After Mass it was raining so since my family and I love Art, and we had wanted to visit the Folk Art Center, we decided to check it out.

The place was, basically, an Art Museum  that reflected the arts and crafts of the Appalachian area with many pieces for sale. There were life-size clay animals – with a bunny and an owl (wearing clothes!). I thought they were funny, and I got a picture of them. It was interesting to see the different mediums. My favorite style of Art is abstract, and we saw some really cool abstract pieces. One piece was beautiful with vivid colors – which is totally my vibe. I loved it. I feel like you can say so much with abstract Art- without using common words or images. I love its richness. There were also some historical pieces at this Center, too. There were dresses and tools from long-ago days. (Sarah loves vintage clothes, so she was in heaven. I think she would have liked to try on some of the dresses!) I thought it was so cool to see how the tools were used. Our last stop at the Folk Art Center was the craft shop. It really was a gift shop of the local artisans. I had to be extra careful driving my wheelchair because I did not want to run into or to break anything. There was so much to see, so I had to do a couple laps around the shop. I eventually bought a beautiful plate with a landscape on it. The plate is now on my dresser in my bedroom. We would absolutely recommend The Folk Art Center!

When we left, we took the Blue Ridge Parkway, the same road Sarah and I had driven. This time, I got to get out and take some pictures. We were up so high that my parents were a little freaked out about me driving my wheelchair around (not going to lie: I was a little nervous as well). But the view was amazing, and we got some really cool pictures.

To end this wonderful day, we got some frozen yogurt. We sat outside to eat, and again, there were picnic tables. But as we were walking out, Sarah noticed that one of the tables had a cutout for a wheelchair. I think this is a great idea. I was bummed that I did not get to try it, but hopefully we’ll start seeing more of these around.

Of course, throughout this trip, I HAD to shop. The first day we headed to downtown Asheville and went into several stores. I found a cool tee shirt but one of my favorite purchases is a bear bumper sticker with ASHEVILLE printed on it. I was shocked when my Mom was ok with me putting it on my wheelchair. It fits perfectly on the side of it and now I have a little piece of Asheville with me everywhere I go.

I am so glad I got to spend time in this cool city, and I can not wait to go back!

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1 Comment

Keith Fieldhammer
Keith Fieldhammer
Sep 23, 2023

What a wonderful blog post! I really enjoyed reading it! I'd love to see a photo of that bumper sticker on your wheelchair. And you're right, the Blue Ridge Parkway is magnificent. Its northern end is actually just a half-hour drive from us and I every once in a while I ride my bicycle on the Parkway. When you visit us in Charlottesville we can go up there and check it out.

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