BBOnline Member SINCE 1998
 

At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn

254 Cumberland Avenue, Asheville, North Carolina 28801
Innkeeper(s): Patti & Gary Wiles

Asheville Bed and Breakfast Baby Birds Fly the Nest 26 May 2016, 1:09 pm

I want to begin this blog with a most sincere thank you to my guests At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn in recent months.  In great kindness, they have made every possible accommodation to further the joys of nature and motherhood while staying at our home.

Another bird in residence at our Inn.

On our back porch there is a small round picnic table with overhead umbrella.   A mother robin looking to provide a safe, secure place for her eggs began the rather slip shod efforts of nest building a few months back.  Her chosen site was in the top of the umbrella.   Initially, more of the nesting material found it’s way to our boxwood hedge than remained in her nest , but she persisted as Mother’s are wont to do,  finally getting the knack of it.

We had many phases of development in the bird saga here at the inn. After the nest finally got pulled together, we noted 3 blue eggs had been deposited in it.  We were all so tickled.

There is something about “baby” anything that intrigues people.  Our guests during this time where awestruck about all aspects of this Robin Adventure and we fielded a litany of questions. Some were posed during the guest stay and some were so excited to have had a front row seat to any part of it that that wanted to know how it all turned out and emailed me to see how things were going.   Is the nest finished?  How long did it take her to finally get it together?  How many eggs and what color are they?  When will they hatch?  Do they leave the nest right away?

What did I know about Robins?  Well, a bit because this same bird or maybe not? made a nest in exactly the same location last year.

So now we move on to the answers!  The nest must function for more than a month, some are used more than once.  It must be sturdy enough to support not only the eggs (from 2-4) but also house them after they hatch providing stability and warmth so careful construction is required.   The light blue to darker blue eggs generally hatch between 12 and 14 days and the birds remain in it about 2 weeks post the hatching.  Both the mother and father co-parent the safety of the nest. The nest is not left unattended for more than 10-12 minutes and then the mother is perched only a short distance away easily able to return should the nest need protection.   Any approach to the nest creates a loud warning screech to “go away.”  The mother, after the hatching, is quiet tending to the eggs seeking to avoid drawing any attention to the location of her nest.   Our Facebook page under At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn catalogs in photo’s for readers of this blog wanting more information. Baby Bird and nest photos are there.  More in depth information is available also at Washington’s Nature Mapping Program.

It’s been an adventure to watch this for the second year in a row.  Just yesterday morning we arrived at work and the moment we went up the back steps to enter the kitchen, the complete quiet assailed us and we knew the kids had gone.  We’ll miss them and all the interest they generated by guests and staff alike.  Babies bring out gentleness.  No matter what kind of babies they are and no one would question that the world could benefit from more of that.   It has been a fun adventure genuinely. Now, as you might imagine, the back deck, “ahem” needs a bit of very serious attention so I have to wrap this blog up.  Happy Birding and to my little robin friends I bid thee, “Live long and prosper.”

Iris Flower meaning and bed design 17 May 2016, 11:59 am

I have been a gardener a long time.  Spending time with my Nana was something I always looked forward to.  Anything she was interested in from her stories of the “olden days” to her love of flowers enthralled me.  Nana was a native Virginian and she often talked about irises and how much she loved them.

Fast forward to my time at our inn.  Recently, I was having a challenging day and my ex-innkeeper friend Cathy invited me to her home for a cup of tea. Generally, we meet at a local coffee house but the view from her home on the mountain is so charming she thought a day in the clouds might lift my spirits. She was right.  She lives on a mountain and my poor car, (circa 1992) stalwartly met the challenge of going “up the mountain” to her home.    I exited my vehicle making my path to her front door when I encountered the selectively placed, thoroughly beautiful Irises she’d planted near her front door.  Iris means “rainbow” and the height, intense hues and subtle shading of these ever so pretty flowers held me spellbound.   I fell in love immediately. Graceful, lithe and in astounding multi hued, vibrant color they invited any and everyone to observe their beauty and I did, all over her yard.  From the Medici Prince Bearded Iris to the Penny Lane variety to the lovely Louisiana~Cathy’s yard was awash in Iris. I will never again see this flower without returning in my mind’s eye to her beautiful gardens so lovingly tended and the painter’s touch with which she chose her color palette.

When planting irises, it is recommended that they are not planted in groups.  They have good height and can be arranged in groupings either by themselves in a monochromatic color scheme or complimentary color scheme. They are also beautifully showcased  as accents to other lower lying plants. They must be planted in sun to flower but they have minimal water requirements and a drift rose, limonium, alstromeria and japanese bloodgrass or other perennial grasses make famous companions.

Though I already had some of these lovlies planted in my driveway, her innovative, astoundingly beautiful selection and use of these powerhouse plants has inspired me to create something that will prove as special to my guests as Cathy’s garden was to me.  A garden truly is something of remembrance!

 

 

Montford Music and Arts Festival 2016 9 May 2016, 3:46 pm

Every May all of us fortunate enough to live in Asheville (any many visitors)  look forward to enjoying and participating in a great day of awesome music and local arts while enjoying a beautiful springtime day in our Montford Historic District.

We are bed and breakfast inn owners in Montford and have had the opportunity to introduce our neighborhood and all the real musical talent and artistry displayed at this festival to guests staying at our inn.  For a small Western North Carolina neighborhood, the stage rocks for hours with mountain music, folk ballads and” Party like it’s 1999″ style music for hours. Every imaginable kind of art will be available for purchase ~ locally made pottery, jewelry, textiles, swings and more.

Hungry?  Not one single problem!  Food trucks selling food way better than anyone could possibly expect from a food truck.   Asheville has gained considerable notoriety in recent years for awesome cuisine and our food trucks have risen to the challenge offering absolutely one of the best lunches or dinners you’ll find anywhere in a restaurant or out of one.

In 2016, the festival will be held on Saturday May 21 10 a.m.-7:00 p.m. occupying the streets from W. Chestnut to Waneta.  The opportunity to enjoy great, varied music, dance, dance, dance, view and purchase unique, high end art and jewelry all while enjoying the varied and gorgeous architecture of days gone by does not present itself every day.  Come on out and support our musicians and local artists, dance it out and have a great Montford day.

Accommodation Best Deals for Travelers 26 Apr 2016, 9:42 am

Vacation time is premium time.  A time looked forward to all year long much like a drink of water when thirst has turned the back of your throat into something reminiscent of the Sahara.  Your body needs it, your mind needs it more.  Every creative or energetic juice has left your body and a re-charge is in order.

With so much at stake, one might think that a great deal of investigation would go in to this decision. A thorough investigation, if performed, would render all kinds of meaningful data upon which a traveler would be fully armed, informed and ready to use every tool at their disposal to come up with a great result.  An accommodation that is perfect for your needs at the best price available.

We’ve owned At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn for 17 years now.  We have carefully cultivated room amenities, extra special elements of comfort throughout our home all designed to offer the very best in creature comforts from our careful selection of the sheets and duvets, to our hand painted in room water bottles and video library.  Every single element of environmental contact with our guests are planned to create their very best and most comfortable stay.  As a result of this, we have a loyal following of inn guests and we, like most small properties, have developed a loyalty program for previous guests hoping to influence their decision to return to Asheville and our inn.

A small property, regardless of its quality, it’s ever present desire and dedicated effort to render the best guest experience possible will never hatch another 300 rooms.  Most innkeepers are not looking to house that many guests.  They concentrate on what they do best; creating intimate, personal, quality environs with top quality amenities and great customer service.  They consistently seek to help create a guest experience that will be remembered by guests as one of their best vacations ever.

Enter the OTA. For those not working in hospitality, these are companies that warehouse rooms outside the owner’s contact range.    Booking.com, Hotels.com, Priceline, Orbitz and a host of others.   They promise ease to the customer, in that once you’ve bought a room on these sites, all info is retained delivering a “one stop shopping experience.” One click and you’re done.  They also promise the best pricing for travelers but that is not the whole story.  These companies pay for their advertising, websites, representatives etc. by the fees they charge the lodging properties they represent.

This becomes a bit easier to understand if I tell you about yourself.  We’ll call you Joe. This is how your week went:

Ok, Joe, about your job at the company.  I know that last week we paid you X. This week, regretfully, we want to get you out there in front of a lot of people, we want people that will never see all your efforts at this company to know about them.  We know your work is solid, it’s awesome.   You clearly care and your work a this job shows that.  We get that Joe!  We do, but this advertising and all the folks necessary to get this information out is gonna cost us big Joe.  Really big!  Darn it Joe, we so hate to do this~ but someone has to shoulder the burden of getting the word out Joe.  It’s business man.  So, last week, you got X and this week, well that’s down to X MINUS 15%.  Now, Joe is, as stated above, a caring, excellent and dedicated worker working to create excellence.  He truly is rendering the best he knows how in his job….But even good old Joe will be dismayed at this deal.

I encourage you to give Joe a chance.  Bed and Breakfasts are small accommodations.  They do not have 300 or more rooms against which to balance loss.  Further, in choosing lodging with a bit more personal flair, perhaps you might enjoy a conversation with your host.  They live where you are visiting, they’ll know just the perfect room to offer you for your stated needs, they want to offer you an incredible experience~ not just accommodations and they are worth it. They are no anonymous.  Further, if asked, they’ll also offer you the best price.  Try it out and you’ll see I’m right.

 

5 Things to do this Spring In Asheville 13 Apr 2016, 6:22 am

The notoriety of Asheville in fall is widely discussed. The “leaf peeper” phenom is legend.  Perhaps a  bit lessor known but majestically lovely in its own right is Spring.  After a long winter’s sleep, the earth begins to warm.  Green begins to pop out everywhere and having been remanded to the indoors to avoid the cold, the explosion of people to the out of doors is palpable.  There are so many awesome things to do in Asheville as spring wraps her arms around our area but here are 5 things to start your Springtime sojourn.

Spring Picnic in Asheville!

  1. Blue Ridge Parkway:  The parkway’s 469 miles will take drivers from Cherokee, NC to Shenandoah National Park in Va.  This drive provides opportunities for both hiking and also scenic views.  Please remember the parkway has reduced speed throughout and is not the quickest way to get anywhere.  So, relax and take time to smell the flowers.
  2. North Carolina Arboretum:  South of Asheville, you will find the best place to spot and become familiar with every kind of native species plant in the state of North Carolina. Many of these are identified and though you likely won’t explore all 434 acres, this stop promises the very best of Spring and is ideal for those who would love to see nature in a more controlled, secure environment.
  3. Botanical Gardens:  Within easy walking distance of our inn, these lovely gardens invite our visitors to enjoy easy walking paths, a small gift shop, opportunities for bird watching and is largely wheelchair accessible.  Native species like trillium and Crested Dwarf Iris are in full flourish in April and May.
  4. Carl Sandburg Home: One of my favorite places to visit in the Spring is in nearby Flat Rock. Standing high on a scenic hill, his beloved home Connemara, reflects Carl Sandburg’s legacy.  From information on his Pulitzer prize winning book on Lincoln: Abraham Lincoln: The War Years (1939) to his acute and perceptive analysis of all that sought the definition of the American people, this journalist/poet of the people became their voice.
  5. Montford Historic District: Most of the homes built in Montford occurred between 1890-1920.  Reflected in the architecture, the ancient tree lined streets and the historic Riverside Cemetery is the story of a period of exponential growth in our area as a few very influential and well funded individuals began to architecturally define what is now a period piece of the turn of the 20th century. Proximal to city center, it is not only the home to our inn but the among the most vibrant and well loved areas in Asheville.

Spring Flowers in Season Asheville North Carolina 19 Mar 2016, 5:55 am

Our home of 17 years is awash in blooms.  The garden At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn is always a joy to me but never more than in Spring.

Pineapple Sage and Sweet Potato accompaniment!

Fully emerged from the soil are daffodils, hyacinths, snow drops and the tulips leaves are up, blooms are present but we get to anticipate their opening a bit later in the season.  Hellebores, Grape Muscari, narcissus,and winter camilia are gracing the landscape, as the soil once so cold from winter dregs begins to warm.  The cycle of life is begins its show for us to observe once again.

In the last few days driving around the city it’s easy to be enchanted.  The redbuds, (not really red but rather varying shades of pink or purple contingent upon species) have opened their tiny, yet very profuse pea like blooms and are gorgeous.  They are everywhere and a lovely harbinger of Spring.

The Bradford pear that used to live at the inn succumbed to the perils of one of 2016’s snows of December and we bid farewill to it with a tree tribute in the purchase of a Ginkgo Biloba. The Bradford Pear tree provided one of my most happy early Asheville memories.  Their tiny, too numerous to count fluffy and soft white blossoms are stunningly beautiful.  A short bit of time after blooming, some windy day will generally appear and with it the very magical dancing of these blossoms floating through the air in such profusion as to resemble snow is bound to delight anyone seeing it.  The sight makes you want to run through the garden dancing with these tiny blossoms.  It’s just that beautiful.

 

 

Daylight Saving Time 2016- 5 Incentives 11 Mar 2016, 9:26 am

Whether it is a boost to your consciousness or a bane to your existence, Daylight Saving Time 2016 officially commences on Sunday March 13 at 2:00 a.m.  At the inn, we always set the clocks ahead one hour in the early evening and apprise our guests we’ve already taken care of it.  This ensures that our glorious breakfast served at 9:00 a.m. is not made in vain.  Also, clocks, particularly those you are not familiar with, are a bit tricky and before we adopted this policy of doing it ourselves we got all kinds of interesting breakfast arrivals.

I love Daylight Saving time because rather than getting up at dark o’clock to feed our guesties, I can feel  a bit more civilized with daylight hinting on the horizon.  So, before I burn any more daylight- I will give you my five, very personal tributes to appreciate this time policy.

  1.  Those of us who operate on “time centric” terms can feel superior to those who will inevitably forget all about doing this and will hence be late for everything they do that day.
  2. Those of us whose eyes may not be as functional in the dark as they were in our youth (just sayin) will be blessed with one hour more to do errands and still get home before dark.
  3. All those yard tasks that you ran out of daylight to accomplish can be tidied up nicely in a few weeks of using that hour more of blessed sunlight.
  4. Exercising,  which can sometimes be delayed in the first bleary hours after your eyes flap open, can appear a less daunting task in the evening.
  5. For those really feeling much, much more cheerful when there is a more sunshine in their day, shake away those winter, bleary, bleak days because sunshine is here and hearkening clearly in the not too distant future is Spring and the cycle of life it begets each year.

A Bad Moon Rising 1 Mar 2016, 2:03 pm

This story begins innocently enough with a movie attendance in downtown Asheville.  We exited the theater into a darkening and cold early evening approaching our car when a man approached us for money.  This is not an uncommon occurrence in our downtown.  It is not against the law provided the query is made only once and no aggression or unwanted persistence is present.  Such was definitely the case with this man.  I raised my eyes to his query silently noting his dark brown jacket, his speech, his general affect and his very slender physicality.  I thought to offer him work in return for honoring his money request any maybe getting him ahead a bit,  but it was nearing dark and the work we needed doing at the inn was in our garden.

I truly wanted to help this man but my work as a nurse of many years gave me every reason to believe that while he was, as stated, hungry, any funds I provided to him would not be dedicated toward food purchase.  While I did want to help him, I did not wish to be any part of him securing substances that would not abate his physical hunger, could prove deadly or further disable his chances of a better life.  I talked to him directly, said that I did not want him to be hungry and I would return with food for him.

Honoring my word, we went to a local restaurant, got the food and returned back to the spot outside the theater holding my container, flatware and napkin.  I did not see him.  My husband and my sister were with me.  As we circled the  block, all of us were looking for him.  A promise is a promise.

Many of us have done the same.  Asheville is known for its humanity to those folks in our society that struggle with mental health issues, hunger, addiction issues.  Each winter, vans of volunteers scour our streets on bitterly cold nights trying to locate those still out in the elements offering transportation to local shelters.  I’d read about one of these volunteer vans who’d encountered a man who’d promised he’d allow himself to be transported to a local shelter if they would just drop him by a convenience store first.  They did as he requested and while they waited in the van for him so happy to have made certain one less person would freeze under a bridge in Asheville, he left through a back door exit denying the help they so wanted to offer him.    The real of it, as experienced by these kind souls out driving through our streets seeking to offer real help on an evening they could have spent warm at home, is that this problem of homelessness, hunger, disenfranchisement  and all the associated ills is complex and not easily dealt with.

There are no easy answers, there is no one answer.  Should I have given the money, would he have eaten with it or done further damage to himself?  Is that that mine to discern like some mighty judge in the world? All these questions and many others swirled through my head as I drove around the block in the dark holding the food parcel searching for the man I knew had withdrawn into the darkness.

Mexican Cuisine As Only Asheville Can 14 Feb 2016, 8:37 am

When part of your job is finding the very best cuisine available in your area doing all you can to provide great guest experience, staying on top of the dining scene is an imperative.

Gary and I have owned our Asheville inn for 17 years.  As readers of this blog know, Mr. Man took out his leg this past October so fearing to have him out much we have been a bit “out of the dining loop lately.”  After his P.T. this past Monday, one of the girls mentioned a new Mexican offering right down the street.  We made a beeline for Chupacabra Latin Cafe in Reynolds Village as we are always up for Mexican.  We were met at the door by the fair Emily, front of the house manager kind enough to open the door for hop-a-long and introduce us to the menu options.

The interior is clean, bright, great light and light wooden tables.  Tables and booths are available so you can take your pick.  The menu is neatly printed on a chalk board immediately above the cooking area where Dave and Patrick “make the magic.”  Insight fully, they also have printed menus for those not visually enhanced…just sayin!

Frankly, the board offered a plethora of such awesome selections that choosing just one created a brief quandary. We live here so clearly, Latin lovers that we are, we were already planning Act Deux.   Gary, always up for the meat solution moved, quickly to The Chupacabra.  This burrito creation was very generous in size and chock full of coconut and lime leaf braised pork, beans, rice, fried onion and much, much more.  This was served with homemade chips and salsa and was as yummy as it was filling.  Many times as Gary munched through this feast he was found muttering, “Man, this is so flavorful.”

I gravitated toward this lovely quesadilla named Chloe 8.  Quesadillas are grilled to perfection offering up the most perfect bit of crunch before landing on the perfectly seasoned black beans, blistered corn, cheese and assorted veggies.  It was all I was hoping for and more.

Dining experiences are judged not only by food quality.  Dining is a social event as well so environs and greeting loom large in the overall experience of the patrons.  Chupacabra Latin Cafe has nailed both.  The food is delicious, fresh, affordable and the welcome is authentic and relaxed.  A true score for Asheville and for all lovers of the distinctive flavors of Latin cuisine skillfully and delectably rendered those who clearly know how.

 

Dear Paunxsutawney Phil-Please no shadow! 1 Feb 2016, 6:06 am

Montford Historic Home

As I pen this blog here at the inn, I can still see the remnants of the snow storm that began in earnest on Friday January 22, 2016 and dumped more snow in this area than I’ve seen since our arrival in 1999. When we first claimed Asheville as our home, all the locals were still talking about the “big snow” of 1993. It brutalized this area with such ferocity that there is little doubt that all appliances powered by gas won the day for a long time due to the power outages this snow event left in it’s wake. This storm broke those records.

Love it or hate it, and generally I fall in to the former category of this equation, snow is beautiful!! It descends with a delicate shimmering grace creating new landscapes out of the familiar ones you see every day. As it falls enfolding everything it touches in soft gossamer wings, a sense of magic, possibility for fun and prospects of a unique day filled with exciting possibilities reveal themselves.

That said, when your husband is on crutches, you are now solo, running a small accommodation operation in a Victorian home constructed in 1902 and praying that your limited number of employees will even be able to get in to work- It can be daunting. All that lovely, glistening snow can begin to create more than a few obstacles for your guests being able to really enjoy their visit.

We have lovely off street parking at the inn….Well, that’s when you could still see the driveway. We have old, established boxwood bushes that line that driveway and some graceful trees on it’s other side whose graceful limbs greet guests as they curve around the driveway to our property. To say those limbs were “hanging low” every few hours would be accurate. No worries, Candace, my long time, trusty employee quickly arriving ahead of the snow, my sister (this is when she is wishing she was an “only child”) and myself began each morning right after we served breakfast with the beat the bushes project. This went on every few hours along with the care, maintenance and salting of the front marble steps & the front and the back porches.

To add insult to injury, one of our water heaters decided the biggest snow of the year was a grand time to retire. Calling the repair man necessitates that said repair man is able to reach the site of the repair. As a native New Yorker, I always wondered why Asheville panics at 4″ of snow. It’s the topography of this area! On steep inclines and descents, even 4″ can prove a very challenging affair. Ask the water heater guys and all the many businesses that were brave enough to remain open though staffed only with skeleton crews that were able to walk to work. All public transport was shut down and the roads unpassable as we reached the 16″ mark.

We spent many hours of that weekend on hands and knees manually re-lighting that heater so that our guests could continue to enjoy our handy, dandy jetted tubs and also issuing more than a few prayers it would, Oh Please God re-light. Best not to dwell on the shock of jetted frigid waters in the guest rooms if it didn’t.

Now, on to the last and most important part of this missive, my guests. I was blessed to have the most wonderful, most understanding, most collaborative guests in our home that weekend much more entranced with the wondrous magic of the silver, shining carpet of enticingly beautiful snow than any inconvenience it might present. They were the superstars of guests and I pronounced them each an every one “folks I’d most like to be stranded with in the next snow storm.” My thanks for their graciousness and kindness.

Please though Phil, if you could, no shadow…..Just for this year.