We stayed at the Siena Hotel in Chapel Hill--a delightful experience! If you are ever in the area, please give it a try. Small, intimate, and luxurious, the Siena has the friendliest, most accommodating staff imaginable, and a restaurant of remarkable quality.
Il Palio, the restaurant, was a favorite with locals; despite having a large selection of wonderful restaurants, several people told us they tried to get to Il Palio at least once a week. The menu descriptions sounded scrumptious, looked beautiful, and were heaven in the mouth. They were big into buying organic and local (as were all of the restaurants where we ate in both Chapel Hill and Asheville).
They take their food seriously in both places, and we didn't have a single meal that didn't elicit surprise and delight and a number of "mmmmmmmm"s as we ate. The emphasis on locavore and organic didn't interfere with creativity, and I've never had such a series of delicious meals.
On Wednesday, we drove into the mountains and to Asheville. The higher we got into the mountains, the less colorful foliage as the mountain foliage had already past its peak, but the mountains were so lovely, with such wonderful vistas. We were on I-40 all the way because it was about a 4 hour drive, and so we didn't have a chance to take pictures of some of the gorgeous scenery.
When we got to Asheville, we had a late lunch and visited the Ariel Gallery so I could see Akira Blount's dolls in person. That was a highlight of the trip for me since I've loved her work for years now.
Then we drove on up to Mills River to visit Marc and Debbie and fell in love with their house and the wonderful views from every window. It was so nice to spend a little time catching up with each others' lives. Kids all grown and that sort of thing, old friends, etc.
Back to Asheville before it got completely dark so we could check into our hotel. When we woke up Thursday morning, it felt like it had turned into winter overnight. We woke up to the day's high of 54 and the temps went down from that point. They were expecting the temps to drop into the mid-twenties that night. And the wind! It was really cold and overcast, but we walked around and visited some interesting shops before we had to head back.
We left Asheville and traveled back to Chapel Hill. I really regret not getting good pictures of the foliage. We didn't get any pictures of the glorious reds and oranges that were in the Chapel Hill and Durham area--such a shame because they were so spectacular. We enjoyed the trip so much that maybe we will get back again next year and make up for the pictures that didn't get taken.