Matthew Altbuch started learning the art of circus performance at the tender age of eight, quickly mastering the unicycle, juggling, and the trapeze. Throughout school, he performed in talent shows, ultimately going on to spend time with the Florida State Flying High Circus after college. Eventually, he realized his passion lay in sharing the circus arts with others, so he founded Aerial Trapeze Academy to carry out his mission of training performers around the world. He now lives his dream, joined by three other teachers as he holds trapeze classes for the next generation of gravity-defiers.
Heralded by Cycle World, American Motorcyclist, and comedian Jay Leno, the Wheels Through Time Museum recently picked up even more exposure on an episode of History Channel's American Pickers. In "The Belly Dance," hosts Mike and Frank come to the museum in need—they've found a rare belly-tank racer, but unless they can get it to run, the find will have cost them more money than it's worth.
That's where museum founder and curator Dale Walksler, automotive enthusiast par excellence, comes in. In 1993, Walksler invited crowds and fellow bike buffs to join in the astonishing details of his obsession: more than 300 rare and historical classic motorcycles amid a collection of tens of thousands of related artifacts. Free from the ghosts of vengeful traffic cops, the double-decker garage resembles a fever-dream cycle showroom gleaming with vintage and contemporary models by Harley Davidson, Indian, and Excelsior, and one-of-a-kind machines that include the handsome Traub. The ahead-of-its-time machine was discovered bricked up inside a Chicago wall in 1967, built by a brilliant designer who apparently never built another bike before or after. Despite dating back to the 1910s, nearly all of the machines can still run—often zooming straight through the 40,000-square-foot museum floor¬—and lecture passersby on four-way intersection etiquette.
Since 1981, third-generation sky engineer R. Addison M. Brown has hoisted panorama-junkies into the heavens by harnessing the power of hot, blustery air. Prospective serenity-seekers meet just before dawn and usually lift off a few miles north of downtown Asheville, weather permitting, in time to watch the sun rise over the Blue Ridge Mountains. Rising up to 2,000 feet above the surrounding forests, passengers might even be treated to an intimate and peaceful view of the city as Captain Addison points out local landmarks, such as the historic Biltmore Estate and the mysterious Mothra-shaped crater. Group size is limited to four riders, or three riders and an overweight scarecrow. After your descent back to Earth, riders will return to R.O. Frank's headquarters in the historic Grove Arcade at the center of the Asheville, in time for breakfast at one of the many downtown eateries within walking distance. Bring a warm hat and coat, and be sure to book as early in advance as possible, especially for next autumn's fall leaf season rides.
The clopping of hooves echoes across Winding Creek Stables’ wide-open pastures and jumping arena, where a staff of ex-competitive equestrians takes a comprehensive approach to riding instruction. In private and group lessons, instructors share their wisdom about handling and technique while impressing upon students the importance of respecting their steeds. Adults and children alike can pick between the hunt-seat riding style popular at horse shows and the western style, which includes instructions for chasing down robber barons and lassoing feral cacti. Students learn to groom and care for their horses before and after the lesson—a gesture of respect to the animals and a key takeaway should novices desire to advance to competitive riding. Before riding off into the sunset, check out the stable’s other horse-related services, which include pony parties and pony rides.
Since 1976, area merchants and knowledgeable experts from around the country have gathered to swap ideas, inspiration, and advice at the Western North Carolina Home Show. Throughout the Asheville Civic Center, hundreds of local businesses and experts set up booths where they explain the nuts and bolts of their industry, whether landscaping, interior decoration, window installation, or furniture crafting. Meanwhile, speakers present seminars on a wide variety of topics throughout the weekend-long extravaganza, from hyperpractical subjects, such as setting a budget, to more abstract topics, such as the definition and history of green building. Visitors to the show depart with rekindled enthusiasm for projects, as well as an arsenal of facts that give them an edge when vetting contractors or performing standup at interior-design conferences.
With a long-standing commitment to women, children, minorities, and social-justice issues and a presence in Asheville since 1906, the YWCA is more than just a workout facility. Its history is peppered with groundbreaking programs to bolster race relations, achieve women's empowerment through business ventures, and promote children's health by providing access to physical activity, urging them to hula-hoop with donuts instead of eating them. Staff members further the organization's vision with dedication to school-age programs for health and fitness efforts and initiatives to help unemployed community members locate jobs in the area.