Well, I survived the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina... and I'm officially a quarter century old. Thanks for all of the birthday wishes while I was away. They certainly put a big dorky smile on my face last night as I attempted to catch up with Twitter, Facebook, 20SB, and my reader. You kids have been busy!
My viral cold lingered on throughout the entire vacation, and like my ever-enchanting mullet, is still with me today. Luckily (?) the virus is just in my lungs, so other than a sexy phlegmy cough and zero energy for anything other than sipping spiced hot apple cider and napping in front of the fireplace, I was/still am pretty much the picture of health.
Our cabin, Rhododendron Cabin, was seriously adorable. I took very few photos on the trip due to general laziness. These photos were borrowed from the rental company's Web site:
There was no hiking on my part--but Andrew, his parents, and their dog Smuckers, did take an excursion while I napped. Now, I don't want your sympathy. Don't misunderstand. I am very fond of napping. I don't mind being forced to nap in a cozy cabin in the mountains while everyone else is traipsing about in the 40-degree mucky muck.
I napped Friday away, and by Saturday I was ready to face the streets of Asheville. We visited a bunch of adorable shops and had lunch at Bistro 1896.
One shop in particular, Origami Ink, stole my heart. Packed with beautiful stationary and other treasures, I lusted for many items that my wallet couldn't afford. But none were as stunning as the artisan bird figures that were scattered around the store. Completely out of my souvenir price range, these birds will be something I will probably regret not splurging on for many years to come.
While exploring the town, I was constantly blown away by how friendly the locals were. I've heard of southern hospitality, and don't get me wrong, Pittsburghers are lovely people. But dang! I felt like hugging everyone I encountered. There was door holding, "excuse me's," "sorrys," "pardon me's," and genuinely warm conversation. Shopkeepers spoke to me like we were old friends, and guess what? They loved the Obama button. I felt truly at home.
Saturday evening, Andrew, his parents, and I went to the Biltmore for a candle light tour. If you're not familiar with the Biltmore, it is a mansion that boasts more than 250 rooms. Are you dying? Ready to die again? It was built by 25-year-old George Washington Vanderbilt--completed in 1895. Truly incredible. (Again, photos borrowed from the Biltmore's web site.)
The house was all done up for Christmas--complete with a choir of carolers. Roaring fireplaces in almost every room and countless Christmas trees gave the largest home in the United States a romantic glow.
The house never ceased to amaze me--it even has its own bowling alley, indoor swimming pool, and "state of the art" gymnasium. (Of course, "state of the art" fitness equipment in 1895 consisted of medicine balls, parallel bars, dumbbells, and very little else.)
We planned to go back the following day to tour the grounds and winery, but the weather and my lingering illness caused a change of plans. Instead, Andrew's parents explored neighboring communities while Andrew and I had brunch and hunted for antique treasures. In the end, my eggs were inedible and it turns out antiques bore me. Oh, well.
With many more hours of daylight to burn, Andrew and I set out for an adventure to Black Mountain--a town a few exits from Asheville. We arrived to find Black Mountain is pretty much closed for business on Sundays. We peeked in one more antique shop before deciding to return to the cabin to watch the Steelers game in front of the fire. With one speeding ticket under Andrew's belt, we made it to the cabin $150 poorer.
An afternoon of football watching, book reading, and fireplace napping, led to an evening of Yahtzee, chocolate eating, and more cider drinking.
All in all, I have to give my Thanksgiving/Birthday weekend getaway two thumbs up. A big thanks to Susan and Jack for inviting me to be part of their mountain escape.
I hope you all had a restful weekend.