… if you couldn’t tell, that last entry was typed up on my phone in the middle of the night. Not the best writing, in my opinion. So, I’m making it up to you with lots of pictures: 31,000 words worth. Enjoy!
We took a surprise trip up to Asheville last Thursday, which was then extended two days and one stopover in Atlanta. I’d been saying for weeks (months?) that we needed a little time off, but the timing was never right. Finally, we just had to take it. We both had to work a bit but it really didn’t bother me. After a long day of sightseeing and kid-wrangling, an hour or two of work was almost soothing!
Asheville was amazing! We haven’t really spent time there other than a lunch or dinner on the way to Maggie Valley, our usual mountain retreat. But a good friend had offered us the use of his cabin (read: posh mountain condo) so we took him up on it, of course :). Every day there was something fun to do. The kids had a ball. Here’s the rundown:
Friday: snow tubing.
At first, Eleanor was nervous and refused to go down, even in our laps. By the end though, she was going down all by herself and could even drag her tube up the hill and hustle right up the snow staircase! June of course jumped right in and also loved it. We need the night at Tupelo Honey in downtown Asheville, recommended by our old friend Marty from San Francisco who now lives in NC.
It was delicious, and Asheville’s downtown was surprisingly urban, a nice combination of culture and charm, small enough to feel consumable but large enough to be exciting. Jeff and I really enjoyed the atmosphere and decided to come back on…
Saturday: Asheville and Ice Skating.
We got breakfast at Over Easy, after spending the wait time at a cute chocolate place next door. I had this awesome breakfast bowl that included roasted beets, carrots and home fries with an egg on top, it was so good and quite original! After that, Jeff got a haircut and the kids and I walked to the park. Here’s Eleanor sitting on a sculpture of a turkey!
We stuck our heads in the art museum and a few cute shops too. Finally it was time to head up to the ski area of Sugar Mountain (south of Boone) and take the girls ice skating. We even took a surprise detour to Linville Caverns on the way. The kids were a little confused, “we’re going ice skating in a cave?” But both of them really got into it.
Eleanor has been asking for months to go ice skating, I think it’s a result of Frozen and our new (super slick) laminate floors that had given her the idea. So around 6 we found ourselves at an outdoor rink, at the top of a snow-covered mountain, with both girls wearing tiny skates and clinging to us like life depended on it. June caught on pretty quick, little daredevil, and could actually pull me around the rink as I was holding both her hands to keep her from falling. Eleanor was a bit more tentative, but by the end she was skating only holding one hand with Jeff and absolutely loving it. We had to drag the girls away! We grabbed a pizza there near the resort and a magician walked from table to table entertaining diners. Eleanor got to help with a trick and we heard about that for the rest of the drive back to the cabin!
Sunday: The Biltmore. (A real castle!)
Heard of Biltmore? It is literally the biggest house in America, over 100 years old and built with the Vanderbilt fortune. It’s like walking into Downton Abbey. We tried to psyche the girls up to going to see a castle, but basically figured they’d be bored and hoped for the best. To our surprise, Eleanor was totally engaged! June slept, to our relief. They gave us these virtual tour guide things — like a phone that you pushed a number into in each room, and it would play a recording describing the area. Eleanor and June each got one with a kid’s version on it, and it was SO cute watching Eleanor walk from room to room with that thing pressed up against her ear. She would carefully type in the number on each sign, listen to the message, and then report to us any interesting facts! We were so impressed with her studiousness, especially with such a grown-up topic (and for over an hour, too!) The house is pretty amazing, and they have a newer area built around the old farm and dairy buildings that houses a petting zoo (more like visiting a barn) a playground, and a winery. So Jeff and I took turns at wine tasting while the girls played and petted animals. The weather had warmed up quite a bit so it was really a lovely afternoon to be outside. And you can’t get much fancier than the Biltmore…it’s basically the definition of luxury! So we felt really pampered and posh :).
Monday: WNC Nature Center
Originally we’d planned to head home on Sunday, but because if Jeff’s meeting in Atlanta on Tuesday, we stayed an extra two nights. Monday we checked out of our fantastic cabin and headed out of town to Atlanta, but on the way out I insisted we hit WNC Nature Center, which is a small zoo themed around the North Carolina habitat. It’s a place where animals go to rehabilitate and repopulate, and they have a number of very rare species. This was such a nice trip! And the girls were so excited to see a real fox, since they are basically obsessed with What Does the Fox Say. The animals were all really active and unusual to see in a zoo — not exotic but definitely impressive. The wolves were so cool, they had three and they were so playful, and the mountain lions were huge! They paced around stalking us, it was kind of intimidating. WNC also had a cool playground and a petting zoo, and it was a nice small place so it was perfect for the girls to use up some energy before the drive to ATL.
We checked into the Artmore Hotel, which is exactly like it sounds — artsy, hip, and boutique. And affordable. This is the best deal downtown for sure. Jeff had a meeting with a friend to help prepare for tomorrow’s big meeting, so me and the girls had a pizza / pajama party and watched movies in the room. By this time the girls were on vacation cloud 9 with days of activities behind them, tons of attention from us, and the promise of the “best aquarium in the world” to come, which is what we’d planned for when Jeff had his big meeting on …
Tuesday: Georgia Aquarium and Home.
I love zoos and aquariums, so Monday and Tuesday were both sort of my plan, but of course the girls were so excited too. We’d had mixed results with Eleanor at aquariums in the past, so I was a bit nervous but she handled it like a pro and was so much braver than last time. This place is awesome and has some incredible tanks.
We saw a whole school of tuna, otters, Beluga whales, whale sharks, giant manta rays (really giant!! Like 12 feet across!) and watched a dolphin performance that darn near brought tears to my eyes. They have a lot of special kids areas, tubes they can crawl into to view aquariums from the inside out, play areas that are integrated into the exhibits, and touch tanks.
Quite a lot to do here in 3.5 hours! We could have stayed longer but I was coming down with a cold and watching the girls by myself in a public place is exhausting. Finally it was time to pick up Jeff and head home. It was a 6 hour drive back to St. Augustine but the girls did pretty well (well, El always does great in the car, June is the tough one. But she did ok.) we got home around 9 and were in bed around 10. Not bad!
Whew! So, a whirlwind, but definitely a fantastic and much needed getaway. I was so surprised by all the fun things that Asheville offered, and I also can’t wait to go back to Atlanta sometime as that town seemed like a lot of fun. Jeff’s meeting went really well so we may be heading back sooner than later.
We had the generous gift of our cabin in Asheville from our friends and neighbors Jim and Patty, which we are so thankful for. It was cozy and posh and perfect for our family! And Noah was generously taken care of by our friend, neighbor and coworker Tyler, who came over twice a day to play with our pup and feed and water him. So thank you to y’all, our trip would have been much tougher without you folks!
We had a lot of princesses up in here! Enjoy pictures at http://www.flickr.com/photos/thefriscokid/
Summer is wonderful. Just when I can’t take another day of heat, we get a nice break with a few days of stormy weather. And the girls get to go out puddle jumping!
What an eventful couple of weeks we’ve had! After being visited by the Easter Bunny last Sunday, Eleanor’s birthday (last Wednesday) was followed by a party on Saturday and Disney on Ice last night. It seems like we’ve been in a whirlwind of celebration. Eleanor and June were both thrilled by all the friends/treats/attention/princess toys. And Jeff and I are thrilled to have survived…haha, just kidding. But no, really. There are a lot of princess toys.
Enjoy the photos! http://www.flickr.com/photos/thefriscokid/sets/72157633193390005/
Eleanor’s party was graciously photographed by Miss Tasha Teague, who came all the way from Savannah to celebrate with us. It was so great to have her with us!
I’m really sorry that I haven’t been keeping up with the blog. Just trying to hang in there. Things are nuts. Nothing new to us really! I think that someone in our house has been sick every week since the new year … but right now every one of us is healthy (hallelujah!) and so here I am, posting photos of these beautiful girls who are growing so unbearably fast. Enjoy!
What a sweet couple! It’s Daddy-Daughter date night, Jeff is taking Eleanor to the ballet — it’s becoming an annual tradition. She’s been looking forward to it all year, I can’t wait to hear her tell me all about it!