#7- SO LUCKY

Gina and I finally were able to piece together our first trip away together this year with a weekend in Asheville. Though we quickly planned this a week prior, we had a set plan in place that would make it seem like a whirlwind of activity in a small window of time (Friday-Sunday morning), but it winds up being just the relaxing getaway we needed (and helped that we sandwiched it with a Sunday-Monday staycation). This was planned to be our tie in to our 7th wedding anniversary and we aimed to simply celebrate together and how we do it best – on a road trip!

Though we attempted to get in a very early bike ride on Friday morning before leaving, we did so but in a misty-drizzle rain that was unexpected. We were tough on getting that done, but it took a while for us to at least regroup and prep to be on the road by 9am. The rain cleared and left us with overcast the rest of the day, but the temperature stayed warm – 70-85 degrees the entire weekend! Amazing weather even for Asheville. Before we got to the city, we made a stop to visit Sierra Nevada Brewery. A scenic tourist attraction for us, but for locals, seems to be a hot spot for lunch and early dinner with of course – beer. Now we both aren’t beer drinkers (heck I can only drink the low alcohol root beers and ciders, etc.) but that didn’t stop us for at least trying a few. Since we hadn’t even eaten yet, we opted to have brunch there. WOW. We polished off a burger, duck fat fries, and soba noodle salad with each of us getting the 4 sampler 2 oz. glasses. Never did that one before! Awesome though. By the time we left around 12:30, the place was packed. We came away with a few big beer glasses and 2 beers we liked as souvenirs.

We tried to check into the hotel early but had to wait until 3, so we decided to tour downtown Asheville earlier. We found what would be our $5 parking lot, walked a ton to get our bearings, and picked out a few possible dinner options for the evening. Its similar to “uptown” Charlotte, but with smaller roads and more of that artsy, locally owned business feel like Portland, Oregon and Austin. You can encounter the wealthy, poor, college aged, and vagabond folks all meshing together in around a few square miles. We got back to the hotel where we basically just relaxed a few hours before getting ready for dinner. Since we hadn’t eaten since noon, we made our way early to Carmel’s which was in the Grove Arcade section of downtown. We had an awesome meal and when the waitress said tonight was $5 sangrias – boom, forget it we knew it was gonna be a “good night”. We polished off 2 of those EACH and by 7:30 the whole area bustles with weekend nightlife activities. We shopped a bit and watched a drum-off in the local park. Once we got back it didn’t take long for us to be lights out tired and in bed by 9pm.

Oh and what a sleep we had. Since daylight comes up around 7:30, we did indeed “sleep in”. We ventured for a nice 2.5 mile walk and Gina got to feel what its like to exercise at altitude. That sure woke us up and refreshed as we hit Cracker Barrel next door before making our way to Biltmore for most of the day. It was only a 10 minute drive to the estate and we couldn’t believe how tucked away it was from the main road. Talk about secluded. We loved the quietness of the lush trees and gardens. We got to the ticket house and purchased the day passes (crowded doesn’t begin to explain it but not overly where it was annoying). We even got 2 free wine tasting tickets! We parked nearby and walked to the main estate and WHOA. It immediately transports you 100 years when this thing was around and to imagine the scale of it relative to today? Historical. Amazing. Vanderbilt was no joke. The walking tour of the house is almost single file and takes you in a nice line throughout the house – and basement where the guy even built a swimming pool, bowling alley, and gym! Also if you even seem Downton Abbey you’d get the feel too of the servant quarters. To think of all the manual labor that operated this place. Unreal. Loved it.

Now it was 2 hours of touring this place and Gina really, no REALLY wanted to get to the winery. Everything was on this property so we drove 2 miles to it and realized how much of an extra benefit it was to stay at the hotel located on the estate property ($$$ but worth it). You could bike ride, picnic, horseback, and walk around the other half of the entire estate. It was so warm too that it felt like summer soaking up the sun. We checked out the history of the winery in the underground tunnels and then made our way to the main floors. We were able to sample way more than the allotted 5 samples but who was counting right?  We jotted down our bests and went shopping. Came away with a score of bottles and even some spice mix for when it actually gets cold. We made our way back to the hotel to reboot, quick snack, and then shower up for 5 pm Mass at St. Lawrence Basilica which was right next to the Grove Arcade in town. A beautiful church indeed. Right from its stained glass windows to its creaky old pews, it was a blessed time to be able to finish off our trip here. We bought some rosaries and walked over to the local Thai place for dinner. Thai food was where we ate on our first date, so was fitting to try and recap the memories with some dinner here. We lucked out on getting there early because it was slow service and when we left the late arriving crowd was probably gonna realize that. We walked around again since it was another warm, gorgeous night and simply took our time people watching. We got a small chocolate pie for dessert and packed up for an early departure Sunday morning.

We should have probably had some wine with that pie cause we slept okay that evening. We woke up to a dense fog and opted to do our walk in the hotel gym. We were all set and ready for home by 9am and the fog lifted enough for us to trust being able to see on the highway. Smooth sailing it was as we were home and in the door by 11:30am. Another warm sunny day awaited us, so I made Gina breakfast and we ate brunch out on the patio. We simply took our time unpacking and just chill as we only had dinner reservations at Dogwood’s Southern Table on the menu. Talk about a perfect dinner evening – it was a slow night, no crowd, easy getting there and park, and Chris and his crew gave us the 5 Star Service man. When Gina can clean here plate, it’s good. And we always finish the plates. And wine. Even dessert. And to think we still had 1 more day to celebrate – our actual wedding day to come next!!!! Salute!

I woke up at 4:30am to walk our cat Holmes and when I got back into bed at 5, Gina told me it was raining. Sure enough it started to pour. Totally unexpected. It continued to pour into the morning where I did some training indoors while Gina did some of her workout. We both intended to split the morning to get things done (like our wedding day) and after a quick breakfast we didn’t meet back up again until 1:30. We finished off our to-do’s and then took a nice 3.5 mile walk in a cool but now sunny day. Then we lounged around before doing what we did for dinner on our wedding night – leftovers. A mix of all we had for dinner out and then some and of course – a bottle of moscato. Awesome. We opened some gifts and then toasted to us an amazing 4 days together finally. Truthfully married my best friend and loving every minute of it. This #7 sure turned out to be a good lucky one. Amen.

These are links to my tweets about our weekend w/pictures:

https://twitter.com/teammc1/status/919190208125505536

https://twitter.com/teammc1/status/919328957278941184

https://twitter.com/teammc1/status/919723809636306944

https://twitter.com/teammc1/status/919925724282277888

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