Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fall Trip 2011

As many of you know, Eric and I take an annual "leaves" trip to enjoy the fall foliage and take a mid-semester sanity break. Fall is my favorite season, and it's always so nice to enjoy the fresh cool air and get away for a weekend. I don't normally write about trips that we are taking in advance (at least not with a date attached) because there are wayyyy too many creepers out there for my liking. So you get to enjoy the fall foliage now, a few weeks after it has departed us for barren winter trees and snowfall. Eh, or for us in Florida, palm trees and ideal not-too-hot beach weather. Which just as heavenly as it sounds.

This year we headed to Asheville, NC again...one of our favorite fall spots.  Our flight was delayed by about 2 hours getting there, but no worries...we entertained ourselves with seasonal beer and bloody marys at the bar and played Scrabble on Eric's phone. Far more entertaining than you might imagine. 

We arrived to a wonderfully crisp afternoon in Asheville, hopped in our rental car (for Blue Ridge Parkway cruising, duh) and headed to our hotel to check in. The Marriott Rennaissance was nice, warm, and in a really convenient location - downtown was in walking distance, so if you like to bar hop the breweries, I'd recommend it.

Next stop: Coffee and a snack downtown. We walked over to The Green Sage Cafe downtown and had a fantastic cup  of coffee and bowls of Blue Hubbard and Molasses Soup. I know, I know. The soup was delicious...so delicious that by the time I thought about pulling out my camera, this was all that was left.

As we finished our coffee, the chef sat down at a table next to us and placed his daily fresh produce order for the next day. Heaven I tell you. Fresh, organic ingredients are the standard in Asheville, and you can tell! The food is fantastic. It was just as much of a foodie trip as it was a foliage trip. Typical.

We left not completely full (saving room for an awesome dinner later) but then....we passed by The Gourmet Chip Company with the sign advertising "The Parisian" caught my eye on the sidewalk passing by.

People. You just don't even know. This company hand cuts their own potatoes, and they have this HUGE menu full of mix-ins that you can add for a custom potato chip creation. I was sold at the word "Parisian," but even more so when I saw goat cheese listed as an ingredient. Behold...the Parisian:

Hands down, the BEST chips I have ever put in my mouth. We strolled back to our hotel and then drove over to Biltmore Village, closer to the restaurant we had dinner reservations at for the night. We drove some of the Blue Ridge Parkway first...

but then the sun started to go down.  After some shopping, a quick trip into a nearby Target for gloves (Floridians have no need for these types of things at home), and a Starbucks holiday cup full of Thanksgiving Blend coffee later, we had dinner at The Corner Kitchen. I told ya'll this was a foodie trip.

It was the most precious restaurant ever...

You can read its history on their website if you're interested, but it is original to the Biltmore Village and the food was spectacular. I had a fried green tomato stack with tomato butter, goat cheese, and spaghetti squash for dinner, and it was hands down the best food we had of the entire trip. 

We had an early morning flying in, so we called it a night after that and headed back to our hotel to get a good night's sleep and rest up for a full day of hiking the next day.

We had a delicious breakfast downtown, complete with a dirty chai for me. For the non-coffee snobs, it's a chai latte with a shot of espresso added in. Delish.(Eric tried to hide when I pulled out my huge Nikon to take this shot at the coffee bar.)

Then we headed off to Chimney Rock to do some hiking.  We picked Chimney Rock just because it's an old favorite and we knew that there would be gorgeous foliage for sure at the lower elevation.  The hiking is a workout, but nothing so strenuous that you can't enjoy the views while you walk. Prepare for picture overload, because the foliage did not disappoint.

This picture was taken at the top of the rock below...and no judging. This was after 5+ hours of hiking and we looked like a hot mess.

That night we were exhausted from climbing all day, but we showered and headed to dinner at the famous Tupelo Honey Cafe. The food was delicious, don't get me wrong, but we went light due to the fact that both of us had unsettled stomachs from the amount of food we had already eaten that weekend! We are both pretty healthy, light eaters so our bodies didn't know what to do! Anyway, Tupelo Honey is good, but nothing spectacular...I don't think we would wait over an hour and a half to eat there again. Although the Biltmore reserve wine that we had was quite tasty!

Ironically as we were waiting for our table, Eric commented on a large law firm across the street (large for Asheville anyway) and wondered out loud what type of law they practiced. In short, the firm practices a variety of things including...Elder Law. Well, I get home, and my professor has introduced me via email to an attorney who practices at that firm. Small world huh? We'll see what comes out of that one.

Our flight didn't leave until late on Sunday so we had breakfast, strolled around downtown, and had a second coffee while we planned our Thanksgiving Day menu.  Then we drove some of the Blue Ridge Parkway and enjoyed more of the scenery.

We still had more time than anticipated, so we headed back into downtown for a late lunch at Lab Brewery. Seriously, the best Oktoberfest we have ever had poured on draft. It was the coolest restaurant - and the covered outdoor area was PERFECTION with the heat lamps on for an afternoon in the high 50's.

Eric also had the best sandwich ever..."Turkey Day Sandwich," which was basically Thanksgiving dinner between two slices of bread. It was incredible. My Portobello and Brie sandwich was tasty, but I sneaked quite a few bites of Eric's. 

And with bellies full, we made one last stop by the Mast General Store. And, I must tell you this story in hopes that it will inspire someone else to do a random act of kindness. I had a Life is Good t-shirt in my hand and was walking to the counter and this lady stopped me and asked if I was buying that here. And I said yes, and then started to tell her where I got it in the store thinking that she wanted one. And she goes no, no, but I have this coupon for an extra 30% off and it will do you more good than me because I'm not spending that much here today. Seriously, how nice was that? And then she just walked up to the counter and paid for her things, despite me thanking her 15 times. It just goes to show that it doesn't take much to make someone's day - and little did she know how much I lovvvve a coupon :)  Things like that restore my faith in mankind haha Maybe there is some good left in us all.

This one with the coffee mug on it to be exact...coffee DOES make life good, doesn't it?

Then Eric and I headed back to the airport. The flight out was gorgeous at sunset over the mountains. The entire trip was fantastic and I think gave a little reassurance to both of us. The week before we left after talking to several many attorneys and professors, we had made a somewhat firm decision for me to take the North Carolina bar exam instead of taking Florida's (or both). We know that the Carolinas are where we want to be, and neither of us are too keen on the idea of raising a family in the Tampa Bay area. We have enjoyed it here while we're young and it's just us, but when we have children, it's just not the lifestyle or type of community that we want for ourselves or for our family. But we still waiver, wonder, and fret from time to time, because it's a change. It's a big commitment to jump feet first into another state, albeit going "home".  All of that to say that a taste of a slower pace, a small town, a sense of community and friendly southerners for a weekend did wonders to reassure us that we weren't making a rash decision...that a smaller town (with seasons that actually change)is the place for us and our sooner-than-later coming little ones. We decided no more "just-for-nows" - we have had our taste of that in law school and jobs in the past. We have worked hard, saved lots, and sacrificed to be able to make this decision for our family. 

This will be a developing story in the year ahead for us - who knows where we will be this time next year. Perhaps still in Tampa! Perhaps some amazing opportunity will come along that will change our minds, I don't know. If it does, then we are open to whatever God has in store for the two of us and our family. Everything has worked out marvelously for us this far, and I'm reminded that instead of worrying, that should give me faith that the pieces will all fall into place exactly the way they are supposed to. We want to continue to be open-minded and really evaluate our options before we make a final decision. But for now, I must admit that we are both comforted and excited about moving back to a small town and a slower pace of life at some point in the near future. And a reminder that weekend of just how spectacular fall foliage is in the Carolinas just adds a little to the excitement!

I didn't mean for this to turn into a mini novel,but this blog is a journal of our lives as much as it is anything. And a year from now when I graduate and take the bar (somewhere), we'll all be able to look back and see the process from the very beginning. Might be what we expected, and it might not. Either way, we know it will be perfect for us...and that, loves, brings us peace :)

1 comment:

  1. Goodness, what a glorious trip. The foliage looks amazing & how I would love to stand out on the rock. Sounds like a fantastic time with some VERY good food. Glad you all got some relaxation!!!