Wednesday, October 23, 2013

mountain journey

keith and i adore the north carolina mountains. and what is not to love? they are beautiful, scenic, and iconic. there is more to do in our mountains than we'd could ever fathom accomplishing. there is hiking, skiing, rafting, sight seeing, tourist spots, great local restaurants, old mansions, breweries! the list is endless.
we traveled to asheville almost 2 weeks ago for keith's professional association conference [NCPTA]. our first trip to asheville wasn't quite the love affair that we expected nor the one that everyone else has with asheville. it was not on our short list of places to return to. but since we were given this opportunity to return, we thought "why not?". we decided to give asheville a fresh start. and we are so glad we did! we had a wonderfully wild weekend.

we arrived late thursday night and we were starving [and thirsty]. we quickly checked into our B&B, asheville seasons. which i highly recommend. they were fabulous! they were accommodating, personable, and the food was delish! they catered to our needs and always made sure we had everything we needed. we will definitely stay there again. anyway, back to our late night meal. we headed to downtown asheville, after a few recommendations from the innkeeper and looking at the local guides, we decided on lexington ave brewery. what a great choice! the menu was a typical bar menu, but it was very good and mostly local products [which i love]. we got a flight of beers so we could sample all the beers they had to offer [you know, since it was new to us]. another good choice. they had a pumpkin porter on tap - OH.MI.GOSH.
after our bellies were full, we headed to the B&B to get some much needed rest. we had just completed a very long day of travel. we essentially drove coast to coast [greenville to asheville - whew].

friday morning keith had to scurry off to his conference. i slept in a little and then enjoyed my delicious breakfast at the B&B [alone, sad]. keith only had to participate in his conference until 12pm, so while i waited for him, i got in a workout and sat outside to read [and soaked in the beautiful mountain sunshine].

this is when the weekend gets AWESOME. one of my old college roommates and friends lives in asheville [britt]. so we made plans to get lunch with her. her day was free, so she was an awesome hostess and showed us around her town that she loves so.
we ate lunch at white duck taco. it was amazing. it is just a simple taco shop where you go in and order what tacos you want and they bring it out to you. and since it was such a beautiful day, we sat outside to enjoy our meal.
britt then drove us over to west asheville. as she described it, it is very hip. it felt like a whole different town. it still had that asheville feel of being laid back, but it was more suburban. we stopped in at altamount brewing for a beer. they only brew about 4-5 of there own beers, but had 10+ guest taps. it was a small warehouse type place that was open air. it was kind of weird. i am not sure what was weird about it, but we all thought the same thing. britt was very excited to take us to our next stop, the wedge! you guessed it, another brewery [asheville and surrounding areas has at least 15 breweries]. we didn't check out the entire place, but the bar area was basically just for you to go in to get beer. there is a very large outdoor seating area complete with corn hole. keith and i shared a flight of beer. and let me just say something about the flights in asheville - the flights were of all the beers at the brewery [whaaaaa?!]. so you are looking at 6-8 beers. that is awesome. most places let you pick 4-5 beers to go on your flight. not asheville, you get to sample THEM ALL. amazing.

after our wonderful visit at the so chill wedge, keith and i had to go on our way. he had this [free] reception to attend at cedric's, which is a restaurant at the biltmore. we figured we might as well check it out. who are we to turn down free food? well, we should have because it was awful. they offered us cheese and crackers and we could choke that down with a $9 glass of wine. geee, thanks. we quickly ditched that lame event and met up with another [newer] college friend of mine, jessica.
we met her at the southern, for some real food and drinks. i had butternut squash soup and keith got the cuban. yummmmy. britt also met us there with a few of her friends.
it was so wonderful to see both of them and catch up on their lives and happenings. even as time goes by and as life flies by us, seeing old friends, is just a pleasant reminder that some things never change. and that is so heartwarming.

on saturday [can you believe i am only on saturday of our trip?] we had another delicious breakfast at asheville seasons before we had to check out and keith had to return to his conference [did you forget he was there for work? because i did!]. during his presentation, i again sat outside and enjoyed the weather and caught up on my life. once he was done we took a very scenic drive on the blue ridge parkway. even though it was beautiful, it has nothing on where the parkway goes through the boone area [to die for].

view from the parkway
US! on the parkway.
we took our ride back to downtown and over to the grove park inn. wow! what a gorgeous place! and it is another iconic place in asheville that is filled with so much history. we took an abbreviated self-guided tour. if we had had the time, we probably could have spent days here. we got some lunch and drinks at one of their many restaurants [edison]. the neatest thing about this restaurant? when they gave us our bill they also gave us a blank postcard and encouraged us to fill it out to send to someone. all we had to do was return it to our waiter and they would mail it for us. one week later my parents received it. how amazing is that?!

view from the inn's terrace. the spa and mountains.

you can see downtown asheville from the grove park!
the HUGE historical fireplaces!
me, inside the fireplace. crazy, right?!
on our way out of asheville, we made two stops. at two breweries: highland brewing company and pisgah brewery. highland was amazing. we took a brewery tour while we there. it was definitely one of the better tours i have been on. our tour guide was a gay hippie [enough said]. he was hilarious. and awesome. they also had a food truck there. i wish i could remember who it was because it was really good BBQ.

the eclectic entryway to highland.
outdoor seating on another nice mountain day :)

yummmm. beeeerrr.
saturday night, we arrived in greensboro. why are we now in greensboro, you ask? well asheville hotels were all booked up for a variety of reasons [color season, conferences, etc]. so we could only find a B&B for a reasonable price for thursday and friday night. if we had wanted to spend our entire life savings, we could have stayed the entire weekend. but we thought that might not be a wise choice. so, we thought...hey, let's stay a night in greensboro! it was an excellent decision because it helped to split up the trip home.
so upon arriving to greensboro, we checked in and headed out! we, of course, went to our old stand by, natty greene's. we had a few beers and some food before calling it a night. there was a brand new ham's restaurant downtown that we should have checked out [next time!].

on our final day of "vacation" we slept in. way in. we had worn ourselves out. once we got up and checked out, we headed to brunch. we, again, headed to a favorite place, print works bistro, which is located in the proximity hotel. it is a little pricey, but it is soooooo worth it. the proximity hotel is LEED platinum certified. they are sustainable, green, and use local products. their practices are mind blowing. 
the weather on sunday was kind of crummy [cold and rain], so instead of walking around UNCG's campus, we did a drive through. although, driving through does not have the same affect as walking, but we did what we could. our final stop: old town draught house. we seriously lived here when we lived in greensboro. we loved this place. and what we still love about this place, is that not much has changed about it.

i told you it was a wild and wonderful weekend. we had such a blast. we explored many new places in asheville. we saw old friends. we visited old favorite venues in greensboro. we ate and drank everywhere we could. we enjoyed every bit of our weekend.

thank you asheville and friends for such an incredible and memorable visit. we will be back soon!


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