Sunday, July 10, 2016

Raleigh, Richmond and home

Friday we packed up and headed East, slowly making our way back to Baltimore. We spent Friday night with my friend from college, Deb, who recently got married. We love Pete! We had a nice, super yummy dinner out in Raleigh, and after relaxed on their deck into the night, catching up. Somehow I managed to forget to take any pictures the whole time! Except this random one Griffin took of his breakfast toast and bacon. And just so you don't think we have perfect social media lives, I'll note that Griffin's behavior all week was much better than we expected, but far from perfect. Unfortunately Deb and Pete didn't see his good side for most of our stay.  Thanks for having us though! And congratulations! 

Then on Saturday we headed to Richmond, VA, where we met my friend Jen and her family for a quick ice cream, before Steve, Griffin and I headed to the University of Richmond campus, my alma mater. Wow has it changed a lot! Tons of new buildings, mainly. It was super hot so we didn't stay long. 

Because every private liberal arts university needs a massive ropes course: 

Sophomore year dorm:

New gorgeous football stadium- go Spiders! 

We wrapped up the day at the Whealton's, with my friend Erin from college, her husband Jeff and their kids Max and Lucy. And Woody the dog and new puppy Maggie. We swam, had pizza, and sat by a fire pit roasting marshmallows and making smores- fun! And drinking all the North Carolina beer we brought. 😄 

In the morning, Griffin played with the puppy, met their bird and hampster, and they gave us a bunch of books that Max had grown out of. Which came in handy on the car ride home! 

For breakfast, we all went to a restaurant-movie theater that served breakfast, and watched Finding Dory. It was a great way to wrap up our trip. 

Yay for Babysitters!!

We drove all the way to Asheville, why not go out with a bang? So Jen booked a sitter and we left Griffin, Dalton and Dahlia (and the exchange students) home while we introduced Jen and Paul to the magic of Uber. We headed first to New Belgium Brewery (Fat Tire anyone?) then when it closed at 8, we headed to the main restaurant district of downtown Asheville. 

We first stopped at a cute cocktail bar, and met up with friends of Jen and Paul, who, as it turns out, are friends of Steve's cousin in Pittsburgh. Small (hashing) world! 

Oh and I almost forgot a shout out to Asheville politics:

We ate at an amazing place called Curate, supposedly impossible to get into without a reservation. But this girl right here walks in, and the hostess says "why yes, we've just had a four top cancellation, so why don't you follow me?" It was meant to be. Not to be convinced we were getting old for weeknight fun, we headed to the Wicked Weed for one final chocolatey porter. Thanks to the Bakers for being such great hosts!! 


On Thursday afternoon, after Sliding Rock, waterfalls and beer, we took Griffin to his first experience zip lining. It's called KidZip and was a course designed for kids but also good for adults. Because Griffin was only 6, Steve had to go with him. They had a great time! We definitely want to try to find this kind of thing in our area! (Check back for some great videos!) 

Sliding Rock, Looking Glass Falls, and the Hub

Our last full day in Asheville was a big one! We drove towards Brevard, NC and into the Pisgah National Forest. Even the drive was gorgeous, and it only took about 35 minutes. 

First stop: Sliding Rock! A natural water slide made of a gentle waterfall and big rocks. Oh, and coooold mountain water! It had been super hot in the area all week, but we got up there and it was fresh and cool, of course....  But I got in line anyway with Griffin while Steve opted out. The line moved fast and we learned shortly we'd gotten there in good time, as it got a lot more crowded later. For me though, one ride was enough! It WAS really awesome- you get going pretty fast- but the ice cold plunge pool at the end just about gave me a heart attack! 

Here's our first run: (bugger- apparently I can't add video from my phone- but do check back after I have time to do it tonight. It's awesome!) 

Griffin prevailed three more times before his lips were blue and he was utterly shivering. 

Next stop: Looking Glass Falls, right along the road near Sliding Rock. Pretty crazy cool without even having to work for it via a hike or anything. Griffin wanted really bad to swim right down in the pool under the falls, but neither of us would go in swimming in that ice cold water so he just stayed near the edge.

For lunch we drove through the cute down of Brevard but opted for a casual place right at the entrance of the Forest, called The Hub. It is a bike shop that sells a bunch of beer (local NC micro brews of course), has a cool outdoor area with picnic tables, and a bunch of food trucks. This pretty much defines a lot of Asheville, by the way. It was just our speed. And make no mistake, we're talking super amazing food trucks and incredible beer.  

Oh, and I'd be remiss, this week especially, if I didn't mention that next door to The Hub was the office for Charmichael Training Services. Ring a bell? No? Probably because you're not a Tour de France geek like me. Oh yes, Brevard and the whole area was one of Lance Armstrong's main training areas. Even the rafting guys noted on our steep, twisted, switchback drive down to the put-in spot that it was a road Lance regularly trained on.  Chris Charmichael was his famous coach. Say what you will, but pump any drugs in me you'd like, or not, and I couldn't ride a mile on this terrain.  Today on the Tour (which we streamed live through an app rigged to the car stereo, thank you technology and Doug Franks) a guy, who'd been dropped off the back of the peloton on the second climb, came back and finished in front in one of the hardest routes of the Tour this week- in full pouring hail no less. Clean, doping, who knows, but for me it's still great racing.