Monthly Archives

August 2016

Recently Read

Recently Read

August 14, 2016

Emily Giffin. Holy smokes. This woman writes exactly what I think. To a tee.

I wish I could be more eloquent than that but I’d ruin someone’s experience reading her work.

This recently read is about First Comes Love.

Prior to beginning the book, I thought it would be about love and a burgeoning romance. While there are elements of romance, that’s not really what the book is about fully.

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Source

This story follows to sisters after the death of their brother. While each sister is going through her own trials, the stories merge to show how love motivates choices made.

I would recommend this book. The story was absolutely relatable and easy to read. I also would contend that there are some important themes that women can relate to – the feelings of people pleasing, self-doubt, and sacrifice. These are all focused on in a very real way that allows the reader a chance to reflect as well.

Adventure

The Biltmore Estates

August 8, 2016

Many people associate Asheville with one of its most visited areas – The Biltmore Estates.

Completed in time for Christmas 1895, the construction of the largest home in America took approximately 7 years and housed generations of Vanderbilts and Cecils.

This estate, and truly it is that, has a large home with 250 rooms, a vineyard and winery, grounds for horseback riding, and even an inn and hotel. It is huge.

To give you a bit of perspective, this is the view of the estate (mind you a hazy bus view).

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This is even a cut off view!

Our visit started midday on a Saturday. Warning, Saturdays are very busy at the Biltmore. We bought house tickets ahead of time online and picked them up at will-call. You can print your tickets though.

We bought tickets for a specific entrance time as the star tries to stagger the amount of people in the home at one time. Despite an entrance time, it was still extraordinarily busy within the home.

We started our visit at the estate’s winery. Along with our entrance tickets came a wine tasting. While we are not big wine people, it was a nice addition to our visit and a way to see more of the grounds. The winery has great selections and most are available on site for visitors to purchase. The wine can also be shipped to your home.

Following the visit to the winery, we parked in the main lot and hopped a bus for a short ride to the estate home. Once there we had our tickets scanned at the main entrance and followed a self-guided tour.

The self-guided tour was perfect for our attention span although we missed things because we felt the pressure to move so fast through the house. Self-imposed pressure and lots of people which made us want to move through.

*Note: There are fans blowing through the house in the summer but no AC blasting or anything. I did not expect this and thus kind of wanted to be finished sooner than I would have otherwise wanted. I imagine this is a non-issue in other seasons.

Some of the coolest things we saw were an indoor pool and bowling alley. Additionally, can you imagine dining at this table?!? Oh man. It’s like Downton Abbey meets where does one buy a dress for that?

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Don’t even get me started on the floor.

There were also so many sitting and game rooms. You could hide from people for hours #goals.

The main staircase is also incredible. Here is an outdoor shot of the staircase windows.

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I am apparently in the wrong business.

In addition to the beautiful home, there are beautiful gardens on the grounds and a lovely conservatory.

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So pretty and extensive.

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You know I love my blooms.

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Side view of the home.

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The home and grounds were lovely. In addition to these features, there is also a carriage house area where there are gift stores and eateries. It was super busy during our visit but it was so picturesque and pretty.

The only downside… their magnet game was lame. Yep. I said it. I love my vacation magnets and it just wasn’t happening at the Biltmore.

What questions do you have about the Biltmore?

Adventure

Chimney Rock, NC

August 4, 2016

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One of the things I really like to do when traveling is to take side trips to great scenic venues.

Our most recent vacation to Asheville was a tough one for us. While I wanted to love it, we ended up feeling somehow misplaced in Asheville and so left a day early. Yep.

As we left, we took one of the scenic detours to Chimney Rock.

Chimney Rock is one of those cool attractions not too far from Asheville. It’s maybe an hour or so outside of Asheville. You drive through a lot of small towns to access the area and it’s just cool to see so many new places along the way.

Once at the Chimney Rock park entrance, we paid about thirty bucks for an entry fee. While this is kind of steep, the fee gives you access to different trails, a play area, and of course the giant Chimney Rock.

Typically, there is an elevator that takes you part of the way up the cliffside to the “Chimney” but unfortunately it was out. So we took every single stair. Let me tell you, my bum looked great that day!

Along the way, there are different stopping points. This allowed us to catch ur breath and to take in the views. It was very foggy but also just incredible.
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We continued to the top little by little.
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Once there we got a view of the entire county. It was so impressive and honestly the photos don’t do it justice.

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Can you imagine building and traversing such a high cliff sans stairs? Woof.

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All in, the hike up took us about 15 to twenty minutes with stops. It wasn’t too bad and was well worth the view  and the commemorative magnet I brought home from the adventure.

Facts to know about Chimney Rock:

  • Website and hours of operation here.
  • About 55 minutes to 1 hr and ten minutes from Asheville
  • Gift Shop and Visitors Shop at Trail base
  • Sky Lounge Deli halfway up the trail
  • Nature stops detailing birds and bats of the area
  • Camp grounds and small town shops nearby

If in the Asheville or Greenville area I would recommend a track to Chimney Rock. I can’t imagine how beautiful it would be in the fall.

Adventure

Blue Ridge Parkway

August 3, 2016

During our Asheville trip I informed the husband that he needed to pick an activity to do.

His pick: The Blue Ridge Parkway and an associated trail.

My pick: Getting Doughnuts prior to our journey.


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Prior to setting off on our daily adventure, we enjoyed our daily bread at Vortex Doughnuts.

Vortex has both yeast and cake doughnuts and the prettiest lattes.

I had read about Vortex on a trip forum and added it to our list.

I woke my husband up at 6:50am – on vacation – and we headed over to the shop. Located in a slightly industrial setting, the shop has an industrial feel with cool accents such as velociraptor and triceratops artwork. I cannot make this stuff up. The accents fit the vibe perfectly though.

We looked at the doughnuts for a couple of minutes and had the chocolate yeast and salted caramel cake doughnuts. They were so so good and I in my semi-gluten-free state was in a food coma.


Once full, we began our drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The parkway begins right outside of town and continues for miles and miles. We traveled about 13 miles of the parkway up to the Craggy Gardens trail. This trail begins right after the visitors center and is a short and easy hike. Again, we thought it would be strenuous and it was not too bad at all. On the guide it is an “easy” hike at 1.2 miles.

The drive up was lovely and the trail was a nice way to start our day.

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It’s like hiking in heaven.

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Again, how in the world do these tunnels and roads happen!?

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The Craggy Gardens lower view below.

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The view from the top.

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I’m a sucker for wildlife and flowers.

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Can you imagine this place in the fall? Unreal.

Adventure

Highlands NC and Dry Falls NC

August 1, 2016

IMG_20160624_1231147_rewind When we headed down to Greenville last month, I planned for a side journey to the Highlands, NC area. I had read and seen many beautiful wedding photos set in Highlands, specifically at Old Edwards Inn, and was dying to see the small town in person.


Let me start first with the journey to Highlands. We came from Greenville thru the mountains and wound up and down steep mountainsides to visit. How does one describe being in absolute awe but being terrified at the same time? Heights y’all. The drive, while slightly terrifying, was so beautiful. Everywhere you turned was just encased in pretty.

Before going to Highlands, we traveled a bit past to Dry Falls, NC. Dry Falls is a waterfall located in the state park system. You can look at these beautiful falls from afar, or hike (as in stroll) to the falls and stand under them. My sister had gone here last summer while expecting a baby and I figured if she could do it then we certainly could.

When we arrived, we “hiked” down to the falls… I looked so silly in my Kavu backpack. I full on thought it would be a trek. Anyway…

The falls were beautiful.

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Just really doable and really pretty. We putzed around the area for about 20 minutes and then headed toward Highlands.

Upon arriving in Highlands, I could easily see why anyone would want to get married there – it’s charming and beautiful. While I really don’t have any photos from in town (or they are all awkward turtle cellphone shots), I do have recommendations of cool shops to look at.

My favorite – Bardo 

Everything in the shop was gorgeous and tasteful.

Additionally, Dutchman’s Designs was another great home store.

A couple things about Highlands, it is fairly touristy and there are a lot of shops that cater to that. The nice thing about the tourist thing – the salespeople are fairly friendly. Highlands also has the cutest and coolest churches around. There was one with a Joanna Gaines vibe and I was so tried to take photos.

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While Highlands was certainly a cute town, we did not stay the night and instead headed on toward Asheville, NC.

Stay tuned for an Asheville area recap!