Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Road Trip South

Friday 22 August-Friday 29 August 2014

Preston and I returned to Maryland for a quick 2 days that we mostly spent lounging around. Luckily, it was rainy and perfect to do nothing.

On Sunday, we piled in my car and drove south to Richmond to see my bestest friend Robin. Robin was my college roommate and probably knows me better than anyone :D

Robin lives just outside Richmond with her husband Chase and their baby Griffin. I haven't seen Griffin since he was just a few weeks old at my wedding.

Chase and Robin offered to let us stay with them for a couple days and I was super excited.

We had a great time!! Robin and Chase treated us to dinner in a beautiful waterside restaurant on the first night. I had shrimp & grits and they were divine!!

On Monday, we took Griffin to the park and had pasta for dinner with home-made meatballs. Robin has been a strict vegetarian for longer than I've known her (I've known her for 17 years. Isn't that INSANE? When did I get SO old?!), so I'm always impressed that she's willing to cook with meat for others.

Cutest smile ever.

It was a perfect couple of restful days. Robin had lots of idea of stuff for us to do in Richmond, but honestly...after seeing SO much, we are more than happy to just lay low and chilllll out.  

All clean and ready for bed!!
We were sad to leave, but Pres and I hit the road again on Tuesday.

Driving west from Richmond, we stopped at my alma mater-Lynchburg College. I don't have much fondness in my heart for Lynchburg...I don't feel that I got the best education there. The school seems more concerned with milking as much money as possible from the student body than with trivial things like education and well being. Nonetheless, I wanted Preston to see it, because it was a big part of my life. Of course, it took 30 mins to find legal parking. Always welcoming LC is ;) NOT!!

It was cool to see the changes and show Preston my old stomping grounds, but we didn't linger.

Familiar mountain views

We met my dear college friend Terrie for lunch at Panera, but I didn't take a picture. Blast!! I'm really failing at this picture things lately. :P

From Lynchburg, we started the long drive south to Asheville. We are visiting my friend Nikki, who recently moved home to Asheville from California.

The drive was BEAUTIFUL. We saw the Smoky Mountains in all their splendor. It's truly incredible to me that we have traveled so far and seen so much and yet, America still REALLY impresses. It has everything. Gosh, we are insanely lucky to live here.

Nikki and her sister Sheila were kind enough to host us for our stay in Asheville. I was also excited to see Nikki's dog Fritz. I looked after Fritz for a few days when he was a puppy. Boy, has he GROWN. Sheila has a dog too and more cats than I could count :P Ah, country livin.

We went out to dinner the first night for delicious southern fare and met Nikki's niece (Kimberly) and her boyfriend (Troy). I, of course, took no pictures.

On Wednesday, we spent the morning on the porch with coffee. It was sooo nice. 

Secret Cat Lover

Nikki and Sheila took us to Cracker Barrel for a proper breakfast. O.m.g. This was only my second visit to Cracker Barrel, but goood lawd (see my southern accent?) does that place give you a TON of food!! It was obscene.

After breakfast, Nikki took us on a tour all around Asheville. Whenever I visit someone else's town, I became painfully aware of my lacking tour guide skills :P Nikki was an impressive and gracious host. I could really hear the pride she has for her hometown. 

Asheville has SUCH charm. It's a welcoming and clean little city with an edgy side-mostly seen in the people walking around. There is lots of bright colored hair, black clothing, and tattoos. Asheville is even the craftbrewing capital of the SE United States. There's LOTS of beer to try :D

We met up with Nikki's friend-Diane-who gave us a tour of the old Southern houses around Asheville. This city seems to have so many faces...I'm amazed. We headed up the mountain to the swanky Grove Park Inn.

The Inn is a beautiful, old lodge style resort with GIANT fire places and a cozy mountain feel, despite its size. Grove Park Inn has played host to numerous celebrities and US Presidents. We got drinks on the terrace and took in the STUNNING mountain views. Kimberly and Troy met up with us too.

Ha-this didn't really turn out

But this is what we look like ;)

Goodbye Mountains

We left the Inn and returned to Nikki's with Kimberly and Troy. Nikki lives up on the mountain and has gorgeous views. We spent the evening on her deck listening to the crickets come alive with the setting sun.

Preston and I were up early on Friday to head to Tarboro. Today is Preston's grandmother's 94th birthday. 

On the way, we stopped outside Raleigh to see another college friend of mine-Chris. Chris is my best guy friend. He and I are scarily similar and I like to joke he is my twin (even tho he already has a twin). To my GREAT luck, Chris' girlfriend had JUST given birth to their baby boy!! I got to meet little Reid when he was just a few days old. He was adorable and I CANNOT believe that Chris is a father. Where are all these babies coming from?? ;)

Oh, hi there :D

I was super impressed with Katie, Chris' girlfriend. If I had just had a baby, I'm sure I'd be lounging around lookin terrible, but Katie looked GREAT. She was up and about and actually served us lunch!! Haha!! I tried to help her, but she insisted that she was fine. Reid is Katie's third baby-she has two older (and equally adorable) children from her first marriage-and she said by the third just realize that life goes on. You got stuff to do. haha!! Spoken like a bonafide mom. 

We learned that Katie's and Chris' other kids are in Raleigh's year-round school program. I was fascinated with this. There's no summer vacation. It seem SO wrong. Isn't summer vacation a childhood right? Apparently, this year-round thing with long breaks is better for who am I to argue? The kids were on a different rotation than many of their neighborhood friends, which I also found rotten and unfair. Man, it's tough being a kid these days. 

We didn't stay too long, since Chris and Katie had a lot going on.

Finally, we arrived in Tarboro to see Grandma Doris. Preston stopped first at a florist to pick up some birthday flowers. Apparently, the guy running the register had a VERY thick southern accent, which Preston spent the next few days impersonating (ad nauseum:P). "Are deees flowww-ars for your grandmammy?" haha.

Grandma Doris is quite the impressive lady. In her youth, Grandma Doris was an early advocate of women's rights and a shining patriot-serving her country in the Women's Army Corps during WWII. She received her pHD and was a professer at Bradley University in Illinois. Check out this page on her life. (I mean, she has a WEBPAGE).

Besides having one of the most impressive resumes I've ever seen, Grandma Doris is a phenomenal grandma and she's sweet as pie. Preston can wax poetic about Grandma Doris' amazing foot rubs, or her ability to genuinely listen, or the fact that she avoided interstates and only drove backroads to see more of the country during the long road trips she would take by herself. This woman is truly incredible and an inspiration to me.

Unfortunately, in her older age, Grandma Doris struggles with memory problems. Despite not really knowing us, she made us feel loved and welcomed. We had dinner with her in the dining room of her nursing home and spent a long time talking in her room before she had to retire for bed. 

We spent the night in Greenville, since the hotels were cheaper. Tomorrow we drive out to the Outer Banks to visit my cousins for our annual start of summer trip. 

Good Evenin Southern Sun

I hung out today with someone that is 94 years old and someone that is just a few days old...ain't life grand? 

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