Vacation ’08: Day 6

Today was a great day. We decided to head out to Lake Lure for a boat tour. It’s about a 40 minute drive through the mountains. Lots of winding roads and acceleration and deceleration. Not a ride for those who get motion sick easily. But the scenery was amazing and it is a really nice drive. We arrived at Lake Lure but we were too late for the 2pm tour. So we booked the 3pm tour.

Then we drove back up the road a bit to Chimney Rock and looked at one one of Becky’s favorite little shops. We also decided to grab a bite to eat. We went to Laura’s House and had a light bite. Problem is it took too long to get our meal and we had to push our tour back till 4pm. We snapped some quick pics and got a couple of small things at the store and headed back out to the lake for the tour. It’s about an hour on the lake in a pontoon boat with a guide. There is a ton of history surrounding the lake and the homes that are along the banks are amazing.

After the tour we headed back to Black Mountain. We decided to go ahead and go to My Father’s Pizza & Pasta. Probably one of the best pizza joints ever. The pizza is amazing. We always visit when we are here. Since my birthday is this Friday we decided to make it my birthday dinner. We all had a great meal and actually a great time even though the kids were tired from the boat ride. They get up so early in the mountains and by the time the adults rise up they’ve been up for about three hours. Don’t worry, they don’t go outside for fear of the bears. LOL

Outside My Father’s there was a little coy pond and some more flowers with more butterflies. You know me, I can’t resist a good butterfly shot so I snapped a couple. We all headed back to the house for baths and bed for the kids. Since it was my birthday night I picked the movie. My choice… testosterone-filled choice of the night… The Condemned. Needless to say the ladies didn’t watch it because it is really a pretty violent movie. But is was a good way to end the night for me after a week of kids movies and chick flicks.

There’s a bunch of photos so feel free to check out the album on my Facebook.

Day 6 ends…

Vacation ’08: Day 5

Today was pretty uneventful. We lounged around for a while. Randy decided he wanted ribs too. Becky and Mom went back to the Sourwood Festival to finish hitting the booths they missed the day before. When they got back Randy went for his ribs. He was told it would be 45 minutes. Then like two hours later he finally got his ribs! Two Hours! Wow. Anyway he got back and we all had a great meal of ribs and the fixins.

After the meal we decided to go play putt putt at a course just up the road. It was a prety laid back night. Sierra and I both got a hole-in-one. Nana lost two balls to the water. It was 18 holes and it really has to be one of the hardest putt putt courses I’ve ever been on. It was on the side of a mountain so you can imagine the gravity that came into play.

Enjoy the photos.

Vacation ’08: Day 4

This morning Nana, Randy and the kids went on their traditional nature walk near the house. There is a gravel road out behind the house and they usually go for an hour hike to gather rocks and walking sticks.

Sourwood Festival ’08

As the kids were eating breakfast, Becky and I decided to steal a few minutes alone and sneak off to get her a real coffee. Since the nearest Starbucks is 20 miles away, I Googled coffee for Black Mountain and found a cool little coffee shop called Powerhouse Perks. A mom & pop Christian business. It was only like five minutes away so off we went. We would meet up with the rest of the group at the 31st Annual Sourwood Festival later on. We reached the road where the shop was but it was blocked off due to the festival… ugh. So we parked and walked to the caffeine haven. It is a cool little shop… Jack Johnson was playing softly so I knew we found a good spot. We grabbed a table and Beck set out to capture her java bean prize. A grande mocha latte with whip cream. I just enjoyed the smells and browsed the C. S. Lewis books on the shelf. We sat, chatted a bit and just enjoyed a break from the endless chaos of the kids.

After a bit of browsing we met up with the rest of the troops and proceeded to walk around the festival. Then we heard this really loud horn. A train was coming through the middle of the festival. We were able to get within 10 feet of the crossing and let the kids experience the raw power of a locomotive up close. The loudness of it. The way it makes the ground rumble as it rolls by. It was a great thing for them to get to feel. After the train we continued on. A ton of crafts and one-of-a-kind things awaited us in booth after booth. There was really too much to cover in detail but if you have ever been to a crafts festival you get the idea. But enjoy some pictures from some of the booths.

After a couple of hours of browsing I realized that I had not eaten anything all day. Now I could have gone the traditional route and walked down Coronary Alley and gotten some Polish sausage or gyro or ribbon fries or something deep fried and on a stick. But I caught the smell of something irresistible… something primal… something smoked… it could only be… RIBS!

We walked over to the smokers. We just followed the smoke in the air… and the trail of drool from the line of zombie mountain men sway stepping their way to the nirvana of pork. And then I saw it. Mecca! 50 feet of smoker grill! and 6-7 other smokers all chugging away. It was truly an awesome sight.

The BBQ masters were busy rubbing, basting, marinating, flipping, cutting, stoking, chopping hickory… the list went on. The smell would make you drool. I mean really drool. So that was it. I found my lunch. The rest of the group rested under a tree while I went to bag my meal. The choice was simple… a full rack. For $18 it was a steal. It came with beans, slaw and a roll to boot. All to help buy new uniforms for the local high school band. I was glad to help. After I scored my meat it was time to retreat back to the cave where I could grunt and moan in BBQ bliss. We got back and I tore into half the rack. Amazing. Worth the wait. I even taught Sierra and Chandler the fine art of rib eating. They have a new favorite now. After filling our tummies we settled in for a peaceful afternoon.

After a while Nana returned from the festival and it was time to head off to dinner. I really wasn’t in the mood to go as I was still doing the belly rub from the ribs, but the words ‘traditional Mexican food’ were uttered and of course I couldn’t resist… Fajitas popped into my head and I had to go. We went to Ole’s Guacamoles Mexican Kitchen. Wow it was good. the kids got recharged with Fanta Orange Soda and we needed to let them run off some sugar so we headed for Montreat Park. The kids love this place. They have a creek running through the middle of the park that is fed from a dam up the way a bit. We took some cute photos of the Zoo Crew.

We let them run around crazy then headed back to the house for baths and a movie. Tonight’s features: Open Season (for the kids) and Definitely, Maybe (for the adults). Of course I’m in the kitchen blogging, but from what I can hear from the other room… I’m not missing much. LOL I may actually get to bed before midnight tonight, but then again maybe not. I may grab the TV for a bit after everyone goes to bed. Honestly, community TV is not my first choice. The bad part is it is satellite, which is fine, but all three TV’s in the house are on the same box so when you change the main TV channel the bedroom channels change as well. Kind of disconcerting if you aren’t expecting it.

I took a ton of pics today and can’t post them all here but you can browse the album on my Facebook page.

Anyway I think that’s about it for Day 4…

Vacation ’08: Day 2

Addendum to Day 1: I forgot to mention that in the midst of all that was going on yesterday, my oldest child decides that putting 4 strong magnet pebbles on the screen of my 30″ HD TUBE television was a good idea. The lovely green/blue/black circle they made was quite lovely. Luckily for her Murphy had me distracted and I couldn’t get my hands on her. I had her throw away the magnets and made her pray that the TV healed itself by the time we got back. Luckily it healed before we left. Lucky for her. Note to self: kids + magnets = bad. Now back to today…

Nothing very eventful today. Slept in a bit… 10am. Thats when the sound of three little kids bounding through the house on a floor with a crawlspace became unbearable.  It was like being at a high school basketball game. A bad one with a lot of turnovers and a ton of dribbling. Pass it man… pass it!

So I got up and started breakfast. Eggs, bacon, cinamon rolls, toast… yummmmmmmm.

After that we all got sleepy again so Beck went back to sleep. I of course stayed up and made sure the kids didn’t destroy the cabin. You do not leave all three of our kids together unattended. They could tear a hole in the fabric of time given the chance.

Just got back from dinner at the Okie Dokie Smokehouse…. mmmm great mac n’ cheese and BBQ chicken. So full. Gonna put the spawn to bed soon. I’m sitting on the front porch listening to wind chimes and birds typing this post. In the distance I can hear the howl of a couple of hounds.

That’s probably it for the day other than TV. I love vacation…

I’ll try and get some pics tomorrow once we’ve recovered from drive-lag.

…and Day 2 is done.

Vacation ’08: Day 1

Well this day was one for the books. Where do I start? From the beginning I guess.

Murphy lives in my house. He’s usually very quiet and keeps to himself. Honestly I never really pay him much attention until he decides to mess with me. Yesterday he decided to make up for all the times he’s ignored me.

First let’s start with the night before we left. We were doing laundry, getting last minute things washed for the trip. This meant the pair of jeans I was wearing. I had a hamper with just my clothes ready to go. Problem was, I had my debit card in my front pocket. Now this is nothing unusual for me. It is either in my wallet or in my pocket if I had to get gas (which I did). Normally I would take it out and put it on my dresser so I know where it is. I thought I did that but got distracted by the list of things TODO before we left. So anyway I did laundry. Wash, Dry, Fold. Till 3am. Keep in mind we were supposed to get our rental van at 8am in Sanford and hit the road from there.

Fast forward to 7am the next day… or 4 hours later. We all get up. Becky checks her email and discovers and interested party in our old double stroller on Craig’s List. Suddenly we have someone coming over at 9am to look at it. Long story short we sold the stroller. We thought WOOT God giving us a little extra cash for the trip. Awesome! But then as I was getting all my stuff together Murphy decided to visit. I couldn’t find my debit card. The hunt begins.

Looked in my car, the clothes on the floor, the washing machine, the dryer, the clothes in the dryer, the clothes I folded before the load in the dryer, under the bed, in my computer bag, my wallet, the couch, etc etc etc. No luck. The card literally went POOF and vanished.

So we thought we’ll transfer money to our joint account and use that debit card. So we go to my bank and order a new debit card and cancel my lost one just in case it fell out somewhere. Then we go to the other bank and move cash. Then it was off to the Sanford airport to get our rental van. We get there and I go to rent the vehicle. Hand over my debit card… DECLINED! WHAT!? Try it again please. DECLINED! Now it’s locked out for 24 hours for fraud protection per Thrifty Car Rental policy. Oh and they do not accept cash… ever. Great.

We drop the hamster (Hammy) off at Becky’s brother’s house. Then head home to look for the card some more and basically just try and accept that we may not be able to leave until Friday now, very disappointing. Beck’s mom calls to see where we are on our trip. We relate the events thus far and just about when we were ready to give up and go to bed for a nap, Mom comes to the rescue and gives us a blank signed check and tells us to cash it for enough money to cover the van rental. Okay off to the bank again for Beck and the girls.

As Beck returns from the bank Chad and I looked for my card again one piece of clothing at a time. Then Murphy cut me a break. There was my card! In a spot we had all looked in at least 5-6 times. Okay cool so now I have my card again, but it’s been deactivated!

So we get all in the van again and set off for my bank to reactivate my debit card. Okay that’s done then we head off to the airport again. We get there and this time Becky has to rent it using her debit card because mine is locked for fraud for 24 hours.

She waits in line behind a family of Brits with 3 kids and a houseload of luggage and no reservation. She gets to the counter and rents the van. Luckily we had called and extended our reservation, 4 times actually. Anyway she goes to get the van while the kids and I circle the airport waiting for her. She calls me and tells me the van won’t start. Great. She goes back in to ask how the heck to start the van. They tell her it’s a new ‘keyless’ key. What the…? Anyway it looks like a toy and you just stick the peg in the ignition and turn it. Okay, so she gets it started. We head to her Aunt’s house to drop off our van and transfer all our stuff to the rental for the trip.

I open our back hatch and the cooler with ice, Cokes, juices, milk and eggs dumps out, spilling all the ice out and cracking every single egg we had slated for breakfast the next morning in North Carolina. Great. We repack the cooler and figure we’ll get more ice later. We pack the rental van up, park ours and seal it up.

FINALLY! WE ARE ON THE ROAD! It is now 4pm and 10 hours of driving still to go.

The drive was great and uneventful. Then we hit Columbia, SC around 10pm. A TON of lightning in the sky. Very weird lightning. The wind started to pick up. Then small showers. Then suddenly the sky turned this weird blue/green/teal-ish light and it glowed like that for about 20 seconds. It was very freaky. Becky says’ “Well at least the rain isn’t too bad.”

Murphy had hitched a ride and was listening. Seriously, as soon as she finished the sentence it was like one of the 4 horsemen was released. The rain hit like a wall, the wind was blowing us back and forth, hail hit, lightning, etc. We actually thought maybe a tornado was moving through or something. It was just that kind of weather. We pushed on.

We made it through the storm and then about 30 minutes after that I started to nod off. I had been driving for like 8 hours on 4 hours of sleep. So it was time to turn the wheel over to Becky to finish the trip. So we switched. I immediately fell asleep. Some time later Becky stopped for gas. We fill up and head off again. But the A/C in the van wouldn’t turn on. Weird. So we turn off the van and restart it. Then the A/C works. Hrmm. Then on the dash the Change Oil message flashes. The hits just keep on coming.

We are driving and I’m in a half-sleep state. I hear Becky sighing and grunting under her breath which of course wakes me up. It is pitch black outside and she has no idea where she is. She thinks she turned right when she should have gone left. So I wake up and get her turned around and sure enough she went the wrong way. So we now finally arrive at the house… at 2am!

We do a quick unload and just throw the kids into bed. At last peace an quiet. A quick shower to rinse off the day and try to relax. Then the nap I had kicks in and I’m wide awake. So I finally dozed off around 4am again. So that is 9 hours of sleep in two days. Fun.

What a trip. Life is an adventure for sure.

Okay that was Day 1. I think Murphy had even had enough and jumped out somewhere outside Spartanburg, SC.