Lincoln and I just returned from a quick trip to North Carolina. Thanks to wonderful friends and family, we were able to leave our kids in WI in good hands so we could have a few days to ourselves. Some of you may recall that Lincoln got us tickets to a U2 concert for my Mother's Day gift this year. Well, this was that trip.
We left Wednesday morning after delivering kids to school and babysitters. It was a bright, sunny, fall day- perfect for traveling. We drove all day through Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and on into North Carolina. It was strange and exciting to be on the road without kids. We were able to talk uninterrupted for 15 hours straight. We could stop at a restroom and be in and out in 3 minutes. There was no bickering, no complaining, no unscheduled bathroom stops, no buckling and unbuckling of car seats, no begging for drinks or snacks. Just me and my best friend on a road trip together.
We stopped in Asheville, NC, planning to get up in the morning and drive the Blue Ridge Parkway to Blowing Rock. After a delicious night of rest in a tasteful hotel, we got packed back up, grabbed breakfast at a diner, and got on the road in the amount of time it would have taken us to get everyone dressed if we had brought the kids along.
In hindsight, the scenic drive from Asheville was a bit long. Most of our morning was taken up with driving the parkway, limiting our time to hang out in Blowing Rock. The drive was beautiful, though. The morning started out chilly and cloudy, but within a few minutes of getting on the road, the clouds burned off and we were bathed in golden sunshine. We stopped to climb a short trail along the parkway and marveled at the beauty around us.
After a while on the Parkway, we decided it might be quicker to get on a bigger road to drive the rest of the way to Blowing Rock. I think it may have been true, but the road wasn't a whole lot better. Lincoln spent a solid hour and a half maneuvering our car through the switchback route through the mountains.
Just outside of Boone, NC, we made our first destination- the Mast General Store. This has always been one of our stops when we head to that area. This time was no exception. We bought a big old basket of candy from the candy barrels to bring home to the kids. We drove on into Blowing Rock and enjoyed a leisurely walk through the downtown shops. We drove out to the Blowing Rock and enjoyed the views.
Our descent from the mountains down to Charlotte was slow going, especially when we reached the interstate and city traffic. Softened by a couple of years of country living, we were not impressed with the gridlock and wondered how we had been able to stand living there. We reflected on how traffic adds so much stress-and time- to everyday activities that otherwise wouldn't be stressful at all.
We arrived that evening at my sister, Luella's house. She had a delicious roast dinner ready for us. We filled our bellies and relaxed for the evening. My brother Derek and his family came over to join us for the evening. We visited and hot-tubbed in the backyard. Losing the opportunity to hang out with my siblings like that on a regular basis is one of my biggest regrets about not living in NC any more.
Friday we drove around our old stomping grounds. We shopped as long as we wanted at a bookstore, ate at Firehouse subs (I've missed those subs), and even did a little car shopping. Mostly we just enjoyed driving around the area. By day #2 we were remembering that you get used to the traffic and it's not that bad, especially when you don't have to be on the interstate at rush hour.
A picture of our old house in NC
Friday evening we went out to dinner with our friends Joe and Anita. We had so much fun catching up and being silly. Oh how we miss them! We kept them up much too late, but we wanted to cram in as much time with them as we could.
Saturday morning we slept in again, then went to breakfast at Lue and Tom's favorite greasy spoon, Penny's Place. Breakfast was yummy, though I would pay for it later. We hit a few garage sales, then headed back to Lue's to load up the car and say our goodbyes.
We had a lovely stay at Luella's, though it was much too short. She has a beautiful home that is tastefully decorated. She put us up in a comfortable guest room with all of our needs met. That was nice, but what I miss is being with her and sharing our connection.
We drove 1/2 an hour north to Derek's house, arriving in time to join him for lunch. Stillman, my nephew, was just rising from a nap so the timing was perfect. We spent a couple hours visiting and playing with Stillman. What a cute little tank he is! He is a ball of energy in constant motion, running tipsy across the room, belly-flopping on the floor, rolling, twisting, hopping, leaping. He has gigantic dark eyes, making him look always intrigued and curious about the world around him. I dare say, however, that judging by the light behind his eyes, it's not just a look.
Sophia is due with their next baby, Zoe, who will arrive in just a few days. I'm so sad that our trip didn't coincide with her birth. Sophia looks fantastic, just a tiny little thing with a basketball under her dress. Like a fool, I didn't get a picture of them all together. I was a slacker with the camera this time, I'm afraid.
After a much too brief visit, we had to get on the road to Raleigh for our concert that evening. We arrived a little late to the concert, but the opening band was still playing. I'm actually glad we didn't arrive any earlier. U2 put on a fantastic show. It was so much fun. I seriously could have stood there another couple hours soaking it up. In fact, now I wish I could catch them again this tour...but I will just be grateful for the opportunity I got to see them at all.
Lincoln drove straight through the night to get us home at a decent hour on Sunday. I slept most of the way, though I did take a turn driving in the morning. Not much conversation took place on that end of the weekend, needless to say. Thanks again to everyone who helped us out with the kids and everyone who hosted and hung out with us in NC.