Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Get-Away to Remember

I have the luxury of blogging by a ginormous fire, with no children interrupting, and no distractions pulling my attention away. My husbands generous parents blessed us with a much needed get-away to the Biltmore Estate for Christmas. It has been so fun! Truly amazing, this place!! We hadn't been away together in over a year, so it has been great! However, as always in my life, there have been plenty of little adventures to accompany our trip, and make it more...let's say, interesting! So, I'll warn you ahead of time, this will be a long-winded entry and an unedited entry with some embarrassing moments.

Before we even left home, we had a pretty busy week with lots going on. You know, sleepless nights, busy days, sick child, work, play, Christmas decorating, laundry, etc. So, on Friday, since we hadn't gotten it yet, my daughter and I decided that it would be really fun to make a new tradition, and get our Christmas tree on the first Friday of December. I'm never ahead of the game enough to get decorations out right after Thanksgiving, and I like leaving the tree up until after my birthday in January, so, I figure it's the perfect time to get it. So, instead of taking time Friday night to pack and get ready for our trip, I spent it with the family, getting our tree, and then hot chocolate and hot Krispy Kreme donuts (you can't start a tradition without including something yummy to go with it - and let me just say CHOCOLATETIME! Even being a dessert snob, these are delicious little delicacies!) All that to say, I didn't pack until late Friday night, when my mind was very tired.

We start out, and are having a great time, chatting and laughing, and then I realize that we don't have any Christmas music on. And, I mean, I'm wanting to hear Christmas music the whole time, because it's our Christmas get-away, and our Christmas present, and you know, you HAVE to have Christmas music. So, I reach down to get the cd case with all the Christmas music, and I realize, I didn't grab it off the foyer table. So I say to Randy, "Did you grab the cd case?" Even though I knew that he hadn't because I remember seeing it out of the corner of my eye shortly before leaving. The "No" came as blow, feeling so mad that I didn't have the perfect music that I had so desperately wanted. So, I frantically fumble through all of my cds in the car, and finally breathe again when I see my favorite Christmas cd, and shout "YES!" happily feeling rescued, even though I know how ridiculous it is that it would spoil the drive for me. I put it on, and start relaxing... again.

We continue on, again, having a gay old time, when suddenly CRACK!! POP!!! CRACK!!! And the windshield is hit hard, and cracked in 3 places by an oversized truck riding the shoulder. Now, Randy was driving and was back at least 100 ft., so it wasn't like I was driving and tailing the guy. So, I spend the next 20 minutes on the phone with the insurance company figuring out how we're going to get it taken care of. But, pretty easily it's dealt with, and then back to our fun.

So as we continue to Asheville, I say to Randy, did you get the camera? (Knowing I don't remember seeing it packed.) He chuckles as he says how even yesterday a friend reminded him to get the camera, but still we forgot it. So we decided to make our first stop on our vacation, a stop in at Best Buy (romantic, huh?) and finally buy a digital camera. But it was fun to shop without kids, and actually be able to go together to pick it out. So on our way, again.

We get downtown Asheville, and love it! We went through a street market, and then grabbed lunch at a great little cafe called True Confections where they make everything there, and everything from scratch, and even enjoyed sitting outside in the wonderful warm fall day. It was all delicious.

As we drove out of Asheville and onto the Biltmore, we look at a map, and it looks like we take 40 W a little bit farther, and then exit for the estate. So, we get back on the interstate, and drive a little, and a little bit more...and a little bit Biltmore signs. I decide I'll call just to check and make sure we're going the right way. Turns out, we weren't. We were at about exit 15, and the exit for Biltmore is exit 50. We turn around, and decide that we just got to enjoy more of the western part of the state. When do we actually get to just drive around in the mountains? But, we did have to get over the initial 45 min. detour.

We arrive at the Estate at check in time, and are welcomed in by all we see. They were all so nice! We had a good time getting settle into our room, and just enjoyed getting ready for our evening slowly. I took time to pluck my eyebrows in one of those gigantic mirrors that they sometimes have at nice hotels. That was awesome. And you know, just kind of spent time doing all the things that I don't usually do when I get ready. Put eye shadow on and not just mascara in a rush.

Our dinner reservations aren't until 8, and so we figure, we can ride the shuttle over to the house, and walk around a little bit in the house, and then catch the shuttle over to the Bistro a few minutes before our reservation. These are clearly the thoughts of someone who has never been to the Biltmore. When we got downstairs, we realized we had just missed the 6:15 shuttle, but there would be another one at 6:30. So, we think, ok, we'll just wait a few minutes, but we'll still have about an hour at the house before we need to get to dinner. We get on the shuttle, and Ralph, the driver begins our commute. He lets us know we'll be making a few stops before getting to the house, and we'll probably arrive at the house around 7:10. WHAT? It takes 40 minutes? We ended up riding the shuttle all the way to the house, but after talking more with Ralph about our itinerary, we decide it will be best to stay on the shuttle, and go back to the Bistro then. So we get to the Bistro about 7:30, and actually have time to have a tour of the Winery and a tasting of the estate wines. Perfect! Also, the hour shuttle tour, gave us an hour with Ralph, who knew all types of Biltmore trivia that we couldn't have read or heard anywhere else. As one of the other shuttle passengers said later, "He was like 100 years old, I mean, he knew what he was talking about." You'll hear about him later.

Ok, this is where, if you're a man, you may not want to read. If "feminine" subjects make you get uncomfortable, just stop reading.

As we're walking through the winery, I get a little distracted, because I realize I'm starting my period. And did I take my purse - NO! I thought it would be just a little walk down to the house, or back up to the inn. Not a 40 min. shuttle ride. Do we have any cash? Of course not. Everything's paid for. What do I have in my pocket? Lip gloss. That's it. No quarters, no supplies, no nothing. And, I'm wearing a skirt, too. Nice, huh. So, I go to the restroom and they do have the machines where you can get tampons and things, but you know, no one's in there for me to ask if they have a quarter. And not to mention it's 8 o'clock, and we're about to be late for our reservation. And our candlelight tour is at 9:30, which means we have to be on the shuttle by 9:00 - not a lot of time to take the shuttle back to the inn, and then back to the house.

So we go on up to the restaurant, and I don't know what to do. I mean, if we go back to the inn, we miss our dinner, and we hadn't eaten since 1:00, and we wouldn't have another chance. But if we went after dinner, we'd miss our tour. The whole reason for going. So, we're sitting at our table, and trying to figure things out. Randy's plan is to go down to the gift shop and buy something (one of the yummy bottles of wine) and then get cash back, if that's an option. Our waitress comes up and she's super nice. Everyone there is sooo nice! And she's a really good waitress, too, with really good descriptions, and lots of helpful opinions, etc. So, she leaves and we begin to problem solve again, mind you, REALLY needing to make a decision. So she comes up again, and I just know, I have to ask our poor waitress for a quarter. I have to take some of her tips to go get myself a stupid tampon. I tell you, pretty humiliating. So, I say, "I have to ask you a really random, and pretty awkward question. I just started my period, and I don't have any supplies, and I don't have any cash. Can I borrow a quarter so I can go down and get something in the bathroom?" And she's so sweet. She says, "Of course! Oh my gosh, yes, and don't even worry about it." I told her we would compensate her in her tip. That makes me laugh really hard. It was so bad.

Ok, so that being said, the evening began to get more relaxed. We had a fabulous dinner, and every time the waitress came to the table, I felt like she kind of gave me the "Are you ok?" smile, but never mentioned it again. We did not get dessert, which was very sad, but we were already at our max for time.

We get back on the shuttle, and there are a couple of couples already on there that are about our age. So I think, "Oh good, the later evening younger crowd." So on we go. This driver is not quite as informative as Ralph, but he likes to tell more of the rumored ghost stories of the Biltmore, rather than the interesting facts, but it's really funny to hear. And especially the guy who keeps talking about the Gators. How the Gators rock, and "Whooo-Whoo! GATORS!" I'm not kidding. Someone would be talking about something else, and somehow him being a Gator fan got brought into the subject. I lean over and start talking about the Pirates with Randy, and the bowl game they're going to. I almost Arrggghhed at him, but I withheld.

So, then the two couples start bickering about who owns the Biltmore estate. One guy thinks that the government took it over years ago, but the Gator guy's wife knew the history of it still being in the family, but how the other guys dad, blah blah blah. OMG who cares?! I'm just kidding, I really did care, but the arguing? Come on. So we get to the house, and the line is so long, but we show our tickets, and since we're there a little after our ticket time, they escort us right up to the house. And in we go. However, so do the Gator pack. AND THEY'RE STILL BICKERING! So, I tell Randy I can't handle being beside them for the entire tour through the house. Loud Gator guy being all "whoo-whoo" and all. So we ditch them and try to get up ahead and squeeze into the group without being too suspicious.

So we're in the tour, and I look back and see the couples in the room behind us, STILL ARGUING about who owns the house! But, I don't mind because we're in the next room. So I start to really take in the house, and am getting into all the fixtures, walls, fabrics, stonework, when I hear the guy behind me go to the guy next to him, "Hey man, did you ever see the "Everybody Loves Raymond" episode where Ray's mom Marie makes the statue of, you know, (ok, unfortunately, i've seen the episode, so i of course know exactly what he's referencing). But she can't see what it looks like. But everyone else can? Yea, it's really funny. Kinda reminds me of this."

Let me just say, that I am soooo glad that I married the man I married. And that I have a greater appreciation for the men out there that talk about more things than sports and tv. Because apparently, they're aren't that many. All night, we were hearing things. It was really funny. We laughed so much. We also really, really enjoyed seeing the amazing home of George W. Vanderbilt. It's truly unbelievable how vast and intricate it is. And being Christmas, it was decorated beautifully.

I think what I love about how we do things, is that we never have it so planned out that there isn't room for adventure. I mean, sure in the midst of it, I'm thinking "Why didn't we call and ask ahead of time?" or "Why wasn't I thinking!" But at the same time, if every time something bad or inconvenient happened it ruined your time, that would make for a pretty frustrating existence. Not that I'm a pro at just letting things go, but at the same time, this weekend was definitely a time that I could practice.

This morning, amazingly enough, we had a great time of drinking coffee and reading in the Word, and praying by our huge windows that looked out onto the vast expanse of land.
And it was truly wonderful.

As we packed up and were getting ready to leave the room, Randy says, "Where's the valet ticket?" And here we go again.


carrie said...

Goose girl!

emily said...

ok so where are the photos from your new digital camera?! And btw I almost had a panic attack reading of all these mishaps and scheduling issues you guys encountered....but i love your perspective on it all :)

melissa said...

pictures are coming soon...=)

Kevin and Amy Sasser said...

Oh melissa...can't wait to see the pictures.:) glad you all were able to get away. can't wait to catch up. hope asher is all well.

Meredith Uber said...

love it! sometimes it seems things roll off my back easier since I have had children, So glad you could get away.