Saturday, September 28, 2013

Southern September Sojourn--Sunny and 75

My husband and I took a little vacation, a chance to get away for a week.  The one thing you just can't plan for, the weather, was spectacular!  We really lucked out with the perfect early fall weather--day time temps were about 75 and the evenings dropped into the 50's.  Skies were blue, not a drop of rain anywhere.

Our first day took us about 350 miles to Asheville, NC.  We stayed at Cedar Crest Inn, a bed and breakfast that was recommended by a friend who stayed there in June.  It is a lovely home built in 1895 which has 15 rooms, some in cottages on the 3 acre property.  Our room, the Queen Anne, was in the main house on the second floor.  It reminded me very  much of the house I grew up in, built in 1900 in Philadelphia.  My house wasn't nearly this grand but had similar woodwork, wooden doorknobs, dark wood floors, a creaky old staircase, and claw-footed bathtub.

 Unlike a hotel, there are no elevators or bellhops so we climbed the 2 flights of stairs with our luggage--these old knees found that a challenge.  The room was well-decorated with antique furniture and the bathroom had the essentials.  No air conditioning to speak of, but it was cooler and not humid so, for the first time in a long time, we slept with windows open.  Our room was on the front of the house, 2 blocks from a hospital in one direction and the railroad in the other--between the occasional ambulance and the 3 freight trains that went through, neither of us slept all that well.  Isn't that the way it goes the first night of a trip?

In the small shopping area called Biltmore Village, less than a mile from the Inn, we found a great Mediterranean restaurant, Rezaz.  After driving most of the day, it was great to walk down the hill from the Inn to this shopping area.  The meal was terrific, and the perfect start to our holiday.  Of course, after dinner it was a walk uphill but that was fine and a glass of wine on the veranda awaited us.  It was nice to chat with other guests before retiring to our room for the night.

The next day it was off to the Biltmore Estate, a mile from the Inn.  Driving in on the long windy road, I could only think how long this must haven taken by horse-drawn carriage--we learned it was a one hour ride from the train station to Biltmore back in the day.  This is a spectacular place and I highly recommend a visit!
Stock Photo--we didn't this far back to show the entire house
Our son told us we would love to visit here and we had to rent the audio tour--it was worth the extra $10 to learn so much about the house, the people, the times they lived in.  Life here was much like Downton Abbey, and having seen the first 3 seasons of DA, I really appreciated this place even more. Here are a few of my shots:

Side view of the house
The view from the Loggia--my favorite spot--I could sit out here and stitch all day.

 We toured the house and gardens for about 3 hours, then drove to the winery on the estate, for tasting and shopping.  We had a late light lunch at the Bistro at the Winery, then headed to Biltmore Village for a little more shopping.  We did some Christmas shopping, oddly enough, at The Tree and Vine, where we could taste many different flavors of olive oils and balsamic vinegars--chocolate balsamic for fruit, mandarin orange to use as marinade on poultry or fish--yum!  Next door was the Southern Highland Craft Gallery, filled with wonderful handmade items.  There was a small quilt handmade by Georgia Bonesteel and several beautiful quilts from contemporary quiltmakers.  Enjoyed browsing there. 

Next we went to downtown Asheville, to wander amidst lots of shops, an old general store, antique shops, had ice cream for dinner since we'd had a late lunch, then back to the Inn for wine on the veranda.  We enjoyed our visit to Asheville.  Now we're moving on.

Another spectacular day, weather-wise, as we made the 450 mile trip to Fredericksburg VA.  Twenty-five years ago, we lived in Stafford, VA and I visited F'burg often--it was a sleepy little town with great antique shops and the closest quilt shop to me.  Today it's not so sleepy and there are 2 quilt shops.  The primary reason for our stop here was to visit old Marine Corps friends who live here.  We met them at a terrific little restaurant, Bistro Bethem, and caught up.  Dinner was excellent but the company was priceless.  The next day we drove by one of our old homes and on to the  National Museum of the Marine Corps.  Walking into this place was an emotional experience for me--loved it!  We spent 5 hours there and didn't see it all.  Every Marine needs to come to this place, at least once. 

As it was mid-afternoon, we headed back to Fredericksburg to go to our friends' home for dinner.  We had a great reunion with their two adult children and 3 of their four grandboys.  And added bonus was their "pretend" son, another Marine Corps kid we knew back in the day, who currently lives near them and was able to join us.  Great fun, lots of laughs, a few old stories, and mostly just catching up and enjoying sharing their company.  A real highlight of this trip.

The next day it's back in the car to Harrisonburg, VA to the Virginia Quilt Museum
There were special exhibits and a few of their extensive permanent collection on display.  I bought the book of their entire collection and was glad I did.  Well worth the one hour visit there.  It had been an easy drive there, less than two hours and not on the interstate, so it was nice to see the countryside.  And do you see that blue sky?  Yes, another perfect day.

At this point, we're starting to miss our bed and thinking about home.  We headed south for a couple more hours and stayed overnight in Bristol, TN.  That made it an easy 6 hour trip home the next day.

The desk clerk at the Hampton Inn we stayed at recommended Brooklyn Grill, just 3 miles up the road in Bristol, VA--a town divided by state lines.  Oh my goodness, what a find!  The only other choices would have been fast food joints but this place was a true reason to stop in Bristol.  Great food!  It was a Thursday night and most of the guests appeared to be hotel visitors.  Our hostess was also the waitress and the bus girl--she did it all with grace and charm, handling the 6 tables that were occupied during our visit.  My husband said to me "she's probably married to the chef" and darn, if he wasn't right!  It was upscale dining in a most unexpected place--we had such a good dinner--a fine way to end our holiday.  You just never know what you're going to find. 
Our kittens were mad at us for leaving them at the "pet resort" and are still a little stand-off-ish.  But they know who feeds them and they'll come around.  There's been some purring and the little girl even agreed to sit on my lap for a brief while.  We're all glad to be home and almost back to normal.
Vacations are great but it's so good to be home.  Now life gets busy again.
Let's quilt!



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Very nice - makes me want to go. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Glad to hear of your Asheville stay and remember our vacation there. We didn't stay in the main house so didn't experience the outdoor sounds as the Serenity Suite was air-conditioned and the inn-keeper helped us with our luggage. Looks like you covered a lot of territory in a short while. See you soon. Judy Murrah