8:45 PM We're home after what seemed like a long, long break from "normal" life. We had a wonderful and wonderfully relaxing time away. The cabin we stayed in was absolutely perfect and stunning (you can see some pictures and information here). We really appreciated being close enough to Asheville (7 minutes to downtown) that we could be completely lazy and then decide spur of the moment that we would go into town. One discovery that we made (and a spur-of-the-moment trip) was Kamm's Frozen Custard, which is in the Grove Arcade.
We did not do much of the terribly tourist-y things to do in Asheville, like seeing the Biltmore or things like that. My dad and his wife, Donna, came and spent several days with us, which was very nice. On Wednesday, Susan and I left the girls with them so that we could have a night away--sort of like a "honeymoon" in honor of our tenth wedding anniversary. We stayed at the Grove Park Inn, which was incredibly expensive and led to a serious case of buyer's remorse on my part. It was, in fact, the nicest hotel room I have ever stayed in, and the bathroom was unbelievable, but in the end, it was still a hotel, and it was clear to Susan and me that we were certainly out of our element there with the jet-set crowd. We both decided that a cozy bed-and-breakfast is probably more our speed. We had a wonderful dinner at an Italian restaurant in Asheville, and we enjoyed having time alone for just the two of us.
Later in the week, my mom came to visit, and that was nice as well. I think part of what made the week stretch on so long was that we got to spend so much time together as a family, with different parts of my family! One of the coolest (free) things we did was walk across the driveway to the home of the cabin's owner. They have a spectacular west-facing view (almost directly onto Biltmore) and at least a couple nights the girls got to chase fireflies in their backyard. That was probably the highlight of Sophie's experience this past week. Either that or playing with the stuffed killer whale that she found in the cabin!
Elisabeth's highlight was probably going to the Health Adventure Museum at Pack Place. The girls ended up going twice to that--once with Dad and Donna and once with Susan, Mom, and me. It was a lot of fun. The best exhibit (we all agreed) was a "dizzy tunnel" that really did make you lose your balance.
On July 4th, we went over to the owner's deck and watched fireworks from all over the place until we got chased in by the rain. It rained a fair amount on the trip, but eventually, it settled down and was quite cool for the remainder of our stay.
There are probably tons and tons of things that I'm leaving out (and Susan will probably want to add to all that I'm posting), but suffice it to say that we had a terrific time and are all rested and re-charged for our full, "normal" lives. As Susan pointed out, she didn't think of work (much) the whole time, which is a great accomplishment for her and for our vacation together, given the stresses she's been under. I would also like to point out that the Partin family traveling curse was not in effect on this long vacation--nobody got sick (although Elisabeth did throw up at the Health Adventure, from eating the "booger" flavor of "Bertie's Botts" jelly beans (from Jelly Belly). It really is awful, I understand (Susan tasted one). Personally, I thought "dirt" and "sardine" was pretty gross, but I managed to keep them down!
All in all, it was a fun, family vacation. Nothing spectacular, really, but hey--I'll take a boring, un-spectacular family vacation if I can get it after what we've been through!
Thanks for keeping us all in your prayers!