Weekend Getaway in Luray, VA

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For Christmas this year, I gifted Ryan a weekend away in the Shenandoah Valley. A pleasant 3.5 hour drive to Luray provided us with a getaway from everyday life and a chance to rest, relax, and reflect before he starts his last semester of school and before we must battle another winter.

I booked this awesome cabin through AirBnB. I mean check at this view from the house! We could never get enough of this view of the Shenandoah Valley and River.

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However, when I think of cabin, I think of rustic, small and cold. This was more of a house, complete with a huge fireplace, lots of cozy places to take in the view, Netflix, wifi, and Apple Tv. It was the perfect house to cozy up for the weekend, with little plans other than to relax, read, cook, and watch some movies. 

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We grabbed a delicious lunch at Gathering Grounds in the sleepy little valley town of Luray before driving up 2,200 ft to our home for the weekend. Ryan got to work making a fire and we changed into PJ’s and hibernated for the rest of the evening. The house had three huge bay windows overlooking the view that allowed us to enjoy the scenery despite the chilly temps. I made my favorite Martha’s Stewart Mac and Cheese. Comfort food at it’s best. 

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I loved walking out on the deck at night and gazing up at the stars. It felt like we were in them, so close and so bright.

Our host said that watching the sunrise was the best element of the house. So each morning I set my alarm and wearily crawled out of bed expecting to see a breathtaking view. Yet each morning it was the same. We were greeted with a sky full of dark clouds and nothing else. So back to bed we went.

On Sunday morning we decided to venture out and tour one of the local Caverns. I’ll be recapping that experience next week!

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After our caverns tour we hit up a small pub with a great happy hour before retreating back to the house for another night in front of the fire.

On Monday we slept in and leisurely spent the morning sipping coffee and reading before our noon check out time.

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After another great lunch at Gathering Grounds, We took Sky Line drive home in the Shenandoah National Park where we drove along the tips of the Blue Ridge mountains and were able to take in amazing views from all directions.

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It’s All About the Journey – Asheville, NC

We spent Thanksgiving vacation in Asheville, NC, visiting my brother Eric and his wife Veronica. You can read about our Thanksgiving day tour of Biltmore and our vegan Thanksgiving.

On Friday the plan was to drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway to a high peak and do a short hike. Eric had been hyping us up about the views for weeks. It was going to “blow our minds”!

We woke up early, packed some lunches, and dressed in some warm clothes. We were driving up the parkway – and so far it was beautiful! Eric kept yelling, “just you wait! this is nothing!”. So I didn’t pay too much attention – saving my gazing for the top – when we’d be around 5,400 ft elevation. That was until we ran into a road barrier that stated “ROAD CLOSED”.

The roads at the top of the mountain were too icy. We shouldn’t have been surprised since Eric and my Dad’s Thanksgiving morning hike ended with their car doing a 180, tossing them in an icy ditch. We drove to the nearest overlook, realizing that this was going to be the best view we’d get this trip.

And, you know what? It was so beautiful. There were so many tints and hues of blue. The mountains appeared to go on forever.

That morning was a good lesson in appreciating the moment. You know that  saying – “life is about the journey, not the destination”?  Well we were all ignoring the views of the journey up the parkway – all anticipating the “awesome” views at the top. Views we in fact would never see. We were missing out on what was right in front of us. You never know what tomorrow holds, be sure to relish in today.

I constantly find myself with tunnel vision – only looking toward that special moment in the future. When, in fact, what is going on right now is where the magic is. Be sure to look out your windows instead of staring straight ahead at the door. That is where the beauty is. Staring straight ahead will only provide you with an exit sign and high expectations.

Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville, NC

Eric was so disappointed that he wouldn’t get to show us his favorite views. But we were grateful for what we got and we surely made up for it on our remaining two days. We headed into downtown Asheville and walked around and got some drinks.

We then scored tickets for the Amazing Pubcycle. It was a blast! The pubcycle is a 13 person, pedal powered, trolley with a bar in the middle. Everyone brings their own booze, sits on a bike, and pedals and drinks their heart out as they get a unique tour of Asheville. (don’t worry, there is a motor as well).

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Asheville Pubcycle tour conductor

Our conductor, Chase, was amazing – he should have his own TV show, he was that fun and hilarious. We had a blast pedaling around town, scream singing Journey and bike dancing (it’s a thing!) to Lady Gaga while chugging some adult beverages. We got to see a lot of downtown. Best way to spend $10 per person!

Pubcycle, Ryan and Katie

On Saturday we had a slower paced day. We toured the beautiful Grove Park Inn. Which was all decked out for the holidays and was showcasing the 21st National Gingerbread House Competition. This Inn has hosted a long list of distinguished guests including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry Ford, Woodrow Wilson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harry Houdini, and Barack Obama.

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 The Gingerbread Competition was amazing. It was really hard to believe that these sculpture were made all out of food.

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panda gingerbread winner

The Pandas above were the Blue Ribbon winner. Can you believe that is all candy?!

We walked around this beautiful resort, checking out all the themed Christmas trees and even got to meet Santa!!!

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Ryan and Katie with Santa!

After more touring downtown and a nice lunch at Tupelo Honey, we headed back to the cabin for more Thanksgiving leftovers, games, and drinks. Til next time Asheville!

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Katie and Ryan on cabin porch

Thanksgiving Vacation in Asheville, NC (mini post)

Leicester Cabin

Is it really Monday morning? Am I really back in PA? So this is what the internet looks like? Excuse me as I recover from spending 11 hours in the car, driving home from Asheville, NC after a whirlwind 5 day trip (with two days worth of driving included). We had quite an adventure and I can’t wait to tell you all the details!

But, my own bed is calling my name and work tomorrow is going to be brutal – so this is kind of a cheat post – a quick check in to say hello and hope y’all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and share some photos of the cute cabin we rented.

We were SO happy to make it to the mountains of Leicester, NC (about 40 minutes outside Asheville) after driving through a surprise snow and ice storm. My brother and his wife live in this rural town in an adorable country house. My parents and Ryan and I rented a beautiful cabin about 5 minutes from their home.

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When we arrived there was about 4 inches of snow on the ground – a surprise for this time of the year. It was tricky navigating the curvy mountain roads and the steep driveway up to our cabin. But my brother Eric’s smiling face greeted us and the snow just added to the peacefulness and beauty of the serene mountain views.

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Thanksgiving 2013 Asheville, NC

We were more than ready to have some drinks, eat a big meal, and get cozy by the fire. We had a busy three days ahead of us! Can’t wait to share our other fun adventures and pictures.

We had zero internet or phone activity unless we were in town. So that meant zero texting, zero calling, and no internet. It was kind of hard to get used to – I kept running to my phone to look up something or to check a black friday sale. But soon enough we were leaving our cell phones behind and relaxing. So, Please forgive me as I catch up on being back in the real world.

Can’t wait to share more tomorrow!

xoxo katie