We arrived Tuesday evening and checked into our hotel, which was just down the street from my son's house. Their house isn't that large, and as it turned out a hotel was a blessing. I can't imagine the exhausting bedlam that would have ensued if we were all under the same roof for that many days! The girls had to be separated at intervals so everyone could get some sleep!
Supergirl had school on Wednesday, so after breakfast my daughter and I took Delaney on a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway. We got a few miles along before the clouds came in around Mount Pisgah, and we were forced to turn back. We did take a few photos before the cloud cover spoiled the view. Delaney enjoyed going through the tunnels along the way, but the views were somewhat lost on her almost 4 self.
Of course, after a couple of hours of tunnels and admiring the view, Delaney resumed asking when she was going to see her favorite cousin. We headed for my son's house, where we spent some time getting to know the littlest cousin. Willa, sadly, was a bit under the weather with what turned out to be an ear infection, so she wasn't her bubbly self.
When half-day kindergarten was ending, we all piled into the minivan to pick up Supergirl, then headed off to a really cute indoor playground (the clouds were gathering). As we were unloading the baby and her gear, the big cousins got out first and this happened:
Grandma didn't tell them to pose for a huggy photo. They hugged each other and I was lucky enough to catch it. They hugged, held hands and giggled non-stop all week.
The Mountain Play Lodge is great: clean, safe and tons of fun for the kids. But be warned: the snack bar fare is about what you could find in one of your finer gas stations (not even at 7-11 level). We were expecting more/better food choices, so our play time was cut short by the need to feed hungry kids real food. If that place put in a real snack bar (they already have a nice eating area, so the lack of actual food was quite puzzling) we would have stayed much longer.
But the girls had a great time while it lasted!
We went to dinner at Asheville Brewing Co. Fabulous pizza and a very kid-friendly environment, which was a good thing. The girls were still utterly wired to be hanging out together at last, and couldn't sit still.
As a side note: It had been a while since I'd driven in AVL in the dark, in the rain. I do not like it. My daughter marveled at how very dark it is, and the roads are winding and often poorly marked. I got us lost more than once in the last few days.
We attempted a sleepover but the girls were too wired to settle down, and eventually Miss D was carried out in her nightgown under protest, whereupon she fell asleep in the car on the very short drive to our hotel. Five and almost four is too young for a sleepover, especially when it's two girls who only see each other a couple of times a year at best. It was too novel, too exciting. We'll try again in a year or two. As I said, it was very good that we had a nearby hotel room to retreat to; these two were waaay too excited to see each other.
Thursday was gray and rainy, and Willa's ears were bothering her. Our planned outing was a washout and the baby was sick, so my daughter and I took Delaney and went our own way. My daughter had to have lunch at 12 Bones, the president's favorite BBQ choice when he's in town. It was very, very good, though honestly the side dishes were better than the meat! She raved over the baked beans, and we finished our meal with a shared slice of excellent pecan pie.
(Grandma's been off her plant based diet for a week now, but today it's back to the greens.)
We also went to the farmer's market and bought bags of HUGE Honeycrisp and Candycrisp apples to share. Then we stopped by the outlet mall near our hotel. My daughter needed new running shoes, but didn't find any - the prices at the "outlet" mall were startlingly high. We did, however, meet a wolf hybrid in one of the shoe stores, and Delaney got a kiss on the cheek. Yes, a huge, full grown wolf hybrid was walking on a leash with its daddy, in a shoe store. It's just SO Asheville. A little scary, but so Asheville.
The rest of the day was family time. My son cooked dinner, my daughter-in-law's parents came over bearing wine, and a good time was had by all.
We got up early Friday morning to head back to Florida. The drive back was ENDLESS. A huge storm entirely unrelated to Hurricane Joaquin is battering the east coast, directly on our path home, so we took the inland route down through SC to I-85 to I-75. It was raining hard along that route too, but at least we weren't dealing with the worst of it, or evacuee traffic in SC.
But our 8 hour drive took 11 endless, miserable hours, and I was very, very glad to get home.
Today is for regrouping: I have a lot to do before starting my new job on Monday, but this trip was just what I needed to clear my head and focus on the future. More on that to come.