Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Sunday Well Spent

When I woke up this past Sunday, the rain that had promised to let up had not. Heather and I had planned to go hiking but had lots to accomplish that day too. Luckily, Heather had the fabulous idea to head up to Hot Springs for a hike + a soak in one of their mineral hot tubs.  So at 11 AM we booked one of their hot tubs for 5:45 that night! The idea of a river-front hot tub, sans all the harsh chemicals, is my idea of bliss on a cool, rainy day. In the way that happy Sundays can be sometimes, we had the perfect balance of city wandering, nature and relaxation.

After running some errands and plodding around downtown Asheville, we made the 45-minute drive out to Hot Springs. Since it was raining we left things flexible, with the plan to grab a beer at one of the two bars in town if it was raining too hard or stop off in one of the other little towns along the way. The only way there is via a one-lane road, so we were forced to slow down and smell the horse manure roses.

Every time I make a drive like that it makes me think of home and I get all nostalgic. Nothing says Central PA like a 25 MPH speed limit and ramshackle old barns. Makes my heart swoon. And, it was the raining that perfect, misty rain that makes the roads glisten, and lightly enough to crack the windows and listen to the car tires crackle along the wet road.

Once we got there the rain stopped and we saw blue skies, so we preserved and went on our hike! We actually did a portion of this same hike a few years ago, but I was enough of a space cadet not to realize we were on the Appalachian Trail! I think it's so cool that the AT runs so close to Asheville, and Hot Springs is one of the places that it runs right through civilization. We timed the hike so that we'd return with enough time to head over to the Hot Springs Resort and Spa where they rent the tubs out by the hour.

The big draw in Hot Springs is just that...the natural hot springs that give the town its name. I learned that the city was founded around these springs and were used by the Cherokee Indians for their healing powers. There is now a "resort" and "spa" along the river which feeds the springs. I use these terms loosely as the amenities are, shall we say, rustic? I, for one, I totally appreciate the utilitarian-ness of these tubs (and the price) but I do worry that a honeymooning couple may one day mistake this spot for a swanky resort.

I've only been to the tubs one other time, in the dead of winter, and I was honestly a bit cold. Since the tubs are fed by the springs I assume the temperature fluctuates with the weather. But by 5:45 on Sunday, the rain had stopped and it was downright muggy outside. The deal with the tubs is that each one is totally private and you face the river, so you feel pretty solo out there! It was so incredibly relaxing to soak in a hot, bubbly tub outside listening to the river for an hour. The minerals are said to relieve stress + fatigue and increase oxygen + blood flow. I can't say whether these things really happened, but damn if it didn't feel fantastic.

I was so relaxed driving home that I honestly felt like I was in a dream. Have you ever left a yoga class, totally blissed out and felt like a you're on another planet? That's exactly how I felt, cruising the back roads back to Asheville.

It was the perfect way to start the new week, I wish I could do that every Sunday!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Friday, September 18th

It has been a hot minute, read 6 months, since I've done participated in 5 on Friday! This week has been a good week so I thought I'd share a few of the things that have made it an enjoyable one:

1. Coming from a big family, we always say it's either a wedding or a funeral that brings us together, and either way, we are always grateful to have time together. Tomorrow, my family from all over the country will come together to honor my sweet grandmother, and my partial namesake, Amelia. It will be good to have some closure and have this time together with my cousins, aunts and uncles.

Blue Apron. Well of course when my mom gifted me a one week subscription, I forgot to cancel it for the second week. So we had a fancy, and amazing, meal this week! I do love that this program leaves me with recipes I can use again in the future. Never in a million years would I make my own tartar sauce or purchase scallions with the intention of reserving half for garnish. I really feel like I am upping my game, watch out world.

Back on my workout game and damn does it feel good. Need I say more?

After mourning the end of summer, I am essentially ready for Christmas already. Actually, make that Thanksgiving. Once the weather turns crisp I start dreaming of cold morning runs and pumpkin everything. I actually cracked my first pumpkin beer on labor day weekend, and there may or may not be a few pumpkins hanging out on my porch steps. I can't help myself! Oh, and I PAID for shipping on Amazon, which pains my soul. But, I just had to get my hands on my first apple/heaven/pumpkin/Netflix scented candle. And look how it arrived! This is the first I have heard of this brand, Pure Integrity, and I've never seen an Amazon seller include a hand written note + free samples!

Update: Nutmeg Spice smells divine!

Thank goodness for good friends! I had the best chat with my OG-BFF (yes, that happened) while walking Mozey the other day. I walked her for a solid 90 minutes, came home starting cooking dinner and we were still talking. It's honestly an effort to get off the phone with her, we just keep snowballing into more and more conversation. We talked about yoga, art, music, life, love, marriage, and of course, we always devolve into some high school memories. Remember that one time we got caught doing that? Good times.

Here we are circa 2007

How was your week?

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Maiden Voyage

Big news, big news, big news!

Daisy (she came to us pre-named) took her maiden voyage this past weekend. It was both thrilling and terrifying at the same time. Never having towed a 3,000-pound hunk of metal down the road, my brain dreamed up a number of potential disasters. Only a few came true, thank goodness.

Since it was our first time towing Daisy, we decided to join our friends (who ironically also just purchased a camper, too) at a campsite about 1.5 hours from Asheville, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Forest. Knowing approximately nothing about towing something this big, we figured we should stay close to home on the first go around. Heather used to have a small pop-top camper back in the day, so she has some knowledge. But me? I'm just pretty much holding on and praying.

Thankfully, despite all the teeth gritting it took to get there, we arrived without incident. What's funny about going to a campground with a camper is that you're not really roughing it. At all. We were in what's called a "primitive" site, meaning there was no water or electric hookup, so sadly we had no AC. I kid, I kid. But really, the comfort expectation is high, these people are running generators and setting up adorable little picnic situations. It's a whole different world than tent camping.

I feel like I am getting fully prepared for retirement, about 30 years early. And the people, holy crap! The camaraderie of an "RV Park", dare I say it, is impressive. After rolling up into our little spot in the woods, Mozey barely had enough time to pee on something before the first person came over to ask about our camper and tell us to let them know if we needed anything. Seriously, I am down with the senior citizen vibe.

Despite the cushy, old person amazing-ness, we were in National Forest territory, so there was lots of exploring to do. Our first, and only, night there we took a cool hike out of the campground and found an abandoned amphitheater, much to my excitement. I always reference the Secret Garden when I talk about stuff like this, but honestly, exploring secret, abandoned things excites me more than anything in the world. That night we cooked with our friends and sat around drinking beer by the fire, because, what the hell else do you do at night in the woods?

We only spent one night, as this was more of a test run than a true get-away-from-it-all camping experience. We had to pack up and leave by noon the next day, but we wanted to get some hiking done before we left. Luckily, the visitors center was down the road and was advertised as the host to some fun trails. So we (Heather) skillfully plopped the camper in the "large vehicle" section of the parking lot, we packed a little picnic and headed off on the River Trail. It did not disappoint!

We ate our picnic on a cool log right on the river's edge while watching the terrified and surprisingly sober tubers plod down the shallow river in front of us. After a quick, candid photoshoot we wandered down the trail and found a sweet swimming spot! Here we dipped and sunned ourselves on a huge rock outcropping like little lizards until we decided we should head back towards civilization.

It was such a short trip, but so sweet! The stars out there were insane, and I will never forget our first night spent in sleeping in Daisy!