Thursday, April 10, 2014

november backlogs: the mountain weekend

Have you ever had an experience that was a dream come true?

This was one of those. And it was especially magical because I didn't even know it was a dream of mine, until it happened and I realized it was a dream come true. Sometimes life is made of those things.

But let me back up.

We knew through various conversation that our friend Victoria's family has a cabin in North Carolina. Her and her husband Colin are our best friends here in the Burg, and as we started hanging out more and more it became a more common topic, like: maybe we could all go up to the cabin some weekend! 

Her parents were in the process of moving from her childhood home in Fayetteville to full-time cabin living in Blowing Rock, so they were often going back and forth between the two cities. Once we picked a weekend, it turned out that her parents would be in Fayetteville -- but they still welcomed us to all go up and enjoy. We'd have the place to ourselves for fun, adventurous, woodsy weekend fun!

It was around this time that Colin informed us that this was no cabin. You think cabin, you think little folksy shack in the woods. He went on to tell us that this place was a gorgeous log mansion overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains, and we thought, what the hey! We won't hold that against them. Let's go!

We headed out on a Friday afternoon, November 1st. A Halloween weekend in the mountains (which should foreshadow some appropriate serial killer jokes and scary movie ideas).

It was the perfect time. Fall was in full swing, finally, and the leaves all around were gold and red and orange.
We all jumped into the car for the 4+ hour drive, and settled in for a great road trip.
We grabbed Chipotle on the way and chatted (I may have dozed here and there). We played that wondrous game where you look around at billboards and signs and storefronts and shout out the capitalized words, and whisper the lower-case ones. h. h. gregg. TACO BELL. 

We managed to make it to Boone, NC just in time to get a red-cupped holiday drink from the only nearby Starbucks right before it closed! Which was obviously very important, because a road trip sans Starbucks is sans sanity.

It was pretty late by the time we actually got to the cabin, which was, indeed, magnificent. 
It was quiet and cold and stunning, even before we could see the vistas of morning Fall outside our window. 
We ended up watching some TV, struggling to figure out the surround sound. Since it was Halloween weekend, we watched most of Nightmare on Elm Street which sufficiently satiated our desire for a little bit of scary movie in the woods...

We were able to stay in the guest bedroom upstairs in the loft, and after sleeping happily and soundly (after listening to Enya for a while because Freddy Krueger is the worst), we awoke to this.

Couldja pinch me, please?

I can't imagine a more amazing way to cherish our last fall in Virginia. Our last chance to drink up the beauty of the changing leaves. I was so happy, I practically floated downstairs, where coffee was being made and we started making plans for our day.

Too bad you brought us here, because now I'm never leaving. 

Colin was a boxer in high school, and so he had been teaching Dusty how to box. They were meeting together in the mornings before classes a few times a week to workout. They brought the gear and were messing around for a while before we decided exactly what to do (and while I sat, amused, sipping on my second cup of coffee). 

Good form, sir. 

It was really fun when Victoria jumped in, because she has some boxing experience as well. It was extremely fun to watch Colin's hesitation (and maybe a lil fear) as she started punching. 
We didn't know this quite yet, but Victoria is kind of a beast. She gets crazy eyes. And I mean that in the best way possible. 

One of the reasons we were taking our time that morning was because there was a "cabinet man" who was coming to do some work on the house. We weren't exactly sure when he was gonna be there, but it slowly became a rather nefarious phrase -- the cabinet man is coming. The cabinet man. The true villain of this story.
Anytime we'd hear a noise, it was the cabinet man. The cat was missing? Cabinet man. 

Sorry, one more break for mountain pictures, because they're so beautiful. 

(I lied. There's more to come later.)

Once we got out the door, we went back up the hill to the lovely little town of Blowing Rock, NC. We pretty quickly decided the four of us would retire here when we're old and grey.

It was cold, but not cold enough to deter us from skipping toward the smell of freshly made waffle cones at Kilwin's.

We bought a plethora of homemade fudge and ate delectably flavored ice creams from waffle cones because that's how you do at Kilwin's.

Blowing Rock is beautiful. I'd describe it using words like crisp and whirl and sweetness, if any of that makes sense to you.
We walked around with ice cream in our bellies, ducking into the various shops. Dusty and I were keeping our eyes out for a Christmas ornament for our traveling collection. Luckily there was a Christmas shop, which is kind of hard to resist. Why do the best little towns always have Christmas shops? It's like a thing. A really great thing.

The shop had all these little side rooms, and they all smelled like Christmastime right in your face. It was glorious. 
One little room was all white and cream and crystal, and right in the center there was this magnificent fairy light tree that made me want my house to be full of fairy light trees. I think it's a reasonable goal. For my future kids, more than me, really...maybe. For me. Really. 

And ultimately I think this upside down green and golden crystal tree contraption should have been the centerpiece for my wedding table. It would've fit right in. 

The rest of our day was all flitting and flirting and making new discoveries.
We found a plaque indicating the location of a time capsule, which is basically the coolest thing ever. It makes me wish really badly that I had made my own childhood time capsule in my backyard, to open and rediscover the best of the worst of fashion and the best of the best of toys and memories.
I can only imagine what this capsule from '89 will be like in 2089.
100 years is a long time, because the poor old men and women who put all their stuff in here will no longer be around by then. I think I would have done 50 or 60 years, so I could at least have a chance at laughing and wheezing at all the clueless youngins who try to figure out what on earth a Slinky is.

The time capsule inspired us to pretend like we're old people, so we went wide-eyed and eager into a candle-making store where they make those super neat-o candle towers all ribbony and majestic.

(Alright, we weren't pretending to be old -- we just honestly wanted to go in there and ooh and aah and gee willikers because we're susceptible to tourism like nobody's business.)

I've been honest thus far, so I'll just tell you.

We bought 2.

Isn't this place the best?

We had lunch at the pub, where we ate warming food and talked about life and cozied up and started getting sleepy. We grabbed coffee at a little cafe.
It was the greatest of Saturdays.

That afternoon we made our way back to the house (taking a quick break to trespass a little to capture this tree-on-fire):

We lazed and dozed and watched TV, unable to muster up the strength to be active. It was all too happy to move.
Their cat, Comet, joined us. Actually, he kind of led the way in cozy behavior.

Once the sun began to set, we made our way out to the main patio (I say main because there are three floors of decks) to take in the stunning last rays.

Told you those mountain pictures would be back.

Then something truly amazing happened.
Our friendship went from friendship to friendship. 
It's hard to explain, but I think it has something to do with taking a perfect photo (that's now framed in both of our homes), being on that first trip/weekend away together, experiencing a beautiful sunset, breaking down the boundaries of typically proper all boils down to that pure, raw, natural state of being that is long term friendship.

It all boils down to the weirdness.

It was all so very beautiful.

The rest of the night was phenomenal cabin time, full of fire-building and board games and pizza.

We realized something that has definitely defined our relationships from this point on -- we sort of started realizing this when we went to the state fair together, but at this point it was cemented -- Dusty and Victoria are the same person. Colin and I are the same person.
It's oddly disconcerting and also absolutely perfect, because I always have someone who has my back when Dusty doesn't understand me, and visa versa.

Dusty and Victoria rolled their sleeves up and got those super-determined looks on their faces, and started building a fire.
Meanwhile, Colin and I plopped down on the couch while they worked and made the important pizza choices from Mellow Mushroom (we settled on House Special and Holy Shitake Pie).

They're the best.

This picture captures one of the best nights ever, one of my favorite moments and views. Roaring fire, Settlers of Catan, Kilwin's fudge. It was the absolute best and sometimes I just wish I could be back there, plop myself in one of those chairs to relive it.

We went and picked up the pizza, and ate, and played, and took bites of fudge for dessert.
Once all the food settled, we decided to take a late night dip in the hot tub (yes, there's also a hot tub on the basement-level deck).
We braved the cold, bare feet on the wooden floorboards, squealing and tip-toeing to the hot tub and pulling back the cover before plopping down into the steaming water.
I love sitting in a hot tub in cold weather. It seems so strange and so luxurious. It was pitch black, as if someone just dropped a big black blanket over the mountains. It was weird, knowing they were there but being unable to see past the porch railings. It felt so quiet and secluded (except for the various twigs that snapped, thanks to the cabinet man).

We wanted the night to last because we knew we had to return to Lynchburg the next day. We stayed out there, talking and hanging out, for as long as we possibly could.

Sunday dawned bright and stupidly gorgeous, of course.

We went to the Dan'l Boone Inn for Sunday brunch, which was absolutely wonderful. It's a local treasure, and we were so excited to try it!
The restaurant is family style, so it's all-you-can-eat of everything, they just keep bringing platters of fresh breakfast foods. It was extra cold outside so it was so cozy to be sitting there, coffee cups and bacon continuously refilled.

We then spent a few hours shopping at their amazing outlet stores, which include Banana Republic and LOFT. Shopping is the best.
The boys got a bit bored (us girls can easily get lost in LOFT), so we headed back to the cabin to enjoy our last few hours before we had to go back to Lynchburg!

Victoria took us out into the woods to their rope swing, which was way more hardcore than I had previously imagined. The rope swings are attached to an incredibly high branch at the top of this steep heel, and they're made of thick rope and a little disc that you sit on.
You climb onto the huge boulder, grab one of the ropes, sit on the swing disc, and let yourself plunge into the great abyss.
Since it's such a steep incline, as you swing outward you're getting further and further from the ground. It is absolutely terrifying and exhilarating! One of the best and worst things I've ever done. I screamed every single time.
We were out there for hours!

We went back to the house and packed up our stuff, and stayed just long enough to see the sun set.

It was the hardest thing, saying goodbye to this mountain weekend!

We stopped at the Comeback Shack for dinner, a fun little burger joint in Boone.

Once we hit the road, the spell was broken and we knew we had to return as soon as humanly possible.
We didn't know it at the time, but we'd be back for a blizzardy winter trip, and then again in this weekend, to be exact!
Easter in the mountains, here we come!

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