No one could be more surprised than me on how wonderful our weekend in Blowing Rock/Boone/Damascus turned out. I love to travel, but have realized as I've become an adult that it's almost more fun to plan and dream about the trip than to actually go on the trip. I think I'm mostly to blame for that - me and my pesky perfectionist-riddled-with-anxiety streak. I tend to romanticize about how great a place will be and all the fun we'll have, and being the picture perfect tourists, but usually that all goes to poop when we arrive. That was not the case this past weekend.
We left work around 1pm on Thursday and were able get on the road by 3pm-ish. We were in a caravan of 3 - Skye driving the sexy blue Neon, Seth and I in the CR-V, and the remaining McFarlands in the yummy vanilla Cruiser. We got to our lovely inn in Blowing Rock around 6pm and upon stepping out of our cars we realized how magnificent the weather was at that moment (and would remain our entire weekend). I think we all took big sighs of relief and relaxation. For me, it was like slipping into a warm tub at the end of a long day. It was that perfect cool, but not cold, and no hint of humidity or uncomfortable heat kind of night. It was 75 degrees with still a bit of daylight left. It was wonderful. We went out for dinner and then sat around in the inn's gazebo for a little while after we got back. The only black cloud of the weekend was me not being able to sleep on night #1. I have no idea what my deal was, but just couldn't sleep - perhaps still winding down from any trip anxieties. Turns out Skye didn't sleep well either, but we managed to make it through Friday grouchiness-free.
Friday morning, we ate breakfast at Knight's before heading to ASU to move Skye in to her dorm. There was a bit of a wait in traffic before we could actually move Skye's stuff in, but nothing unbearable and it was a short move-in with all the help from ASU staff. After Skye got her stuff unpacked and put away, we went over to the bookstore, bought some poser shirts and stuff and walked around. It was a nice day and I had never really seen ASU so it was fun to walk around on a nice, pretty campus brimming with eager freshman and returning students. I totally realized how very NOT envious I was of all those students. I remember my time in college very fondly and how much fun it was to discover my independence, but at the same time, I remember the work, the classes, the tests and I realized I'm happy to be 30 and grown-up.
We later returned to Blowing Rock and tricked ourselves into thinking we had the energy to walk around town. About 4 stores into our trek, we realized our extreme tiredness and headed back to the inn after hitting up several stores and getting ice cream for dinner. YUM. We all kept to our rooms for the night and watched Olympics, read books, and napped. We were wiped out.
Saturday was a big day for us. We went to Damascus, VA to ride the Creeper Trail - 17 miles of mostly downhill adventuresome fun. I was pretty nervous about the event seeing as how I'm not exactly the athletic or outdoor type. I enjoy doing things like that and definitely have a desire to do it more often, but since I don't actually do them often, I automatically assume I'm not going to do well or last long at anything requiring energy or endurance.
We loaded our bikes onto the 15-passenger van that took us to the top of the mountain. This was a CONSIDERABLE point of stress for me since I'm not a fan of curvy, twisty mountain roads nor 15 passenger vans driven by strangers. I got stuck on the second row all alone and not thrilled. The driver said it was a 45 minute trip to the top and it took all I had to make it there. The driver started an annoying game with everyone in the shuttle and for me, talking is the last thing I want to do when I'm trying to keep my eyes on the road to avoid car sickness. Somehow they got the hint and skipped me in the game. WE MADE IT and I didn't get sick. WHEW. I won't pretend I didn't think of bailing about 5 times on the way up, but I pushed through and am glad I did.
When we got to the top, it was top-of-the-mountain kind of chilly, but we were prepared with long sleeves so we all set off on our ride. I think we all had a blast! The scenery was great, the weather was amazing, and since you're 3,000+ above sea level, the majority of the trail is downhill so it was quite easy. The last 3-5 miles were flat and required pedaling, but nothing strenuous and was super-enjoyable and relaxing. I was so proud of myself when we got to the bottom! Nothing gives me more confidence than to challenge myself and succeed. It's just SO hard to actually go for the challenge (Seth and I originally were not going to go on the Creeper at all, but I changed my mind and I'm SO glad we joined in!)
Seth and I opted to spend an extra night in town after we rode the Creeper so we headed back to Blowing Rock and took Skye and her friend Gabe out to eat at Mellow Mushroom in Blowing Rock. We sat outside and had a fun dinner. We took them back to ASU, said goodbye to Skye, and headed back up the mountain for a relaxing last night in the inn. Usually, travels come with arguments and stress, but I'm so thankful this one went smoothly and was actually enjoyable! I haven't taken a vacation for the purpose of relaxing in a long time and I wouldn't put this trip in that category, but somehow, even though we stayed busy the whole time, I truly felt relaxed and like I had gotten to rejuvenate from the stress of work and other things.
There's talk of riding the Creeper sometime again this fall - I'm sure it'd be gorgeous when the leaves turn. All in all - great trip - and we're looking forward to going up to visit Skye and having a good reason to hit up the mountains several times during the next 2 years before she graduates. We hope to take our precious Three with us next time!