Well, I'm officially 30. I made it through to the other side. I still struggle with not being where I thought I'd be but overall, I'm choosing to embrace this next year and see where it takes me. Or rather, see where God takes me. I knew I didn't want to stick around town for the big day so my mom agreed to accompany me to Asheville, NC. A patient had raved about the Biltmore house and I figured North Carolina would at least be warmer than here. (It was but not by much. I apparently bring cold weather or snow wherever I go.) My dad was kind enough to get by without mom from Thursday to Monday. I told him that I would love it if he came too but I would feel like such a little kid going on vacation with my parents. Not how I wanted to feel facing this giant. He was cool and understood. I thought the snow might prevent departure from O'Hare but the pilot got us in the air with no trouble. This trip turned out to be exactly what I needed: bonding time with mom, the adventure of exploring a new place, and opportunities to eat and relax.
I loved touring the Biltmore house and would highly recommend the audio guided tour. It is filled with rich information about the house and its belongings, as well as its owners, George and Edith Vanderbilt. I was blown away by the library and its 10000 volume collection. I walked in and told my mom, "I'm in heaven!" You don't get to go through all 250 rooms but the tour still gives visitors a good idea of the scope and scale of the house. The estate covers an impressive and beautiful 8000 acres.
Also of note was All Souls Cathedral, an Episcoplian church built and funded by George Vanderbilt. We stumbled on to a lecture by the rector to a group of seminary students. It was so interesting to hear the history of the church and learn what it is doing now.
The trip was filled with many opportunities to shop and eat. Asheville has many unique boutiques and stores. We also hunted down some great consignment shops. We ate at some amazing restaurants and I enjoyed the opportunity to get my fill of sweet tea and other Southern favorites. I even found some fried pickles! I would highly recommend Tupelo Honey Cafe, table, and Cucina 24 in downtown Asheville, as well as the restaurants at Biltmore and Grove Park Inn.
My birthday was Sunday. We checked out West Asheville Baptist Church and then had lunch at the Bistro Cafe. The Biltmore winery was closed for inventory the day we toured the house so we decided to save the wine tasting for my birthday. This turned out to be an excellent decision. My mom does not drink so I appreciated her coming along for the ride. We went to a Red Wine and Chocolate seminar and then did the tasting. The wines were delightful- I even had some shipped home! After wine tasting we relaxed at the hotel for a little while and then headed to Cucina 24 for an amazing birthday dinner. The waitress figured out it was my birthday and brought me a complimentary and most tasty dessert. Throughout the day I got messages and texts from friends and family. All in all, I felt loved. It's nice to be back home but I will forever cherish the time spent with my mom. She is quite the woman and I am blessed to call her my mother. I'm not quite ready to go back to work tomorrow and I can't look forward to Saturday because I'm on-call. What will be, will be. I think 30 is off to a nice start.