Friday, July 3, 2015

Black Mountain, NC

Well another fabulous trip on the books, which means it's time to blog about it! That seems to be the only thing I'm blogging about these days…or every few months I should say. I keep telling myself that's going to change, but until then, let's chat about my time with nature in NC.
Rob and I headed to Black Mountain (roughly 15 miles outside of Asheville, NC) with his family for an extra long weekend. It was the first time visiting this area for all of us, and I think it's safe to say we enjoyed every moment, including the long hikes Rob lead us on. This girl did some walking! :)

I know this is an area that Rob has been so anxious to visit, and he was truly in his element and thrilled as soon as we stepped foot into town. Enjoying some of the local beers on our first afternoon was pretty nice as well.
The views from the house were stunning, and so incredibly peaceful.
Could you not just sit in these rocking chairs all day and enjoy that view? I hate that the camera caught so much lighting, and you truly can't appreciate the view we had. Just trust me though, it rocked!
The house was up in the mountains, and gorgeous, and took us about 10 minutes to get down and into the town of Black Mountain. This city girl was definitely in a new environment, but it was such a needed change. The nights were hard, I will admit. Going from the noise of city sleeping, to being out in the mountains and the middle of nothing…it was almost too quiet to sleep. However, I still enjoyed every moment!

We arrived on a Thursday and left on a Monday, so we had three full days in the area. We took full advantage of the time and the gorgeous setting. Plenty of hiking gear was packed and we used it all.
I took a ton of photos, but will try not to post them all. The views were so gorgeous you just couldn't help but to snap away as we were hiking through the many trails.

 Yes, we climbed these stairs! I definitely deserved the drinks and big burger later that night!

We made it to the top! 

 More hiking trails from other areas. 

Our little stud hiker! :) 

 Could I please have a front porch with this view? 
We all went hiking on Friday and Saturday, and the kids loved it just as much. The weather was gorgeous and it felt like we had these areas all to ourselves. Although I'm not going to lie, on some of these trails, I was ready to give up and turn around. We pushed ourselves on some of these hikes…or maybe my fat butt is just that out of shape.  Now if I had a chair and a bottle of wine, that would have been a different story. :)

We spent our days hiking and enjoying the outdoors, and then our evenings over good food, drinks, exploring Asheville and and relaxing. All what great vacations are about.
 Two cuties hanging out in Asheville! 

Us girls enjoying a glass of wine on our porch. And no, we didn't intend on being so matchy…great minds just think alike. :) 
Before we left on our trip, Rob's Mom had asked me if I was interested in visiting the Biltmore while we were there. Umm….yes, please! I was thrilled and it certainly did not disappoint. Dee, thanks again for all the scoop on the house and the area! :) 

We stepped right into Downton Abbey, and I was giddy with every room and every story behind each room. While my MIL and I were enjoying this beauty, the rest of the family were out on kayaks. (photo stolen from my BIL) It was a perfect day for them on the water.

 Oh the views….
Can you imagine, this is your house? I wish they had allowed us to take photos inside, but sadly not and I therefore can't share photos of the 35 bedrooms or 43 bathrooms. Simply stunning! During the entire time, all I could imagine was seeing Lady Mary, Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson walking around.
Our tickets gave us full access to the house, gardens and then a tasting at the winery. I took a few photos of the gardens, which were stunning, but sadly they didn't turn out so great from my camera phone. It was a perfect day, and I loved spending the one on one time with my MIL. As I've always said, I'm so lucky with the family I've married into, and two of us had a ball that day! 
With all this being said, I have a feeling we'll all be visiting this area again soon. Thanks to Rob's family for an amazing vacation and for always making our time together a blast! Can't wait to see where we'll hit next.  

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Niagara Falls

First off, hello, how are you? It's been months, but I'm kicking my butt in gear and trying to get back to blogging. It seems I don't jump back on here until another trip has been logged in the books, and of course I want to document it all. I never did get the rest of my Cali trip posted, but I'll spare you. Let's hope I get back to blogging on a regular basis. Not to intentionally bore you to tears, but so I can keep my mind straight on things we've been doing. I actually miss this blog when too much time has passed. Momma Willis…this too is for you!  :)

Well what seems like forever ago, was a special birthday/anniversary trip to Niagara Falls in May. It was a gift to Rob that I gave him back in December. He opened up a box with the hotel/trip details, but sadly didn't cash in on it until 5 months later. Let me just start off by saying that we had an amazing time! It was truly one of those trips that was perfect from the start. The riots were in full force here in B'more, so it was actually nice to get out of the city and enjoy another part of the world. Not to mention  we didn't have a 10:00 pm curfew (city curfew due to the riots).

We loaded the car and with passports in hand, and headed for Canada. 
Instead of driving straight in one evening, we stopped off in Williamsport, PA. It was such a small little quaint town, and we met some of the nicest people. After getting checked into the Marriott..the only place we seem to ever stay (it's always about the points), we hit the town for some excitement. Well, not much excitement, but instead a quiet evening with drinks and dinner.

It was fun to meet Katey, who is practically related…I'll save you the long story, but it was so fun to meet her and make the connection.  Sam and Nathan, you guys are the best and thanks for all the recommendations on restaurants.

We left Williamsport early on Friday morning and finished the drive to Canada. The weather was fabulous! We checked in the hotel (yes, a Marriott), and we were floored with the view from our room.
We were on the very top floor, and this is what we enjoyed for the next few days. Perfection!  Here are a few shots from our room at night, and then one that I grabbed just as the sun was coming up. Love it!
The sunrise photo wasn't bad for a camera phone, although the others aren't the best quality and really don't do it justice.

Rob and I dropped our bags immediately and then hit the ground running. One thing I must say about the Falls…they never get old. You could stare at them for hours. The noise, the force and the amount of water, just makes you in awe. If you haven't been, I highly suggest this trip, and definitely stay on the Canadian side.
Sadly I didn't bring my nicer camera, so all my photos are from my phone. However, I still think I captured the magic of this wonder.

I really like how they kept the Falls area very clean and manicured. For being such a tourist hot spot, thankfully it's not cheesy. Very park like, which I was kind of surprised about. There were some major tourist stuff on down the road, but right around the Falls was done beautifully. 

Enjoying a few drinks during a lunch break. I loved all the new Canadian beers I tried, and also a few fun cocktails thrown in. 
We booked a few tours through the stay, which were well worth the money. Anything to get you closer.

The Journey Behind the Falls was incredible. You were at eye level and at times, behind the Falls…hence the name. The noise was unbelievable. Inside the caves were photos throughout the years, including stories of those who have survived going over the Falls. One was a 7 year old kid. I can't even imagine.

Rob and I also ventured out on the Canadian's version of the U.S. Maid of the Mist. We were decked out in another wonderful poncho and headed straight for the falls. We didn't get soaked, but pretty close. It was so fun, and again, just another moment where we were in awe of our surroundings.

I took a video just to fully capture the noise and the amount of water. It really is incredible.

One morning we decided to get away from the downtown/tourist area of the Falls and drove to Niagara on the Lake, which was recommended by my boss. This was an easy drive and well worth it. It was nice to get a change of scenery, and it was definitely a place where we could spend more time. They have a ton of wineries, shops and B&B's.  But before we left, we had to try two things. I needed my hands on a Tim Horton donut. These were everywhere, and oh goodness…I need more!
And then there was this…Niagara Skywheel.  175 feet up in the air and views that were amazing. This was Rob's idea, and I had to laugh with his initial reaction as we slowly climbed to the top. I've never seen him in such a panic state. It wasn't major, but he was definitely uncomfortable. Once we made it around once, he was chilled and enjoyed the ride. It was pretty cool!
Downtown Niagara on the Lake 

 Our lunch spot where I had another amazing Canadian beer.  If only I could remember the name. 

Wow, what a great trip. This is why I love posting, it makes me go back and remember all the fun. If you haven't been, I highly suggest adding this to your list of places to visit. The Canadians could not have been any nicer.