Finally an update! This is going to be a long one, so prepare yourself. Also pictures will follow in a separate update.
I picked J up at the Atlanta airport and we set out for a five-ish hour drive to Banner Elk NC. We stayed at my grandparents mountain house which is situated on the side of Sugar Mountain overlooking Grandfather Mountain. Once we got there and got unpacked, we went to dinner at a tapas restaurant called Zuzda. They claim to have 150 items, which may be true. The way the restaurant works is you order something and then get things sort of one at a time until you are done. It was pretty good and I had some awesome wine. We came back to the house and sat on the porch under a blanket (it was about 50 degrees at night!) and determined what we were going to do the remainder of our time together.
Day 2 we decided to go on a hike. It was really awesome. The Profile Trail on Grandfather Mountain was a 5.4 mile roundtrip hike which involved two overlooks and probably the closest view of the Grandfather Profile you can get. Grandfather Mountain is named because of a rock formation on the side of the mountain that looks like the profile of an old man. We were going to the Banner Elk Winery but they were closed. Instead we went to the Mast General Store in Valle Crucis. I picked out a pumpkin butter and sweet potato butter. The pumpkin butter was amazing! The sweet potato butter was ok. We went over to Boone to look around and ended up having dinner at the Red Onion Cafe which was really good. Right across the street from the Appalachain State campus.
Day 3 we went to Biltmore Estate in Asheville. J had never been (well he apparently has been before, but doesn’t recall it at all) so I think he enjoyed it. The highlight for me was going to the working farm and hanging out with the animals. We said hello to two horses (one had a cold), some billy goats that were fighting, several species of chicken (one species had feathers all over their feet which was interesting), and a huge rabbit named Cloud that had a rigged A/C system consisting of a frozen water bottle and a fan. Dinner was in Asheville at a place that I can’t remember the name of right now. It was probably one of my favorite meals because I got to enjoy Chocolate Mint Sorbet!!! That was probably the best sorbet I have ever had! I also had a delicious create your own antipasto which consisted of grilled asparagus, marinated mushrooms, two different types of olives, and cashew pomegranate spread. Delicious!
Day 4 we headed to Myrtle Beach to hang with some of my family. On the way we stopped for lunch at Delamater’s in my home town with my grandparents, one of my aunts, two cousins, and my great-aunt and uncle stopped by during our meal. Once we made it to MB, we hung out with my mom and while my brother grilled. Veggie burger for me!
Day 5 we went with my mom to the outlet mall because she promised to buy J some running shoes for his birthday. We had lunch at the local health food store that has a little kitchen in the back. I had “fake” BLT which is something that I normally get there. I love it because they only have two meat dishes on the whole menu: chicken salad (made with veganaise) and tuna salad. We went to my dad’s house to swim in the pool prior to having dinner with my dad and brother. We went to the Dune’s Club which is a member’s only golf club and I had some delicious lettuce wraps.
Day 6 if I am remembering correctly, this would be July 4th. We had breakfast and then spent the majority of the day on the boat with my dad. We went out to a place called Bird Island which is only accessible by boat, but it was super crowded. J wanted some fresh fried seafood so we stopped at a place called Captain Poo’s (I’m not kidding). I settled for a salad and dry baked potato while my dad and J had a fried festival (fried broccoli and cheese bites, fried shrimp, french fries, hush puppies…). We were going to watch fireworks, but J and I were zapped from being in the sun all day so we called it a night.
Day 7 we went to a really cool “contemporary” Episcopal service. The priest had a very interesting sermon and wore sandals. Brunch followed at the Sea Captain’s House. I think I had fruit and wheat toast with cranberry juice, while J had the buffet. We went to my mom’s place after that and trekked out to the beach. J enjoyed the water and lost his sunglasses, while I enjoyed people watching and talking with my mom. Dinner was at my mom’s place where I helped her make Beaufort Stew (sort of like a lobster boil, except it has shrimp and we didn’t pour it out on a table). I enjoyed some almond butter and banana and corn. The corn is so delicious!
Day 8 time to leave. We were going to Charleston to stay two days and enjoy the museums and sites. We got to Charleston after eating lunch with my mom, checked into the hotel and set out to find somewhere for dinner. We settled on Henry’s Bar and Grill so that J could get some shrimp and grits. Before dinner arrived, I felt my heart rate pick up and couldn’t believe it. J took my pulse (that EMT training is coming in handy) and I was up to 97. I can’t eat when it gets up that high so I asked if they could box my meal up which they made especially for me. We went back to the hotel and I rested while J was restless. I felt bad because I knew he wanted to wander, but I wanted to just relax. We decided to leave the next day so that I could go and see my doctor and determine what the deal is.
Day 9 we left Charleston. Had breakfast on the road from the snacks that I brought. We arrived in Florida and J was really happy to see his parents and the dogs.
The remainder of the days begin to run together at this point, so I will just go through what we did. One of my good friends invited us to tour the Orlando Mormon Temple (just the outside) and learn more about Mormonism. J and I were both interested in going, since we both knew only bits and pieces about the religion and we are all about learning new things. The tour was really interesting and we both learned a lot.
For our anniversary, we went to St. Petersburg for a night. We went to Chateau France for our anniversary dinner. We called ahead since the menu did not feature any vegan dishes and they said they would be happy to accomodate! Hooray! I had an Eiffel Tower salad that had a champagne dressing that was to die for. They made a special vegetable platter with some awesome spaghetti squash. The next day we went to the Salvador Dali museum. It was amazing. I became interested in Dali’s work after seeing a piece on his home and other works in Barcelona. He fell in love with a Russian woman who became his model and muse. Once she died he dedicated several sculptures to his misery and depression in losing her. But the museum in St. Pete featured some of his earlier works and some of his pieces when he was working through different genres to determine his direction. Let’s just say Dali was eccentric but was very deep. There is so much imagery in some of his later works that you could look at them for hours and not see everything.
Ever since J knew he would be in town he wanted to go to Ichetucknee Springs. He warned me that the water was really cold. You really can’t prepare yourself for how cold the water is. I purchased a float that didn’t have a hole in it and floated down the river on a large flower float. J kept calling me “Tiger Lily” because I was sitting cross-legged on the float to avoid the water. The whole trip took 4 hours, but it was really relaxing and fun.
In between that there were many dog walks, doctor visits, vet visits, dog washing, and going through our possessions. The two things of interest in that list would be the doctor visits and the possession sorting. After two visits to the doctor, my potassium is normal, so that is not the problem this time. One EKG later she says that I have a sinus arrhythmia. Not life threatening, but about every 8 beats or so my heart speeds up. Awesome. I’m having another echocardiogram on Wednesday and will see a cardiologist in September to determine if anything else is going on. On the plus side, I didn’t pass out when they took my blood.
The possession-sorting went really well. A good purge of your possessions is cleansing every now and again. We will be having a garage sale sometime in the fall. There are ten more boxes in the garage to be sorted and then whatever is in the house. Other than that, everything has been sorted into store, sell, or take.
Whew. Ok that’s the quick run through. I’ll be posting more regularly now and will hopefully get the pictures up soon. I need to get onto writing my articles and back to some sense of normalcy now. Back to the rat race we go…