The Mountains to the Beach

One thing many claim as an awesome part of living in the triangle is the idea that you can travel to the mountains or the beach all in one days time.  Well, since I decided to do some schoolwork last weekend during Labor Day, I decided to celebrate the 3-day weekend this week.

On Friday night I headed out the mountains of Western NC with some incredible women in my life.  It was a bit last minute thanks to Allie’s incredible colleague who owns a condo in Banner Elk and was kind enough to let us stay for the weekend.  We left Friday night, celebrated some quality girl time that evening, and then explored the nearby towns the next day.  We walked around downtown Boone, which was alive with school spirit due to the home football game that day, and headed home that night to a nice home cooked meal and relaxing in the incredible condo on the mountain.  Some ratings from the trip…

LAURA’S CARE PACKAGES: 10.  As Allie and I arrived at Laura’s to pack up the car and head out to the mountains, Laura surprised us with little trip care packages.  After my blog post post-care package in LA, you probably know how I feel about unexpected surprises like this.  The idea is incredible, and reminds me of the days in college when I’d be beyond excited to receive the familiar Fruit-of-the-Month box from the front desk (and never was it actually fruit of the month, but instead a recycled box filled with baked goods, dorm decorations and candy to keep me entertained while away).  Care packages are even better when they contain incredible chapstick, homemade soap, and delicious raspberry chocolate.  What a great start to the trip 🙂

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Allie and I with our goodie bags (along with Laura, the awesome creator)

THE GREEN BEETLE: 8. The instigator for this whole trip was Allie, who is lucky enough to have a fabulous colleague/mentor who owns a condo in Banner Elk, NC.  It turns out it hadn’t been rented to anyone this weekend, so last minute he offered it up to us for just the cost of the cleaning afterwards.  As you can imagine, we were all over that.

When we arrived we resembled the cast of the Real World, upon arrival at their brand new fabulous mansion.  We went from room to room oohing and aahing over how fabulous it was, and literally screaming several times with joy.  The whole place is woody, exactly how a mountain condo should be, spotless, beautifully decorated, and homey.  There’s a brilliant patio outside, two beautiful bedrooms, two bathrooms (one with an incredible shower that I fell in love with), an incredible kitchen (completely equipped to cook in, no less) and a cozy living room with a fireplace.  On top of all this, it’s a ‘green’ condo, and all cleaning supplies, etc. are completely environment friendly.

-.5 because there’s no hot tub (and that’s not minus a whole point because there IS a jacuzzi tub in one of the bathrooms), and -.5 because there aren’t any speakers to play music.  We survived with just the laptop, and to be honest I should have brought them myself, but I did miss having a soundtrack at parts.  If you’re ever headed to the Boone area and need a place to stay, you should definitely look into this one.  It comes HIGHLY recommended.  Check it out here.

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On Saturday we headed to downtown Boone to explore and do a little shopping.  Many good things were to be found…

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OUR PARKING SPOT: 10.  Honestly, can’t think of a better one.  Right as we were strolling (and by strolling I clearly mean slowly driving) down main street we saw someone ahead of us pull out of a spot RIGHT in the middle of town.  Because it was game day we were expecting to have to pay a fortune to get a spot, but here it was.  The perfect spot, and for nothing.  We double checked with the parking guys on how long we could stay, and to verify it was free, and his answer was “Yup” and “All day”.  I’m loving it.

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The Shoppes of Farmers Hardware: 8.  There are a couple stores like this in Boone that I love.  It’s basically like a mini Arts Fest inside a store.  The store is broken up into a bunch of different ‘booths’ that local artists/merchants can rent out to sell their things.  Therefore inside you find a complete hodge podge of everything from wood furniture. to jewelry, to purses and shoes, to Christmas decorations.  I dig the variety, and am totally into the idea of making it easy for local artists to sell their stuff.  Part of what makes Boone Boone. -2 because I didn’t find a ton of stuff that I personally loved or wanted to take home with me, but I’m sure that’s definitel not true for everyone.

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THIS WEDDING DRESS: 8.  For those who know me well, I’m not exactly the type to plan my entire wedding ahead of time.  Have I thought about it?  Sure.  What girl hasn’t?  Do I spend every waking moment thinking about flowers and dresses and guest lists?  Heck no.  So I even surprised myself when I was so in awe of this dress on display in one of the stores downtown.  But I couldn’t help it.  If I were ever the type to wear a fancy dress (which I’m pretty sure I’m not), I’d want it to look just like this.  -1 because it would require a formal wedding to go with it, and -1 because of the long train and length of the dress, both which would rule out flip flops.

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AVACADO SANDWICH AT ‘OUR DAILY BREAD’: 9.  After doing some lite shopping (that’s right, the heavy stops were coming post-lunch) we decided to stop at the terrific sandwich restaurant in downtown Boone called Our Daily Bread.  We were definitely disappointed at first when our waitress informed us they were out of tempeh (one of my favorite parts of Boone is the large number of restaurants that use tempeh in everything- especially this one which has at least 8 different choices), but I soon forgot all about this as I dove into my brilliant looking avacado sandwich.  Fresh avacado, provolone cheese, sprouts, cucumber, onion, tomato and lettuc, all on whole wheat bread, MADE MY DAY.  I’m seriously in love, and have decided this would be easy enough to recreate at home.  -1 because the provolone wasn’t melted.  I had a great avacado sandwich the other day at Mellow Mushroom where the cheese was melted, and it was FABULOUS.

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STORE NAMES IN BOONE: 6.  I’m not really sure that I love them all (especially the name of this law firm) but I definitely found them entertaining and fun to keep an eye on.  It seemed as if it was almost a requirement to opening a store in Boone is coming up with a clever name…

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FEELINGS OF FALL: 7.  Feelings of fall were everywhere in Boone this weekend.  We saw one red tree on the side of the mountain, felt the crisp mountain air in the mornings, stopped by a local store with pumpkins, gords, dried corn, fall decorations, etc all on sale (and there were several more where this came from), and I smelled fall once or twice while there.  -1 becuase it seems a bit early for pumpkins, -1 because the crisp air was a bit of a tease in the morning as it got hot in the afternoon, and -1 because it got me too excited to then return to 85 degrees back at home.  Overall I’d confidently say I’m ready for fall 🙂

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CHEDDAR CHIVE CHEESE FROM EARTH FARE: 9.  They had small samples out to try in the store, and while I love almost all cheese, I REALLY loved this one.  The sharp cheddar taste was delish, and then add the cut up chives and oniony aftertaste and I’m in heaven.  I decided I didn’t need to splurge on good cheese, but Laura and Allie surprised me with it.  Was a great appetizer with crackers while we were cooking dinner.  I wonder if Whole Foods has some around here…

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WOLAVER’S ORGANICE PUMPKIN ALE: 5.  As a result of all the hints of fall around Boone, I felt it necessary to pick up some Pumpkin Ale for dinner on Saturday night.  At Earth Fare they had one option, one I haven’t tried before, so we picked up a 6-pack.  Overall I’d say it was alright.  I’d get it again if it were the only one at the store (something just feels so right about drinking pumpkin beer this time of year), but if there were alternatives I think I’d try those first.  A bit too ‘aley’ for me, and I didn’t taste enough pumpkin to be honest.  But it did the trick, and was a solid complement to dinner 🙂

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HOME COOKED DINNER: 8.  I’ve cooked butternut squash enchiladas a lot before, but this was only my second attempt on my own.  Without a food processor the insides came out a little bit less creamy, and I forgot the chives, cinnamon, and another spice I didn’t have on hand.  -2 for this, but overall I’d say they came out pretty well.  We picked up some spanish rice and refried black beans (first time trying these and I must say I’m a fan) which added a nice complement.  Overall I’d say we did good 🙂

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After an incredible dinner and great conversation Saturday night, we hit the sack and left town the next morning.  All in all a pretty fabulous mountain trip 🙂

As you can imagine I’m now exhausted from the long weekend so am headed to bed.  Will blog about the fabulous beach adventures tomorrow!

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