There’s nothing I love more than family, and to see everyone as much as possible is always a top goal of mine. Many of them, though, we only can count on seeing once a year at Thanksgiving. The ladies on my mom’s side of the family decided that wasn’t enough (especially since we missed Thanksgiving last year) and put together a Blue Ridge Mountains girls weekend just outside of Asheville, in Fletcher, North Carolina.
We arrived at our beautiful mountain rental on Thursday, bringing a bunch of groceries and excited kids with us. Though built in 1993, it had the feel of an old plantation house, beautiful and roomy, with a fabulous front porch, a big backyard with a playset, and beds to sleep all 12 of us.
We all arrived by late afternoon and settled in to some front porch sitting while the kids ran wasted no time jumping right into climbing trees and making up games. Cara brought a beautiful charcuterie spread she picked up from Boxed Bites in Atlanta and we all devoured it while sipping drinks and catching up.
We split up the dinners each night and mom and I took night number one, making a Mexican fiesta. Build your own meals always work so well for groups, especially for kids with cheese and tortillas are involved!
Friday we had our only set plans, and that was to explore the Biltmore house, the largest private estate in America, built by George Vanderbilt. The girls and I have been there once before in the snow a Christmas time, which was beautiful, and we were looking forward to experiencing it again to see what it looked like without all the Christmas decor.
With kids ranging from 4-9, we weren’t sure how into the tour they’d all be, but the kids did great! The kid audio tour is narrated by Cedric, the Vanderbilt family dog, and is super cute and entertaining. We celebrated their good behavior with a trip to the candy shop for the kids and coffees for the adults in the stables next door. Unfortunately the rain moved in and stopped us from exploring the village, but now it’s just an excuse to make a return trip.
Back at the house we busted out the board games- Settlers of Catan of course, and a fun game by Aunt Cynde brought called Do You Know Me, which opened a lot of fun conversation and story telling! We even played it with the kids (editing out a few of the more adult topic cards) and they thought it was such a blast!
That night Cara and Cynde made us a delicious meal of spaghetti, shrimp, broccoli, and garlic bread.
Saturday the weather was beautiful! We ventured out for some hiking at Collier Cove Nature Reserve, and though it was fun to get out and tromp through the woods, I wouldn’t recommend it. It was steep terrain and very short trails (.6 miles) but it was close to where the house was and served its purpose of getting us out and moving.
We attempted to go into Asheville after the hike, but being a beautiful Saturday and the first day of spring, it was slammed! The line for Wicked Weed wrapped around outside the building and the sign reading “21+ no exceptions” helped seal the decision that heading back to the house was the best. And it was. The day was insanely pretty and we all sat outside, watching the kids play soccer, chatting, and walking around the property.
In the afternoon we surprised the March birthday girls, mom and Cynde, with a scavenger hunt for birthday gifts. The kids went CRAZY for this and “helped” (took over?) reading the clues and running from spot to spot. It culminated with singing happy birthday and digging into a delicious raspberry cake!
The rest of the afternoon and evening was just plain fun. Cara played her guitar and we all did our best to sing along. We played games, devoured my cousin Mya’s insanely delicious guacamole, and talked about everything from our life stories to current events. I laughed, I cried and all in all, it was such a fun, bonding weekend for all of us.
We all gave big hugs to each other and headed out Sunday morning. Not ready for the fun to end quite yet, Mom, the girls, and I stopped in Old Fort to hike the Catawba Falls trail. This one I highly recommend, as you get a lot of bang for your buck! The trail takes you beside a beautiful creek and culminates a mile in at Catawba Falls. It’s gorgeous (pictures don’t do it justice) and there are so many boulders for climbing on; the kids absolutely loved it. We ended up doing just under three miles once all the climbing was said and done.
We made one last stop in Morganton to eat lunch at Root & Vine (which was delicious), then headed back home feeling happy, tired, and… well, stinky. We all desperately needed showers! It was such a fun way to kick off spring; bring on the warmer temperatures and longer days!