Saying good-bye to our daughter

LOCATION:  Emerald Isle, North Carolina
WEATHER:  Overcast.  High 65

While here at the beach, we have lazily slept in every morning, enjoying listening to the waves from our bedroom.  Today, we had to get up early to take daughter Alexis to the Raleigh/Durham Airport.  It is a 3-hour trip. 

All went well, except it was a pretty boring drive.  No traffic on the country roads, but as we neared Raleigh, it was busy Interstate driving.  We dropped her off, and made the return trip.   We stopped at a gas station where they have a boiled peanut stand.  Only in the South!

This area of North Carolina is famous for its BBQ.  We saw lots of billboards advertising BBQ restaurants and BBQ contests/festivals.  We really didn’t want BBQ for lunch on the return trip, so happily found a brewpub with some other options.  We shared some chicken wings which we haven’t had for awhile. 

Back at the beach, we took a hike on the beach, then looked through some photos of this visit with Alexis.  I miss her already!

DINNER:  More shrimp and scallops, along with a vegetable stir-fry and hush puppies.  The scallops are out-of-this-world plump and yummy. 

Another great day at the beach

LOCATION:  Emerald Isle, North Carolina
WEATHER:  Sunny.  High 55

In the morning, we sat at the picture window in the cottage that looks out onto the ocean, watching the porpoises frolick. 

Janet has a dog named Lexie. Here are Lexie and Alexis….

We (George, Alexis, and I) took off for an outing.  We drove the length of the island and then took the other bridge back to the mainland, to Morehead City.  We explored the city in search of a restaurant for lunch.  Most everything was closed, but we finally found a really cute wine shop/restaurant/bar that fit the bill perfectly.

Alexis had fried oysters.

George and I split a very Southern dish – pimiento cheese sandwich.  Very tasty.

We did some grocery shopping and came back in the late afternoon.

DINNER:  Grilled sausages, baked portabellos, mashed potatoes, and salad – everyone could pick and choose.  Nice!

BOOK:  “The Lincoln Highway” by Amor Towles.  It took me longer than usual to read this, as we have been busy the last week.  The author is superb at creating interesting characters who are trying to take the Lincoln Highway across the USA.  5 stars out of 5

Great times at the beach!

LOCATION:  Emerald Isle, North Carolina
WEATHER:  Breezy.  A bit cool.  High 65

How wonderful it is to listen to the waves as we sleep.  Our bedroom in this beach cottage overlooks the ocean.  Once up, we all enjoyed our coffee on the deck.

Alexis and I decided to take a walk on the beach

We headed to a restaurant called Surf’s Up for lunch.  George and I shared a grouper sandwich.  He had to chat up the beach babe,…

The restaurant is on a long fishing pier.  George had to see if the fishermen were doing any good while we girls hung out.

We stopped at a growler station to fill up two growlers – one with a stout and one with Scotch ale.  Of course, we had to do some sampling while there…

The last stop was the fish market where we bought ingredients for tonight’s dinner. Everything is right off the boat. 

DINNER:  George’s sister Janet cooked a great meal – scallops and shrimp sauteed in butter and garlic.  Oysters in her air fryer.  Sides were Southern hush puppies.   All so good!

To the beach!

LOCATION:  Emerald Isle, North Carolina
WEATHER:  Sunny.  High 62

We said goodbye to our AirB&B in Asheville and headed to Winston-Salem through the mountains.  We met George’s brother and sister-in-law as well as his college roommate for lunch in an Indian restaurant.  Very tasty and great conversation.  (Forgot to take a photo)

Then, on to the beach.  A four-hour drive turned into 6 hours due to getting lost and missing a few turns in the country. 

George’s sister and her significant other are renting a beach house on this island for a month.  The house is right on the ocean, with a beautiful view from their living room.  We started out with drinks in the kitchen….

Then, we sat on the deck and enjoyed the sunset.

DINNER:  Fried chicken using an air fryer, Asian stir-fried vegetables, and rice.  Very tasty!

Asheville – So many breweries; so little time!

LOCATION:  Asheville, North Carolina
WEATHER:  Spring has not totally sprung yet.  Cool.  High 50

We had a lazy morning.  It is supposed to freeze tonight so the host told us to cut some spring flowers if we wanted.  I arranged some hyacinths in a beer glass….

We bundled up, compliments of jackets left for us by the host, so that we could walk around Asheville in the cool temps.

Our first stop of the day was White Labs Brewery and Kitchen where we had a delicious pizza made from beer spent grains.  This is a lab that makes yeast for breweries all over the world.

Next door, we just had to stop at funky Green Man Brewery

We toured Burial Brewery (no drinking here, just looking)

George and Alexis stopped at another brewery where they were celebrating their 4th anniversary.  I passed on that one, and just walked home.

After a bit of a rest, we hopped in the car to explore areas farther afield.  We visited New Belgium Brewery, another big brewery that has located it 2nd facility here (first one in Fort Collins, CO).  It is a big set-up

New Belgium is close to the River Arts District so we stopped there to walk around.  We admired some of the artwork, and then stumbled upon (how could we miss?) yet another brewery.

Back home, Alexis relaxed on the sunny deck. We spotted a huge ground hog in the bushes.

DINNER:  We picked up some tacos at a taqueria and brought them home.  Alexis bought a tofu kimchi bowl from a food truck for her dinner.  We relaxed at the house and had a peaceful evening. 

Tackling the Asheville brewery challenge!

LOCATION:  Asheville, North Carolina
WEATHER:  Cool.  High 58

Our AirB&B is comfortable and in a great location.  After a nice night’s sleep, we took off for morning adventures.  We did some shopping at Trader Joe’s, things to take back to Texas and to use while camping this summer, as well as some good, inexpensive wine.  Nearby, we stopped at a cute coffee shop to get ready for the rest of the day.

We drove out to Sierra Nevada Brewery, a new enterprise for the area.  Their main brewery is in California, and they recently built/opened this second location outside of Asheville.  The place is immense and must have cost $1B or more.

In the taproom, we had some beers and lunch.  Even though it is touristy, they do things well here.  As the designated driver, I ordered the non-alcoholic IPA.  It was surprisingly good – the best N/A beer I have ever had. 

We did a self-guided tour and couldn’t resist some shopping in their gift shop.

We drove around other parts of Asheville, and then a few miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway, just outside of town. 

Then back home to rest a bit.  We planned our evening itinerary and walked (down) to the downtown area.  The hardest part of the trip is to decide which of the many, many breweries to try.  Our first stop was Hi-Wire, which was very good. 

Next door was a sake brewpub.  Had to try it!

Here is poor George trudging from one brewery to another…

Our last brewery of the day was Wicked Weed Funkatorium, again with good beers.  George and Alexis shared an IPA flight. 

Then, on to dinner.  We had been warned that reservations would be necessasry in almost any Asheville restaurant.  We had reserved a table at Zambra’s, a Spanish tapas bar.  We did see people without reservations get turned away.  We shared several small plates – chickpeas, asparagus, and shrimp, and an order of sourdough to savor all the sauces.  All accompanied by a nice red wine. 

We called a Lyft, since we didn’t want to tackle the (now quite cool) wind and the steep hill back to our house. 

A very nice day in Asheville! 

Safely made it to Asheville

LOCATION:  Beautiful Air B&B in Asheville, North Carolina
WEATHER:  Very spring-like.  High 72

We left Gadsden ,Alabama at 8:30 this morning.  We had about 5 hours of driving plus we would lose an hour entering Eastern Time Zone.

The higway conditions in Alabama are pretty bad.  Parts of Interstate 59 were really torn up, with us almost sinking in pot holes.  We headed mostly north, crossing into a corner of Georgia, and then Tennessee.  Again, we saw flowers and trees just getting ready to bud. 

Last fall, when we were returning from Nova Scotia, the worst day of driving was on Interstate 40.  It is full of trucks with traffic barrelling along, only to come to a standstill for no reason at all.  Today we experienced the same thing.  How aggravating….and scary.  Closer to Asheville, we drove through the mountains.  Very scenic.

We arrived in Asheville, and headed directly to one of its breweries.

  We are here, partly because Asheville was again voted the #1 beer destination in the USA, and also because our daughter Alexis could get a flight here from Minneapolis for only $39! 

We will spend 3 nights here, and then go to the beach to meet up with George’s sister.  

Alexis had found this AirB&B for us.  It is a beautiful 2-bedroom home called The View, appropriately named due to its balcony overlooking the mountains. 

We found the AirB&B, with the host greeting us from the neighbor’s porch.  He then oriented us to the house.  After we settled in, we said we were going in search of a few breweries.  The host and neighbors all laughed, saying that missing a brewery was impossible – they are everywhere!  We walked to one not far from the AirB&B and enjoyed one of their beers. 

Then, we walked a bit farther to another one, this one with a cute hippy atmosphere.  I don’t know how we will choose among the hundreds (?) of breweries here in the next 3 days. 

We walked home, mostly uphill.  The exercise felt good after sitting in a pick-up truck the last 3 days. 

DINNER:  A salad and a frozen dinner from the grocery store.  Not too bad, as we didn’t want to go out again. 

Alexis arrived about 10:00 PM, and we chatted for a long time.  So good to see her again. 

Happy anniversary to us!

LOCATION:. Gadsden, Alabama
WEATHER:.  In the 60s most of the day

We left Lafayette, LA about 8:00 AM.  We soon approached Baton Rouge which is a nightmare on Interstate 10.  Our phone told us there was a crash ahead on I-10 so we got off and followed an alternate route.  Thank goodness!  It was a very pleasant drive, through the country.  The trees are starting to bloom…. flowering pear and plum.  The azaleas are popping out, too.  With the magnolia trees and live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, it really felt like the Old South.  

We drove through Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.  At one point,  we saw a crash on the other side of the Interstate.  A wrecker was pulling out an overturned semi.  Traffic was backed up for about 15 miles.  The vehicles, mostly semis, will have to wait at least 2 hours to get through.  I don’t envy them! 

Nine hours of driving today was enough.  At 5:00, we pulled in to Gadsden, AL.  It is a medium-sized town.  Today is our anniversary – 46 years!  Since we got married in Japan, I thought it would be fun to go out for sushi.  So, I researched Gadsden and found a sushi bar with a nearby motel for tonight.

We got settled in and walked about 10 minutes to the historic section of downtown – really cute!  We found a brewery to check out.  (Surprise, surprise!)  While in the parking lot, I thought to myself…”This would make a great Harvest Host location.”.  Then, when I entered and went to the bar to order, the hostess asked me if we were camping with Harvest Hosts!  I must have that “look”!.  She said they are already members of Harvest Hosts and love it. 

The brewery has a great atmosphere with an excellent Billy Joel-like pianist.

Two of the managers gave us a nice tour of the brewery while we sipped one of their IPAs.

Then, around the corner to the sushi bar.  It turned out more like a bar with sushi than a sushi bar, if you get my drift, but it was still good.  We sat at the bar and chatted with the owner.  I think it is a chain – Rock and Roll Sushi.  Most of the sushi were unJapanese-type rolls, but there was a section on the menu called “raw” from which we ordered ahi, yellow tail, and eel sushi and sashimi.  All quite tasty!

It was a very nice evening to celebrate our anniversary.  They even decorated the plate with “Happy Anniversary” in wasabi paste.  Sweet!

On the road again!

LOCATION:  In Lafayette, Louisiana
WEATHER:  Low 70s all day

We started our 23-hour trip to North Carolina this morning.  We got an early start – up at 5:30 and left at 6:00 AM.

George wanted to hit two Texas landmarks before we left the state….so he had biscuits and gravy at WhataBurger, a popular Texas hamburger chain.  It was in a small cowboy town where the customers were all toting guns in their holsters.  It took 9 hours to get out of the state.  We gassed up at Buc-cees, a new Texas tradition.

We took the backroads in NE Texas to avoid Houston….I will do anything to not drive through Houston or Dallas.  We took the ferry from Galveston to Bolivar Peninsula to skirt Houston.  It is such a better route to take…

“O How do I hate thee, O Interstate 10!  Let me count the ways”….

As always, it was jam-packed with semi-trucks.  Construction is everywhere.  There are many sections where the highway narrows to 2 lanes, and I mean narrow.  There are those awful cement barriers making it a cattle shute.  It is almost impossible to pass the trucks.  There are scuff marks on the cement to prove it.  Just when we thought we were out of the construction zone, more started.  I was sweating bullets all the way.  In order to keep up, you have to drive about 80.  It is so dangerous.

We drove 11 hours  – 600 miles. 

We were pretty exhausted when we arrived in Lafayette.  Our motel is pretty crumby.  We were looking forward to some Cajun food, but couldn’t find anything nearby, and didn’t want to drive around the city.  So, we ended up in a quite good Mexican restaurant where we shared a huge platter of fajitas – even though it was just supposed to feed one! 

George caught a big one!

LOCATION:  In our casita in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Super windy.  High 80

The weatherman sometimes gives the wind forecast based on what will happen to the garbage cans.  Today, he predicted that they would all blow over, and was he right!

No pickleball of course.  I couldn’t ride the bike to the clubhouse due to the fierce winds.  At the swimming pool, we discovered some of the pool chairs had blown into the water.  George “fished” one out….

I had a doctor’s appointment (check-up) in the afternoon.  I get SO frustrated with healthcare here.  I was so spoiled by great care and efficiency at Mayo Clinic.  It is terrible here in comparison. 

While I was at the doctor’s office, George played pool and forgot to put out our garbage can.  (We were going to wait until right before they came to put it out).  Now it will stink while we are away for 2 weeks.  George is in the doghouse….

DINNER:  Last minute leftovers – pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans, and baked potatoes. 

We got all packed up and hope for a 6:30 AM departure tomorrow.  We’ll see….