Birthday at the Biltmore

I spent my mumbledy-mumbleth birthday at the Biltmore Inn on the grounds of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. I’d always wanted to stay at the Biltmore (so, win!) and, more excitingly, the gardens were featuring an installation of large-scale glass pieces by one of my very favorite artists, Dale Chihuly.

Adrian (who bestowed this most gracious gift unto me) was incredibly patient while I took All The Pictures.

Here are a few of my favorites:


I also loved these three things:


And I’m calling these my Ghost Fish:

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This weekend[info]aklikins and I are heading to DC to do the first Washington Post Tropic Hunt, which is based on the annual Miami Herald Tropic Hunt (which I did — and throroughly enjoyed — back in 1994) .

The site explains the setup far better than I but suffice it to say that if thousands of people all trying to solve larger-than-life scavenger-hunt-puzzle-games sounds like fun, you’d probably love it.

If you’re already planning on going, let me know — I’d love to meet up!

Random bits

OK, who had the genius idea of putting a major concert & sports venue on one of the two main roads into Raleigh?    I was stuck in Hurricanes (hockey) traffic for almost 40 minutes last night trying to get to trivia — yecch!

By the way, I will be in Toronto next week on business. Two business trips in three weeks, not having traveled for work in 5 years!  Big kudos to AmEx who overnighted me a card so I could actually book the trip within corporate guidelines!

Labor Day… not laboring at all

aklikins and I headed up to Asheville for Labor Day weekend and had a spectacular time (one of those vacations where the worst thing you can say about it is that it ended). Amongst the highlights were staying at the Hill House B&B, which is a favorite of mine, massages at Spa Theology (highly recommended), and visiting Adrian’s friends from high school at their restaurant/bar in Brevard, The Square Root.

The Square Root has *wonderful* food — my favorite was a “Surf & Turf” appetizer featuring strips of delicious, rare steak and sashimi tuna with a teriyaki-style demiglace — YUM!  Also tasty was the pecan-crusted fried Brie (and yes, fried + cheese is almost always a win in my book), though I shouldn’t have eaten the raw apples with it, as they triggered a little bit of my food allergy.

Since we were there on Sunday, which is trivia night at the Square Root, we stayed for that and didn’t do too badly considering it was just Adrian, Scott (Adrian’s friend from high school) and me (and I suck at trivia).

The other restaurants of note were the 28806 Deli, which is tucked away in a little quasi-industrial-maybe-used-to-be-a-drycleaner-building, yet serves some amazing fusion cuisine (a salad of lump snow crab meat, strawberries and mango with spring greens and a ginger-papaya dressing, for instance) and Fig, where I had perhaps the best pork tenderloin ever, served on a puff-pastry tartlette with figs and vidalia onions.  We finished with the pana cotta and pots de creme — meltingly wonderful.

Add to that some quality shopping and an adorable traveling companion and you get an amazing vacation — HOORAY!

Home again, home again

I’ve just gotten home from five days at DeBordieu with my roommate from high school, her husband, their two children, a good friend from high school, his wife (artykim), their two children, and another couple (who have also become friends) and their (single) child (1).

Kudos to all you parent-people.  They (the littles) are VERY energy consuming (and I think I might be a wee bit lazy).

The weather couldn’t have been nicer and I got more than my share of lounging-on-the-beach-time (without, for a change, getting completely lobsterfied).  Read two grown-up books, two People magazines, one O magazine and several children’s books (and think I’m going to buy the Lemony Snicket series for myself).  Frolicked in the ocean and in the pool (2).  Walked many miles on the beach.  Got a blister the size of a dime on the bottom of my foot (3).

Rode nine (!!) miles on a bike.  One of those was with a flat tire.  Yes, that wasn’t very bright, but honestly I didn’t know the thing’d gone flat.  The thinking went something like “Well, Gina, of course it’s getting harder to pedal. You just rode more than six miles, three of which were on a fire road/carriage path, on an old-skool, gearless (and somewhat rusty) bike.  You can do it!  Keep pedaling!”  Eventually, though, my pep talk failed and I climbed off, only to find that the rear tire was as flat as the proverbial pancake.

Whoops.  I suppose that would be the problem.  Mr. Nice Security Man came by just a minute or so afterwards, fortunately, and he was kind enough to load the bike in the back of his pickup truck and take me the last two blocks home.

Napped.  A lot.  Also was able to sleep significantly later than all the parental units (see above, re: Hard Work Involved In Child Raising).

We also ate far better than I’m accustomed to eating, as generally I eat whatever’s leftover from the last time I ate dinner out (which I also do far too often).  At the beach we had lasagna (veggie — and delicious!), baked chicken, panzanella, fresh vegetables, etc. etc.  Well balanced — and tasty — meals.

The strange thing (and the only part of this post that’s even a tiny bit profound) was the juxtaposition of remembering these sort of trips from my childhood — when I thought “Ah, someday that’ll be me” — and actually *being me* in one of these sort of trips.  A bunch of families at the beach with their kids…everyone playing in the ocean…and I’m one of the adults (chronologically speaking, anyway)!

(1) Whew.  For anyone counting that’s 5 children, all under the age of 7.  Though they all were pretty darn well-behaved, that’s still 5 children more than I’m used to dealing with for more than an hour or two at a time.

(2) I am part dolphin, I think.  I float beautifully (no comments from the peanut gallery, please).  I love swimming underwater and flipping over waves.

The sand and salt I like less well.  Basically I want a wave pool the size of the Atlantic.

(3) From *sand*!!  I know I say I’m a Delicate Southern Flower (from a ease-of-skin-damage POV at any rate), but this is ridiculous.

Heading West! — CA ppl pay attention! (there will not be a quiz)

To everyone in the SF Bay area — I’m heading your way (run, run now!!!) from Nov. 17 through Nov. 22. The first couple of days (17th-19th), I’ll be up at Wilbur Hot Springs with a buddy of mine from high school, but the evening of Sunday the 19th through the morning of the Wednesday the 22nd, I’m in your neck of the woods.

Unknowns at this time:

  • what I’m doing
  • where I’m staying
  • whether I’ll be vehicularly enabled or not

Knowns at this time:

  • Leaving Wilbur Sunday afternoon… will be back Bay-ish by Sunday evening. Will probably start in South Bay
    Front of lodge at Wilbur Hot Springs resort in...

    Image via Wikipedia -- Wilbur Hot Springs

    area, as I know I need to end up in North Bay areal

  • Flight is 12:30 out of SFO on Wed

So, if you’re around, and want to catch up, give me a shout!