Push Away the Screen: Summer Vacation 2015 Preview-Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains

Happy Summer!!

We are so excited for our upcoming visit to Asheville, North Carolina and the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains!!

My mom moved up to the Blue Ridge Mountains late last Fall and we haven't had the chance to go up and visit with her yet. We did go up in the summer of 2013 and we stayed at the Biltmore Hotel and also with my aunt and uncle. We had a GREAT time and we knew for sure we'd want to go back when Grandma got settled in her own house!

For this trip I really wanted to do some activities that were new to me and my gang. Now that they are getting older, they are able to live more on the wild side, so I have planned a full agenda for us!

I've tried to work it out that we spend one day doing an activity and then one day resting and playing it low key.

So here is our agenda....no dates of course Wink

Wednesday-drive up

Thursday- Asheville Treetops Adventure Park and Kolo Bike Park. How cool does this place look?? 51 unique climbing, zipping, walking, jumping, swinging and rappelling challenges anchored to over 30 trees and towering poles tucked in a wooded area.  The park has 5 trails to choose from including 2 Beginner trails, “Blue” &” Green”, 2 intermediate trails, “Yellow” and “Orange” and 1 advanced “Red” trail.  Each “Trail” includes 10 to 15 different challenges to complete the circuit.

We'll spend 2 hours at this park climbing and exploring, then stop for lunch. After lunch we'll head over to Kolo Bike Park. 

Both parks include EVERYTHING! Including the bike, so that means we don't need to tote our bikes up to Asheville with us. Sweet. Watching this video made us ever more excited to go to Kolo!

On Friday during the day we're relaxing at home, but on Friday night, WATCH OUT!! We're heading on a Vampire and Occult Tour with Haunted Asheville!

THIS 2-HOUR TOUR is the ultimate for intellectuals who want to take a step outside the bounds of a usual tourist experience. Your knowledgeable guide will explain, in the library of the Asheville Masonic Temple, what masonry is all about, and explore the conspiracies with you. Next we'll pass through some alleyways where dark and tragic events have transpired. You'll then get the full scoop on our local vampire scene, tribal rites in Pritchard Park, dark spirits on Church Street, Native American mysticism, and much more. This tour includes late-night access to the Asheville Mystery Museum where you'll see artifacts Joshua P. Warren brought back from Transylvania, including a sacred crucifix and a piece of Vlad the Impaler's Castle. And just in case you didn't know, Joshua P. Warren is an internationally-recognized expert on paranormal research, he starred on every episode of the Travel Channel's Paranormal Paparazzi.

My gang has done a haunted theater tour at the Tampa Theater and they like to think that they are quite the intellectuals, so I think they'll really enjoy this tour. 

Saturday is a rest day Laughing

Sunday James and I are going to head to downtown Asheville for a grown-up afternoon out! What are we doing?? We're going on a tour of some of the local Asheville Breweries with Asheville Brewery Tours

They'll take care of all the driving and we'll get to sample some of the best local beer in Asheville!

Monday is a day that is all about the kids. My mom took Haley to this place 4 years ago and Haley still talks about it today, which is why I thought it deserved a visit with the rest of the #TampaTrio.

We're heading to HOLLYWILD ANIMAL PARK! Hollywild is home to hundreds of animals and dozens of species that are native to five world continents. Hollywild animals have made more than 65 appearances in feature films and numerous national advertising campaigns. Some have come to Hollywild as retirees, some are still ‘working’ and others are actually born at the park. The name “Hollywild” refers to the link between Hollywood and wild animals as represented by the park’s connection with filmmaking. NONE of the animals are taken from the wild. 

The kids are all super excited to visit Hollywild, and to be honest...so am I! 

Tuesday....we'll rest up for Wednesday which just might be our biggest adventure yet!

Wednesday. WHITEWATER RAFTING and zip lining!! That's right folks. The Tampa Trio is heading to the Nantahala Gorge for some Class I, II, III rapids.  We will be taking the fully guided tour which is eight miles of constant waves and swift, clear currents. The trip takes over 3 hours and contains numerous class I and II rapids, with a class III at the end.  All rafts have a guide in them on the trip.  Could you imagine me and James taking the kids on an UNGUIDED tour!?!?! Tongue Out

After the tour we'll have lunch, and then do the Zip Lining!! Well, let me rephrase that...we'll head over for KIDS ZIP! KidZip Nantahala offers ziplines and adventure park elements for kids 4-12 years old old in a scenic wooded adventure setting. With a continuous cable and roller system there is no clipping and unclipping for the participants!! They said James and I could go with them, but I think I'll stay on the ground and wave. 

 

Thursday. Rest Day

And I think we'll probably leave on Friday and take a nice slow drive home and arrive home late on Saturday afternoon. 

And that's our vacation! Of course, we'll be visiting Sliding Rock, and I'm thinking a swim at Hooker Falls is also in order. But other than that we're just going to enjoy some (hopefully) cooler weather and some great family bonding.

Have you ever been to the Blue Ridge Mountains? What are some MUST SEE activities on your list? 

 

Push Away the Screen: Biltmore Bonding Day 1

Our family took the opportunity to Push Away the Screen and spent a few days bonding at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. We stayed right on the Biltmore property at the Inn at Biltmore Estate. We did so much while we were there that I am going to post this in multiple segments so I don't leave anything out!

We did our research before arriving at the Estate, but we were still unprepared for the grandeur and VIP treatment that awaited us!

When we arrived there was a long line of cars turning in to the visitors center to buy tickets, and then line of cars waiting their turn to get on the property. This line went quickly, and at the guard gate we gave the guard our name and he presented us with this:

We felt so special with our monogrammed parking pass and Vanderbilt sticker! We drove up to the Inn twisting and turning through the steep (well to a Floridian they are steep) mountain hills and this is what suddenly appeared in our sight! It was even more beautiful than I imagined and it took my breath away! We parked and went to see if our room was ready since we had arrived a few hours early. Our room was not ready, but we still had all access to all the Inn facilities so we headed off to the pool! Every where that we went Biltmore employees said "hello, good afternoon" and opened doors for us. It was so nice.

The pool was beautiful and we were the ONLY ones there!! It was a beautiful afternoon so I think all the other guests were probably out enjoying the gardens, the winery, or touring the estate!

Ella and Ronin were jumping in and out of the pool looking at all the cool insects that were buzzing about!

Our room was scheduled to be ready by 4pm, but the front desk called me just a few minutes before 2pm to let me know that it was ready. Upon check-in I asked if an upgrade was possible, but I was told that we were in the best possible room for our party of 5; A large end unit with lots of privacy.

And it was large! We had 2 queen beds, and a full size twin for Ronin. Plus THREE sitting areas and more than enough chairs. The only thing the room was lacking was a fridge. But we travel with a cooler, and our room was right next to the ice machine room, so really it wasn't that big of a deal.

And our view...oh our view was amazing!! At night we could totally see Downtown Asheville all light up in lights! Beautiful!

Ronin was just fascinated by the windows. They actually opened and had screens! It was so nice! We didn't even need the AC because the weather was so perfect while we were there! We just opened up the windows and had Nature's AC!

We had a quick bite to eat from our cooler, and then decided we would go and check out Antler Hill Village.Because I believe in walking when you can, I refused to allow our family to take the Biltmore shuttle down to Antler Hill Village, so we followed the very nice paved walking path from the Inn to the Village.

 About half way down the path, I turned back and this was my view! It was breathtaking!

Ronin led the way and we eventually made it to the Winery. He misread some signs, but that's part of the adventure, right? No worries, we had plenty of time and leading the family made him feel important. I knew we were going the wrong way, but it's all part of the learning process.

Who knew that part of a wine cask was called a bung hole?? I chuckled out loud at that one!

And they had a wine library!! You can take the girl out of the library, but never the library out of the girl!

We were able to sample every wine that Biltmore offers! I am a white/rose wine drinker, while James prefers reds. And they had grape juice for the kids! The girls sipped their juice, while Ronin chugged his and kept asking for "more, please. More, please." At least he had good manners, and then I kid you not...he passed out. I think all the late nights, and excitement from being on vacation caught up with him.

It was actually really nice for James and I. Because Ronin was sleeping, the girls entertained themselves by drawing and taking photos and James and I were able to enjoy the wine tasting. And Ella enjoyed photo bombing every picture Haley took of us. Tongue Out

After we finished the tasting we each decided on a flavor (is that what you call it???) that we wanted to buy to bring home. James went off to buy them, and this is what I got to do. That's right. I got to carry 65 pounds of dead weight through the Antler Hill Village. Thank goodness for CrossFit.

After 30 minutes or so of this, I just couldn't carry him anymore, so I had to wake him up and we found the kids playground!! It was beautiful and the trio got to play in sand, water, and rocks, while James and I enjoyed some more adult beverages.

Can you guess which one is mine?

We had a few beers, the kids played, ate some french fries at Cedric's Tavern, and then we decided to head back up to our room! This time we did take the Biltmore shuttle back up to the Inn but only because James was carrying many bottles of wine. Tongue Out

We got back to the room, dropped the wine off and then returned to the Village to explore the Farm!! They had the most adorable baby goats!!

This goat loved to nibble on the kids!

And farm equipment that you could climb on!

And it was so nice to see my trio getting along!

After the farm went out to dinner to a local burger joint where I had a bottle of ketchup explode all over me and ruin my 2013 Gasparilla 1/2 Marathon shirt. Yell

Then we came back to the room, went swimming, dried off, and then went down to the game room where we ended the night with a family night of Wii and Xbox playing! We played Just Dance and drank wine and juice and it was lovely. We closed the game room down at 11:10pm, headed back to the room and had a very nice nights sleep.

The End of Day 1.

Changes in Latitude Changes in Altitude

We're HOME!!!  We spent the last 9 days on an AMAZING road trip! Our first "big" road trip with the trio!

We drove from our home in Tampa, way up in to the North Carolina mountains. We had a big change in Latitude AND Altitude

In honor of that, I play for you today Changes in Latitude Changes in Attitude (or my play on words...ALTITUDE!!)

Ronin and Ella look miserable in this photo! We had just hiked to the TOP of Mt. Pisgah which is 5,721 feet ABOVE sea level, and considering we pretty much live at sea level, it was quite the hike for my gang! They actually really liked it! I have so many pictures to share with you all and such funny stories!!

Have you taken a road trip with your kids? How far have you gone?