Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Asheville // road trip part 4

Our final destination was Asheville, NC. 

We have been to Asheville before but it has been a few years (a blurb from that trip on a post waaaay back here- in 2011). 

We drove from Rock City to Asheville on Friday afternoon. We were having such a good time in Rock City that we weren't even paying attention to what time it was. We didn't end up leaving until around 3:00pm and the drive was about 3 1/2 hours without stops. 
We took the scenic route which took us through the Great Smoky Mountains. The views were amazing! We came across many rivers along the way. It would have been nice to stop and play in the water but the girls were asleep and it was best not to wake them! 

A view from our drive: 

We stopped for dinner along the way (only 30 minutes or so from Asheville) and ended up getting to our place past the girls' bedtime. We unloaded everything and got them to bed as quickly as possible. 

Traveling, when you are in a different place every night or so, can be difficult with little kids. We tried to be realistic and realize that the girls aren't going to have a perfect schedule while we are traveling. However they do thrive on a set schedule so we did stick to it when possible.
Overall they did extremely well, even with colds! 

On Saturday we kept it simple since Fernando still wasn't feeling great.

(Side note: this ended up being a cold that lasted over 2 weeks for him! The horrible cough started when we got home. Luckily the worst I got was a little sore throat a few days after we returned.)

We ate breakfast at our house (the little house we rented for the weekend- no pictures of it but it was adorable and the perfect size for us!) and then left for iced coffee and exploring downtown Asheville. We mostly explored by driving.

Since it was pretty warm we stopped at a splash pad for Lucia to run around and play. This was her first time experiencing anything like this so she was a little confused with the concept and fairly hesitant to get near the water. Fernando played with her while I nursed Regina. He eventually convinced her to get wet and touch the water but she definitely did NOT end up running around like all the other kids. I think next time we go to one she'll love it. These kinds of things take some warming up for her (just like gymnastics did!).  

Great view of downtown Asheville from this splash pad!

 After the splash pad we grabbed lunch to-go (at Rezaz- awesome name, awesome food) and went back to our little house to eat it and take naps. Everyone took an afternoon nap! I love afternoons like that. 

After naps we got ready for Mass and went to Mass on Saturday evening at the Basilica of Saint Lawrence. It was beautiful! 
Because of the Tupelo, Honey in downtown Asheville having the longest wait ever (seriously we waited like 10 minutes in a line out the door just to see how long the wait-list was!) we ended up going back to the house and eating our lunch leftovers for dinner. 

Sunday morning we ate a light breakfast, packed up the car and headed out of town! 

But first!

Tueplo, Honey!

We decided to try again because it came so highly recommended from our friends, who had just visited Asheville a week prior. We figured out that there are TWO Tupelo, Honey locations in Asheville and the second location is FAR less crowded than the downtown one. 

Fernando and I shared a meal, like we do, and he didn't quite enjoy it as much as I did. That however could have been due to his being sick. We shared the signature house-made Rosemary-Peach Lemonade and the Nutty Fried Chicken (with goat cheese grits instead of the sweet potatoes). Both were fantastic! Every meal comes with warm biscuits and jam AND they serve breakfast all day which is always a win in my book. 

After our meal we finally headed back home after being gone over a week! It was so nice to be home, sleep in our own beds and get back to our routine. That did take a while though because, as I mentioned...sickness.

Also after getting home we did a little research and found out they are putting a Tupelo, Honey in Raleigh in late fall!! I am soooo excited! (extra o's necessary)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Chattanooga // road trip part 3

Our next stop on the road trip was Chattanooga! On Thursday afternoon once we explored the Shrine in Hanceville, AL we headed for Tennessee. 

We arrived in the afternoon and checked into our hotel. We decided to head out and explore downtown Chattanooga a bit that afternoon/evening. We already knew we wanted to save Rock City for Friday morning so downtown it was! 

First up was Ross's Landing!  

 Lucia LOVED it and was definitely NOT happy about having to leave! 
 Regina just hung out with Papa while Lucia and I explored. 

Once we were done at Ross's landing we ate at Big River Grille & Brewing Works. We loved our dish (Bacon Mac n' cheese) which we shared, as usual.

The next day (Friday) we went to ROCK CITY! We loved it! It's a famous tourist attraction that is technically in Georgia but it's a mere minutes from downtown Chattanooga! 

It has manmade trails with natural and beautiful sights! It was a great way to get Lucia's energy out.
 We usually pay attention to what time it is as far as the girls' naps to keep them on schedule, however when we were in Rock City we were too busy enjoying ourselves to even care what time it was! The girls' (even though they were coming down with a cold) did great.  

 Out of focus (rookie mistake) but I just loved it too much to not include it!

 Tunnels and things to explore everywhere you look!
 All 4 of us on the suspension bridge that is 180 feet long. Although you can't see any of the bridge in the picture... 

 Eating at Cafe 7 at the top! 
This restaurant was awesome!! Fernando and I always share meals when we eat out however this was one of the FEW times that we both regretted it! We ordered the smoked pulled pork sandwich and it was the best one we've ever had!

Here is some of the scenery from Cafe 7:

 The owner of Rock City lives right next door to the restaurant at the top. 

 The Fat Man Squeeze! 
There was a part where it got REALLY narrow. I'm happy to report we made it through fine. 

 Lover's Leap!

Lucia really loved exploring 

At the end there was a whole underground room with a fairy tale theme and everything glowed in the dark. So fun for kids! 

 We are all Rock City-ed out. 

On Friday afternoon we headed to our next and final destination- a weekend in the mountains of North Carolina- ASHEVILLE!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Alabama // road trip part 2

On Tuesday we stopped at Cracker Barrel outside of Atlanta on our way from Greenville, SC to Alabama! 

First stop Birmingham, Alabama! 

Tuesday evening we got to Birmingham around 4. 

(Side note: We stayed at a Comfort Inn which I definitely do NOT recommend. At least not the Comfort Inn in Birmingham, Alabama... It was dirty, outdated, smelled like smoke everywhere even though we had a non-smoking room and we found a cockroach in the bathroom. Soooooooo that pretty much sums it up.)

We went to dinner with Fernando's parents and cousin, Crista and her husband Ricky in downtown Birmingham. Crista and Ricky live there in Birmingham and it was so nice to meet them! 
We had dinner at Jim N' Nick's which was amazing! They have amazing biscuits and they sell the mix, so we bought some to take home.

Wednesday morning we headed to EWTN right after breakfast: 

 Lucia insisted on pushing Regina in the stroller!
The EWTN grounds 
(The Eternal Word Television Network)
We thought this sign was funny! 

 EWTN's satellites that broadcast all over the world!
Right outside Our Lady of the Angels Chapel where they film daily Mass. 

We went to Mass at noon at their chapel (although it wasn't the one that was filmed since that was at 7am- we didn't make it to that because...babies) and then we left to find lunch. We ended up at Irondale Cafe by the recommendation of some ladies in the EWTN gift shop. Turns out it is a famous cafe in Irondale which used to be named Whistle Stop Cafe and the book and movie Fried Green Tomatoes are based on the story behind this cafe.  

After lunch we headed back to ETWN for their studio tour. 

Studio tour, backstage with all the sets, etc. 

After the studio tour on Wednesday afternoon we left for Hanceville, AL which is one hour away from Birmingham where EWTN is. 

Lucia fell asleep in the car which is noteworthy! She never falls asleep anywhere but her crib! Not in our arms, not in the car seat, not on a couch... nowhere BUT her crib. She finally gave in after a few days without naps and fell asleep on the way to Hanceville. 

The cute little place we stayed in Hanceville, AL. 

On the road to the Shrine about a mile from the entrance there are rows on either side of the road of about ten houses on each side. 
We had this entire (St. Mary's Guest) house to ourselves which was more than enough room for our little family of 4. There was an entire upstairs with 4 beds that we didn't even use!  
The house and stay was so perfect we were sad to only stay one night! 

That afternoon we unpacked and then grabbed pizza with Fernando's parents and brought it back to the house for dinner. After we bathed the girls and put them both to bed Fernando's parents stayed at our house (the house they were renting was just a few houses away) so that we could go to adoration at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament. 

Check it out HERE.  

The next morning on Thursday at 7am we went to Mass at the Shrine. Again, Fernando's parents stayed with the girls so we could go by ourselves. It was so nice to not have to get up and leave to nurse Regina or because she was babbling. We could both focus and pray the Mass without any distractions which was priceless.

After Mass we came back and ate breakfast, packed up the car and went back to the Shrine to spend the day there. 

the entrance to the Shrine

the Shrine from a distance

the grounds are extensive and beautiful!
the clouds were putting on a show for us that day

The (Saint) John Paul II Eucharistic Center. 

We went in for a tour and lasted about 20 minutes with both girls. They were sick and Lucia started whining about every 30-60 seconds because she needed her nose wiped (yes that often, not an exaggeration). We finally conceded and headed out of the center. 
There were no other kids on the tour and we felt bad for the other people there trying to concentrate and listen to the tour guide. Not to mention we could barely pay attention since we were too focused on keeping the girls quite/wiping noses. 
Next time we'll have to take the tour sans children. 

Outside after the tour- the girls were a mess

we saved her from the grass right after this 
She's not a fan of grass just like Lucia at this age

The Lourdes Grotto down the hill from the Eucharistic Center
Castle San Miguel 
Inside were some conference rooms, offices and a gift shop.

And The Word Was Made Flesh for You. 
Inside the above building was this nativity! 
Lucia loved it and could tell us where baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph were. 

After exploring the Shrine when headed back to our car for lunch and so Regina could nurse. Once we were ready, we hit the road for the (little over) 2 hour drive to Chattanooga, TN!