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An Engagement in Floyd, Virginia

17 Oct

It’s been a while since I posted (newsflash, right?), but this time I actually have a good reason — I got married! What?! Crazy, huh? Yep. I kinda stopped working so much on the blog since I planned a wedding in 6 months. It was a pretty quick turnaround time, especially considering we were both working full-time. But from here on out, it’s official… I will now call him my BF. What? What’s that you say? That’s what I’ve always been calling him? Well, yes. But it no longer stands for “Boyfriend.” Now it stands for my “Boo Forever.” FOREVER.

Sooo… I have a backlog of posts from the past few months. I have some food pics to share with you, of course. And I’d also like to start posting about travel, crafts/DIYing, and (drumroll, please)… wedding, of course! In addition to random stuff I think up, I’m going to start back at the beginning and share my tips, tricks, and DIY instructions for various elements of planning a wedding. But I’m not promising anything because especially when it comes to blogs, I seem to have trouble keeping promises. Besides, I’ve made enough of a big promise in my life lately.

So I propose I start at the beginning with the proposal. (See what I did there?) Back in March, we had a certificate to stay at the Hotel Floyd that was going to expire soon, so we took a couple days off work and headed out for a road trip to Floyd, Virginia.

The Legend of the Fairy Stone: Many hundreds of years before Chief Powhatan’s reign, fairies were dancing around a spring of water, playing with naiads and wood nymphs, when an elfin messenger arrived from a city far away. He brought news of the death of Christ. When these creatures of the forest heard the story of the crucifixion, they wept. As their tears fell upon the earth, they crystallized to form beautiful crosses.On our way up north, we stopped at Fairy Stone State Park for an afternoon hike, so named for these weird stones they have there that form in the shape of crosses. They have some legend about fairies crying or something, but mostly it was just a beautiful place to hike that we’d never been to before.

I pretty much knew something was up, and I had decided to get the BF a gift — a pair of hiking boots. When we arrived and get ready for our hike, I pulled them out of the trunk and jokingly asked him, “Will you do me the honor of wearing these boots?” He asked me if I had really just proposed to him with a boot, and I was like, “No no no, I was joking. Joke.” And I started to turn away and he said, “Well, do you want yours?” I was all confused thinking he was going to hand me my hiking boots, when he reached into his bag, got down on one knee right there, and proposed! It was silly and sweet and perfect. The perfect balance for us of romance and humor, planned spontaneity. He gave me my ring, we laced up our respective boots, and we hiked around a park we pretty much had to ourselves. 

The LakeThe park was really beautiful, even for the gray-brown bleh that is March. There isn’t a big mountain anywhere or anything like that, but there is a lake. We hiked around for a while, explored the lake, and then found a nice bench to read on. A lovely day.

We headed on to Floyd, eager for a shower and dinner. Floyd is an amazing little mountain country town. They have about one city block containing a couple restaurants, a book store, a general store, and a hotel. They are well-known for their music, particularly Floyd Fest, which brings thousands to town every summer. Their 2012 line-up included Alison Krauss, Punch Brothers, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Brandi Carlisle, and dozens of other awesome artists. And even outside of this awesome annual weekend, Floyd hosts a small outdoor music concert every Friday night — just head downtown and follow the music, you’ll find it.

We had dinner at Oddfellas Cantina, a downtown restaurant that serves “conscious comfort food with an Appalachian Latino twist.” It was delicious. And after a day of travel and hiking, we headed back to the Hotel Floyd to hit the hay in the Bell Gallery Suite. Very roomy, very comfy.

Scenic Overlook

The next morning we stopped at the local bookstore/coffee shop before heading out to the Chateau Morrisette Winery. We had a delicious and fancy lunch (I had champagne!) in their restaurant and then headed next door for a tour and tasting. Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, it was a beautiful drive and just as beautiful relaxing on the grounds after the tour. We even brought home a couple bottles of wine.

On the drive home, we spotted this guy…

Floyd Dragon

We headed back to enjoy a quiet weekend at home. All vacations should end with two more days off at home. That’s the best way to do it.

Engaged! I look hella chill. This must have been AFTER the wine tour.

 

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Swansboro, Beaufort & Ocracoke: A Quick Trip on the N.C. Coast

19 Mar

Last weekend we headed out to the beach for a quick trip. We spent the first night with the BF’s parents at their place just off Emerald Isle. If you’re ever in Swansboro, North Carolina, check out the Bogue House for lunch – classic North Carolina BBQ, hushpuppies, and more. And then hit up Trattoria for dinner – the pizza and the calzones are all good, but make sure you get the garlic knots too.

The next day we stopped in Beaufort to meet some friends for lunch at the Front Street Grill, which was delicious. They also have a great view of the harbor, which was nice on the first warm, sunny weekend of spring. After lunch, we walked around the Old Burying Ground, which was fascinating. They have graves dating back to the early 18th century. We noticed some markers with the names of really old Beaufort families, whose surnames matched some of the street names in the downtown area. There were a few Confederate Army markers too. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures, and they don’t have a website, but you can see some images here. Before parting ways, we recommended that our friends have brunch the next morning at Beaufort Grocery. It’s a little pricey, but really good. And don’t forget – in North Carolina, it’s pronounced BO-fert.

We took the afternoon ferry to Ocracoke Island, where we stayed at Edward’s, our usual place. Their rooms are simple, clean, cute, and cheap. After dumping our stuff, we walked over to Dajio. It’s not our usual place because they were still closed so early in the season, but that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Dajio was amazing! I had eggplant napoleon made of layers of eggplant, roasted red and yellow peppers, and ravioli filled with manchego, all topped with a pesto sauce. Followed with a glass of North Carolina chardonnay, I was a happy camper. And since still nothing was open the next day, we returned for lunch, when I had their delicious grilled cheese made with cheddar, manchego, bacon and green chile chutney. We didn’t do much at Ocracoke since our stay was so short and a huge fog bank rolled in right behind us, but a walk to the lighthouse is usually part of the experience. The next day, we took the ferry back out after some tense waiting – the fog was so thick, they stopped running the ferry. Many visitors were getting pretty antsy, waiting in their cars to see if the ferry would start up again. Though I wouldn’t have been too sad to be stuck for another night, we did eventually get on a ferry over to Cedar Point, only a couple hours behind schedule.

This was definitely a fast trip. The BF and I are weird – we like being in the car, looking at pretty landscapes. So all the driving and ferrying are not objectionable. But for most people, I’d recommend taking a couple more days for this itinerary. Ocracoke alone is worth a week-long super-relaxing stay, preferably complete with beach bikes and a sack of books. And if you have even more time to meander, taking the ferry north through Hatteras and then stopping in Manteo is a great addition. Hopefully this summer we’ll have more coastal trips to post about!

Day Trip to Hillsborough, NC

14 Jan
Stairs to where?

An overgrown path with stairs to nowhere

The BF and I went for a walk in neighboring Hillsborough, North Carolina. The downtown area has all the charm of an old small town, with gorgeous historic houses running off from the main street. I decided that I want to live in a house with a name one day, like the Berry Brick House or the Gattis House we saw. As we walked, the BF spotted an ancient set of stone stairs leading up a hill. When we got the top, I saw this view — a long walkway flanked by overgrown plants ending in another set of ancient stone stairs. It was both incredibly creepy and beautiful walking through there. At the top of the second set of stairs, it at first seemed like nothing was there — just a huge square depression in the ground. Obviously, a house had been there. Considering all the stone and no sign of wood anywhere, probably a fire. Behind thorn bushes and a few spindly trees, we spotted a chimney. And here and there under the grass and leaves, you could spot the edges of the foundation, most of which was still there in a perfect square around the hole. Leaning out over the edge, I realized we were standing on the porch, and it was hollow underneath us.

I can’t decide if I’m more impressed by nature’s resilience, slowly and steadily creeping back in to reclaim the land, or by humanity’s insistence on always leaving a permanent “I was here.”

New Year’s in D. C.

1 Jan
Happy New Year, President Lincoln!

A shot of the Lincoln Memorial just after midnight on New Year's Day

The BF and I celebrated the New Year with friends in DC. We had a fantastic prix fixe dinner at Fado Irish Pub, where we sat talking until the big countdown. After the champagne toast, we barely made the drive back to our hotel before falling asleep. By the way, if you’re planning a trip to our lovely nation’s capital, I highly recommend the Best Western in Alexandria. It was nice, clean, and cheap. Plus they offered us plenty of free food and snacks, which is a sure way to earn my patronage.

Other recommended restaurants: we tried Le Pain Quotidien for the first time, and their avocado tartine on fresh-made organic wheat bread made for a  tasty meal light enough for first dinner. And our DC favorite Founding Farmers, known for sustainable and absolutely delicious farm-to-table fare, proved to be just as amazing for brunch as it is for dinner.

In addition to eating a whole lot, we also went to the National Museum of Natural History. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been, and it was really cool. Of course I was super excited about the Hall of Mammals and the Dinosaur exhibition, which makes sense considering my strange obsession with Animal Planet. But I ended up being even more enthralled by the Hall of Human Origins, a super cool exhibit about human evolution.

Overall, a pretty mellow and enjoyable way to ring in the New Year. Here’s to 2012.