Ah, weekends!

For so many years, it has seemed my lot in life to work weekends.  In January of this year, I finally got the chance to make a much-desired (and necessary) schedule switcheroo and work a regular ol’ Monday-through-Friday week.  *A* and I now have two full days off together every.single.week.  Can’t tell you in mere words how much we’ve anticipated this.

We’ve taken full advantage of our weekends in 2015 – we’ve taken a quick trip to Charleston, South Carolina over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday; we’ve done some hiking; we drove up to Virginia’s Highland Maple Festival last month; we’ve spent time with friends; in short, we’ve spent some good quality time together.  It’s been fantastic.

Last weekend, we were planning to go camping at a campground near Asheville, and while the weather during the day was perfect for it, it was set to thunderstorm that Friday night, and be in the 30s on Saturday night.  *A* and I would’ve been fine, but Tucker doesn’t handle the cold too well, and rather than sleep in a tent with a whimpering and shivering beastie, we decided we’d better wait until it’s a bit warmer.  We headed to Asheville on Saturday anyway, making the North Carolina Arboretum our first stop.  It’s early in the season, so not too many things were blooming, save for some tulips, daffodils, and Japanese magnolias.  But we hiked around a bit – there are several miles of trails – and definitely want to come back when more stuff is in bloom. They have an azalea garden that will probably be beautiful in a few weeks.

A few photos from the Arboretum:

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Buttercups / Daffodils / Jonquils – I’ve always had a soft spot for these.

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They didn’t have a lot of tulips – but these welcomed you into one of the main areas of the Arboretum.

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Tucker got to meet lots of folks out on the trails.  He had a good time!

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They have a bonsai garden there – most of the trees were in a greenhouse until the threat of frost is over, but this one is a hardier one, I guess.  I’ve always thought these trees were cool – though I don’t know if I’d want to try my hand at growing / developing one.

The Arboretum is definitely somewhere we’ll take our Littlest – it’s a great place to stroll around in the woods.  It looked super family-friendly, and there was even a little model railroad that runs on Saturdays.

After the Arboretum, we drove over to the campground we’d been considering thinking we might as well check it out while we were there. We didn’t go all over the campground, but it looks like it’s a nice place to try, if we want to camp near Asheville if we go to Shindig on the Green this summer.

We hit a new (to us) favorite dinner joint, Luella’s, before heading home.  We’re no strangers to good barbecue, as Alabamians, but North Carolina has definitely broadened our expectations of what constitutes “good.”  It’s probably not a stretch to say we’ve become a little bit snobby about barbecue, in truth.  Luella’s, while not Lexington barbecue (the real deal, as far as I’m concerned), is good, and different enough to be appreciated in it’s own right.  We’ve had more downs than ups with finding good eatin’ joints in Asheville, and so far, we like this one.

Easter Sunday was a beautiful, breezy day. Since we’d decided to forego camping, I’d asked a coworker if I might borrow two of his kayaks to try out, so we took them out to a nearby lake on Sunday.  We actually live about a mile (as the crow flies) from this lake, and it’s a many-times-a-week place we visit that’s high on Tucker’s list of favorite places to walk, but we’d never been on the actual lake before Sunday.

Kayaking, as it turns out, is a lot of fun.  Since we were first-timers, we knew we wanted to stay in a back-bay area away from the speedboats and any crazy wakes that might give us any trouble.  We paddled around for a couple of hours.  I had a good time, gaining some confidence (a slight shift of your hips can send the whole boat rocking) and figuring out how to use the paddle properly (I think).  *A* took to it like – well, like a fish takes to water.  I thought she’d have fun, but I didn’t realize how much she’d really connect with kayaking.

I also didn’t realize how good kayaking would be as a reminder of being mindful (read more about my personal challenges with mindfulness here).  I guess when you’re in a position you aren’t normally in (on a lake as opposed to on the shore of a lake), you tend to notice things from a different perspective – things look differently – in a very literal sense of the word.  It was a good chance to really focus on where we were (literally) and what the world looked like from that perspective.  And, of course, there’s the whole bit about being careful and smooth in your movements so as to not rock the boat too violently – the alternative is finding out exactly what is in the murky depths of the water you’re floating on.

Kayaking was a great way to spend the afternoon together. I know we’ll do it again – hopefully soon, if *A* has her way. IMG_0508cropped

*A,* the natural.

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Me – thoroughly enjoying my altogether too brief time as a sailor.

This weekend, we had dinner with a good friend, did the taxes (ugh), and did some gardening – planting some herb and flower seeds.  *A* tried out a new recipe for Wicked Good Boston Cream Pie, something we’ve both been wanting to try (it’s actually on my list), but have never had.  It’s currently chilling, so I can’t pass along a verdict yet, but I’ve already eaten most of it with my eyes, and my eyes tell me it’s fantastic.  🙂  *A* made it as a “Yay! The Taxes are Done For Another Year!” Celebration surprise.

Now – I must get out there and enjoy the rest of my much coveted time off on the weekend…

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