Here's how the vacation went following Step 1:
Monday, June 16th:
- Step 1 from 7:30am - 5:30pm (click here to read My Step 1 Experience)
Tuesday, June 17th: Driving
- Drive to Asheville, North Carolina (12hr trip took 13.5hrs d/t traffic jams)
Wednesday, June 18th - Free Day #1
- We hung around the Hummingbird Cabin, which was pretty much all ours in the middle of ~70+ acres of small mountains, streams, and trails. Went out to eat at 12 Bones Smokehouse - AMAZING. They're so good, they didn't even blink an eye when I jokingly told them we'd driven from Michigan just to eat there. They only laughed once Wife told them I was kidding. Afterward, we soaked in our hot tub and generally recovered from Step 1 and the drive.
Thursday, June 19th: Breakfast & The Biltmore
- Ate books and read breakfast - oh wait... Nevermind - at the Early Girl Eatery. Highly recommended; awesome
- Visited the Biltmore Estate. Summed up in one phrase: The American Downton Abbey. Very literally. Couldn't take pictures or videos inside, but below you'll find some outdoor pictures, several of which are pretty cool panoramas.
- Went hiking on the trails with Wife and Hobbes.
Friday, June 20th - Sliding Rock and Waterfalls
- Explored the beautiful Pisgah National Forest
- Visited (and slid down) Sliding Rock. Tons of (cold) fun - luckily weather was hot that day. A video will eventually (once I get the time to make it) get posted, including lots of fun GoPro shots of us sliding down it.
- Visited Looking Glass Falls - very cool. Sort of wish we'd had time to go swimming here.
- Returned home to hike around with Hobbes, grill out, nap and enjoy the cabin.
- Got lost finding the Blue Ridge Parkway. Met some interesting mountain people who were having a yard sale by the roadside when I stopped to ask directions. Before I could get out more than "Hi, I was wondering if you could-" all seven of them pointed in the same direction and in unison said, "That way." Apparently there was nothing in the other direction.
- Found (after speaking with the communally-dubbed "Map Man" (and then getting lost again)) and drove around the Blue Ridge Parkway
- Drove to the top of Mount Mitchell, the highest point East of the Mississippi River.
Sunday, June 22nd - Free Day #2
- Slept in, enjoyed reading around the cabin, cooked the best bacon I've ever eaten. Of course, I can't remember what kind it was...
- Ate an absolutely FABULOUS late lunch at Tupelo Honey Cafe in downtown Asheville.
- Walked around downtown, spent too much money on books at a local bookstore
- Went back to the cabin and enjoyed relaxing one last evening before packing up. Below are some shots of the cabin itself, since I neglected to take them at the beginning of the trip:
Monday, June 23rd - Driving
All in all, it was the perfect post-Step-1 vacation. Many, many thanks to Wife for organizing and planning EVERYTHING while I was in the throes of Step 1 prep. She even worked three 12-hour shifts back-to-back the three days before we left on the trip. I'm still kind of confused as to how everything worked out, but never before has a vacation gone so smoothly. Well done, Wife.