Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring Break 2012: Part 1 & 2

Part 1.
Last week was Lucas' spring break. We had big plans to spend the week at the Red River Gorge climbing and enjoying our cabin. The weather, however, made us re-evaluate our plans. The summer-like temps exploding across the country did not settle well with us. We are climbing snobs and we know it. We want good rock, good conditions, good temps (in the 50's). Yes, we are picky but we have learned that being picky sure pays off for wonderful and successful climbing experiences. :)
We decided to split the Spring Break week into 3 parts: Ashville, NC - Dayton, Oh - Slade, KY. For the first weekend, we headed to North Carolina because it was the only place within a 15 hour radius that had climbing temperatures in the 60's. It was well worth it. We had a blast climbing at Hawksbill and a little place called "The Dump" (named for the location of a city dump nearby but one we never saw). Mommy sent a 5.12c that was a series of small, SHARP crimpers and Daddy sent some more 5.13's. Not bad for summerlike weather. The boys were happy to be back at the crag after two weekends home bound while Daddy traveled out west.
Hawksbill hangout. Lucas is obsessed with a superhero named Ben 10 so he spent many hours making his Ben 10 Book, acting out scenes and getting Axel to play Taekwondo. Axel still loves his trains which he raced down various rocks, played Ben 10 to be like Lucas and humored his older brother as a Taekwondo student.
They do so good while we climb. They play together, help each other and of course, fight a little too. Brothers. :)
Proof Mommy was there.
On our first rest day, we headed to the Biltmore House. Before buying tickets we drove to about 5 different stores looking for March Madness paraphernalia so we could save $20 on admission. Our NC Tarheels grocery bag and winter snow hat worked like a charm. We spent $6 bucks but still enjoyed our small victory.
If you haven't heard of this house it's worth researching online and visiting if you get the opportunity. It's the largest house in America and here is what Wikipedia has to say about it...
Biltmore House is a Châteauesque-styled mansion in Asheville, North Carolina, built by George Washington Vanderbilt II between 1889 and 1895. It is the largest privately-owned home in the United States, at 135,000 square feet (12,500 m2) (although publications claim 175,000 square feet (~4 acres) and featuring 250 rooms. Still owned by one of Vanderbilt's descendants, it stands today as one of the most prominent remaining examples of the Gilded Age, and of significant gardens in the jardin à la française and English Landscape garden styles in the United States. In 2007, it was ranked eighth in America's Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects.
This is what it looks like.
It is truly amazing! We took the boys out to the gardens before dragging them on a hour long tour of the house itself. Check out these trees...
We felt as if we were in another country. I think the property is 8000 acres so it's in a very peaceful setting. They sell annual memberships which I didn't understand until I saw the property. It's like a huge park with trails, activities and incredible scenery. Very impressive.
There were numerous greenhouses filled with exotic flowers of every shape and color.
We did some of the hiking trails leading to this cute pond...lake?
After running around the gardens and trails for awhile, we headed inside. You can't take photos inside but you do get a headset with an audio tour. Lucas and Axel each got there own and did so well listening to what the house offered. They were very impressed with the bowling alley, swimming pool, library and dinning room. Google "Biltmore House Interior" and click on images to get a taste of what we saw.
After that we needed some lunch. Or maybe just ice cream sundaes...brownie sundaes! Whoot!
Axel couldn't get enough!
With full bellies, we headed over to another section where the farm and winery were. Daddy & Mommy learned that wine tasting after brownie sundaes is not recommended. It did save us money, we had no desire to buy wine after that. It was still fun and the boys got their own special grape juice.
Farm...petting a rooster.
After a wonderful time at the Biltmore, we headed to REI to use some of our annual dividend money. The boys found this Angry Birds game and are still obsessing over the idea of owning it.
That night we stayed in Blowing Rock, NC and discovered THE.BEST.RESTAURANT.EVER!
Wonderful setting, great service and superb food. Bistro Roca is must stop if you are in Blowing Rock, NC. Just awesome!
The next day we headed to The Dump. We had to drive to Dayton, OH for Daddy's work so we needed a climbing area close to the road and this turned out to be perfect. Lucas discovered beautiful, white quartzite rocks at the base of the cliff. He collected a container full of them certain he could get at least $100 selling it. After a little nudging, he took Daddy's $5 offer but not without squeezing in a request for a gas station treat on top of the $5. :)
Part 2.
We were then off to Dayton, OH. In all my life, I don't think I could have ever imagined a time when I would be excited to go on vacation to Dayton! However, I was super excited to see old friends and hike at the Metro parks. It was too hot to climb, this was the next best option and it turned out great!
Unfortunately, we were so busy in Dayton that I took zero photos. Not a huge loss, I'm pretty sure I took one or two photos of Dayton when we lived there. :)
Just as a reminder, here are our Dayton highlights...
Dinner with Cadet (now almost Capt "Eric), his girlfriend, our friend Shawn and our family at Texas Roadhouse. Trip to Carriage Hill Metro park for hiking, farm animals and candy store. Lunch with Ashely & Ryan at Chick-Fil-A so the kids could play while we chatted. Trip to the Buschelman's house for more play/chat time. Dinner at Dewey's with Ashely & Ryan & kids. Trip to Hills & Dales Metropark for more hiking and playing. Lunch at the Derenzo's plus lots of outside fun. Trip to the USAF museum with Daddy. Swimming at the hotel pool.
Phew! It was then time to pack up for a trip to the cabin!

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DANGER and ADVENTURE Around Every Corner!!