David works long hours, Monday – Saturday, in a physically demanding job.  We haven’t taken a real  vacation together yet, settling for the occasional 3-day weekend.  He recently found out that he had some “use it or lose it” vacation time so we started planning.

We started by taking Duchess to the sleepover puppy camp then headed to the beach for three days.  No alarms were set.  We went to bed when we were tired and got up when we woke.  We ate amazing meals, trying things we had never eaten.  I spent some time with several women I know who were there, too.  David watched football, texting me scores throughout the day.

It was the first time we had ever left Duchess so I worried.  She was fine.  We were home 2 1/2 days then took her back.  I was afraid she would be sad that we were leaving her again so soon, but when we got there, she saw some of her friends and wagged her tail.

This time, we went in the opposite direction…the mountains!  Once again, we tried several new foods.  Biltmore had already decorated for Christmas so we got tickets to the Candlelight tour.  Everything was beautiful.  They had a choir singing to live music.  We spent some time at the winery, enjoying the deluxe tasting with cheeses, crackers and olives.  We ate at Cedric’s Tavern, named after the family’s St. Bernard.

The next day we went to Bryson City.  I had gotten us first class tickets for The Polar Express (bought them in August).  We spent the day shopping (our train ride was at 8:15pm) and sampling the beers at the Nantahala Brewing Company.  We were hoping to take a tour of the brewery, but they are expanding so they aren’t doing tours right now.

The train ride was even better than we expected.  They served us hot cocoa (we got to keep the porcelain mugs in which it was served)and a chocolate chip cookies and gave us a bag of candy/goodies.  When we arrived at the North Pole, Santa boarded our train and gave us each a silver bell.  The ride was about 90 minutes.  It flew by.  I highly recommend this.

The next day we headed to the Cherokee Indian Reservation casino.  By sheer coincidence, a friend from high school and her husband were there that day, too!  It was great to see her and meet him.  I played roulette, quickly  doubling my money then walking away (the important part) then we all lost money on “penny slots”.  We didn’t realize that smoking is allowed in the casino.  The quality of air was lacking (cough, cough).  The food was okay, but I don’t recommend the buffet unless you are very hungry.  I ate two egg rolls, three pieces of sushi, a small portion of barbecue and a tiny slice of cookies n’ cream pie…the price?  $25.99.  We were still able to leave the casino with more money than we took.

There was a concert at the casino that night so the rooms started at $499.  Because of this, we got a room in Maggie Valley.  David was double-checking the reservation at about 5pm and realized the office closed at 9pm.  He called them to see what we could do since we didn’t expect to be there until about midnight.  The owner told us she would unlock our room and leave the key inside.  Yes, that really happened.

The next morning was Sunday.  We woke early, got ready and headed for David’s parents (about 90 minutes from there), where we joined them for church and lunch.  We had to leave early because the sleepover puppy camp is only open for one hour on Sunday evening (5-6pm).  She had already been there 4 night and we didn’t want her to have to stay another night.  We got there in plenty of time.

By the time we got to the house, my bladder had my full attention.  David unlocked the door, I pushed passed him and ran to the bathroom, not thinking about us having turned the heat down to 63º before leaving.  I sat on that ice cold toilet seat and gasped.  I’m hoping my fanny thaws enough that I’m able to pee by Wednesday.

All-in-all a great “first official vacation” for us.  I’m looking to many more in the future.


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