Monday, October 27, 2014

Thursday, Oct 23, 2014

Girls Weekend Seventeen!!!  At long last, the magical week has once again arrived.  Girls Weekend.  Where Kathi and I both escape our everyday (though lovely) lives and go explore and learn about some place new to us here in the good old USA.  This year, we are exploring Asheville, North Carolina.

Girls weekend started for me after work yesterday because I flew out of Portland at 10:15pm so that Kathi and I would arrive at the same time and have most of Thursday to begin our adventure.  On the way to Portland I got a phone call from the airline telling me that my flight out of Charlotte to Greenville, SC has been rescheduled to a later time due to bad weather at the point of origin of that flight.  The delay was only a half hour or so, so I didn't think that much about it, but once I got to the Portland airport I texted Kathi to let her know that I would probably be arriving in Greenville a little later than originally scheduled due to this delay.  Once I arrived in Charlotte and was sitting at the gate for the Greenville flight, I received another call from the airline to tell me that the flight had been CANCELLED.  Well, damn.  So I texted Kathi to let her know while I made my way to the customer service desk to see what I could do about getting on another flight.  The next flight to Greenville was schedule for 10:15 PM.  What??  NO!!!  I did not want to lose a whole day!!  Then, when I told the nice lady at the customer service desk that my ultimate destination was actually Asheville, NC, she booked me on a flight that left in one hour!!  Hooray!!  While this was happening, I received a text from Kathi saying she was at the Charlotte airport, too, where was I?  Turns out we were actually both booked on that cancelled flight to Greenville and we hadn't even realized it!!!  So Kathi and I met up at the customer service counter and we got her booked on standby on the flight to Asheville, and made our way to the gate.  Along the way we called the car rental place to change our car rental from pick up from Greenville to Asheville.  Smooth as silk.

Kathi, fortunately, was able to get a seat on the flight and after 45 minutes in the air, we landed in Asheville.  Hooray!!  The day was saved!  Oh, wait a minute, there's my bag on the baggage carousel, but where is Kathi's??  Oh's not there.  Bummer.  So, while I take care of the car rental business, Kathi makes her way to the customer service desk to track down her bag.  Hmmmm, it went to Columbia, South Carolina for some reason.  Well, they promise to deliver it once it arrives in Asheville and we head out to the parking lot to find our rental car.  After a little bit of confusion about where to find our rental car, during which time Kathi got stung by a bee that I believe she brought with her in her sweatshirt from Indiana, we piled our stuff, well, mostly MY stuff into the car and set out for The Pines Cottages, our home away from home in Asheville.

It was only 10 am when we arrived at The Pines Cottages and check in time wasn't until 3pm, but we thought we would go ahead and ask if our cabin might be ready...just in case!!  Wonder of wonders, it was!  (God is good!) So we loaded our stuff, well, mostly my stuff, into the cabin, chatted for a while and decided to go into town for breakfast and then do some grocery shopping.  We chose Tupelo Honey to have breakfast because I had read many good things about the place when researching Asheville and I would say that it lived up to all of its reviews.  I just had bacon and eggs, but Kathi ordered a sweet potato pancake that was GIGANTIC and delicious.  She was only able to eat about 1/3 of it, it was so big.  Upon leaving the restaurant, we both decided that we were far too tired to go grocery shopping and chose to go back to our cabin for our nap since we were booked on a "Brews Cruise" at 4pm and we felt we needed to get rested up for that.

We met up with our fellow Brews Cruisers, Alissa and AJ, newlyweds from Akron, Ohio (the Brews Cruise was a wedding gift from one of their cool is that??), and Sherri and Leon from Knoxville, Tennessee and waited for the bus at the designated location.  Pretty soon, the bus arrived and our driver and tour guide JC, the beer savior, jumped out and welcomed us aboard.

JC the beer savior
JC talked a lot about the beer making process and the many different breweries in Asheville and the surrounding area, but I have to confess, I forgot most of it because we sampled so many beers on this tour that my brain was kind of mushy by the end.  We had a great time, though, and thoroughly enjoyed the beer and the company.  We went to 3 different breweries and sampled 4 beers at each.
First was Altamont Brewery.
Here, the beers had no names other than what kind of beer they were.  Here we tasted:  Red Ale, Seasonal Stout, and a Porter.  Ok, so we either only had 3 beers here or Kathi forgot to write down whatever the 4th one was,  which is entirely possible!!  Oops, in reviewing this with Kathi, she did, indeed write down 4 beers and I missed the first one, which was a Dry Hopped Pale Ale.  Sorry, Kath, for implying that you were not thorough in your job as note taker!!

Aj, Alissa, Sherri, Leon, Kathi, Lori
JC rounded us all back up, got us all back on the bus and headed to the next stop, Catawba Brewery.

Along the way, we learned that AJ and Alissa were newlyweds (like, seriously newlywed, like a week newlywed) and that they were on their honeymoon and this cruise was a wedding gift.  What a great friend to give a gift like that!!
AJ and Alissa
We also learned that Sherry and Leon had recently moved to Knoxville, TN, so that Leon could attend The Professional Brewing Science Certificate course at South College University to pursue his dream of becoming a professional brewer.  Leon's story is a very interesting one and I would recommend that you visit if you are interested in reading about his path from brewing beer while stationed with the military in Guam to the realization of his dream.

At Catawba we sampled The White Zombie (Belgian wheat ale with coriander and orange peel), The Brown Bear Brown Ale (it was brown), the citrusy Red-iculous IPA (it was red), and the Hyper Monkey, which is a coffee stout.  Kathi wrote YUM!!! next to this one in her notes, so apparently she really like this one!

Time to leave Catawba and move on to our next stop.  JC once again gathered us all up to board the bus.  On the way out Kathi stopped at the hot dog vendor set up just outside and bought 7 bags of chips so that we could all put a little something in our stomachs besides beer.  Everyone but JC, who was only drinking water and coffee, jumped on the opportunity to eat something.

Our next and final stop was French Broad Brewery (French Broad being the name of the river that flows through Asheville).  Here we sampled a Kolsch (if it had a name, it didn't get written down), ESB (Extra Special Bitter), French Broad IPA and a Scottish style ale, Wee Heavier.  In the midst of all this sampling, we ordered some sandwiches and ribs from Moe's BBQ upon the advice of our wonderful tour guide, JC who said he would be happy to swing by there on the way back to our original departure point to allow us to pick up our to go orders.  Before leaving French Broad, Leon pulled a large bottle of his home-brew, Mystic Mermaid, out of the cooler he had been carrying around with him all evening and treated us all to a sample!  What a delightful surprise!!  He even had enough bottles with him to send us all home with one.  I must confess that I am no expert on beer, but I have to say that Leon's brew was just as good as any of the other beers we had tasted throughout the evening.

Back on the bus we all went, then onward to Moe's to pick up our food orders and back to our point of origin.  It was a great evening that ended with wonderful food.  Kathi and I didn't last long after arriving back in the cabin and dropped into bed to get a good nights sleep before beginning day two of Girls Weekend Seventeen.


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