Thirteen Years!

We’ve been back home for a week and a half now from a visiting the place we call heaven. On Wednesday Nov. 6th, I ran out of Morton Plant Hospital after finishing clinicals, hopped in my car and rushed (safely) home so that Doug and I could leave for our yearly anniversary getaway. Doug had a pair of clothes set out on the bed for me, in hopes of speeding up our departure time. I switched from scrubs to jeans and a black top. Essentially, I switched from work to play all within the matter of seconds it took me to change from scrub top to black top. It was instant! I kissed the girls goodbye and gave both of them very long hard hugs, then we hopped in the mini and headed to the airport.

With an hour to spare before flight take off, we decided on Spanish cuisine for an early dinner at the Columbia in Tampa International Airport. And of course we enjoyed a beer to wash away the business of the long day and start the beginning of vacation. We clinked mugs and cheered a “wahooooo” as we imagined ourselves snuggled by a fire in one of our favorite places to visit, a beautiful cabin in North Carolina. Our wonderful friends so graciously let us borrow their cabin each year. Someday we’ll have our own cabin in NC!

North Carolina 2013

We arrived in Atlanta around 7 pm, picked up our rental car, made a quick trip through Target for wine, cheese, monopoly and a few snacks, then drove 2 hours to the cabin. I can’t explain to you in enough detailed words the feeling that overcomes Doug and I whenever we walk into this cabin. It’s like heaven, peace, relaxation, clarity, inspiration and imagination meet us right at the front door to say “welcome to vacation”. We were screaming and running around the place like kids when we arrived. We said our hello’s to the cabin and then found a note on the bar from our friends Jerry and Wanda, who have a gorgeous home a few doors down. We’ve become friends with Jerry and Wanda through our mutual friends and throughout the years we’ve had dinner together whenever we visit NC. They’re wonderful people and so much fun!

North Carolina 2013

It wasn’t long before we crashed for the night in the big king sized bed that overlooks the river.

On Thursday, after deciding upon a menu plan for the week, we headed into town for groceries at the local grocery store, Ingles. We decided that this would be our one and only trip out because its really hard to leave the cabin. We stocked up on everything we thought we’d need for the duration of our visit. On our way back in, we stopped a few doors down to say hi to our friends Jerry and Wanda. Then we headed back to the cabin for lunch, which consisted of Wanda’s potato leek soap and a beer on the back porch overlooking the river. The weather was perfect, maybe 50*. When I decided to finally unpack our bags, I found a beautiful new pair of red boots packed in my suitcase, an early anniversary gift from my love. I adore them.

North Carolina 2013

Early afternoon, we started a beef roast for dinner, opened a bottle of wine and sipped on a glass, napped while the smell of roast beef slow cooked in the oven and did whatever we wanted to do. Doug found the leaf blower and spent 45 minutes blowing the very long driveway. The honest truth about it is that he really has fun blowing leaves. So, while some may wonder why he’d work on vaca, he was actually playing.  We started a late afternoon movie while we waited for the roast to finish. Dinner was fabulous and made complete by the addition of a glass of red wine by the fireplace. The day was nothing but relaxing and perfect. A great first day of vacation!

On Friday we slept in. The river looks amazing in the morning as fog arises from the water and rocks. It sounds amazing too, as the stream moves briskly and adds ambience to the air through the beautiful rushing river sound it creates.

Friday was a day I anticipated. One of my best friends Megan and her husband Greg, who live about 2.5 hours away from where we were, and who we haven’t seen for nearly 2 years, were able to find sitters for their kids and drive over for the day. Meagan’s like a sister to me. We think alike, our conversation comes easily  and continually (ask our hubby’s) and we always pick up were we left off, even if its been a while. I kept watching for their car through the screen door and finally, around 11:30 a.m.,  they arrived. What a great reunion. After hugging, screaming and incessant chatting for the first hour, we decided on Blood Mary’s and lunch. Doug made us open faced roast beef sandwiches from the left over roast beef from the night before. It was perfect!

The rest of the day consisted of rides on the zip line, a long walk, Meg and I sitting on a blanket by the river while watching the boys fish, a card game while smoking cigars, lots of laughs, an afternoon movie/rest time, red wine and a beautiful Italian Sunday Ragu dinner that Doug created for us. The short explanation of our day does not encompass the amount of joy, fun and laughter we experienced. It just doesn’t, but I will always remember it as a wonderful day.

On Saturday morning we woke up to more gorgeous morning fog. Meg and I made breakfast and coffee, sat on the back porch for a bit and then snapped a few photos before we had to say the much dreaded “goodbyes”. It was very hard to say goodbye, and we made it fast. The time we had together was wonderful and I’m already anticipating the next time. Love you Meg and Greg.

Saturday was another day spent in a relaxation coma. Doug and I decided on a little back porch “rocking chair” time, a long nap, a game of monopoly (in which I won), grilling chicken wings on the back porch (along with a homemade sour cream sauce), the movie Parkland (the JFK assassination story from the perspective of the camera man and hospital crew) which I highly recommend, and R.E.L.A.X.A.T.I.O.N. This is what a true vacation consists of, completely unwinding with no commitments other then the commitment to enjoy, not plan and do whatever one feels like doing.

On Sunday we slept in. We started the day with a nice long walk and experienced gorgeous Fall foilage. We talked about a lot on our walk, including how grateful we feel that we get to live life together. I love Doug more now then 13 years ago when we said “I do”.

After a long walk, I spent some time reading on the back porch, while Doug watched a football game. We fell asleep for a nice nap before starting an early afternoon movie and dinner. Doug made a beautiful lamb chop dinner with a side of roasted asparagus, broccoli rob and tomato, and creamy risotto. The bottle of Meiomi paired perfectly with the meat and the fireplace created the perfect environment.

We cherished every last moment of the last night in the cabin. Like I said before, the short explanation of our vacation does not encompass the amount of relaxation, fun, inspiration and clarity that we experienced. It just doesn’t. But, I will always remember it as an amazing time away with Doug and the memories will be with me forever, including the details I spared you from reading here ; )

Doug and I use our time in the mountains of North Carolina every year to not only relax and be alone without kids, but also as a time to stop and think about life, our goals and to become very clear on what it is we want to achieve in all areas of our life. We leave with clarity and come back refreshed and ready to excel.

On Monday morning, it was time to pack our bags and say goodbye. We spent a little more time by the river and when it was time to pull away, the only thing that kept us from irrationally adding 7 more days to our trip was the anticipation we felt to see the girls, and the fact that I don’t want to be kicked out of the nursing program. Otherwise, I think we would have found a way to stay longer.

We arrived home around 4:30 pm on Monday afternoon, and it was so wonderful to see the girls. We went to dinner, the 4 of us, to share vacation stories. We also explained to them the 2 reasons why we go away every year: (1) mommy and daddy love each other very much and we need time alone to celebrate our love and (2) 13 years ago today daddy and mommy got married.

Happy 13 years to the love of my life and my best friend!